Discover How LinkedIn Can Benefit Your Business

LinkedIn has now become the premier networking platform for business people throughout the world. Its development has enabled professionals to maintain communication with individual contacts or groups that they know and trust. Most importantly along with other social networking sites, it is largely regarded as an essential part of the marketing mix. However, many professionals still only dabble in the on-line phenomena, perhaps due to time constraints or the more likely reason that they do not fully grasp the marketing benefits to their business. This article highlights what can be achieved by dedicating a little time every week to social networking.

Why is it a good idea?

Well, for starters, it is really easy to get started and it is a great way of raising your profile. It certainly helps other business people to find you easily as well as help you to find people that you have met. The informality of the site means it is a great way of re-connecting with someone that you may have recently met at a private social event or perhaps a business networking event. With LinkedIn being permission based, it essentially provides permission for you to keep in contact. This means there are no issues around data protection.

Talking of data, it also provides a useful database of your contacts that is simple to grow. You can keep in contact with clients, friends, past colleagues, current colleagues and other contacts very easily. If you happen to employ staff, then you should encourage them to have a profile that links through to your website. By doing this, you immediately get access to all your employee contacts and so raising the profile of the firm.

The process of linking your profile with new and current contacts is a marketing opportunity in itself to create brand awareness. It can enable you to establish your expertise and brand yourself as an authority in your specialist field whether it is the legal sector or double glazing. You can do this by giving advice… believe me when I say that a little bit of gratis goes a long way! At the same time, you can also use LinkedIn to receive advice from experts in other sectors and professions. You can engage in specialist groups such as your professional body or potential customer groups that may need to draw upon your expert knowledge. It provides an excellent opportunity to soft sell your products or services. I’m very much an advocate of this as I hate being sold to and I’d expect that you’re the same.

Another great thing is that it is a non-intrusive way of keeping your contacts up to date with the most recent developments in your sector, your business or what you are doing professionally. As your network of contacts have given you permission to communicate with them, they will be more receptive to what you have to say. This is of course largely based on trust which may take a little bit of time, but as I mentioned earlier if you connect with people in a positive way then they will be more inclined to come to you for advice rather than someone else.

LinkedIn, as with other on-line social networks, offers affordable visibility to people you know and those outside your network. The only investment is your time and this remains a crucial element to making it work for you and your business.

Gaining credibility on social networks means that you must actively engage with it. If you do not update your profile or interact with other users you can fall of your contacts’ line of vision. If you do not have any visibility then you certainly will not have built up any credibility. By engaging with the on-line communities it is possible to drive a greater number of potential clients to your website. Naturally following on from this, the more website traffic you can generate, the greater the opportunity to convert social networking into actual business.

At the start of the article, I mentioned that social networking should be part of the marketing mix and so it should go without saying that it isn’t the only marketing you should do. What I mean is, that if your website is poor or your receptionist is rude or you don’t respond to calls or you don’t turn up when you said you would then you would be wasting your own time and energy.

At the end of the day, most people want to shake your hand and see the whites of your eyes before they commit to buying your product or service, so use it as a tool alongside your normal marketing activities. Good luck and happy linking!