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How to use LinkedIn to create business value

LinkedIn is a highly useful site, but many small businesses simply don’t make the most of it. The problem is that most of the information out there, that SMBs try to model, is focused on tips and strategies for larger organizations. And these strategies are simply not as effective when applied to the SMB. So what can the small or medium-sized business do to actually gain value from their LinkedIn efforts? Here are few tips to get you started.

Know LinkedIn’s purpose

Simply put, LinkedIn is not a content marketing platform. Yes, people do publish articles and posts, but if you have a small budget and are short on time, you will get more bang for your buck on social media networks that are more content marketing friendly. For example, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all far better options in this scenario. Many users are on these platforms to view content in one form or another. On LinkedIn, content can undoubtedly be viewed, but people are primarily there to make connections. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post an occasional article on LinkedIn. It just means don’t make it the main source of your content marketing efforts.

Another way businesses misconceive LinkedIn is in terms of lead generation. Basically, you shouldn’t expect your LinkedIn page to generate a large amount of leads. As an SMB, your marketing budget is limited, so you’ll be better off using your advertising budget to drive leads to your actual website or even a Facebook business page. Your LinkedIn business page should be used instead to validate your experience, credentials, and professionalism. With that said, make sure your page is polished and updated with all this information.

Double down on business trips

We all know that LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with business colleagues. If you’re active on the platform, you likely have hundreds of connections. So when you make that next business trip, why not tap your network to book additional meetings in the city you’re traveling to? Ask yourself, which of your connections could help you extend your sales in that region or benefit your business in some other way? You don’t have to stick to business colleagues you know personally. You can create valuable new relationships by tapping your current LinkedIn network. To do this, search first and second degree connections using the geographic search option, and filter your results to job titles, industry, and company size of your ideal prospect. Once you’ve found potential contacts, see if you can get an introduction from one of your first connections, or simply InMail them and reach out yourself.

Your page is about your business—not you

A very common small business mistake on LinkedIn is making your company page about you, not your business. You may mistakenly create this page like your personal profile, listing accolades and job experience. What you should really be focusing on, however, is something much bigger: the story of your business or brand. A story will help engage your prospects, creating an impression in their minds, and also give you an opportunity to touch on the value your business provides to customers. Your profile should also include some of the top brands your business has helped. If one of your clients is Target, The Gap, Whole Foods or another big name, make sure to mention it, as it proves your credibility as a business or service provider.

Find talented hires

While big companies have the budget and time to post job openings on LinkedIn, as an SMB, there’s a good chance you’re lacking both. Fortunately, there’s an alternative way to find top talent on LinkedIn. Simply search for them yourself.

Before you get started, you need to know exactly what kind of hire you’re looking for. Think about people you already know who would be perfect for the job. While you may not have the ability or budget to hire them, look them up on LinkedIn and see their career path. What kind of roles did this person previously have? What kind of experience did he or she have before their current position? With this information in hand, now you can search for people who are in or have held similar positions, and will likely share qualities of your ideal candidate. Once you have a pool of potential applicants, reach out to them through InMail or a shared connection to see if they’re interested in your job.

Ask for help, and be helpful

Like all social media platforms, if you don’t engage with your connections, you’ll see little value generated from your time using it. However, with LinkedIn, the type of engagement you participate in can be extremely valuable for your business. All it requires is for you to ask for help or feedback. For example, if you have several logo designs for a new product and are unsure of which is best, share some of them with your network to get feedback. If you’re curious about a new productivity tool and wonder if it’s worth investing in, ask your network if anyone’s used it before. Oftentimes in the business world, people are happy to help you if you just speak up. However, don’t forget to return the favor. If you become the person who seems to only be taking advice without giving any in return, it can have a negative effect on your reputation.

If you’d like more ideas on how social media or technology can create value for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our IT solutions can help you overcome challenges, and create an even more valuable business.

Should I connect with strangers on LinkedIn?

RepAMost people over the age of 20 would agree it’s not wise to accept a friend request from a stranger on Facebook. That profile image of a voluptuous vixen in a string bikini, that you swore you just saw in a lipstick commercial, is likely a dude who lives in his parent’s basement with nothing better to do than hack your account. But when it comes to LinkedIn, what’s the right move when a stranger sends you an invite? Here are some of the reasons you might want to accept or reject that LinkedIn invitation.

