Many people think LinkedIn is mainly a tool for job seekers or perhaps an online Rolodex (some people do still use a Rolodex). The truth is that LinkedIn can be a powerful business tool when you understand how to use it. Let’s go a little deeper and look at how you can use this platform to advance your business.
LinkedIn’s original mission was to enable the world’s professionals to connect with each other in order to be more productive. It currently has about 187 million members and is growing at a rate of about two new members every second which translates to over 5 million a month. One key to remember is that when people use LinkedIn, they come to it with a business mindset, something which is not true of other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Build business relationships
The main reason for investing time in LinkedIn is to develop business relationships. These business relationships can be with sales prospects, potential employees, partners, suppliers, investors, members of the media and others. The magic of LinkedIn is that it enables you to see your network of connections online and, more importantly, see who they are connected to. People in your existing sphere of influence probably know others who would be valuable business contacts for you. More on this in a future blog post.
Get business intelligence
LinkedIn can be an incredible source of business intelligence about your competitors, your industry and other factors which may affect your business. There are over 2.6 million Company Pages on LinkedIn and this number is rapidly growing. How would you like to be able to see when a key employee has left one of your competitors? Or monitor what others are saying about your company or your competitors? LinkedIn’s Company Pages, Signal, Job Notifications and other features provide this type of information.
Increase Your Visibility
Having a presence on LinkedIn also increases your credibility and visibility in the business community. Today when other professionals or sales prospects are considering doing business with you, one of the first places they will turn to is LinkedIn. What they find there can give them a good, or a bad impression of you. In addition, when someone Googles your name, the top entry will often be your LinkedIn profile. Google loves LinkedIn because profiles present fresh, accurate content that is updated by the owner.
Optimize Your Time
LinkedIn enables you to get more out of your existing network and can be a tremendous time saver. When you know what parameters you are looking for when you want to make business connections, you can use LinkedIn’s search capabilities to look for people by name, title, industry, location, company, educational institution and by keywords. In some cases, LinkedIn can save you the time and money involved with attending networking events by enabling you to do targeted searches for prospects online.
Make Better Hiring Decisions
Carefully selecting those you will bring on as employees is essential to building a solid business. A LinkedIn profile gives you a deeper view of a candidate than a resume. Based on the photo, summary, experience and other information in their profile, you get a sense of how a prospective employee presents themselves professionally. When they work for you, they will represent your business the same way.
LinkedIn also gives you the ability to request references for the candidate you are reviewing which means that it will show you whether any of your LinkedIn connections may have worked with this person in the past.
This way, rather than relying exclusively on references that you are provided with, you can also do your own research.
We have only scratched the surface of how LinkedIn can make your life easier as an entrepreneur or business owner. There are many other ways that you can take advantage of what it offers in order to help speed up sales cycles, build productive relationships and find information to improve your competitive positioning. We will cover some of these in future articles.
Please let us know how you are using LinkedIn to help power your business growth.
An entrepreneur with an eye for good design and advocate of simplicity. He brings a fresh strategy and approach to every project and plays an integral role in clients’ accomplishments through collaboration and close integration. Through his hands-on experience in technology and marketing, he ensures user experiences and technology are on the leading edge.