LinkedIn for small business offers many opportunities which you should be taking advantage of. LinkedIn has been around for some time and has only over the last year or so begun to get the credit and exposure it deserves. I still think it is being under utilised by many businesses, and small business in particular. Here are 6 reasons why you should be using LinkedIn:
There are lots of groups on LinkedIn covering a wide range of topics, sectors and locations. Therefore, it’s easy to find a group for your industry in order to stay ahead of the latest news, trends and issues. You can talk to people within your industry to share tips, learnings, best practice and you can ask questions. If you have any additional areas of interest like email marketing, training, etc. you can join a group to increase your knowledge in these areas. It’s quite simple really as all you need to do is start a discussion or join one that has already been started. You can join up to 50 groups (and 20 sub groups) and I would advise concentrating on a maximum of around 5 so that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.
You can promote your business by joining groups for your target market. Taking part in discussions can drive awareness but it is important to bear in mind that you need to add VALUE. These groups tend to be there for sharing knowledge/networking and you need to think about the needs of the audience. What do they want to hear and how can you help them? There’s nothing wrong with outlining your services or expertise but only in the right context. You can publish your blog posts to start discussions or provide links to blog posts if they are relevant to a conversation. First and foremost think about providing value so that you can build trust and develop relationships.
3. Create a community
If you want to interact with your customers or peers by building a community, you can set up your own group. If you manage to build a thriving community it can be an invaluable resource for understanding your customers and for promoting your business. Building a community requires planning and you need to ensure you have the resources in place to manage it.
Once you have started to become a valued member of a group, you may find recommendations coming your way. If you manage to secure work with a group member they are likely to recommend you to others within the group or even elsewhere! Some groups can be quite competitive so it may be an idea to think about an angle which allows you to stand out. Like any marketing activity, you need to think about your approach so that you manage your time as effectively as possible.
5. Source suppliers
Do you need to source suppliers for a specific element of your business? Use the groups to get recommendations for a supplier. As time goes by, you will get to know other group members whose opinion you trust. Taking on new suppliers can sometimes be a gamble so recommendations are a good way to minimise your risk.
Your profile provides a link to your business which is a good starting point. A lot of the groups are now open which means they will show up in search results so any of your content which has been posted in discussions will show up in Google and other search engines. Google likes links and especially when they come from a credible source like LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has a lot to offer. The big question is… are you taking advantage?