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LinkedIn – not just for headhunters and hackers

Don’t let the recent hacking troubles at LinkedIn put you off making the most of what is essentially a valuable business tool. It offers potential access to an enormous pool of people who are there because they want to make professional business connections. There are more than 9 million Linkedin members in the UK alone* and more than 2 million companies worldwide have LinkedIn company pages.

In theory you and your business could be just a few connections away from a contact that could help to take your business forward or maybe provide that mentor you’ve been looking for. Plus it’s not just about what you can get out of it – it’s important that it works both ways – you might be in a position to provide the connection that could help someone else move forward.

With so much professional talent in one place it’s inevitable that the headhunters would move in, however don’t be distracted by the idea that it’s a giant jobs’ board. It’s true that the recruitment agents are all over it – which is great if you are looking for a job – but you don’t have to engage with them unless you want to. As with any network, or social media, it’s up to you how you use it and who you choose to connect with. The point is that you are in control of your connections and interactions and there is a world of new people looking for opportunities to do business.

For any businesses that markets a niche product or service to a small audience, LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help them connect and stay connected in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago.

Just a few of the advantages of being on LinkedIn:

  • It provides access to high quality business contacts – the average LinkedIn member is 44 years old. There are more C-level executives on LinkedIn, more high earners (earning over £100k) and more university/college educated people than can be found in any other single (English language) business network
  • It’s much easier to make new connections through people you already know, or when prospects can see that you are part of the same interest or industry group
  • It provides a great opportunity to raise your business profile (particularly if you are in a service industry) as an expert and thought leader in your field by sharing  insights and knowledge.  Members are doing just that in more than one million groups on LinkedIn
  • Having a company profile provides additional opportunities to showcase new products and services, helps to direct traffic to the company website and improves SEO
  • It allows businesses to network with key stakeholder groups including media, senior decision makers, potential funders and employees, trade bodies and partners
  • It can help generate sales leads and increase sales enquiries

Tips for making the most of LinkedIn:

  • Optimise your personal profile and keep it up-to-date – make sure you are presenting the right professional image. Set up a company profile with product information and links to news, twitter feeds, and key landing pages on the company website
  • Connect with existing customers and potential targets and share useful/interesting content – not because you want to sell them something, but because you want to keep them informed and engaged
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups, start conversations and get involved in relevant discussions
  • Definitely don’t sell, don’t spam – just start by engaging in conversation
  • Don’t expect instant results – it’s not a quick fix

Any social media engagement can be time-consuming and results might take weeks or months to appear. As with everything any social media activity has to be part of the wider integrated marketing plan. Before starting down that road any business needs to be clear on its objectives – what is to be achieved, with which tools, to target which audiences, and why.

If you think that LinkedIn is just for headhunters, and high-level job seekers, think again. Get in there and explore the opportunities for your business. Make the most of the analytical tools available on LinkedIn and Google to track how things are going and amend activities to suit. (…and if you haven’t already done so change your LinkedIn passwords now.)

*2 April 2012, LinkedIn


About the author: Deborah Roweis a chartered marketer, member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and fellow of both the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and the RSA. She has more than 20 years of solid marketing and communications experience which she puts to good use as principal consultant of Sheba MarketingSheba Marketing provides no-nonsense business-to-business marketing support to small and medium-sized organisations that want to achieve great things. www.shebamarketing.co.uk

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