What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has been around for a while but may be new to you. LinkedIn is sort of like a business only version of Facebook, where professionals interact and connect for a variety of reasons like…
† Job Search – historically the most popular use of LinkedIn for the professional who is looking or unemployed
† Employee Search and Vetting – the reverse of job search from the employer/recruiter perspective
† Sales Connections – contacting and nurturing online relationships with target and current customers
† Finding Expertise – technical, marketing, sales; people know that LinkedIn subscribers are professionals from all walks of life
LinkedIn is more than just another social media platform; it’s one of the big three behind Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn in fact is partnering with Twitter to be able to search not only profile listings, but conversations in real time via a tool called LinkedIn Signal, in beta testing as of this writing. This partnership makes LinkedIn’s reach extend over 120 million. If you’re in small business and not on LinkedIn, you’re missing a FREE opportunity to showcase your personal talents and those of your business. (Editors note: LinkedIn does have premium services for a fee that power users like recruiters may use; most people use the free version and you can do plenty with that)
How Can Small Business Benefit from LinkedIn?
LinkedIn lists individual profiles, much like Facebook. It does have business pages you can put up and post to, but these are far less used and viewed than individual listings. To date, most people searching LinkedIn are looking for other people and get to businesses based upon the talent that is found. That is a key distinction you need to be aware of.
“Are you saying I need to put up a listing for all of my employees?”, you might be saying. No, but at no cost to you, you can put up multiple profiles of key staff. Think of everything you ever heard about being found on Google and apply it to LinkedIn. The more roads that lead to your business, the more people will end up there. Not only that, but most people won’t find you via LinkedIn. Huh? LinkedIn profiles and much of its content are indexed on the major search engines—Google, Bing, Yahoo, for relevance to their searches. So your LinkedIn profiles are not only available to the community of LinkedIn users, but also searchers on the web. You’re creating free webpages that originate on a very, very high traffic site. LinkedIn profiles get indexed high in the search engines if they are relevant, written right, and updated frequently.
It’s all about numbers folks. LinkedIn is one more source out there, one that is growing very rapidly, to get noticed by customers. Active LinkedIn users find plenty of ways to drive traffic to their websites and blogs as well, where they can tell their stories without limits.
Besides finding you, you have at your fingertips the world’s largest business professionals directory. Remember the Sales Contacts reason above? Want to connect with key execs at IBM or Apple? You can find a lot of them on LinkedIn, either directly or deftly through your personal LinkedIn network. You can find out what they like, where they went to school, points of common interest, and what they are working on now. For those not in sales who need a translation—what is important to your target prospects. And the advent of LinkedIn Signal puts that competitive intelligence on steroids.
And Small Business owners, I already hinted at using LinkedIn to shorten the hiring process for key execs and other talent. Before you make one phone call based on a brilliant looking resume, you can find those job candidates on LinkedIn and learn more about them, not only from what they write in their profiles but from peers and others you can see in their networks. If your Career Builder and Monster ads just aren’t digging up the right stuff, you can use LinkedIn to easily find niche and subject matter expertise with a few keystrokes.
From the standpoint of this page, being found on LinkedIn is the main focus. We can’t control how you use LinkedIn actively (well, sort of) but we can help you be found. Take a look at the following graphic. If you have a LinkedIn profile you get stats like these on the right side of your Home page.
These results were as of early morning, around 10 AM EST, October 27. You can see that there are people looking at the profile, not an overwhelming amount but like site visitors to your webpage (hopefully for you), these viewers are somewhat qualified. They find you! Just as important, take a look at the number of times my profile showed up in searches about 10 hours into the calendar day. If you’re not getting numbers like this or better, check that second box to see how big your network is. These two box results are related, and the number of connections you have on LinkedIn correlate to backlinks in cyberspace to your website. They increase your relevance in the community and make you much more findable. When people search for expertise on LinkedIn using their search tools, the engine only returns those who are in the first 3 levels of connectivity to the searcher, and they only return the first 100 results when the searcher has a free account, which is most of them. If you or your employees are not in that top 100, you are invisible on LinkedIn.
From a standpoint of being found as a small business person, the size and quality of your network and the keyword-optimized story you tell in your profile are the two driving factors if you are using passive techniques. Smart Company Growth will help you tell a compelling story that differentiates you, build your network rapidly, and get noticed on this platform so that quality business prospects want to connect with you and your company! We’ll also help you to give your LinkedIn profile a competitive edge when people get there with the creative use of LinkedIn applications.
Personal Branding & Expert Making
If your LinkedIn profile is a simple restatement of your resume you are missing the boat. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to tell people who you really are as a business person and what your company is about. You can replicate that company message with your employee profiles while establishing their key uniqueness and individuality as well. The effort you put into your profile, how it is optimized and the story told, is the first step in establishing your personal brand.
Unfortunately, getting the coolest listing on the block isn’t going to make you big man on campus just yet. Why? Because it’s you who is saying it, and you can (I know you wouldn’t) say anything! LinkedIn and its users know this and look for other things to set you apart: 3rd party references and activity. Third party references come from the quality of your network in addition to its size and what is said about you on LinkedIn. LinkedIn references connect directly to another profile and cannot be faked like you see on so many websites (J.L., insurance broker, Charlotte, NC).
Your activity is controlled by how much you update your status with interesting things to the rest of the world, and how much help you provide to others in the LinkedIn community. Smart Company Growth will help you with both credible network building AND activity that makes you a rock star in your niche.
1 – Call or email for pricing on packages of more than 5 profiles.
2 – Ongoing monthly maintenance services of LinkedIn profiles for continual activity are available upon request. Call or contact for pricing/proposal.
3 – Card or Paypal account will be charged once
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