Why to reject

Rejectors of stranger invitations have a common argument that’s hard to dispute. If you connect with a stranger, and a trusted member in your network (who you actually know) asks for an introduction to that connection, you may look a bit silly saying you’ve never met the guy. This scenario can obviously be a bit awkward. And LinkedIn rejection enthusiasts like to use this argument as their trump card to silence the opposition.

To go along with this, they may further ask what would happen if that stranger started requesting introductions to valued members of your network? Again, you might find yourself in an awkward situation.

The core philosophy of any LinkedIn invite rejector is that your network should be made up of people you know and trust. Some people see a connection on LinkedIn as an endorsement of that person. If strangers in your network have a bad reputation that you don’t know about, and others see that you’re connected with them, it could be a bad reflection on you.

Why to accept

More people seem to lean toward connecting with LinkedIn strangers than against. But does that actually make it the right decision? Why do people choose to accept invitations from people they don’t know?

People with 500+ connections appear powerful, even if most of their connections are with strangers. Seriously, think about it. Who would you be more likely to trust, a person with 70 connections or one with over five hundred?

More connections also mean a higher chance of being found. More and more recruiters are jumping on the LinkedIn bandwagon and, whether you’re looking for freelance work or for a new job, LinkedIn is a great place to be found. The more connections you have, the easier it is for you to appear in search results.

What’s more, a higher connection count can lead to your profile reaching a larger audience. If you have a business, feel like you have something to say or just want to speak your mind in a professional manner (save the posts about your drunken exploits for Facebook), LinkedIn presents an excellent opportunity to get your voice heard. And the more connections you have, the more people you’ll have the opportunity to influence.

The choice is yours

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to connecting with strangers on LinkedIn. It comes down to personal preference and objectives. If you want your network to be trusted individuals you actually have a relationship with, then it’s better for you to reject those stranger requests. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more opportunities and are self-employed, connecting with strangers can be a great way to drill up more business.

But there is middle ground, too. Maybe you don’t connect with just any old stranger (like that guy who works for the Bank of Nigeria), but if there is someone who is a friend of a friend or who works in your field, it might be worth connecting with them. Remember, your friends were once strangers too, so maybe that request from Bill who works at your local hardware store will turn into a blossoming business relationship. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

If you’re looking to learn more about LinkedIn and other social media platforms, contact us today and see how we can help.

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8 important LinkedIn profile steps

LinkedIn, while lacking some of the clout of Facebook, is still one of the most powerful social networks for business owners and managers who want to connect with their peers. Like many other networks however, in order to be noticed you should not only simply have a profile, but create one that is strong. The question many ask is: How exactly do you go about achieving this?

In this article we will go over eight important steps you need to take in order to build the perfect LinkedIn profile. In fact, we came across a great infographic on Link Humans that could be a big help when following these steps. We strongly suggest you take a look at this when building your profile.

Step 1: Establish your profile

While you don’t have to join LinkedIn, it is a good idea if you are looking to connect with other business owners and colleagues through a more professional, business style networking oriented social network. If you do want to connect at this level, the absolute first thing you need to do is to create a profile. This can be done by:

  1. Going to LinkedIn’s website (linkedin.com).
  2. Clicking on Join Today.
  3. Entering the relevant information on the following page. We recommend using the name the majority of your customers and clients know you by and your work email address. Personal email addresses are fine if you don’t want to fully represent your company.
  4. Selecting Join LinkedIn.

If you use your Facebook account for business, you can also sign up using your Facebook account. Just follow steps 1. and 2. above and click Sign Up with Facebook. You will be asked to log into your account (if don’t already have Facebook open in another tab on your browser) then approve the account access rights. Once you’ve done this you should see your basic profile pop up.

Step 2: Select an appropriate picture

LinkedIn is a work-related network, and to that end you will need to present the right corporate image; this means uploading a professional profile photo. This image should clearly show your face and be cropped to show mainly your head and upper body. The background should be clear or unobtrusive, allowing you to be the main focus.

