“Are you on LinkedIn?” It’s a question that gets asked more and more often at conferences and networking events. And we’ve heard answers that can range anywhere from “You bet, let’s connect!” to “No, I just don’t have time for that.”
We’ve even heard plenty of small business owners say, “I’m not on LinkedIn, and I have no idea why I should be.” Sound familiar? Then this article is for you!
By now we know that social media isn’t a passing fad. Small businesses have seen a clear, measurable value in the time they invest establishing and cultivating personal or business presences on social media. And as the “social network for professionals,” LinkedIn is the right environment for small business owners who want to gain new business leads, collaborate with other business owners, and build credibility with content.
Once you establish a social media marketing strategy for your small business, you can better determine how LinkedIn fits into your overall plan, but if traditional marketing and advertising benefits appeal to you (brand awareness, increased sales traffic, access to a wider hiring pool), you’ll easily understand the value LinkedIn provides.
From groups to blogs to job listings, the LinkedIn platform offers tools, information, and access to like-minded professionals who want to connect to others in their industry. And who wants to struggle alone, when there’s an established network of professionals offering solid, plentiful resources and assistance?
In fact, every second, two new users join LinkedIn, providing a deep, interconnected support system that small business owners can refer to for answers and aid over the lifespan of their careers. No matter what phase your small business is in, from concept and start up, to expansion and even decline, there will be a fellow LinkedIn member who understands and is willing to assist.
Branding and Brand Awareness
One of the strongest trends in branding right now is “storytelling”. Storytelling is not only a creative, visceral way of communicating your businesses’ unique vision and history; science even suggests our brains are hardwired to “crave” this type of story-focused content marketing.
LinkedIn provides the perfect venue for storytelling-style digital marketing. You can link to images, presentations, and video to show and tell the narrative of your business, in order to build a deeper relationship with your current customers, engage with potential customers, and attract the eye of investors.
As with all marketing, the most effective way to start is by focusing on your ideal customer or client, then tailor your message to attract them.
LinkedIn advises: “Use the summary area of your profile to provide a snapshot of your professional journey and aspirations. To help people find you via search, be sure you have a total word count of at least 40 words, and incorporate industry keywords. Add past and present work experience to provide context, and upload (or link to) rich content like websites, blogs, presentations, and videos to capture your full body of work.”
LinkedIn also offers the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and build credibility as an expert by sharing articles, news, and videos through status updates. Be sure to add your personal insights on any content you may share, in order to “brand” the content and demonstrate to others your unique voice and subject matter expertise. LinkedIn is also the perfect forum to repurpose business-related blog posts, articles, photos, or videos that you have created for other social networking sites, in order to serve them directly to a more professional audience.
Small Business Marketing with LinkedIn
Even if you’re still skeptical of the value of having a personal profile on LinkedIn, it’s even easier to imagine the tangible benefits of establishing a LinkedIn Company Page. A Company Page provides a shareable, credible, public platform for your marketing, selling, and hiring efforts. Your employees can also be connected to your page, acting as ambassadors for your small business, and amplifying your message.
How effectively? A 2013 study from Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee revealed that 84% of users generated several business opportunities from the use of LinkedIn.
An article from the Huffington Post states that “The 2013 Sales and LinkedIn Study, which interviewed nearly 3,100 business owners, consultants and career salespeople, said that most use free accounts on LinkedIn as a strategic prospecting tool. In fact, 79 percent of the study participants were small business owners.”
The secret to their success on LinkedIn? “The most successful users actively share relevant content, showcase themselves as a trusted resource and spend six or more hours on week on the social media site. And some survey participants say it’s their best source for new business leads”
LinkedIn advises: “Give your brand more opportunities to be discovered by the right people—add your company specialties, links, and copy describing your core value propositions on your Company Page. Be sure to take advantage of your existing online properties by linking to your Company Page from your company website, blog, and other social platforms.”
LinkedIn has powerful search tools to help you find sales leads and prospects, and enables you to quickly find the people who will help you make the sale. You can search by company to generate a list of employees, then, if you want increased access to search filters like seniority, job function, and years of experience, you may opt for LinkedIn’s paid premium Sales Navigator service.
Upgrading to Sales Navigator also increases your reach to 1,000 results per search, as opposed to 100 results per search you receive as a free member.
The most important element to sales success on LinkedIn is your profile. Stand out from the crowd, and project your experience and knowledge with a professional photo, descriptive headline, and concise summary of your work experience to give potential customers a better understanding of who you are and what you do.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is error-free, contains a variety of media (share presentations, slide shows, photos, videos, links) and best represents you and your company.
Consider your profile a “first impression,” as many potential clients, customers, and sales leads will look for you (and find you) here first. If you have a rich, thoughtful profile with a clear, attractive photo, you’re more likely to convert on your social media sales goals. And, profiles with a photos are 11 times more likely to be viewed!
Even if you don’t sell to other businesses, LinkedIn is still effective. You can drive traffic to your website, promote projects you’re working on, build relationships with others, and get more eyes on content you have already created for other venues.
Small Business Hiring with LinkedIn
Building a Company Page on LinkedIn is also an opportunity to show professionals why they should join your team. By demonstrating your company’s brand through posts outlining the culture, mission, and working environment of your business, you’ll give candidates a quick way to way to learn more about who you are and what you do before they even apply.
LinkedIn has tons of resources and tips for creating great job postings, and the ability to attract high-quality applicants by broadcasting your opening to members who match the description.
And because LinkedIn currently has more than 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories, your hiring net is cast wide! And you will reach both established and emerging professionals: there are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, making them LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.
Ready to give LinkedIn a try for your small business?
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- 21 Steps to Create an Awesome LinkedIn Profile – Jeff Bullas
- 10 Ways To Use LinkedIn For Small Business -Business2Community
- 10 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Company Page – Social Media Examiner
- 8 Mistakes You Should Never Make On LinkedIn – Forbes
- Get The Most Out Of Your LinkedIn Profile – The Small Business Playbook
Does your small business have a LinkedIn success story? If so, please share below. Have more questions to ask about LinkedIn for small business? Feel free to comment; we are here to support you! For more small business tools, information, and conversation, join our Western Slopes Business Association Group on LinkedIn.