LinkedIn has become a far more useful business (as opposed to career) tool over the years. Here are 10 LinkedIn best practices for business development:
1) Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Individuals should be sure to complete their profile as fully as possible using keyword-rich descriptions to make it more likely that they will be visible when someone is searching within LinkedIn to find people with their expertise.
2) Claim Your Custom LinkedIn URL
Everyone should claim their custom URL to ensure it includes their name (e.g. http://linkedin.com/in/yourname). This is especially important for people who have a lot of contact with potential clients (this is mostly applicable to professional services and the B2B sector) because when meeting with someone they have not yet met, many people will search Google for the name of the person with whom they’re meeting in order to learn more about them.
Claiming your custom URL makes it more likely your LinkedIn profile will rank in the top of those search results.
3) Network. Network. Network
Constantly build your LinkedIn network. The more people you are connected to in LinkedIn, the more likely you’ll be able to find someone you know who is connected to someone with whom you’d like to be introduced. Whenever you meet someone, follow that meeting up with a LinkedIn request.
Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your website bio.
4) Advanced Search
Search for prospective customers/clients. LinkedIn’s advanced search feature is a very powerful tool for finding decision-makers. Use a combination of industry keywords, job titles, company and geography to identify the most appropriate people to contact for your business.
Then examine their profile. See if they are connected to anyone you know and who you might ask for an introduction. See if they participate in LinkedIn groups, or have a Twitter account or blog you can follow in order to find a natural way at building a relationship with them based on common interests.
5) Highlight Your Company
Build your company page. Complete your company page using keyword-rich descriptions of what your company offers, upload beautiful images and video that bring your company to life.
6) Expert Positioning & Top-Of-Mind Awareness
Use the status updates to share information and links to articles prospective customers and/or employees would find valuable.
Likewise, use status updates on your personal profile to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Showing a command of your industry helps build trust in yourself and, by extension, your company.
7) Publish Or Perish
Publish on LinkedIn. Take it a step further and write articles that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise of your industry using LinkedIn’s publishing feature. Include a call to action at the bottom of your articles to encourage further engagement, be it commenting on your article or contacting you for help.
8) Take LinkedIn’s Pulse
Study Pulse. Popular articles published on LinkedIn get promoted to LinkedIn’s online magazine, called Pulse.
Pulse is segmented by topics and industries, so find the most appropriate category for the type of content you’ll be publishing and study the popular articles within that category to learn what are the common denominators and/or types of content that make it to Pulse.
9) Build Community
Participate in Industry Groups. Find some active, quality groups within your industry and start participating by joining conversations, answering questions, being helpful, sharing interesting third-party articles.
Once you establish yourself as a trusted community member, you’ll have built up the credibility to occasionally share your own content there. The more you participate in a meaningful manner in a group, the more overall visibility you’ll enjoy within that group.
10) Build Trust
Tell, Don’t Sell. No one wants to listen to sales pitches. If you use LinkedIn to blatantly sell, you’ll quickly tune everyone out.
Think about what is important to the audience you are trying to reach, what problems they have, what challenges they face, their aspirations and goals, and try and provide helpful information that both serves those needs and positions you as the go-to source to help them, when they need it.
Build trust by providing relevant, useful information and when the time comes when they need a problem solved that you can fix, they’ll think of you.
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