Friday, June 21, 2013

Using LinkedIn for Business

I received another question from a network contact today.

Q:
I am a commercial real estate broker and find LinkedIn a valuable tool for making connections with people I would like to meet. How can I give my company greater exposure generate more business through LinkedIn?

A: 
LinkedIn is a great business networking tool, but I have to say first and foremost, in my experience it's best to use LinkedIn to establish relationships than for pure business prospecting. If you're using it the right way, you'll find leads by demonstrating your subject matter expertise, by making yourself and your company available to those seeking you, and by working through warm referrals. That said, here are a few tips I'd offer which may help:

  1. Be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the #1 professional networking site for business professionals. You can connect with individuals up to two connections away and through common groups. By being on LinkedIn, you're adding yourself to the virtual rolodex.
  2. List Your Company on LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a free service for companies to add themselves into the company directory. They have recently changed the requirements to set up a company page on LinkedIn, but most active LinkedIn users will qualify. You must have an email address that matches your company's web address. (ex: I work for Walsh College and my email ends in walshcollege.edu which is our College's website address)
  3. Update Your Status Strategically. Remember to share a blend of status updates, ranging from industry news demonstrating your interest and expertise, as we
    ll as periodic reminders of what you do and how you can help others. This will help your network contacts to offer endorsements based on your skills and expertise, which should be related to your industry if you're posting the right things. Yes, it's okay to be promotional on LinkedIn, but be careful it's not a dominant part of your efforts. Sprinkle your sales approach. Like salt, don't use too much.
  4. Build Your Social Media Karma. Pay special attention to the status updates of your first level connections, which are your best source to help with warm introductions. Reply to their status updates. Like them, share their asks. Help them. In turn, they will be more likely to want to help you in the future. 
  5. Join Groups Related to Your Industry. Yes, you may be networking with competitors, but you may also share and learn valuable tips and trends. 
  6. Join Groups Where Your Future Clients May Cluster. At Walsh, we offer business degrees. So I join MBA groups. In these groups, I may find posts from students who are looking around for MBA programs. In full disclosure, I mention that I work at Walsh and that we offer MBAs, both in metro Detroit and online. 
  7. Request Introductions (selectively) through LinkedIn. Sales people / business development professional may want to use LinkedIn to aggressively connect with prospects via their connections, but if you only talk to your connections to ask for introductions to leads, you're going to turn them off and find yourself being disconnected pretty quick. Now if you've been helping a connection and participating in their  status updates (see #4 above), they will be more likely to want to help you. 

If you'd like more tips on using LinkedIn for Business, check out this slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/bmeller/linkedin-for-business-11468966

Hope this helps! If you found this post helpful, please share it along. 

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