For professional service marketers, LinkedIn provides numerous ways to connect with key decision makers, showcase your firm’s expertise, build a personal brand, conduct market research and gather competitive intelligence. It helps to:
If you are a marketer, or a company executive, chances are you’re already on LinkedIn – the question is: Are you taking full advantage of this premier online networking platform? And is your firm leveraging LinkedIn’s multitude of strategic uses, including both marketing and lead intelligence?
Before you can dive into LinkedIn full-force, however, you need to make sure you are working from a strong foundation.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Build the Community
LinkedIn’s recently redesigned Company Page allows for a much more visually engaging and personalized experience. Beginning with the landing page’s large photo banner, to thumbnails next to each shared story, to the ability to create a 3-slide custom Services banner and a custom thumbnail for each service.
Make sure that your company profile is complete, optimized and includes all relevant information about your firm and your offerings. LinkedIn automatically associates all members listing your firm as their place of employment with your Company Page.
Use the Careers section to post your open positions – both potential employees and recruiters use LinkedIn more extensively than even before.
If you want multiple team members to post updates to your Company Page, you’ll need to grant admin privileges to those individuals.
Make sure you profile is complete with skills, education, volunteer organizations and board positions. If you want to truly engage with the LinkedIn community, provide as much info as you can. And make sure to update it as needed
Don’t be the faceless, flat gray person – add a profile photo and make sure it’s professional and recognizable. Your LinkedIn profile is a virtual equivalent of person-to-person networking and you want your name, and definitely your face to be remembered.
Get recommendations and use them as testimonials in online and offline marketing.
Skill endorsements are a way to endorse your 1st degree connections' skills and expertise with one click. Endorsements are all the rage and all cool kids are doing this! Should you? Proceed with caution.
According to LinkedIn, there have been 550 million Endorsements so far and growing at a rate of 10 million per day. And while some endorsements are legitimate, we all have probably gotten a skill endorsement from someone who has no experience with that particular skill. This makes the whole system suspect and more like a Facebook “like” rather than a LinkedIn “recommendation.”
A few guidelines:
With an ever-growing list of LinkedIn tools to grow your business, Groups remain one of the most effective.
Think strategically: Which groups should you join? While it’s a good idea to join some groups of like-minded professionals with discussion topics relevant to your day-to-day job so that you can stay on top of trends and best practices (and keep tabs on your competition), you should first think about joining groups where your clients are. Is your core expertise in Urban Development? Join groups for real estate developers and planning directors and learn what your prospects are talking about and what’s important to them.
Once you join a group, begin by “lurking” to see the group dynamics and then gradually become more active. Be careful not to promote your firm but seek to make truly valuable contributions to the group through your knowledge and expertise.
We’ve all agonized over whether or not we want our clients see our other clients and our connections see who our clients are. At some point you need to decide why you are on LinkedIn – if you want to expand your network, then you may need to be less guarded about initiating and accepting connections.
If someone wants to connect and you are not sure why but don’t want to offend them, send a message back: “Thank you for reaching out. Could you briefly tell me how you believe we both would benefit from connecting.” If it’s one of those people who shoves his/her business card into everyone’s hands at a live networking event, you’ll never hear back. If someone is connecting strategically, you never know what you may gain. And don’t take it personally when people don’t accept your invitations – many professionals are still new to online networking and simply not comfortable responding
To strategically and successfully grow your network through connecting:
What/How to share
Unlike more time-dependent social networks like Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn posts have a longer shelf life. Often, people treat LinkedIn digests that come to their inbox as their morning paper, so you may chose posting some discussions on Saturday afternoon and people will still see them/read them days later.
And while we all love, love, love automation, I recommend adjusting the personality and the tone of your messages for LinkedIn vs., for example, Facebook.