More than 187 million people are members of the professional networking site, LinkedIn. How can you take the power of all those professionals in one place and turn it into a LinkedIn marketing strategy for your small business? These four examples will show you how LinkedIn can work for you.
Recruit Top Talent
"I use LinkedIn like kids use Facebook," says Jeff LoSapio, managing partner of Stratum Security, an information security consulting company.
LoSapio finds LinkedIn to be a great source for finding passive job seekers and takes advantage of LinkedIn's basic talent finder account for additional access to members. "Our industry is extremely competitive for the best talent and I firmly believe the best people have good jobs or they go get one. They don't just post a resume," LoSapio says.
"I'll start connecting with potential candidates long before we need to hire them since it takes longer to get a passive job seeker to leave their position." he adds.
LoSapio also searches for potential customers by zeroing in on a specific job title and seeing the results that LinkedIn provides on the right hand side of the page under the heading, "viewers of this profile also viewed."
"The ability to harvest potential contacts quickly is an incredible time saver for our sales staff," LoSapio says.
Use the Groups
Serial entrepreneur Mike Kawula, managing partner of Discount Cleaning Products, is using LinkedIn as he launches his next venture.
"I see results in engaging inside the groups," Kawula says. "Anytime I see heavy participation in a group discussion, I go out and build something the group would find helpful to the question at hand. It has worked well and we have gained a ton of new customers. I know you can do the same in other social channels, but LinkedIn has had the greatest return thus far."
"If you say it, it's bragging. If someone else says it, it's believable," says Casey Hart, president and chief marketing strategist at Informer Messages and Website Videos. "When you're good enough to earn your customers' recommendations that can be displayed on LinkedIn, you have several distinct advantages."
Among the advantages Hart sees are the recommendations that appear on your LinkedIn page. They can't be made up—the customer has to submit the testimonial directly to the site. LinkedIn will publicize that you've gotten a recommendation so you don't have to, and everyone who views your profile will be able to see it.
"LinkedIn makes them more believable, more visible and makes sure they reach more people," Hart says.
"A fast, easy and effective way to leverage the power of LinkedIn is to use it to track down key contacts and potential leads you're trying to reach at particular companies," says Rafe Gomez, owner of VC Inc. Marketing.
It isn't always easy to get the names of key personnel at companies through the business directory or from receptionists who have been told not to share the information, says Gomez. He uses a search engine to look for the job title, plus the name of the company, plus LinkedIn.
"In most cases the name of the specific person you are looking for will be listed among the search results," Gomez says. Even better, LinkedIn is highly search-engine optimized to deliver results on names and companies so you're likely to see other potential colleagues in the sidebar as well. Gomez adds, "You now have an exact selection of perfectly targeted choices to get in touch with at the company, and when you call the main number your call should immediately go through and you can make your connection."
LinkedIn is a valuable resource for small-business owners. It's a way to connect with present and future employees and customers as well as other professionals in the same industry.
"There is tons of interesting content floating around on LinkedIn and it's targeted," says Hannah Marr, content director of BizBrag. "Chances are, you're not going to find funny memes or e-cards, but you will find content related to the business world and your industry. The key, I believe, to using LinkedIn is to connect with people that you don't personally know but have created a business relationship with, whether it's through the Internet or a more tangible sense."
Read more LinkedIn tips and advice articles.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.