by Karolina Bakanovas
Are you still asking yourself, “What’s the point of LinkedIn?” or “How do I use Linkedin?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people still assume the only use for LinkedIn is to look for a new job, but that’s just a silly old myth. Although it is still the world’s largest professional network,LinkedIn has transitioned to a more visual focus, becoming one of the most effective platforms for not only expanding your reach, but improving your business results. With their recent site redesigns and newly updated mobile app, LinkedIn is becoming a very versatile content platform with 94 percent of B2B marketers using it to distribute content. Now it’s time for you to join in. Here are the things you should be doing to become the ultimate user and make LinkedIn more effective for you and your business.
Optimize your profile
By now, most of us have checked off the basic requirements for a LinkedIn profile: up-to-date professional headshot, intriguing summary, thorough job history. But, there’s more you can do, after all it’s about first impressions, right? Since LinkedIn is all about first impressions, one of the first steps many members take when receiving content from another member is click through to their personal profile. Spruce things up by adding a creative headline, custom profile URL, background photo, and some rich media. LinkedIn’s portfolio of visual assets is impressive. Now you can seamlessly add Slideshares, videos, published Pulse content, and infographics to your profile and job experiences.
Join a group
LinkedIn groups have become the perfect place to showcase your content, generate interest for your company, engage with industry experts, and nurture valuable relationships. With extremely engaged audiences, LinkedIn groups generate 200 conversions per minute. But be careful, nobody likes a spammer. In the past, LinkedIn groups turned into spam pools, but with a recent refresh, the company says the new groups should be better for building relationships, which is what social media is all about. Wondering which groups to join? We recommend picking groups focused around a niche topic that is related to your industry and ones that have a few hundred members who are actively engaging in discussions. You can easily find groups by searching topic keywords or by viewing one of your connections’ profiles, scrolling down to their “groups” section and joining one they are a part of. You can join up to 50 groups.
Position yourself as an industry expert
As mentioned before, LinkedIn is all about the content. Since it began as a professional network, many people still log on to learn something or connect on something. In fact, LinkedIn describes their members as “highly receptive to advertising, content, and experiences that can help make them more knowledgeable and, ultimately, more successful.” This means this is your chance to share valuable content and become a thought leader. The goal should be to present yourself as an expert in your industry by sharing helpful articles consistently. Is creating content more your thing? LinkedIn Pulse allows you to publish your own posts. (Check out some content ideas here.) These pulse posts show up on your profile so, although you can post blog articles, focus on creating content that positions you as a thought leader, and don’t be afraid to throw a CTA at the bottom to help you generate a few leads. Remember to look at the data. LinkedIn pulse gives amazing insights into how many people are viewing each post, the length of life of each post, reader demographics and the people who engage with your posts.
Keep building your network
So you’ve imported your address book and checked out the “people you may know” suggestions. Now what? Aside from creating boolean searches to find people, there’s plenty of easy ways for you to keep building your network. A good place to start is on a current connection’s profile. Check out the “people also viewed” and “people similar to” sections. You can also get creative and connect with people who interact with you or reach out to the people in those new groups you joined. Just attended a conference? Take that stack of business cards and connect with those people—you don’t want to miss out on a potential lead. Now before you get too excited and start sending requests off left and right, take the time to create a custom invite. Include something that will personalize your connection request: How do you know them? Why do you want to connect? Do you have something in common?
Engage with your network
Don’t let those new connections fall by the wayside. After all, you worked hard on those delicately crafted personalized requests. Be sure to nurture your relationships by participating in discussions, answering questions, liking, and commenting on the content in your newsfeed. You can also gain visibility by joining the conversation on popular posts in your niche. LinkedIn is an engagement driven platform, the more you engage, the more you appear and the great your reach becomes.
Sixty-six percent of social media B2B leads come from LinkedIn making it the ultimate sales and marketing platform. The company has even introduced a Lead Accelerator as part of their offered marketing solutions. But there’s still several ways to generate quality leads within all the above-mentioned suggestions. Interested in learning more? Check out our free e-book, “How Small Business Owners Can Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation.”
Karolina is well versed in all areas of social media and currently manages the social strategy for Infusionsoft. Her passion for discovery and writing led her to a create her own lifestyle blog, Sunkissedway.com. Originally from the beautiful state of Utah, she traded in her snowboard for sunny skies and palm trees. When she's not busy blogging, she's off being a "cool" cat lady, running half marathons, and soaking up the sun.