How Business Owners Can Benefit From LinkedIn’s Features, this week’s featured guest post, by Carol Tice, Make a Living Writing blog.
LinkedIn is a highly useful social-media site for business owners looking to connect with prospective customers, suppliers, partners, or other businesses in their town. If you haven’t already built a profile on LinkedIn, I recommend it. Get on, fully flesh out your profile, and start connecting with people you already know.
LinkedIn has a reputation as a social-media channel with a very businesslike “flavor,” and that’s one of the reasons I like it. People aren’t on there to talk about what their dog ate this morning…they’re there to grow their business.
LinkedIn offers many ways for you to make new connections. Each connection you make connects you to all of that person’s connections indirectly.
Once you’re on, you’ll get invitations to connect. There are different schools of thought about how to respond — some people only connect to people they know well, while others accept anyone who asks. I guess I’m somewhere in between: unless they’re really spammy or not remotely someone who would ever be a prospective client or good referrer for my business, I usually approve friend requests to keep my network growing.
Some of the features I like best on LI (in no particular order):
- The connections. At the speed business executives are being laid off and moved around these days, I’ve found LinkedIn an invaluable site for keeping track of where past colleagues have gone. Phone numbers and email addresses may change, but a businessperson’s LI page likely isn’t going anywhere.
- The blog tool. If you have a business or personal blog, you can use LinkedIn’s blog tool to pull it onto your LI home page. All you have to do is list your blog as one of the live links in your profile, and when you choose the blog tool it will bring your blog to the site. This will not only display your blog on your LI page, but on the pages of any of your connections who have turned on the blogroll feature. Great, free way to spread your blog!
- Who’s viewed my profile? This tool, which usually shows up automatically in the right-hand bar along with that blog tool tells you how many people looked at your profile in the last week or few days, and how many times your profile appeared in search results on LI.Click on “more” in that box, and you’ll get to another screen that lists 4-6 actual results for people who’ve viewed your profile. Sometimes they’re too vague to be useful, but sometimes they give you a full person/company name listing.Whenever that happens, I check the person out, and if they seem like a prospect I shoot them a message. If their industry is one I have particular expertise in, I usually mention it, otherwise I just say, “Hey, were you looking for me? Let me know if I can help!” I’ve received frequent responses to these and made some great prospective client connections.
- The jobs. If you’re currently looking for either a new full-time job or freelance assignments, LI is becoming a hot place for jobs. I try to do a search on my keywords daily. Quite a few of the jobs posted here are exclusive to the site–look for an asterisk by the exclusive listings. Better yet, the jobs also show if you have any connections to the job poster. Sometimes you can reach out through a connection to find out more job details, or to get a resume across in a more personal way instead of through some anonymous job-form site.
- The groups. The industry groups on LI are a great forum for asking questions, learning about new developments or trends, and making new connections. You can also connect with prospects on city or industry-specific groups – in my town, that’s Linked:Seattle.The jobs posted in the group forums. Occasionally, there are job listings posted within LI groups, under the “jobs” heading. I haven’t seen a ton of listings within groups–far more can be found by searching LI’s job tab–but it’s a good idea to keep an eye peeled.
- News and discussions. The group forums are a great place to pose or answer a question, or post one of your blogs as a news item if it’s relevant to others in your field or your town. Sign your posts with your URL and you’ll drive traffic over to your site. Week after week, a significant chunk of the visitors on both my Make a Living Writing blog site and caroltice.com come from discussions in my LinkedIn groups.
- InMail for prospecting. I haven’t used this myself yet, but I’m dying to try it. If you do a paid membership level on LI, you can send InMail to anyone you want, even people you’re not connected to. And get this: LI reports InMail has a 30% response rate. Anyone in direct mail will tell you a 3% response rate is ordinarily considered phenomenal. Don’t know how long the InMail edge will last, but while it’s new and novel, it’s a great way to hit companies or publications you’re dying to work for. Here’s what one copywriter had to say about her success with InMail.
- In-person events. My Linked:Seattle group meets in person, and I’ve got to get to their events! I’m told they rock for networking.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here.
–Carol Tice has been a full-time freelance writer, word stylist, blogger and copywriter since 2005. Before that she was a staff writer for the Puget Sound Business Journal for more than six years. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur magazine, The Seattle Times, on BNET, and in many other venues. This post was adapted from one of her blogs on the WM Freelance Writers Connection.
P.S. (from Patsi)… Here’s a neat Jing screencast showing you how Dr. Tony Karrer uses LinkedIn to find expert resources. I love how easy it is for Tony to post a video on his blog using the free Jing software… eLearning Technology Blog.