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Using LinkedIn to Launch A Small Business
Using LinkedIn can be an effective and inexpensive way to market your new business online. With more than 225 million users as of June 2013, LinkedIn differs from other social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest in that it is positioned as a networking site for business people and professionals. This makes it a particularly useful tool for business to business (B2B) organizations.
Here are five ways using LinkedIn can promote a small business.
1. Via a Personal Profile
Entrepreneurs should start by setting up a personal LinkedIn profile. Include your job title, business name and website, as well as experience and expertise. A strong summary statement highlighting your expertise and what excites you most about your business is strongly recommended. It is also important to include a professional photo and location to attract local clientele.
In addition, create a personalized LinkedIn URL that can be added to email signatures so contacts can easily connect with you. Research the keywords most applicable to your business, and include them in the profile.
Tip: Base keywords on the words and phrases that prospective customers would typically use to search for your business.
2. Make Connections
Work on making connections with others in the business world, as they (or their connections) can become a source of new clients, and help spread the word about new businesses. Connections can see updates and activities of others in their circles. Possible connections may include:
- prospective clients
- previous coworkers
- members of professional associations, community organizations or civic groups
Also consider asking for and providing recommendations from clients and service providers. Upon the successful completion of a job, ask your client for a LinkedIn recommendation, which may also serve as a testimonial on your business website. Be sure to also offer recommendations for suppliers or service providers you've used and been pleased with. Recommendations are a good way to build a strong LinkedIn profile and reputation.
3. LinkedIn Groups That Appeal to the Target Market
A common mistake of many new business owners navigating LinkedIn is only joining groups of their peers and fellow professionals. While this is a great way to network, LinkedIn also can be used to connect with potential new customers by joining the groups a business's target customer is most likely to be involved in. Posting valuable, insightful links and participating in discussions helps businesspeople establish themselves as authority figures in that field, and increases the likelihood that group members will visit the business website, store/office location or company LinkedIn page.
4. Set up a LinkedIn Company Page
It isn't just big businesses that operate company pages on LinkedIn - small and midsize businesses can also benefit from this free online marketing. Use it to highlight information about your business, its products and services, and job openings. Be sure to include contact information, location and hours of operation. According to LinkedIn's website, as of May 2013, companies must have a business domain name (www.companyname.com) to set up a Company Page on LinkedIn.
A useful feature of a LinkedIn Company page is the Products tab. This can include information, photos, diagrams or other images detailing a company's products and services. The information found under the Products tab can then be easily shared and recommended within the LinkedIn community.
5. LinkedIn Today
LinkedIn has recently redefined itself by focusing on content strategy and resources for business professionals through LinkedIn Today, which features professional news and insights. This is a great tool for business owners to keep up with trends, news and tips for developing their own content strategy to position themselves as experts. Users can customize LinkedIn Today content by channels and influencers of their choice, share and save articles, and see what other LinkedIn professionals are sharing.
Whether your clients are other businesses or consumers, providing useful and engaging content via a variety of online sources has never been as important as it is today. Use LinkedIn, along with other social media sites and your own business website, to build an overall content strategy that positions your business as a thought leader and authority in your field.
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