When it comes to choosing which social media networks to be active on for your small business, the list is long and often overwhelming: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn being the biggest. Of the small business owners I have come across recently, most are on Facebook, some dabble with Twitter and some have LinkedIn profiles but very few are actively using LinkedIn as a way to connect with people and grow their network.
With over 400 million users, 20 million of those in the UK, 2 members signing up every second and a higher disposable income of user than the other platforms, LinkedIn should not be overlooked by assuming that it is only for those seeking employment or to recruit, or only for professionals employed by larger organisations. LinkedIn is great for people running small businesses looking to connect with people in similar industries, networking with local professionals and businesses and displaying business related information and statistics. It is about business networking, as opposed to social networking, and as such as a small business owner, surely worth considering?
So how do you go about making LinkedIn work for your small business?
1. Make Your Profile ‘Pack a Punch’
The first step to getting LinkedIn working for you is to get your profile right. This means ensuring that the information you are communicating about you and your personal brand is on point and engaging enough for people to want to connect with you.
Here are some top tips for completing your profile:
• Have a professional photo of yourself: adding a photo results in 14 times more profile views.
• Change your URL to something easier and more relevant than the random one LinkedIn assigns to you. Learn how to do this here.
• Include your first and last name, no nicknames. You can also change your surname to add in keywords if required. (My own is currently Nicola Edmondson Personal Assistant).
• Create a headline that ensures the right people find you, succinct and including key terms.
• Complete all sections and ensure all contact information, industry and location are present and correct.
• Ensure your summary section is written in the first person, tells your story well and represents what you want to be known for now. Again use key words, but don’t overuse them, and end with a call to action.
• Add in your skills that people can endorse you for, ensuring that you have skills relevant to what you do now. Adding skills can result in 13 times more profile views.
LinkedIn favours completed profiles in searches, aim to get your profile strength to ‘Expert’ or ‘All Star’.
2. Connecting with People
Once you are happy that your profile is complete and represents you well, you can begin to make connections. Start by connecting with people you have already met or done business with, ALWAYS personalise the message when inviting someone to connect with you. As you progress, you can then start to request connections from 2nd degree connections, people you have met or people that you feel would make a good business connection.
Ask your connections to recommend you or endorse you for a skill that you have listed in your profile, personalise the recommendation request and always thank them if they oblige. In the case of endorsements (& recommendations, if appropriate) return the favour by endorsing them for one or more of the skills you believe they have.
3. Join Groups
There are over 1 million groups on LinkedIn and you can maximise LinkedIn’s networking potential by joining up to 50. Search for groups that are relevant to your business, which you have a particular interest in or that are relevant to your target customers. By joining groups, you will have greater freedom in connecting with members of the group, see relevant content that can then be shared or used to create your own content and take part in discussions, bringing you to the forefront.
4. Create a Company Page
Once you have several connections and a profile strength of ‘intermediate’ or above you can create a Company Page. In order to do this, you must be listed as an employee of the company and have a company email address (not yahoo, Gmail etc).
A Company Page appears in both Google and LinkedIn’s search engines and helps build brand awareness by providing a channel to promote your products and services to customers and prospects. Find out how to go about creating a company page here.
5. Being Active
As with any other networking site, if you don’t become active on the site, you will not see the benefit.
Once you have quality connections and have joined the right groups, you will find that you start to see relevant content come to you. Like it, share it, comment on it and take part in group discussions. Use LinkedIn pulse, as a starting point, to find useful content. It’s also important to create your own content that is relevant and useful to your target audience. You can post content on both your personal and company page and use LinkedIn Pulse to publish it. It is not all about endlessly promoting yourself or your company but about being helpful and informative. In this way, you will build trust in you and your brand.
Which networking sites you choose to be active on is entirely up to you and what you feel is right for your business, but whilst researching for this article I came across this quote from Alex Pirouz, the founder of Linkfluencer, a leading online LinkedIn training company:
“There’s a lot of wasted opportunity out there, through LinkedIn you can literally connect with hundreds if not thousands of key decision makers and start building a relationship with them WITHOUT spending a cent on advertising or marketing!
If you do it right, LinkedIn is an absolute gold mine for new business, partnerships and media opportunities. So my point, get on your profile now and start working on it, then really start to harness the power of LinkedIn for your business growth.”
Nicola Edmondson is the owner of Pink Spaghetti Bishop’s Stortford and Surrounds. Pink Spaghetti exists to be a 25th hour to small business owners and busy people, we’re a PA/VA service that people can use as little or as often as they need. As our services are all about saving a business owner time, we often get asked to assist with social media accounts, from setting up profiles and company pages to social media management. In addition, we offer Social Media Simplified training classes, click here to find out more about them and if you feel you would benefit from attending, contact your local Pink Spaghetti team.