I have been a fan of LinkedIn for some time now and use it to benefit our business. I like that it is for business and that this target audience has remained consistent. There is no ambiguity or trying to be all things to all people, it is a platform to communicate with professionals.
It’s fair to say that the functionality hasn’t always been the best. Some of the updates have been infuriating at best and damn right irritating at worst. However, it has remained a space to share, discuss and debate.
As a business owner, I find LinkedIn is a community of people that I can trust. Given that you have to accept a request to connect, I can take ownership of those I want to converse with. As each person has a profile with a biog, I can have further confidence they are the right contacts for me.
Using LinkedIn to benefit business
I was once in a meeting with a client and suggested they update their LinkedIn profile. They were a little hesitant at first, but after explaining that they could connect with people they wanted to reach more easily, they agreed.
After a few updates, an appropriate picture and some keywords we were done. It took around half an hour. Before the end of the meeting, the client had six new contacts and a meeting in the diary.
LinkedIn isn’t difficult to use. It takes time and that is where most people lose interest. They don’t see the value in spending hours scrolling through content or uploading posts.
The truth is, you don’t have to.
Set aside half an hour each day to review the content your contacts have shared and when it’s appropriate to do so, share your own updates. It may be a link to an article you found interesting or some good news about your business.
Keeping it simple
As with most social platforms, keeping it simple will give others the time to read and digest your updates. It’s then up to them whether they then share, like or scroll on from that post.
Adding imagery will always attract more interest, so a good picture is certainly worthwhile.
We often come across companies that don’t feel they have the right content to share on LinkedIn. In this instance, I always suggest looking at the personalities in the business. There are often characters that have a story to share in an organisation, but too often they remain behind closed doors.
LinkedIn is a perfect platform to provide an insight into those that keep the operation going; whether it be the cleaner, driver, machine operator, finance director or MD. Everyone has something to offer.
One of the easiest ways to find people with shared interests is to look in groups. These are sub-communities that have been set up. You can scroll through and find those that are most relevant.
In my case, it is often those specific to PR or to communications. I am also involved with the Yorkshire Mafia too. A group that was set up by a client some years ago and now has more than 23,000 members.
With groups you know that the people you are engaging with, and the topics they are likely to discuss, will be of interest. If they aren’t, simply leave the group and find another that you feel is better equipped with content that you can read and share.
Creating credible copy
One of the functions of LinkedIn is the ability to share articles from a personal account. As a writer, I find this really valuable. For me, this is an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience. It gives people the confidence to know that I have delivered results for my clients and I know what I’m talking about.
The beauty of articles is also that you can see how many people have engaged with that piece of content. This then allows you to extend your audience reach. If someone shares an article or tags another contact into it, then it will be seen by their contacts too.
I once wrote an article about being a business in Wakefield. It took me around half an hour to write and reached hundreds of people. It also gave my connections an insight into the reasons we chose the city as the location for our company and by association, any local companies were reminded we were there.
Company pages on LinkedIn are a great way to attract talent. This is one of the reasons that recruiters spend so much money with the platform. It is a great way to identify those that are at the top of their game.
Professionals that use LinkedIn well are also those that will attract attention from companies. As a business, we use LinkedIn to identify potential candidates for roles that we have. It makes sense. Irrelevant of how long you have been in the industry, keeping your online CV up to date is essential.
When I worked for other agencies, I was approached on numerous occasions thanks to my LinkedIn profile. Now it’s more about extending my community online, but the same theory applies. Keeping my experience and content up to date means people know more about me before sending an invite to connect.
Don’t be dismissive
Creating a LinkedIn profile is just the start. Keeping it up to date is what matters most. Don’t create an account for it to become dormant. It will do you more harm than good.
Set aside some time that is dedicated to your communications. It’s easier said than done I know, but it is important. Friday afternoons are often an opportunity for people to review their online profile and to share an update.
However, or whenever you choose to review and update the important point is that you do it. No excuses and no assumption that it doesn’t really matter. Communications are business critical. This is a chance to showcase your skills and experience to the world. That isn’t something to be dismissive about.
Remember, LinkedIn is for business. There are the odd occasions that this line is blurred, however best practice is to keep personal off this platform.
To make updates more manageable, have LinkedIn at the back of your mind. As well as sharing links to news updates, think differently about the stories you hear in the office. If it is relevant and appropriate, then spend five minutes putting together a short post to share with a picture.
You will be surprised at the engagement you get from office-based posts. These are often the updates that receive most likes or shares. The reason being that they provide an insight behind closed doors and they add personality.
People are intrigued by business. They probably know what products you sell, and they could go to the website for further info’, but who is involved is a different matter. Some of our clients do this very well and have huge success from sharing short stories from staff.
Test and measure
As I said at the start of this post, I am a huge advocate of LinkedIn. I always recommend to my clients that they update their profile and that they use company pages where it is appropriate and will add value.
If you are hesitant, then test and measure. The benefits of social channels are that they are cost effective. There is no cash investment required to set up a basic LinkedIn page – professional or company.
As such, it is worth setting up a profile and seeing who you can connect with. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.