What Is LinkedIn?
If you’re in business for yourself, then you know the challenges presented when that business is an online entity. You have to have a presence on the ‘net – you have to build an identity and a reputation that people can connect with.
One of the ways that people connect today is by using social media sites. But if you look at most social media sites, you’ll see that they’re not just for professionals or those who own a business.
This is where LinkedIn is different. Rather than being a site that focuses on personal relationships and needs, LinkedIn is a networking site that hones in on the networking needs of businessmen and women. Some refer to it as a ‘business social network,’ but it really is so much more.
Your LinkedIn account will have a home page and the dashboard on it will have these links: contacts, profile, jobs, groups, inbox, etc. – so you can navigate your account. You’ll get the latest information from your network of contacts and you’ll be able to seek out people to connect with and respond to those who want to connect to you.
By using the group feature, you can either get involved in a group discussion that’s already taking place or you can open up one of your own. A group is a great way for both current and potential customers to get to know you as well other business people who might be prospective customers or partners in your online ventures.
You can also use your LinkedIn account to boost your Twitter following, update information and more. But you can choose who can see the information (whether you want it to go to your personal contacts) just by adding a simple hashtag (which gives you a great level of control).
A handy feature on LinkedIn that you’ll want to use is Company Buzz which lets you stay current on what’s being said in the business world. It’s a great way to follow product development and keep up with the latest trends.
If you happen to be an Internet marketer, one of the things you’ll want to do is set up a company page. This feature can help you reach a target audience and put your product or services before your prospects’ eyes.
Another feature you’ll want to participate in is the Answers feature. This helps brand you as an expert in your niche when your response to a question in your field is picked as being the best response.
LinkedIn also has applications that help you broaden your network. For example, the Slideshare Presentations application allows users to showcase presentations about your products or services.
You can also connect with your blog, use the Box.net Files application to keep up with your files and with Huddle Workspaces, you have online room to work with your associates as well as your customers. You can use LinkedIn for free but you do get extra perks by using the upgraded level.
When you upgrade, you can contact people directly instead of having to wait for the connection to be made. You’ll also be able to organize your outreach, which can help grow a customer base.
You’ll have more access to others’ profiles and you’ll be able to find out who it is that’s looking at your profile. Why does this matter? Those looking at your profile can be potential leads. Being able to send InMails to possible connections can greatly enhance your ability to network with prospects. You also get better search features with the upgrade!
Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile
Your profile page on LinkedIn is like a door opening the way for others to find you and your business. You can use this connection to drive traffic back to your main business site.
It’s a way to show people who you are (personal branding), what your products do (business branding) and how you can help them as clients or customers. You get to showcase your expertise in your niche and share your knowledge about the field you’re in.
When connections have questions, they’re going to go to the one they see will have the answers. The profile page is handing you the bricks to build your business by tapping into millions of available connections.
When you have a profile on LinkedIn, you get immediate exposure and high ranking on Google simply by the affiliation. Just having a LinkedIn profile isn’t sufficient unless it’s built to be effective – and there are ways you can achieve that goal.
On the personal profile page that you have (you should create the page so that it appeals to the needs of potential customers), after you have your name, you can list the business you own or the services you provide.
You’ll also be able to list pertinent information like higher levels of education. When you’re recommended by others, it will show up in your profile as well. It’s like having a stream of testimonies to your overall expertise.
The amount of connections you’ve made and links to your external sites will also be listed on your profile. This gives customers easy access to your sites. You’ll also be able to allow people to link directly to Twitter from your LinkedIn profile.
Your profile should have a brief description of yourself as a business person in the summary section. If you’re an Internet marketer, this needs to be short, yet touch on exactly what it is that you do – but more importantly, why? This is the place to let customers see the human behind the business.
If you have a blog, you’ll be able to link pertinent posts to your LinkedIn profile page which helps potential clients go to your blog and get to know more about you and your business.
One tip that you can use to really make your LinkedIn profile stand out and help market you is to create a presentation about your business and put it on the profile page using their presentation application.
Make sure that your LinkedIn account has a widget that you can place on your main business site and your blog sites. Take advantage of the free publicity and make a company page. This will help promote your company. Remember that the LinkedIn profile page is only a tool. For it to work for you, you have to use it the right way.
LinkedIn Marketing Tips
If you thought that LinkedIn was just for people looking for jobs and people looking to hire others, you would be wrong. If you’re an Internet marketer, ignoring the power of LinkedIn would mean you would be losing a huge opportunity to get more traffic to your site, reach a target audience and increase your conversion rate.
If you don’t know how to use LinkedIn and take advantage of its potential business-growing platform, you’ll be happy to hear it’s easy. First, make sure all of the headlines on your pages tap into the power of SEO marketing.
From your profile page on, make every word count. Don’t forget to add the blog application so that connections can also see your blog feed. Taking part in groups is a good idea, but building your own is even better.
By building your own group, your business is the one that’s being promoted and not someone else’s products and services. If you’ve written eBooks for your niche, consider getting an ISBN number for it so that you can use the Amazon books link and promote it on your LinkedIn pages. These are all important marketing steps for you to do.
