If you have a business or are starting one, you most likely already have a LinkedIn account. But if you don't, you should get one right away; LinkedIn can be a great form of networking for your business.
In his book, "The Power Formula For LinkedIn Success: Kickstart Your Business, Brand, and Job Search," author and LinkedIn expert Wayne Breitbarth explains how to dramatically leverage LinkedIn to bring in new clients and drive sales.
Aside from being a social media consultant, Breitbarth is also a furniture consultant at M&M Office Interiors and uses LinkedIn to attract customers to the business. To date, he has trained more than 10,000 people—from entry-level to CEO—on how to effectively use LinkedIn.
Here are Breitbarth's six essential tips for maximizing LinkedIn:
1. Utilize all three available links. People typically have only one thing listed here, most often the website of the company they work for, and the link is usually titled, 'My Company.' Your company's website is a good place to start, but there is a lot of marketing opportunity going to waste if you stop there. Linking enables you to direct people to wherever you would like them to go; giving you the opportunity to send people not only to your company but also to, for example, a signup sheet where they can get on your mailing list.
2. Don't connect with your competitors. It does not make good business sense to allow your competitors to have a list of the people who are most important to you. You are basically handing them your Outlook database. There are, however, certain industries in which your competitors may also be your suppliers or vendors, and you will need to weigh the risk and reward of allowing those individuals to be a part of your network.
3. Have a consistent brand across all social media platforms. Get started by bringing together a group of people to discuss how to consistently brand your company using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others. Discuss a strategy for communicating via social media because your company's message can become inconsistent when each individual employee uses his or her own style to present information about the organization.
4. Create a saved search. Choosing keywords that are most beneficial to you, and creating a saved search of those terms, enables LinkedIn to notify you when someone who meets that search criteria enters your extended network. "For example, because architects design buildings that will eventually require office furniture, I am always interested in forging new relationships with members of the architectural community," Breitbarth writes. "Therefore, a saved search with the keywords architect and architectural that targets my geographic market will likely lead to future business opportunities."
5. Take advantage of status updates. "Status updates are one of the most powerful functions on LinkedIn. Update your status several times each week. Much like Twitter, this feature allows you to post short updates to your LinkedIn network. Some people choose to receive a weekly e-mail that shows their network's activity, and those people will be able to see your updates.
In the past, Breitbarth has used the status bar to secure work for his business. "My service manager informed me that he needed four men for a weeklong project that was beginning in ten days... I posted this need in my status update. About 45 minutes later, I had five strong young men to help me out and pick up some quick cash to pay for a few of their own expenses."
6. Box.net files can help increase credibility. These files allow users to upload PDF, Excel or Word files to your profile and let others view it. "This is a great place for you to post white papers, articles, company brochures, pictures of your projects or products, customer testimonials and other documents that increase your credibility and helpfulness."
These are six excellent tips to use LinkedIn to better market your business. How do you use LinkedIn to promote your business? Let us know in the comments box below.
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn