LinkedIn is a great way for SMEs to promote themselves and attract potential employees to their business. We attended a recent event hosted by LinkedIn, and according to the experts themselves, there are 10 no-brainer steps every business must take to ensure maximum effectiveness and exposure:
1. Your Profile
Your profile is the first and most important step. It’s your online business card and the first port of call for potential customers and employees. Use the LinkedIn Wizard to assist you and pay particular attention to the following:
- Headline – make sure it includes your company name, because it will appear in every reference to you on LinkedIn.
- Photograph – if you are a small business, include your picture and make sure you look friendly and professional. If you are a larger company, you could include a team photo or your logo instead.
- Recommendations – solicit as many as you can, because they are worth their weight in gold. Use the Request Recommendations tool and ask immediate contacts first and then widen your net. If they are not forthcoming, try giving others recommendations, as they will usually reciprocate.
- Contacts – Use the People You May Already Know tool to add contacts and make sure they are people you know. If you wouldn’t call them on the phone, then don’t add them as a contact.
- Summary – make your summary count. Don’t use jargon, just tell it like it is. What does your company do best? Make sure it is keyword-rich for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) purposes and include a link to your company website.
2. Leveraging Employees’ Profiles
Most of your employees will have LinkedIn profiles of their own. Have them link to your company profile, as well as your company website, company blog and whatever other online presence you may have. This all helps raise your profile and improve your company’s search engine ranking.
3. LinkedIn Groups
According to LinkedIn, you should “join many groups, participate regularly in a few and manage one yourself”. Groups are a great place to network with other business owners, industry players and those with common interests. They are not the place for promoting your products and services, other than indirectly. Groups are a way to make contacts which can lead to later sales or employment opportunities. They are not the place for blatant self-promotion.
The key to groups from a business perspective, is to establish yourself as an authority on whatever industry your business is involved in. Once people see you as something of a guru, then it’s time to start and run your own group and it’s here that you can really promote your business.
4. Email plugins for OutLook and Gmail
These are amazing tools that every email user must install. For Outlook, LinkedIn recommends you download the Outlook Social Connector (OSC), which allows you to sync your online social networks to your Outlook Inbox and organise your LinkedIn contacts from within Outlook.
Rapportive is the Gmail plugin, recently purchased by LinkedIn. It gives you a quick ‘social overview’ of anyone you are about to email, or have received an email from. This is my #1 Gmail plugin.
5. LinkedIn Polls
Making use of LinkedIn’s Polls is a great way to gather statistics related to your business. You just ask a question and LinkedIn polls all your contacts plus millions more LinkedIn people from various demographics to give you statistics you can use to better focus your marketing and recruitment strategies. Each poll can have one question and up to five multiple choice answers.
6. Status Updates
It is important to regularly update both your personal and your company status. This keeps you top of mind with more of your contacts and gives you the opportunity to advertise your latest project, demonstrate your knowledge, or talk about current news or issues in your industry. If your updates are of interest to others, they will choose to ‘follow’ your company on LinkedIn. As with any form of advertising or promotion, don’t bombard people with updates. Just do it when you have something worthwhile to tell them.
7. Follow Companies
LinkedIn also suggests you follow other companies. This is a good way to keep tabs on your opposition, identify potential clients and partners and keep up with industry news and events. LinkedIn allows every individual to follow up to 50 companies.
8. LinkedIn Today
In an attempt to become more relevant from a content perspective, LinkedIn now offers LinkedIn Today, a targeted news feed that delivers the day’s top news stories, tailored to your particular industry. According to LinkedIn, it’s ‘an easy way to become a thought leader in your industry’.
9. Apply With LinkedIn
Adding this button to your job postings allows candidates to apply with one click, using their LinkedIn profile as their application. This means you will attract more candidates, including those active/passive types (not actively seeking work, but open to looking) who probably wouldn’t get around to applying through normal channels.
10. Products and Services
Adding this tab to your company profile page gives you a dedicated area to display your company’s goods and services. It also lets visitors recommend your company to all of your contacts, which is the best kind of publicity you can have for attracting customers or job candidates.