August 18, 2014
10 Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business
Entrepreneurs know by now that LinkedIn allows them to find potential employees and customers based on their interests and experience. But apart from that the questions remains, how can it actually help the business grow and generate revenue?
TheYoung Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. BlackEnterprise.com reached out to the collective’s membership to learn: What’s the right way (or most effective way) to use to LinkedIn to grow your business? Here’s what they had to say:
1. Get Active in Groups
There’s a group for almost any business niche you can imagine on LinkedIn. Find a few that fit your industry and join the community. If you are seen as a useful resource in those groups, you’ll get a lot of natural inquiries about your business. Word of caution: Don’t be the self-promoting guy. It’s a big turn off for people in those groups. Give first, then you become the automatic go-to person for a solution when someone has questions.
2. Don’t Private Message for Leads
LinkedIn is becoming more popular as a platform to showcase thought leaders in industries. Provide and produce relevant content for your audience and your influence will grow. DO NOT use the contacts you collect for private messaging and spam. This is so unusual on LinkedIn that it will quickly cause you to lose the influential authority that you’re trying to build on this great business-networking platform.
3. Become a Connector
The name of the game in networking is helping other people first and going out of your way to make valuable connections for them (not you). It may seem counter-intuitive to grow your business by focusing on helping others, but it not only works, the “karmic” value of it comes back to you in spades. You simply have to be patient and do it with genuine intention.
4. Activate Your Network
As soon as I meet a new contact and/or potential lead, I check LinkedIn to see who we know in common and who might be able to make a warm introduction. I also use it to share company updates and keep up to date with what people in my network are doing and talking about.
5. Utilize Every Available Platform
Use every platform LinkedIn has. Join groups and participate — you will get noticed. Reach out with opportunities and if you don’t have paid InMails, get them. They are worth every penny.
6. Add Videos to Your Account
One of the best ways to grow your business using LinkedIn is to add videos to your account, a feature that LinkedIn recently added. Blog posts are fine, but displaying your industry expertise in the form of a video can have more of an impact on viewers.
7. Research and Get Personal
LinkedIn produces the highest ROI of any distribution outlet for my company. It allows me to deeply research potential clients before I reach out to them via message. Since the LinkedIn network charges $99 dollars for 25 InMail credits per month, this reduces the likelihood of spammers controlling this avenue of communication (although this has been a recent concern). LinkedIn becomes more powerful as your network grows, too.
8. Connect With Super Connectors
There are two layers. First, you have to connect with “super connectors.â€ Once you get to about 15, 000,000 of what LinkedIn calls third-degree connections, the usefulness of LinkedIn opens up to you. You’re now at the second layer, where you can connect and directly communicate with industry leaders and influencers. Jobs and business opportunities will then completely open up to you.
9. Use the LinkedIn Publishing Platform
LinkedIn is heavily favoring posts made on their publishing platform. Many people even get a notification when you publish a new post. Use this tool to blog and promote your thought leadership in the industry. These articles tend to get a lot of views and can easily be passed along to more professionals who will be exposed to your business and personal brand. You’ll naturally attract readers interested in your industry or line of work.
10. Direct Message Group Members
The most effective way to use LinkedIn is to join groups and message individuals directly. LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to send a direct message to second and third degree members (unless you use the limited/pricey InMail). The “loophole” is to join a group, use the Advanced Search tool to filter the group members and send each member a personalized message. It’s great for events, fund-raising, brand awareness, product announcements and much more.