LinkedIn Crash Course for Small Businesses

 

Top 10 Strategies to Maximize LinkedIn for Entrepreneurs

1. Develop a game plan, and stick to it.

Quick Tips:

  • Define your business goals and reasons to use LinkedIn.
  • Create a messaging platform that clearly articulates your company’s mission and the unique benefits it provides.
  • Determine who will be responsible for LinkedIn and allocate the necessary time and resources.
  • Track, measure and evaluate your results routinely.

LinkedIn can be a powerful business driver to support your company’s marketing and sales goals. But maximizing the results will require developing a sound game plan – and sticking to it. Key questions to consider as you develop your LinkedIn plan:

  • What are your business reasons for using social media?
  • What is your company’s current position in LinkedIn, and how does it compare with that of your competitors?
  • What are your company’s key differentiators?
  • What is your unique value proposition?
  • What specific target audiences do you wish to reach on LinkedIn?
  • What topics most interest your target audiences?
  • What is your company’s messaging and positioning platform, and what key messages do you wish to communicate to your target audiences?
  • Who will manage your LinkedIn program?
  • How frequently do you plan to make and respond to posts and recruit connections (daily, weekly, etc.?)
  • How and when will you track, measure and evaluate the results?

2. Create a company LinkedIn profile.

Quick Tips:

  • Use LinkedIn to build your company’s brand equity.
  • Fill out all the fields for 100% completion.
  • Incorporate applications such as a dynamic presentation or a blog feed.
  • Promote your profile with links from your website and in your email signature file.
  • Use specific keyword phrases that represent your industry, products and services.

When it comes to branding, registering your company on the biggest professional social platform is a smart strategy. Keep the URL as simple and as close to your company name as possible. Be sure to fill out all of the fields, add your logo, specialty services and other information so the profile is 100% complete.

3. Share your expertise

Quick Tips:

  • Routinely post unique content with a point of view and pay it forward by sharing your industry expertise and insights that interest your target audiences.
  • Make sure that your posts support your company’s messaging and positioning platform.
  • Double-dip with your Twitter base by sharing updates from LinkedIn to Twitter.

Engaging and building relationships with your target audiences on LinkedIn requires providing meaningful content of interest to them. It’s not about saturating them with self-serving company news and information. Post unique, thought-provoking content that supports the branding and messaging that you developed in your game plan. Rather than simply curating content (sharing links from another articles or sources), it’s best to infuse your point of view and perspectives by adding comments that showcase your knowledge and expertise. Also, be sure to post a least once a day and avoid long periods of silence. Lastly, connect your Twitter account to your LinkedIn so that you can “double-dip” (post once but diffuse the message in two different places for one-two punch).

4. Begin connecting

Quick Tips:

  • You have to begin somewhere, so begin now, one step at a time.
  • LinkedIn works best when you have a large base of connections.
  • Import your e-mail contacts and spend time sifting through them

If you’re new to LinkedIn, it might seem overwhelming and you may not know the best place to begin. However, take it one step at a time and simply begin building your network from the ground up by importing your contacts and sifting through them to connect to people including your clients, prospects, referral sources, colleagues, and others you know. LinkedIn is a great networking tool because it utilizes the contacts you already have to facilitate important connections and meaningful relationships.

5. Generate leads

Quick Tips:

  • Use InMail to generate leads and facilitate meaningful connections.
  • InMail guarantees a response through an introduction request or you’re credited for another InMail.

InMail, which is LinkedIn’s internal messaging platform, offers a service that guarantees a response through an introduction request or will provide you with a credit for another InMail. If you can generate a lead for $20, and you receive a credit if you can’t make a connection, you’re still spending significantly less than you might on, for instance, Google Adwords, which can run well over $100-200 per lead, if you work in a competitive keyword space.

6. Ask for referrals through LinkedIn

Quick Tips:

  • Use your best contacts to get quality referrals by searching through their LinkedIn contacts.
  • Select specific individuals to whom you want to be referred.