If you don’t have any professional head shots, it might be a good idea to get some taken. Most photographers can snap a few for you, and will be able to provide you with information about how to pose and dress for the shots.

You can add an image to your profile by:

  1. Logging into your profile.
  2. Hovering over Profile which is located in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on Edit Profile followed by the camera icon at the top of your profile.
  4. Pressing Change photo and then selecting the image you would like to use as your profile picture from a file on your hard drive.
  5. Ticking Save to set your picture.

The reason a good picture is more important than on other networks is because it has been proven that profiles with professional looking pictures are easier to find and also enhance the potential that other members will want to connect or even recognize you.

Step 3: Fill in your basic information

Once you have a great picture set on your profile go back to the editing screen and add your basic information. This includes your name, role, location, and company. Also, click on the Edit Contact Info tab to the right-hand side of your basic information section. Add as much contact info as you feel comfortable with; we recommend your email address and company website at the very least.

Step 4: Determine who your main audience will be

Before you begin to fill in your profile, you should take time to determine what the purpose of this profile will be. Will it be used to find new colleagues? Or will it be used to connect and communicate with your colleagues? Or, will it used to find prospective clients? Each reason will determine what information you should include in your profile along with the relevant keywords.

For example, if you would like to find new employees you can tailor your profile to show what you do in your job and what makes it so great. You can then also come up with more relevant keywords to use in your content. For example, using the words ‘career’ and ‘job’ and including in your summary information about who you are looking for will definitely attract prospective hires. However, this profile likely won’t attract colleagues or clients.

Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to one set function however. For example, there are many crossover terms that both clients and prospective employees will search for. So, if you want to use your LinkedIn profile for more than one reason, take some extra time and try to figure out which keywords and ideas you think will work well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can always edit everything at any time. So, if you want to switch your audience, you can easily do so by simply editing parts of your profile and changing keywords.

Step 5: Write a solid summary

The summary of your LinkedIn profile is a place where you highlight who you are. Take time to craft this so that you can showcase what you do and your main strengths. Be sure to use relevant industry and position specific keywords and terminology that you believe your audience will be searching for, as this language will make your profile easier to find in searches.

The key here is to write a summary that not only explains what you do and your experience, but showcases who you are. Use active language like ‘I’, ‘my’, and ‘me’, and be sure to include a way for people who don’t have a LinkedIn profile to contact you – usually an email, link to your website or a phone number.

Step 6: Add your past and present positions

Once your summary is finished, you should move onto your current and past positions. This section should reflect your resume and highlight the experience you are talking about in your summary. It would be helpful to try and work in some of the keywords you used in the summary or identified earlier in order to really make your experience really stand out.

Chances are you aren’t looking for work, so you can deviate a little from your resume here, and highlight what you do best, or how you can help your audience best. Feel free to leave out points that may not be 100% relevant or interesting e.g., how many people you manage, sales goals, etc.

Step 7: Start connecting

Once your profile is mostly complete with experience and a summary, you can start looking for people to connect with. Start by searching for people that you know or work with on a regular basis and inviting them to connect.

Next, join a few groups that are related to your position and industry. These can be found by hovering your mouse over Interests which is located in the menu bar near the top of the window. Select Groups from the menu that drops down and then select Find a group from the right-hand side of the page that opens. Some groups are private and will require you to ask to join them, but don’t be afraid of sending in your request.

Once you have joined some groups and started to make connections be sure to be active on the network. It will help to join in on conversations held in your groups and post content on a regular basis. And, if you meet new clients or people don’t be afraid of looking them up on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them!

Step 8: Work on your awards and recommendations

Finally, start recommending people that you know. You can do this by going to a colleague’s profile and scrolling down to their Skills and Endorsements section. Find skills that you know they possess and press the + Endorse button beside the skill. Most people will also do this for you as well.

If you have won awards in the past, be sure to include these as well, especially if they are relevant to your intended audience. Just be sure to pick the awards that really highlight your skills, as an Employee of the Month award may not be the most relevant.

From here it’s really just a matter of tinkering with your profile on a regular basis. Be sure to be active and ensure that your profile really reflects who you are. Doing this will create a stand-up profile you can be proud of.

