For small to medium businesses, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for driving visitors to your website, so increasing the chance of gaining prospective new customers.
While we generally think of LinkedIn as a social networking site for professionals and business people, there are some tricks you can use in order to use it as a method of spreading the work about the products/services you have to offer. When used in this way, LinkedIn can practically act as a form of free advertising.
There’s actually an option to pay for adverts on LinkedIn and the system works in pretty much the same way as the Facebook adverts system. However, even if you haven’t paid for premium membership on LinkedIn (and, to be honest, most people find that it’s not necessary), there are ways of using LinkedIn without having to pay for these adverts.
Once you’ve joined LinkedIn, the first thing you need to do is to complete your Profile in as much detail as possible. You can actually list all your websites here (with hyperlinks) which is really useful. If you have a blog on your website, or if you blog about your business and its products or services, you can use one of the apps that will pull in your blog posts to your Home page automatically. Likewise, if you’re using Twitter to spread the word on your company, you can also get your tweets pulled into your news stream. LinkedIn seems to have followed Facebook recently in becoming much more “social” – this makes it much more powerful as a means of connecting with business associates and prospective clients.
Once your Profile has been sorted out, the next thing you need to do is to join some groups. There is a tab for Groups on your Home page. You need to search for groups using key words for your business activities and join a few of the most useful looking groups. Most of the groups allow you to join immediately, although some of them will have to approve your application to join. This usually takes no longer than 48 hours or so, usually much quicker than that.
Don’t join too many groups as you will find yourself with a stream of news and email notifications (if you have opted for these) that is a bit overwhelming and hard to keep on top of. Just join a few and then start browsing the discussions that are going on within the groups to get a feel for the type of social interaction that’s going on. Once you’ve become au fait with the topics that are being discussed and the types of people discussing those subjects, it’s time to start joining in the conversations. Maybe you have an answer to a question that somebody has asked, or perhaps you can bring some sort of insight to ongoing discussions. If you post a comment that adds value to the discussion, you can be pretty sure that people involved will have a look at your Profile and perhaps click on your website link. Perhaps there’s a problem being discussed and your company can offer a solution with one of its products/services. Jump right in and describe the solution, posting a link to the appropriate page on your website (practically a free advert).
As you engage more in these discussions in your groups, you might want to start a topic of your own. Check that the topic has not already been started (by doing a quick search in LinkedIn) before posting and then fire away. One great way of starting off a discussion about your company and its products/services would be to post a link to a particular page on your website, asking for advice on any enhancements your company could add to the product/service featured. This will not only increase visitors to your website, but it’s a great way of engaging with prospective customers and finding out what their expectations and needs are – a free way of conducting a bit of market research.
So, if you’re in business and you’re not already on LinkedIn – sign up now – it’s a great free online resource that you can use to gain attention for your company.
The writer Debbie frequently writes about various business and social media topics including guidance for small business on topics such as foreign exchange.