We all know how much social media has changed the way we communicate with each other. Although it may not be as prevalent, social media has also changed the way small businesses do a number of things. LinkedIn has consistently grown, now with over 135 million individual users and 7 million companies registered, it can obviously offer some value to entrepreneurs and small business owners. An article by Marla Tabaka, on Inc.com, entitled “Unlock the Secrets of LinkedIn” gives entrepreneurs and small business owners a starting point to begin using LinkedIn as a social media platform for their businesses.
Researching Connections and Targeting Customers Using LinkedIn
In the article, Tabaka interviews Barbara Rozgonyi who suggests LinkedIn can be used to research connections and target customers for business development and gives the following tips for doing so:
- LinkedIn's advance search lets you target people, groups, and companies. Here you can type in a search term [skill, certification, industry, company, etc.]. Then, check the filters [location, company size, seniority, etc.] for a more defined search. You'll see results that include a photo, title, and connection to you—something you can't get on any other network.
- Check out LinkedIn's skills section. Here you can research skills and search terms. You'll find related terms, people and groups who best match the skill.
- Make a list of your target companies, go directly to the company site and locate someone you'd like to connect with. Then check to see what LinkedIn groups they belong to, join one of them and send them an invitation based on your common membership. This commonality will increase the odds of your invitation being accepted.
Integrating LinkedIn Throughout Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
Rozgonyi also suggests that you make sure to set up your own company’s profile on LinkedIn and make sure that it offers more substance than the quick description given on the company website. Once you have your company page set up, she gives some tips to integrate LinkedIn throughout your sales and marketing strategy:
- Utilize LinkedIn's Card Munch app at networking events and on sales calls to connect to your prospects right away. Make sure you offer a free report or something else with value in your invitation to connect.
- Add LinkedIn's blog application to your personal profile to pull in company blog updates.
- Install the slideshare application into your personal profile. Upload a PowerPoint about your company's services and the presentation will appear on your profile.
- Invite customers to leave recommendations on the products and services page on your LinkedIn company page.
Using LinkedIn can be a great way to add value to both your company and your customer. If you aren’t convinced yet, go check it out for yourself atwww.linkedin.com.
Content contributed by Aaron Harris, Arkansas SourceLink, a proud affiliate of U.S. Sourcelink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.