Are you LinkedIn? According to EBizmba, more than 255 million users make LinkedIn the most popular social media web site for professionals. Sure, Facebook and Twitter boast even more users, but LinkedIn is the online networking site for entrepreneurs, business people and professionals seeking to connect with other professionals virtually.
Once you’ve signed into LinkedIn, it’s imperative to seek connections with other professionals. But that begs the question: how can these connections help me propel my business? Three entrepreneurs share their views about LinkedIn and how they utilize it to promote their business pursuits.
Paulie Anthony, Director of Marketing, Vinimaya, Inc. Vinimaya.com
Paulie Anthony has been a LinkedIn lover for many years. He uses it for several purposes, such as a resource for following “thought-leaders I am interested in,” he says. He finds they often post fantastic advice he then utilizes in his own business interactions.
Anthony also uses LinkedIn to:
• Keep our user group informed about our new company updates • Post his employer’s content – either through his own personal posts, company posts or in group discussions designed to drive more traffic to Vinimaya’s web site. • Reinforce his employer’s efforts to be a thought leader in their industry • Make industry contacts and connections
He says he likes that LinkedIn provides a wealth of connections and thought leadership. “It provides fast profiles on individuals that can help accelerate my social capital and build brand awareness for my business,” he says.
He advises small business owners to tap into LinkedIn to strengthen its content marketing strategy. The site is a great way to “provide thought leadership and relevant information to your target audiences through discussions,” he says.
Other suggestions Anthony makes for entrepreneurs and professionals seeking to benefit from participating in LinkedIn include:
• Reaching out directly to professionals in your target companies and industries. Doing so “seems to have more credibility and are not ignored as often as an email • Upgrading from the free version to the professional sales (PRO) version of LinkedIn • Measuring how many web visits you receive via LinkedIn using Google Analytics. Look for trends that may have created more visitors to your web site and repeat those actions
Lastly, Anthony urges business people to do more than merely promote their company on LinkedIn. “Promote other articles and industry news your audiences will appreciate and engage with in discussions,” he says.
Baljit Singh, vice president of Sales and Marketing, Deal Highway Dealhighway.com
Baljit Singh joined LinkedIn a year ago after business associates told him about it. He likes it because it “helps me crate a network of professionals I want to know. It’s a great way to monitor my customers and competition,” he says.
He also likes it because the audience is “professionals looking for technical information and LinkedIn is an excellent B2B tool.”
One suggestion Singh makes to other LinkedIn users is to personalize the invitation they send to other professionals when asking them to connect rather than the simply worded invitation LinkedIn pens for people who don’t wish to send a custom note. “Sending a standard LinkedIn message prevents you from adding a personal touch to your note,” he says.
He also likes the social media site because it has helped bring him new business. “LinkedIn can teach you which companies (are leaders) in an industry and special leaders in the industry, too. LinkedIn allows you to search the company, delve deeper to determine who the players are. Taking it one step further, you can even connect with” those professionals.
Wendy Witt is a Pittsburgh-based estate planning attorney who also serves as Director of Practice Development for Wealth Counsel, LLC. She joined LinkedIn several years ago to increase her credibility and “establish an additional professional communication method,” she says.
In that time, she has garnered over 2,000 LinkedIn connections, mined both by invitations she has sent and the countless ones she has received.
Her favorite aspect of LinkedIn is that it affords the ability to “review a professional’s background and experience,” she says. Conversely, she dislikes when people forget the social media site is designed for business and they post ostentatious messages that are sexual, political or religious in nature.
Witt has two pieces of advice for entrepreneurs seeking to mine the benefits of LinkedIn. “Post fresh, useful and original content and interact on an individual level,” she urges.