Looking to learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it for your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.

8 important LinkedIn profile steps

SocialMedia_June30_ALinkedIn, while lacking some of the clout of Facebook, is still one of the most powerful social networks for business owners and managers who want to connect with their peers. Like many other networks however, in order to be noticed you should not only simply have a profile, but create one that is strong. The question many ask is: How exactly do you go about achieving this?

In this article we will go over eight important steps you need to take in order to build the perfect LinkedIn profile. In fact, we came across a great infographic on Link Humans that could be a big help when following these steps. We strongly suggest you take a look at this when building your profile.

Step 1: Establish your profile

While you don’t have to join LinkedIn, it is a good idea if you are looking to connect with other business owners and colleagues through a more professional, business style networking oriented social network. If you do want to connect at this level, the absolute first thing you need to do is to create a profile. This can be done by:

  1. Going to LinkedIn’s website (linkedin.com).
  2. Clicking on Join Today.
  3. Entering the relevant information on the following page. We recommend using the name the majority of your customers and clients know you by and your work email address. Personal email addresses are fine if you don’t want to fully represent your company.
  4. Selecting Join LinkedIn.

If you use your Facebook account for business, you can also sign up using your Facebook account. Just follow steps 1. and 2. above and click Sign Up with Facebook. You will be asked to log into your account (if don’t already have Facebook open in another tab on your browser) then approve the account access rights. Once you’ve done this you should see your basic profile pop up.

Step 2: Select an appropriate picture

LinkedIn is a work-related network, and to that end you will need to present the right corporate image; this means uploading a professional profile photo. This image should clearly show your face and be cropped to show mainly your head and upper body. The background should be clear or unobtrusive, allowing you to be the main focus.

If you don’t have any professional head shots, it might be a good idea to get some taken. Most photographers can snap a few for you, and will be able to provide you with information about how to pose and dress for the shots.

You can add an image to your profile by:

  1. Logging into your profile.
  2. Hovering over Profile which is located in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on Edit Profile followed by the camera icon at the top of your profile.
  4. Pressing Change photo and then selecting the image you would like to use as your profile picture from a file on your hard drive.
  5. Ticking Save to set your picture.

The reason a good picture is more important than on other networks is because it has been proven that profiles with professional looking pictures are easier to find and also enhance the potential that other members will want to connect or even recognize you.

Step 3: Fill in your basic information

Once you have a great picture set on your profile go back to the editing screen and add your basic information. This includes your name, role, location, and company. Also, click on the Edit Contact Info tab to the right-hand side of your basic information section. Add as much contact info as you feel comfortable with; we recommend your email address and company website at the very least.

Step 4: Determine who your main audience will be

Before you begin to fill in your profile, you should take time to determine what the purpose of this profile will be. Will it be used to find new colleagues? Or will it be used to connect and communicate with your colleagues? Or, will it used to find prospective clients? Each reason will determine what information you should include in your profile along with the relevant keywords.

For example, if you would like to find new employees you can tailor your profile to show what you do in your job and what makes it so great. You can then also come up with more relevant keywords to use in your content. For example, using the words ‘career’ and ‘job’ and including in your summary information about who you are looking for will definitely attract prospective hires. However, this profile likely won’t attract colleagues or clients.

Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to one set function however. For example, there are many crossover terms that both clients and prospective employees will search for. So, if you want to use your LinkedIn profile for more than one reason, take some extra time and try to figure out which keywords and ideas you think will work well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can always edit everything at any time. So, if you want to switch your audience, you can easily do so by simply editing parts of your profile and changing keywords.

Step 5: Write a solid summary

The summary of your LinkedIn profile is a place where you highlight who you are. Take time to craft this so that you can showcase what you do and your main strengths. Be sure to use relevant industry and position specific keywords and terminology that you believe your audience will be searching for, as this language will make your profile easier to find in searches.

The key here is to write a summary that not only explains what you do and your experience, but showcases who you are. Use active language like ‘I’, ‘my’, and ‘me’, and be sure to include a way for people who don’t have a LinkedIn profile to contact you – usually an email, link to your website or a phone number.

