Craig Barnes works at Custard Media, a bespoke marketing agency, offering a comprehensive mix of digital and traditional marketing campaigns.
LinkedIn is a specialised social network – catering for those in professional roles. However, the site is often eclipsed by its more glamorous social contemporaries and unduly overlooked as a valuable source of promotion. So what are the best ways to get to grips with the network and turn its many features to your advantage?
Raise Your Profile
LinkedIn is a pervasive network – partly due to its proactive recruitment strategies. We’ve all experienced its remarkably prescient recommendations dropping in our inboxes on a daily basis and it’s these connections that make the site so useful – particularly from a B2B perspective.
Companies looking to raise their profile are provided with a wealth of tools. Once a company page is registered, a bespoke network can be built around it. Not only can you link to your employees and promote whatever activities you’ve got going on, but LinkedIn also enables you to connect your social media presence and company blogs directly to the page. This can help to turn it into a kind of hub for your business – giving newcomers an instant idea of what you’re all about.
Similarly, by connecting with others in your sector and engaging in relevant conversations, you can position yourself as an industry leader. This can be further enhanced by tackling questions in the aptly-named “answer section”, although it’s a good idea to avoid being overly self-promotional here.
Research and Development
LinkedIn can be a valuable tool in both finding prospects and sounding them out before making an approach. Endorsements and testimonials, while somewhat easy to acquire, can add a simple boost to your reputation and the site also provides resources for displaying examples of your recent work.
Signalling allows you to find activity in a chosen field based on keywords, which can be highly useful when combined with the site’s direct advertising service. However, LinkedIn is arguably best used with a personal touch and contacts may get turned off by heavy-handed promotion.
With its wide variety of tools and applications, it’s easy to forget that LinkedIn is a networking site at its heart. If you’re looking to promote your products or services to prospects in person, it’s a good idea to put your LinkedIn URL on any materials you give out. If you’ve aggregated all your online activities on the page, it can serve as an effective single point of contact that allows potential customers to check you out in detail.
Check Out the Competition
As well as letting prospects research you, LinkedIn provides a great opportunity to develop some intelligence on what your competitors are up to – whether this is on a fairly general or direct basis. By checking out how your competitors are using the site, you’ll be able to note what they do well, what they do badly and what they’re not doing at all. You can then tailor this information to inform ways to better-utilise LinkedIn’s various features going forward.
LinkedIn Today is akin to a bespoke online trade magazine and can be a great source for news on general goings-on in your sector or target industry. The types of content listed are based on what LinkedIn users are talking about and sharing on social channels. This can be a great way to buff up on developments in specialised areas and can be used to inform a range of business decisions.
With the above, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what LinkedIn can do for your business and the future looks bright for the network. CEO Jeff Weiner aims to enhance it as an informational resource for professionals, companies, economists and everyone in-between. So by grabbing the bull by the horns and getting your foot in the door, you could be well-placed to take advantage of the site as it grows and expands its remit.
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