One of the best ways to generate new business is through referrals, but sometimes it can be difficult to think of someone to refer you when you’re just sitting at your desk. However, by sifting through your contacts’ own LinkedIn contacts, you can locate the ideal business prospects to which you want to be referred. Then, ask your contacts for referral connections with specific names in mind.

7. Join LinkedIn groups

Quick Tips:

  • Don’t only join groups comprised of your industry competitors and peers.
  • Do join groups that are frequented by your potential prospects.
  • Develop an action plan for how you will appeal to your target audiences.
  • Begin by joining at least 12 groups – LinkedIn caps you at 50.

Some professionals make the common mistake of joining groups populated by too many of their industry colleagues and competitors rather than groups populated by their targeted clients and referral sources. For example, the owner of a law firm that focuses on real estate law isn’t going to get as much business from joining a group filled with real estate attorneys as he or she would by joining a group filled with attorneys who are not competitors and practice other types of law, like family law, or a group filled with realtors or young professionals, for example. Without doubt, the smartest strategy is to join groups that include your target clients. LinkedIn limits you to 50 groups, but start out with about a dozen, and develop a strategy for how you will appeal to members of the group. You might begin by leading discussions, posting interesting articles, posing questions, or facilitating an industry TweetUp with your group members. Always keep your messaging and positioning platform in mind as you create your content.

8. Conduct competitive analysis and recruitment

Quick Tips:

  • Keep track of the moves of your competitors and key industry players.
  • Use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.

Let’s admit it – you already have Google alerts set up on your competitors and their goings-on, so why aren’t you following them on LinkedIn? Track their progress, see what team members are coming and going. Did someone just leave your across-town rival? Maybe you want to hire that executive, maybe you have an opening that would fit this executive, and he or she might know a thing or two about how your competitors are working. Use LinkedIn as an analysis and recruitment tool. Keeping track of key industry players in your operating space will give you a competitive advantage, no matter what.

9. Build your LinkedIn presence from the bottom up, with a little help from your employees

Quick Tips:

  • Every employee should have a completed LinkedIn profiles that highlight their roles and positions at your company.
  • Ask employees and staff members to connect to your official LinkedIn company page.
  • Ask employees to use the “3 free backlinks.”

If you have a small business, you only have so many people reaching out on behalf of your company, so it’s important that each of your employees has a completed LinkedIn profile, particularly one that highlights the work they do at your company. So, encourage your employees to complete their profile. Make sure their roles are clearly defined in their profiles and that they sprinkle specific target keywords throughout their profile descriptions. Lastly, every LinkedIn account has a place for three backlinks, which Google uses to drive search engine results. Ask your employees to ensure these backlinks are completed and pointing to your company website. Not sure what to link to? Try diversifying among these: home page, services page, testimonials page, blog, news releases, and employee profiles.

10. Execute with precision

Quick Tips:
Try the following 10-minute daily routine to maximize your results:

  1. Spend three minutes to listen to the conversation and assess the dialogue on LinkedIn. Keep an eye out for interesting articles and information that you may be able to repurpose and share.
  2. Spend the next three to four minutes crafting and posting a compelling comment and also commenting on others’ posts.
  3. Complete your routine with three minutes of community building by inviting others to connect with you or asking connections to refer you to others.

One of the most effective, efficient ways to use LinkedIn is to create a daily social media routine in which you focus on LinkedIn for 10 minutes. Once per quarter, you spend 30 minutes evaluating your progress and making modifications as necessary.

Some questions to consider during your quarterly progress review:

  • How many targeted new contacts did I add?
  • How many potential clients and/or referral sources did I acquire?
  • How often and by whom was my profile viewed?
  • Did my posts and comments lead to engagement, and how can I improve them?
  • Did I acquire any potential business from my LinkedIn activities?

These proven strategies and tactics can make LinkedIn a powerful business driver for small business looking to support their branding, customer service, and sales initiatives.

 

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