If you’ve never taken the leap into the LinkedIn world, it is important upfront to set clear objectives for your use of the world’s largest internet-based, professional network.
Is your focus on building profile?
On lead generation?
On thought leadership?
LinkedIn is a network with more than 400 million members, in more than 200 countries and it’s continuing to grow.
LinkedIn’s ability to reach businesses and to connect with professionals in general, ensure it is a powerful platform for business-to-business (B2B) social media marketing.
Defining your LinkedIn objectives will assist with developing relevant strategies to achieve those objectives.
When you are ready to leap in, here’s how:
Setting up your profile
The information and presentation of your LinkedIn profile is the face of your business to the network. It needs to be concise, informative, relevant, professional and it goes without saying that it needs to be proof-read for spelling mistakes or obvious and embarrassing errors.
Obviously your first port of call is to connect on LinkedIn with existing clients and professional contacts with whom you already have a relationship, or who you have networked with at an event or seminar. Secondly, you can work through LinkedIn ‘groups’, which are industry-related groups, client-related groups, etc, that provide articles or threads and can also generate additional connection opportunities. Lastly, utilise ‘interest groups’. Find forums of interest where you can regularly contribute, but also take the time to read others’ queries and the solutions submitted, in order to learn from others.
The content and information you share on LinkedIn, whether created afresh or sourced elsewhere, needs to be relevant and of a high standard. If you can regularly share content that is informative and valuable to your network, you will position yourself in the minds of your clients or potential client as a leader in your field, and will likely be top of mind for them when they have a need.
Setting a content plan is a good way to organise what you will produce or share, including allocating dates on which to post that content. It ensures your content is regular, and helps you keep track of what you share. You could set up a ‘library’ of content that you can draw on as needed, rather than scramble to post something at the last minute.
Keeping top of mind
Consider what a client would find relevant and engaging and what would be relevant to them. Here’s how:
- Keep abreast of news or topics that are trending in your area of expertise, and allow for some movement in your content plan to address and post topical content.
• Share, comment or ‘like’ some of your clients’ content.
- If you see an article that is particularly relevant to a certain contact or group of contacts, send them a LinkedIn email to share it with them in a more personal way.
• If you see a client or contact has a work anniversary or promotion, for example, send them a message via LinkedIn to congratulate them, and maybe organise a catch-up to hear about their new role and create a reason to meet.
• Start discussions or comment on discussions in relevant LinkedIn groups.
• If you see an opportunity to connect two of your contacts for their mutual benefit, offer them a chance to connect through you.
Identify ‘groups’ that are relevant to your original LinkedIn objectives, and join them.
Asking questions, posting content and comments or ‘liking’ others’ posts, as applicable, are great ways to build your profile and your credibility. Posting answers and helpful information to issues raised in LinkedIn groups by potential customers benefits them, and makes them more likely to approach you for further advice or business opportunities.
Another feature of LinkedIn worth investing time in is ‘traffic driving’. LinkedIn has a social sharing button that enables you to share content in your status updates. The information you share is visible on the homepage and so it works well if you have business content that can create a viral sharing effect.
A key concept to grasp when utilising LinkedIn is to listen and to focus on other people’s needs, and then provide assistance or insights that meet those needs. This helps build rapport and create a meaningful connection.
Building relationships firstly within the LinkedIn forum, and then offline, is the key to making the LinkedIn platform work best for you and your business.
NB: This article was published in the EMA “Business Plus” magazine. Enterprises of all types and sizes join the Employers and Manufacturers Association, for opportunities to learn and grow, make valuable business connections and change the world. EMA provides its members with professional advice and training to succeed in many aspects of business.