Thursday, 7 July 2011

How to Use LinkedIn Effectively for your Business

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media networks especially for business. There are over 101 million people on it, with the UK being the 3rd largest country of users with just over 6 million.
For full stats from January 2011 see http://www.slideshare.net/amover/linked-in-demographics-and-statistics-2011

But I've found from talking to loads of local business people that most people tend to just have a profile and in many cases they haven't got a 100% filled in profile.

I was lucky enough to attend a brilliant Social Media conference - What's Next 2011 - in Cardiff a few weeks ago. There were some incredible speakers and for me the 3 highlights were Trey Pennington, Mark Perl and Nick Tadd.

Mark Perl did a brilliant session on LinkedIn. Mark's energy and enthusiasm is infectious and he showed us how to use LinkedIn for business. And I thought it might be useful to share my 4 top take homes with you.

1. Your Connections' Connections
Mark pointed out the importance of our connections. He explained that they all know people who we could do business with. It seemed so obvious after he pointed this out to us!
We spend time each week cold calling and trying to get in front of key decision makers and yet we've got a huge pool of potential customers right in front our noses on LinkedIn.
Mark shared with us how we should spend some time looking at our connections' connections to see who they know. Assuming we know who our ideal customer is then we can look for them within that pool of connections.
Mark explained how he'd been trying to get hold of this guy - John Smith- and after a search on LinkedIn he saw that one of his connections - Steve - was connected to John Smith. So Mark called Steve and explained he'd love an intro to John Smith. Mark explained what he did and how he was going to help John and Steve was so impressed he said he'd be happy to get in touch with John and tell him all about Mark.
A few days later imagine Mark's surprise when he got a call out of the blue from John Smith, the guy he'd been trying to connect with! Steve had called John and because they knew each other; liked each other and trusted each other, John took Steve's word that Mark was a good guy and John was happy to get in touch.
So instead of Mark having to cold call John, the opposite happened! John called Mark and was a very warm lead thanks to the power of the referral from Steve.
Isn't that much better then wasting time cold-calling and trying to get past gate keepers?!!

So take a 15 or 20 minutes, at least once a week, to go through your connections and see if they know the people you're looking to connect with and if they do, ask them for an introduction. You'll be amazed at what can happen.

2. Join Groups & Get Involved
One of the other areas we often over look is Groups.
There are thousands of Groups on LinkedIn and so there will definitely be a few which are relevant to you and your business.
For example, I'm a member of a Group called Business Link in the South West as that's where I'm based and its a great group for connecting with other business people in my area.
You can also create your own group. If you want to create a Group based on your area of expertise you can. You can then invite your other connections to join your new Group.
Once you've found some groups which are relevant to your business, get involved by posting a question if you need help or dive in and answer a question that has been asked by one of the other members of the group.
When you do this your photo appears next to your posting along with a link to your LinkedIn profile page. So it's a great way for people to find out more about you.
If you are answering questions and being as helpful as possible the chances are other people will notice you and want to find out more about you.
The only downside to some groups is you see people trying to answer questions just to position themselves and offer their services or products. As with all social media platforms; it's NOT about broadcasting or touting for business. If you try and do this, you will be found out very quickly.
Try to remember the Know - Like - Trust mantra. People tend to do business with people they know and like and trust so there is no point at all in trying to sell.
Be a genuinely nice person and be as helpful as you can with your advice and you will build a good reputation. Then, and only then, will the business flow.

3. Give Testimonials
This was another gem from Mark Perl. I tried this last week and it felt great and I got some wonderful messages back from people.
The other good thing about giving testimonials to others is that some of the people will return the favour. Now please note - you don't just give testimonials because you want them to give you a testimonial in return!! You have to genuinely want to give someone a testimonial because you think and believe they truly deserve it.
Have a look through your connections and see who you've done business with who you think deserves a testimonial from you; or find a work colleague and give them a testimonial. Try to find two or three people each week and give them a testimonial. This isn't a hard and fast rule; you might only do 2 or 3 a month. Just go with what feels right for you.
It is a great feeling when you do give someone a testimonial. I knew they would be happy and I imagined their reaction as they got the email from LinkedIn telling them about my testimonial. I love it when I receive a nice testimonial from others; it sets you up for the rest of your day.
So get cracking and start giving testimonials to those people you think deserve it.  

4. Complete your Profile
There are a couple of reasons for doing this.
  • Other people looking at your profile want to know as much about you as possible. The more information you can give the better. If you are using LinkedIn to find other job opportunities then obviously you must give a full career history as possible.
  • Whenever you update your profile, your connections will see this in their timeline. LinkedIn also sends out a weekly email update which tells you which of your connections have updated their profile; changed photo etc. It also tells you who your connections are now connected to.
  • Your profile will appear very high on the search engines results. If you search my name "Dickie Armour" on Google you'll see my LinkedIn profile appears 5th on the search result.
So make sure you complete your profile and update it often. Every time it's updated your connections will be notified and this brings you back into their minds again.

These are just my 4 top take homes from Mark Perl's brilliant talk at the Social Media conference - What's Next 2011 in Cardiff. If you really want to learn how to use LinkedIn properly I highly recommend you get in touch with Mark Perl. He'll give you all the help and guidance you need.


So get going - make sure you spend time looking into your connections' connections and asking for referrals to those key decidion makers you want to speak to. Join the Groups you're interested in and get involved in the conversations going on there. Please give testimonials; you'll feel great and you'll feel even better when people start giving you testimonials and get your profile completed to 100% and keep it updated.

If you know me and we're not already connected on LinkedIn my profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/dickiearmour Please do connect and if I know you I will of course accept.

Please do add your comments below and share how you're using LinkedIn.

8 comments:

Saracen5 said...

Well written and thank you for sharing Dickie.

dickiearmour said...

Thanks John! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

Christina Wilson said...

A very good article - much appreciated as I am new to LinkedIn and hoping to find clients for my newly launched business. Thanks for taking the time to write.

dickiearmour said...

Thanks Christina! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Please feel free to get in touch if you need any help. I'm off to find you and connect on LinkedIn

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am relatively new to linked in and am currently trying this approach. This link reinforces my thoughts on the best way forward for linked in as a marketing and communication tool.

Blue Parakeet said...

Thanks for this. I found it really helpful. I spent quite a bit of yesterday updating my profile and trying to work out what was useful and what's not! Your tips were useful! I am also in the SW!

Granny Lyn said...

Thanks for sharing. I found the information very useful

Matthew Phelan said...

Hi Dickie,

A really good overview of LinkedIn. If I was to add a 5th point I would add “Get off line”. All to often people create a really good LinkedIn network but never actually meet the people face to face.

I did an experiment earlier in the year on this. Here is the write up if you get 5 mins http://www.4psmarketing.com/blog/mission-accomplished/

All the best

Matt

Post a Comment