You’ve dabbled on LinkedIn but now you are wondering if it’s worth ‘taking the plunge’ and actually devoting more time to using it. Can it really help you bring in more business? The short answer is yes – if you follow the recommendations below.
The very first thing you need to do if you would like LinkedIn to help you build your business is complete your profile. The simple fact is that we live in a Google society and regardless if you get all your new business from referrals, those prospects are still going to Google your name first before they contact you. And because LinkedIn in a highly respected social media site, your LinkedIn profile will come up. Therefore your LinkedIn profile has the ability to help you – or hurt you – depending on the first impression your profile gives the viewer. For additional help on how to create and complete your LinkedIn profile, click here.
2. Brand Yourself on LinkedIn
Personal branding is essentially the process we use to market ourselves to others. And, if you sell a service, you are selling yourself which means you have the opportunity to use LinkedIn to create, control and manage your personal brand online. The most important thing you can do to help communicate your brand to others on LinkedIn is first, use a professional picture on your profile. Second, create a compelling introduction paragraph of yourself, written in first person that conveys the value you bring to your clients, your personal philosophy, and why you love what you do. Finally, make sure your public profile is shortened to contain just your name, for example, http://www.linkedin.com/in/terriewheeler.
3. Add Connections
Having connections on LinkedIn provides the foundation to allow you to use the site for research and to increase your visibility within your network. It’s unbelievable how many people do not make the effort to connect with their current and past colleagues – or with their best referral sources. Take the time to connect with your colleagues, referral sources and clients. LinkedIn has many tools to help you automatically search your email contacts, and consistently provides suggested people for you to connect with. In today’s digitally savvy age, 501 connections or more is the goal!
4. Update and Engage
While over 80% of professionals’ new business statistically comes from referrals, 67% of those decisions are usually made based on the credibility you have created with your prospects. Simply said, your COIs and referral sources will not refer you and prospects will not buy from you unless they see you as credible. By consistently sharing valuable information with your network using LinkedIn status updates, you are providing thought leadership to your network – and in doing so, creating credibility for yourself at the same time.
5. Follow your Client’s Companies
Not only do you want to connect with your client’s online but you also want to make sure you are following their companies as well. It’s also a good idea to follow your prospects and their firms on LinkedIn as well. By doing this, you can subtlety show them you support them and also stay informed on what in going on in their business at the same time.
LinkedIn can be a valuable resource for doing research on your prospects, referral sources, competitors and recruits. Before you meet with any one, take five minutes to review their LinkedIn profile. Look to see if you have connections in common, hobbies, school, church denominations or other areas of interest. You’d be surprised at how often a conversation can be started based on the information you have gleaned from five minutes of LinkedIn research. You can also use LinkedIn to strategically search your connections’ connections to ask for potential introductions to people or companies you are targeting.
7. Join or Start a Relevant Group
LinkedIn groups provide an excellent opportunity for you to gain information and share your thought leadership with other professionals and prospects within a smaller niche. Take some time to do some research on potential relevant groups for your specific industry and target market. Then join and begin engaging! Another option for those of you who are more motivated is to create your own group. This is an excellent way to facilitate an opportunity for your network to connect with each other.
8. Use LinkedIn as a Contact Manager
LinkedIn has great feature that many people don’t take advantage of. LinkedIn introduced the new Contacts feature in April 2013. You can access it from Network – Contacts on the black navigation bar. While this feature alone will not necessarily lead to new business, it definitely can help you keep your connection’s contact information organized and updated. The new LinkedIn Contacts experience allows you to do three awesome things. First, you can now keep your contacts’ information all in one place by combining your address books, notes, emails and calendars. Second, it provides an opportunity to stay updated on your connections’ job changes, birthday and anniversaries. And third, you can also take your network mobile by utilizing the new Contacts app on your IPhone or Android. By following the recommendations we have provided above, you will have the opportunity to develop and maintain relationships with people in your network – and to provide thought leadership and credibility as well.