There are other strategies you can use on LinkedIn that help you leverage your presence into sales – like having little bites or samples of the expertise you have to share. You do that by offering the potential clients something for free.
And you make sure that the free item whets their appetite – so make sure it’s something of value. There are several things you can do to offer potential customers something of value.
The first way is to share a link to a free report. In the report, you can touch on a few basics they need to know about your niche topic. This can be a marketing tool for you where you can embed links to your websites, blog and your other sites that promote your business products. This gives the customer a ‘take-away’ lesson or tip.
Secondly, you can offer short presentations that teach potential clients something of importance about the business they’re in (or are considering getting into). You give them a tip or two that they can implement – some bit of knowledge gleaned from your experience and at the end of the presentation, you promote your main site.
Finally, you can offer PDF downloads in various page lengths to share your expertise. This will intrigue new clients who want to know more, and it lets them see how much you do know – compelling them to look further into your products or services. Again, you want these PDF downloads to be short, but valuable.
Use LinkedIn Groups to Your Advantage
LinkedIn offers many features that can help people in business achieve their goals of growing their sales. It’s one of the largest marketing tools that everyone in any niche should be using.
Not using it is turning your back on access to millions of people. Where else can you get that kind of advertising for your business? Once you’re signed up with LinkedIn, you want to join groups as soon as possible.
Now you don’t want to join groups randomly – that would be a waste of your time. You want to join groups that are specifically rich with members of your target audience. Join ones that pertain to your industry. This is the way you build networking opportunities.
Once you’re involved in the group (and you can narrow the industry groups down further by niche groups) build a presence there. Make sure that you’re active. No one likes a lurker that takes and never gives back.
Get involved in group discussions and share your knowledge, paying close attention to the question, “What’s in it for me?” and give back each time you post. People appreciate those who give and they’ll learn to look to you as the nice guy, the expert, the go-to person who has the answer for their questions.
You can use groups to get feedback, which can help streamline a marketing campaign. You’ll get insight (by participating in the discussions) into what the target audience thinks and what they’re looking for to help them in their own journey.
This information will help you understand the best way to market your product. It’s a great (and free) way to get your market research done before launching a product, too. Make sure that you have a business blog that links back to the websites selling your products.
When you’re a member of a group on LinkedIn, you can put a link in your group so that every time you add to your blog, it will show up in the group. For example, if you write a blog about the latest Internet marketing product and how you think it will make their job easier (or not), that blog will post the link to the group. But the key here is that your blog link is getting viewed by thousands of potential customers.
When you’re not the group owner, you don’t have the same freedom and it’s not all about your business. You can change that by starting a group of your own. The number one reason for this is because it moves targeted traffic your way – letting people get to know you, learn about your product, visit your site, and more.
When the group is set up, it’s a free advertising tool for you and introduces thousands of others to your circle of potential leads where you can build relationships. Building relationships builds trust, which works to sway decisions when it comes to who to buy from – the guy they know in their LinkedIn group or the guy they’ve never heard about but stumbled across.
Groups are almost never stale – they’re always growing and always adding new members because LinkedIn continues to grow. LinkedIn hit the mark for over 100 million users. That’s quite a potential field where you can sow the seeds of your business and you don’t want to miss out!
Using the LinkedIn Directory to Network Your Way to Success
One grain of sand on the beach isn’t such a big deal. It’s easily forgotten. But a lot of grains put together can equal the seashore and by the power of sheer numbers together, everyone knows it’s there.
The same concept is the basis behind the success you can find with LinkedIn. One connection that you have might be connected to 500 people. You can use that one connection as a way to get to the 500 others. But that’s just one way that LinkedIn helps users to network.
Another (and vitally important) way that LinkedIn helps you network your way to success is by using the directory. If you’ll go to the directory offered by LinkedIn, you’ll see a listing of categories.
These categories are listed by niche topics, and they’re in alphabetical order so that you can quickly locate the niche. For example, you’ll see one directory link for Search Engine Optimization Experts.
If you click on this, you’ll find a list of experts who know about SEO. If that’s what you’re an expert in, this is where you want to be listed in the directory. You’ll also see that the niche is further narrowed by location. It can be narrowed even more by company.
So what’s the big deal about being part of the LinkedIn directory? It boosts credibility. You can find the directory (and the networking opportunities) by using the search function.
In the search box on the upper right hand corner, type in the niche that you’re looking for. For example, if you’re an Internet marketer and you’re in the pet niche, specifically narrowed to the dog niche, then you might look for networking links (industries, insiders) by typing in related keywords. If you sold dog training materials, then you would type in dog trainers and up comes a list of potential target customers, affiliates or reviewers for your products.
You wouldn’t just approach these people and push a sale. First you would build a relationship. If you were the marketer in the dog products niche, then you would not only be a member of a group consisting of Internet marketers, but you would also be a member of groups where the focus was on training dogs or animal behavior, for example.
Cast a wide net. Don’t limit yourself to just one area of your business. You want to network in a directory by not limiting your connections to what’s inside your box. You would be part of the network of Internet marketers and then you would also tap into the directories that focused on your specific niches. You would also be in the directory for entrepreneurs and small business owners and build connections there as well.