Ever stood in the corner at a networking event and felt like a dork?
Focusing on business networking in just a traditional way is a dumb idea.
It doesn’t scale.
Often ineffective and it can be a total waste of time. Trying to suck up at breakfast business networking events and pushing your business card under everyone’s nose is just plain annoying.
What if you could accelerate and amplify your connections without leaving your office or bedroom?
LinkedIn’s global influence
As of April 30, 2015 there are more than 350 million individual users and business organizations sharing on LinkedIn. In 2015 LinkedIn has averaged more than 187 million unique visitors to the website each month, from over 200 countries worldwide.
Also its revenue grew by 35%. A lot of companies would be happy with that!
Image source: LinkedIn.com
We know that LinkedIn began as a place to literally park your resume and peruse job opportunities. But in recent years it has evolved into a leading business to business marketplace and professional network.
Being present on LinkedIn is only the first step in exploring a number of tools and opportunities that the network provides for both individuals and brands.
Here are some tips on how to use LinkedIn to build powerful influence.
#1. Create a company page
Have you ever observed a brand or company that is dominating other social networks but maintains a LinkedIn Company page that is tantamount to a ghost town? It is a little confusing and unexpected, but it happens more often than you may think.
From a public relations perspective, there are a number of negative things that can be inferred by an inactive company page.
First, that your company does not see the value of participating in business-to-consumer or business-to-business marketing or networking. Second, that your company does not actively recruit on LinkedIn or third, that your employees are not engaged as ambassadors for your organization on the world’s largest business network.
Tesla is a brand that knows how to use their page to create buzz.
It is important to think of your LinkedIn page as a digital business card. Everything from the graphical elements to the frequency and topic matter of posting, to announcement of events and participation by employees reflects on the organization. Like every other social network it is a digital store-front. Make a good impression by having an active, well managed LinkedIn Company page.
Tips: Customize your LinkedIn Company Page URL and use your business name if it is available. The settings are provided under your “Public Profile” tab. Invest in a quality banner that is consistent with other branding and graphics on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for a polished effect (640 x 220 px). Utilize the gallery section to upload product or brand images and information.
#2. Publish on LinkedIn
One of the most effective ways to establish an audience and develop a reputation as an influencer in a specific niche is to utilize the article publishing platform on LinkedIn. Initially during the rollout phase, publishing was limited to established journalists, management or leadership experts but now anyone who has an account on LinkedIn can share their insights and expertise.
Write an article that demonstrates your authority on a specific topic, business niche or reflecting on your professional experience (good and bad). This can create influence and brand awareness.
The most successful LinkedIn articles are informative but readable, with a pleasant conversational approach. Remember to structure your article in a way that allows readers to take tips or ideas they can readily apply in their own workplace or for career development.
Avoid blatant advertising
What you want to avoid is writing any article that appears to be a blatant advertisement for a good or service. A thinly disguised sales type article will deter readers and may even, in some cases, elicit negative comments from readers.
So how do you publish promotional material without offending the LinkedIn community? Some brands have written about the challenges of research and development as a business topic, while mentioning a new product launch naturally within the article. Other brands have written about human resource topics and hiring practices with a call out for career opportunities within their organization.
Business promotion through a LinkedIn article is possible, as long as your article provides a career and/or educational benefit.
Tips: Incorporate LinkedIn article publishing to your content calendar. Opt to contribute a minimum of two articles per month and consider adding hyperlinks to drive traffic from your article to your business website. Also explore rich media tools to add pictures or video to your LinkedIn article.
#3. Take advantage of the metrics with Linked “Insights”
In 2015 LinkedIn began to roll out a new add-on to its professional platform that would provide demographical insights. Whether you are operating a business page or an individual page, LinkedIn users can now view engagement with authored articles with metrics that include:
- Number of profile or article views
- Age of readership
- Geographic location of audience
- The industry niche of readers and their job titles
- The percentage of views acquired from mobile browsers
The insights allow individuals and brands to evaluate the value of content published on LinkedIn. Consequently if your business is running active pay-per-click advertising through LinkedIn, the metrics dashboard can also confirm if your advertising is successfully targeting your intended audience if you have opted to promote your featured content.
#4. Use the “Keep In Touch” networking feature
Like all social media networks, LinkedIn is a community that is driven by content, conversations and connections.
Creating successful business relationships and staying in touch with former colleagues, employers and mentors can keep the door to professional career or business opportunities open.
LinkedIn established the “Keep in Touch” feature on the desktop version to allow you to browse important updates, lifestyle notes and landmarks and other more personalized information about people in your business network. By utilizing this feature 2-3 times per week, you can maintain an active presence in LinkedIn by noting important benchmarks and accomplishments (such as promotions or work anniversaries) and more.
Tips: Schedule reminders in your calendar to engage on LinkedIn using the “Keep in Touch” networking tool. By recognizing individual members of your network, you can establish stronger business connections with clients and colleagues, as well as foster new leads, introductions and opportunities. Download the app from iTunes.
Author: Sébastien Boyer, Product manager of Nutcache – A Free Online Invoicing and Time Tracking Application specially designed for small business and freelancers.