Date: 27 May 2016
5 LinkedIn tips for small businesses
Many people think LinkedIn is just an online CV, but there are many ways you can use the platform to grow your business. As a small business owner, you’re not looking for a job, so what can you use LinkedIn for? Take a look at our basic introduction to LinkedIn for SME’s and read our five tips for using LinkedIn to your benefit.
Basic introduction to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 400 million users. Build an online profile with your professional accomplishments to find and be found by others.
LinkedIn is one of the most important social networks for businesses that sell B2B, because it easily lets you connect with other businesses. If you only sell to consumers, we’d still recommend using LinkedIn, but other networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram might prove more efficient.
As a small business owner, you can use LinkedIn as a tool to grow your business by building professional credibility and connecting to others in your industry.
1. Use a personal page as well as a company page
Big businesses are anonymous, and their brand is built up by their logo, motto and reputation. As a small business owner, you yourself are the brand. In order to expand business relationships, you’ll need a personal profile on LinkedIn. Why? People want to deal with people!
A company page is useful to recruit for positions within your company. It also shows you some analytics on reach, engagement and the makeup of your audience. The downside of a company page is that you cannot start a conversation; you can only reply to messages that were sent to you first. You also can’t join a LinkedIn Group with a company page, only with a personal page. So in order to network and connect with other people, you will need a personal page as well.
2. Connect with like-minded people
You might feel shy about sending a message to connect to someone you don’t know personally. LinkedIn is a networking platform though, so you should use it for that purpose! If someone has viewed your profile, is posting in the same groups, or is in any way relevant to your business – you should think about sending a connection request. Make sure to add a personalised message to increase your success rate.
It’s also a great idea to join groups relevant to your industry or person. If you’re a plumber you can join the group Plumbers Talk, if you own a female financial adviser you can join Woman in Banking & Finance UK. There are groups for almost anything! In these groups, you join in discussions, ask and answer questions, and network with people in your field. Another benefit of joining a group is that you can send messages to fellow group members, even if you’re not connected to them. This could prove useful when you’re recruiting for someone. One last benefit for connecting with others is to get endorsed!
3. Get endorsed
As a business owner, you’ll know how important reputation is. Unlike 20 years ago, everyone can now post a review about a business online, whether positive or negative. LinkedIn also has a ‘review’ function, for your professional skills and accomplishments. People who work for a company can get recommendations from that company, but as your own boss, you can still get recommendations. You can add projects to your personal page, for which you can ask partners or professional contacts for a recommendation.
A less intrusive way of building your professional reputation is to get endorsed for certain skills. Add all the skills that are relevant to you on your personal page. Then go through your professional contacts’ profiles and endorse them for skills you know they have. When they get notified about your kind endorsement, most of them will feel the need to endorse you back.
When you have a good online reputation, your potential customers will see that you are a professional in your field, and they will be more inclined to do business with you.
4. Post engaging content
Apart from on your website, you can also post blogs and share other interesting content on LinkedIn. These will appear in the timeline of people who follow your business page or are connected to your personal profile. They can then engage with it by liking, commenting or sharing, just like on Facebook. Keep the following in mind when posting content on LinkedIn:
- Share your professional expertise in content that adds value to other professionals.
- Mix it up; don’t always post the same. You could share a blog article, images, ask questions or give advice. Take a look at some more content ideas.
- Keep it business-related. Funny is fine, but holiday pictures or gaudy jokes are not!
A benefit of posting content on LinkedIn is that when your connections (see point 2) engage with your content, it will show up on their connections’ timeline as well. So it’s possible your content might go ‘viral’. So if you are the professional voice on LinkedIn on physiotherapy, and one of your connections has back pain, guess who they’ll turn to?
5. Recruiting employees
As a small business, you won’t use LinkedIn as often for recruiting as larger businesses, because you don’t have as many employees. You might use a local newspaper or job website to post your vacancies, but why not just post it on LinkedIn as well to increase your chances?
Once you’ve posted the job advert, share it on your personal profile, website and other social networks. If you have done a bit networking in groups, you’ll have a selection of suitable candidates to message about your vacancy as well.
When used effectively, LinkedIn can help you gain new business leads, connect with like-minded businesses, and grow your business. Good luck!