LinkedIn is extremely popular for professional networking. However, it remains to be relatively under-utilized as a marketing platform, and more so when compared to popular counterparts such as Twitter and Facebook. Nonetheless, it holds immense potential for businesses in terms of lead generation, audience building and audience engagement.
Here’s how you can leverage LinkedIn to grow your business network and improve your bottom-line.
1. Create a company page
Your company page acts as your brand identity on LinkedIn. Although you do not have to restrict all your LinkedIn outreach activities to your company page alone, it acts as a dedicated space to publish and share company information officially. Its the most authentic source that people would trust, whether they are looking to join your team, or are simply curious about what you do.
2. Connect with potential customers
“I reached out to “Connect” with business owners throughout Southern California (I started by reaching out to business owners who are also USC alumni, like me). I’ve discovered that about 1/3 will connect with me,” says Ed Brancheau CEO at goozleology.com.
Connecting with your target audience is a good first step to take post creation of your LinkedIn account, after all it is them you are attempting to reach, and holding out your hand first is a nice way to begin.
2. Update your pages
Whether you have a single company page or multiple pages dedicated to each of your products, using them to improve your presence on the network will require some effort. If you’re running a small or medium enterprise you’d be better off with a single company page. Multiple pages means more effort and more management, which could drain your resources. Irrespective of how many pages you set up, the ground rule is that all of them must be complete with company description, profile photo and cover photo. You should also share industry-relevant and business-specific content from time to time to keep these pages alive.
3. Get a custom URL
LinkedIn has a great Custom URL feature for individual profiles as well as company pages. Getting a custom URL will make promoting your LinkedIn pages on your website and other online properties much simpler. A custom URL is easier to remember and recall. It also improves search traffic, ensuring that anyone who may be looking for your business online finds it quickly and easily. Your custom URL is a unique branding opportunity too.
4. Build a targeted network
Of all the social networks, LinkedIn perhaps allows for the most precise targeting. Whether you’re simply looking to add people to your network, or scouring the platform for potential buyers, you should look for those who meet specific criteria. Age, gender, location, profession are few of them based on which you can filter your target audience. The quality of your network has a direct bearing on the quality of engagement you’ll see within your network, so its advisable to refrain from adding people randomly just to see a bigger number of followers.
5. Stay in touch with prospects
DMs on Twitter aren’t thought of very highly. But LinkedIn is a completely different ball game. In fact people appreciate DMs on LinkedIn as long as you aren’t spamming their inbox with blatant sales pitches. Mentioning prospects in relevant status updates, sending personalized seasons greetings, sharing free access to gated content, inviting people to participate in your events are a few ways in which you can stay in touch with your followers.
6. Get your employees involved
While you can treat your company page as your primary account, you should also encourage employee advocacy. Your company page may have several thousands of followers, but leveraging employee profiles will give you the advantage of establishing a more human connect with your target audience. If you’ve set up a team of employees to represent your business on LinkedIn you should ensure that all their accounts are complete and up to date. Remember to have all of them add your company’s website on their profiles – it’s a great way to get link-backs. Also encourage them to share company content with their connections.
7. Join relevant groups
Identify groups that are relevant to your industry or business and join them proactively. Some of these groups may be closed groups and others may be public groups. While public groups are less of hassle in the sense that you don’t have to follow up on your membership status, some closed groups are actually more niche. You don’t have to pick one over the other, but when joining closed groups make sure it’s worth the time you’re going to be spending on gaining access to the group. You can join as many as 50 groups on LinkedIn, and if you’re going to be using the full limit, you really want to make each of them count.
8. Create your own group
Once you join other groups, create one of your own. Apart from inviting people in your network to join your group, you can also go through all the members in the other groups you’ve joined and invite them as well. LinkedIn makes it extremely simple to filter group members by job title or any other keyword that may be relevant to your search. You can also access a list of Admins on a separate tab within Groups. When you’re a member of a group you can contact people who work in similar or related industries even if they aren’t a connection. You can do this using LinkedIn’s InMail feature.
9. Participate in discussions
Participating in group discussions is a great way to establish thought leadership and share your expertise with a targeted group of listeners. Since all groups are created for specific niches, members are more likely to be tuned into the conversation. As a result, your comments in a group discussion are likely to draw more attention when compared to posting a general update on your profile. You can also use these groups as a channel to push out your own content and also urge some dialogue around it.
10. Publish content on the native platform
In early 2014 LinkedIn rolled out long-form publishing to a select group of people. Within the next year the feature was made available to all major English speaking countries. In essence, the move gave 230 million LinkedIn users the ability to publish and share long form content. Publishing content natively lets you reach out to even your 2nd and 3rd degree connections, which by default improves the exposure your brand receives. If you publish great content you also stand the chance of getting featured on Pulse! DrumUp can help you generate some great ideas for creating powerful social media content.
11. Don’t just sell
Social media users are becoming less tolerant of outright sales pitches on these platforms. While it’s still okay to reach out to a qualified lead, trying to sell to somebody who may not even be interested in your product or service is plain annoying. You should really take the time to be genuinely interested in the things that are happening within your network and participate in these conversation with the intent of adding value to your followers.
12. Set targets for outreach activities
Like all other marketing activities your LinkedIn outreach efforts should have targets too. This will give your LinkedIn marketing campaign a sense of direction and drive your team towards achieving measurable goals. While these goals should be realistic, they need to be well-defined as well. For instance, you could say you’re going to add 10 people to your network every week; or that your going to participate in three relevant conversations. Like all social media platforms, there’s always a flurry of activity on LinkedIn and it’s easy to get distracted by everything that’s happening around you. Setting goals will help you stay focused and achieve better results.
Have more tips for LinkedIn marketers? Do share them in the comments below.
Note: This post was first published on Jan 28, 2016 and has since been updated with additional information.
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