Step 6: Add your past and present positions

Once your summary is finished, you should move onto your current and past positions. This section should reflect your resume and highlight the experience you are talking about in your summary. It would be helpful to try and work in some of the keywords you used in the summary or identified earlier in order to really make your experience really stand out.

Chances are you aren’t looking for work, so you can deviate a little from your resume here, and highlight what you do best, or how you can help your audience best. Feel free to leave out points that may not be 100% relevant or interesting e.g., how many people you manage, sales goals, etc.

Step 7: Start connecting

Once your profile is mostly complete with experience and a summary, you can start looking for people to connect with. Start by searching for people that you know or work with on a regular basis and inviting them to connect.

Next, join a few groups that are related to your position and industry. These can be found by hovering your mouse over Interests which is located in the menu bar near the top of the window. Select Groups from the menu that drops down and then select Find a group from the right-hand side of the page that opens. Some groups are private and will require you to ask to join them, but don’t be afraid of sending in your request.

Once you have joined some groups and started to make connections be sure to be active on the network. It will help to join in on conversations held in your groups and post content on a regular basis. And, if you meet new clients or people don’t be afraid of looking them up on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them!

Step 8: Work on your awards and recommendations

Finally, start recommending people that you know. You can do this by going to a colleague’s profile and scrolling down to their Skills and Endorsements section. Find skills that you know they possess and press the + Endorse button beside the skill. Most people will also do this for you as well.

If you have won awards in the past, be sure to include these as well, especially if they are relevant to your intended audience. Just be sure to pick the awards that really highlight your skills, as an Employee of the Month award may not be the most relevant.

From here it’s really just a matter of tinkering with your profile on a regular basis. Be sure to be active and ensure that your profile really reflects who you are. Doing this will create a stand-up profile you can be proud of.

Looking to learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it for your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.

How to customize your LinkedIn URL

SocialMedia_Apr22_ALinkedIn is a site that lets you connect with other professionals. It is great for employers, employees and job seekers who would like to network and make get work leads. Employers can post jobs, as well as find people that fit vacancies through the site. Employees and job seekers on the other hand can find job opportunities and get recommendations from people in their network. Each user has a profile, and the URL can be customized.

Why customize your LinkedIn URL?

When you sign up for a LinkedIn account, there is a default URL set on your profile. It contains random letters and numbers that would be impossible for anyone but a savant to remember. The good news is that you can customize this URL and use something unique and memorable. Before going through the steps on how to do this, let’s first look at the reasons why it’s a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL.

  • It’s easier to remember – This is one of the top reasons why you need to customize your URL. As we’ve said, the random line of letters and numbers you get on signing up can’t really be remembered. So it you want to grow your connections and find more business or job opportunities, Having a more memorable URL is a very good idea. People can access your profile easily or recommend it to others if they remember it in the first place.
  • It can be used in your email signature and business cards – To increase your exposure even more, you may include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature and business cards. It would look unprofessional and, let’s face it, slightly ridiculous if you print the default URL randomly onto a card. The name of your company or your personal moniker looks much more professional.
  • It’s more searchable online – LinkedIn profiles are not only searchable on the site itself. They also appear in the results when queries are made on search engines. You’ll have better chances of being found if part of your URL was searched.

How to customize the URL of your LinkedIn profile

Before customizing the URL of your LinkedIn profile, it’s best to ensure that all vital information is posted since it serves as your online resume. Think of the name that you wish to use in your URL. It must be composed of 3 to 30 numbers or letters. Special characters and spaces are not accepted.

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account.
  2. Hover your mouse on “Profile”, which can be found on the top part of the screen, then click “edit profile”.
  3. Look below your photo and you’ll see your profile’s URL. Click the “edit” link next to it.
  4. Under “Your public profile URL” on the lower right side of the window, click the “customize your public profile URL” link.
  5. Enter your preferred URL name in the field.
  6. Click “Set Custom URL”.

That’s how you customize your LinkedIn URL. For instance, if you entered “SamJones”, your URL will be “http://www.linkedin.com/in/SamJones”. LinkedIn URL can only be customized up to three times within six months. If you’ve changed it three times in less than six months, you must wait for the said period to pass before you can change your URL again.