If you are not taking full advantage of LinkedIn to make connections and market your business, you are truly missing out on a great opportunity. For those of you who are not familiar with LinkedIn, it is the social media equivalent of Facebook for the business world and is a great tool for professional networking.
To get started on LinkedIn, you will need to create a profile. Your profile should be as complete as possible, as this can also double up as your online resume. Using the email address you provide, LinkedIn helps you find connections right away by matching your email contacts with LinkedIn’s member database. The best way to get started with networking on LinkedIn is to start building up your connections by adding people you know first. LinkedIn also has a number of other tools and options to allow you to search for connections. Making connections with those you know is important on LinkedIn because many people often turn to LinkedIn to make contacts as they search for services, business deals, employees and a number of other needs. You are also branding yourself as a professional with your profile in a convenient place where people are searching to make business connections.
Once you have completed your profile, you can also create a profile for your company. This will allow you to showcase your company information, together with the products or services that you provide. What is nice about the company page is the ability to add not just your company website, but any other website you have for each respective product and service you provide. Adding a company page will not only help you within the LinkedIn network, it will help you beyond the network, as LinkedIn ranks very high in search engine search results. This can help you in two ways. First, if someone is trying to find your company, chances are your LinkedIn company profile will appear on the first page of search results. It might also benefit your own website search engine result ranking because you are now listed on and linked to by a reputable, high-ranking site, which search engine algorithms pick up and use to add points to your website ranking.
Another popular place on LinkedIn is the tens of thousands of professional groups on the site. Most of these groups revolve around a discussion forum. LinkedIn often recommends groups as you browse the site, based on your job title or industry information in your profile, but you can also search for groups by going to the group tab and using a number of different options to search for relevant professional groups in your industry or an industry you work with. By initiating or participating in a discussion, you can build your reputation, most especially if your discussion draws a lot of interest and you demonstrate a certain expertise. People often make contact with you from these discussions, which could result in a key contract or a potential client. You can also create your own group; however, you will need to invest time into inviting people and building the group.
For those who don’t have a lot of time to invest, yet want to promote their business, LinkedIn has a similar program to Google AdWords called “LinkedIn Ads.” This is a pay-per-click (PPC) or “impression” based advertising structure that is very simple to set up. You can add a headline and two additional lines about your product or service. LinkedIn allows you to target your ads specifically toward the audience you want to reach, so the ad will only appear on those types of profiles you identify. The system allows you to choose by industry, position, age group, region and a few other criteria. The nice thing about this is you can drill down and pay for ads only viewed and potentially clicked by your specific target audience, thereby saving money on advertising and getting a higher return on your advertising investment.
LinkedIn has a lot to offer, and without a presence on this system you are left out of a huge network where a significant amount of business takes place. In addition, your key clients might be on LinkedIn, and keeping your name in front of them is important in maintaining a relationship and a presence with those clients. To begin using LinkedIn, go to www.linkedin.com and walk through the steps to get your profile up within minutes.