Since i’ve been discussing the merits of social media with clients a common thread has emerged – that of bemusement about Linkedin. They understand Facebook and the benefits that can be brought by using Twitter and blogs etc but when the topic of Linkedin comes up they simply smile and reply “It’s just about displaying my CV isn’t it?”. At the end of the discussion once i’ve dispelled this myth the penny drops and they begin
taking Linkedin seriously – especially when they realise it can help grow their business.
The simple fact is there are over £130 million people on Linkedin and over 7 million businesses – and it is growing. As a business it is the best platform for marketing your vision and values as well as giving you great potential for making connections with customers. When people begin to understand its worth they become hooked and view it as their most important site. Why is that?
To help answer this i’ve pulled together a few reasons as to why I think it is important and how you can use it to benefit your business.
- It shows you who your competition is
One of the most important aspects of building up a business is to understand your marketplace and your competitors. Linkedin provides a quick and easy way of mapping out your competitors, finding out who sits in their organisation and more importantly who they are connected to. You can search for organisations using common search terms relating to your business area, skills set or the names of individuals who may have a strong market profile. All valuable research to help you develop your medium to long term business strategy.
- It gives you important business leads
I’m interested in social enterprises and how they promise to radically change the way services are delivered in future. A simple search using phrases relating to this field throws up countless examples of thought leaders, successful social enterprises as well as journalists who report on this area. All useful contacts that will improve my understanding. Where else can you get that kind of information so freely? If you are a business Linkedin will allow you to hook up with potential business leads which will only improve your prospects.
- It allows you to showcase your offer
This is where many people stumble when they use Linkedin. They update their profile every now and then but by and large leave it sitting there. If a potential customer or employer is searching for market leaders and looks on your pages what impression will they leave with if your pages have been dormant for weeks? Keep your profile up to date and topical. It shows you really are leading your field. Ensure your profile has up to date links with your other sites. If you are a business ensure your profile is integrated into all of your marketing to ensure it remains fresh and informative.
- Become a thought leader
Linkedin allows you to contribute to existing group discussions or set one up of your own. I would urge you to do this. Not only will it reaffirm your position as a leading light but it will also generate discussions about your work area which will maintain interest in subjects that will benefit you. I take part in a variety of discussion groups and have benefitted from many leads as a result. Not because I have given them the hard sell but because it shows potential clients you do what it says on the tin. It will also allow you to foster relationships.
- Don’t assume anything
Don’t assume that it is only HR people who are using Linkedin. A simple way of checking is to click where it tells you who has been viewing your profile. Once you’ve done this a couple of times you can see the rich variety of people who are interested enough to look at your profile. Give them something that will make them linger or want to connect with you.
- Don’t spam
Once again, i’m issuing a plea for people not to link up their Linkedin profile with Twitter. It is a real turn off and simply leaves the impression you don’t understand it. My Linkedin wall is for following peoples updates or links to news items they want to share. My Twitter account is for following tweets. I really don’t want my Linkedin wall clogged up by tweets from people I am already following on Twitter.