With over 332 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is easily one of the most powerful social media platform on the planet. However, I'm often surprised to hear that many companies fail to capitalize on using the service as part of their marketing strategy. Which is really disappointing, considering the vast opportunities that exist to connect with some of the world's most powerful decision makers. In my personal experience, it is by far one of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.
As you welcome in 2015, there is no better time to reevaluate how you are utilizing LinkedIn to solidify business relationships while growing your brand. I know that getting started can be intimidating for some -- which is why I'm offering these key strategies for success.
Recognize LinkedIn for what it is.
The first thing to remember is that LinkedIn is intended to be a networking tool for professionals. True, it's possible to give status updates, share stories and post images. But that's where the similarities between Facebook and LinkedIn ends. Therefore it's imperative that you take that into consideration when providing information. Keep all content that you contribute to the site strictly business and save the cat videos for another medium.
Make the right connections.
As with any social media site, LinkedIn gives users the chance to meet new people who share similar interests. But having the right connections can make all the difference when it comes to seeking out new business prospects. Start with your co-workers and business associates first. Then consider searching for others who may have common interests.
It's important to note that LinkedIn offers the chance for you to get introduced to new connections by others. However, consider these interactions like passing on your business card. You need to establish why you think connecting with this new person would be mutually beneficial for both of you.
Find LinkedIn Group(s) to join.
Active participation in LinkedIn Groups is a great way to increase your reach, grow your network and create more leads for your business. Not only does it give you immediate access to like-minded people but it provides important insight on news and trends affecting your bottom line.
Once you find a group to join, take a moment to establish a relationship with the other members. Instead of immediately starting multiple conversations centered on your individual business concerns-try joining an ongoing discussion on a topic instead. Doing so will not only give you insight on who the group's top influencers are. It will also help to establish you as a participant who is capable of adding real substance to the forum.
Use LinkedIn to establish yourself as an expert.
Getting recognized as a top influencer on LinkedIn can have a dramatic effect on your brand. Simply put, people love to identify with an expert. It not only inspires trusts within your prospective client base, but it can open doors in terms of new business ventures. Therefore it definitely pays to be more than a lurker on the site.
Although participating in your LinkedIn group is a great way to build your online reputation, the site provides other ways to get involved. If you really want to create (or re-use) content with existing reach through your connections, you can join LinkedIn Pulse-the site's online publishing system. Becoming a featured writer is an excellent means to gain recognition for your know-how while tapping into the application's millions of users.
Publishers on the site can also be listed as a LinkedIn Influencer-a select list of individuals known for their leadership acumen. The roster, which rotates constantly throughout the year is established by invitation only.
Keep your profile up to date.
Just as your career is constantly evolving, so should your LinkedIn page. Updating your page with promotions and newly gained skills will give you an edge with would-be contacts and clients who are looking for the expertise you possess. Unfortunately, many people leave their page dormant, which could affect your potential of gaining new clients.
LinkedIn can be an incredible marketing tool for companies looking to extend their influence. Take advantage of the networking feature to reach a new audience for your business.