If you’re even a little familiar with LinkedIn, the first thing you probably think of when you hear the name of this popular social site is “recruiting,” or maybe “networking.” And, yes, it’s true.
The site did start out with a primary aim of linking employers with potential employees, providing a place for individuals to post resumes and offer referrals and for employers to post current job openings.
Since then, however, LinkedIn has evolved into a much more robust networking tool, enabling companies, especially those in the business-to-business (B2B) space, to grow their customer bases, generate product and service ideas, and gain valuable feedback from the people they want most to hear from potential clients.
Unlike other social sites that promote a “more is better” approach, LinkedIn is about a selective connection with the people and organizations in your customer market.
So, how can you take advantage of what LinkedIn can offer your business? Here are four advantages:
- Get connected: Like any social site, LinkedIn is about networking, but because it is a site that’s focused on professionals and businesses, your company can network effectively with prospective client organisations. LinkedIn has a decent search feature that can help you find people in your industry and in the industries you serve. That makes it easier not only to find potential customers but also to keep tabs on what your competition is offering – both of which can help you be more competitive. Don’t link with people just to build the number of connections you have. Use connect requests more strategically to engage and build relationships with your target customers and influencers in your market space.
- Build trust for your brand: LinkedIn is chock full of groups that are devoted to specific professional topics. Join the ones that are relevant to you. Once you’re a group member, become an active participant in discussions that help you and your company gain recognition as an authority in the field. After participating for a while, consider starting your own discussion topics within the group, or even posting an article for the group to digest and discuss. Don’t use it as an advertising platform to promote your products and services. Instead, offer insightful information, and the requests for information about your products and services will come on their own.
- Promote your brand as an authority: Once you get the hang of how LinkedIn groups work and you’ve gained some traction in the space, consider starting your own group. LinkedIn can be a great tool for content marketing, and this could become a channel for you to become a trusted source for business insights in your industry. Be certain to include updates on your blog and a few well-placed links leading back to your corporate website.
- Gather feedback: Have a new idea or a product that’s just been launched? This is the place to ask for feedback from people whose ideas and opinions you trust. Asking for input can be a great way to identify potential customers and to make current customers feel valued. And notice that asking for input also gives you an opportunity to mention a product or service without it sounding like an advertisement.
The bottom line? LinkedIn is developing into an ideal place to grow your brand. Like any tool, making the best use of LinkedIn will take time, especially as you work to develop your company’s voice and build participation levels.