Small businesses have tight marketing budgets and owners are often so busy running the business they can feel overwhelmed figuring out how to promote it. Fortunately, LinkedIn, the social media tool anyone who has a business (or a job or is looking for a job) should be using, offers business owners some free ways to get noticed. Here are three ways to get the word out on LinkedIn:
Connect: There are different philosophies on connecting using LinkedIn. There are the LIONs, the LinkedIn Open Networkers, who welcome any and all connections. At the other end of the spectrum are the people who keep their network so small and guarded it makes you think they are only enduring LinkedIn because someone told them they had to. If you are in business, whether you are local, national or international, you need to build your network. Start by sending an invitation to connect to everyone you have ever done business with (assuming the outcome was neutral or better; don’t connect with the crank who asked you to provide twice the service at half the cost.) I know people who have felt they are imposing upon others by inviting the connection, but I tell them that those other people are as interested in building their networks as you are, and will probably either value your invitation or ignore it (if they aren’t fully using their LinkedIn power.) Next, move on to those people you know, through volunteer, civic, or social activities who might do business with you or might know someone who would. That is, everybody. Whether you are B2B or B2C, there are people out there who need your service or product, and the link between you and those people might be the coach of your daughter’s soccer team, or your friend’s brother-in-law who stepped in to round out your foursome at the golf course last weekend. When you invite a LinkedIn connection, you invite opportunity for the both of you.
Use Groups: Join groups on LinkedIn but do it thoughtfully. It is fine to choose groups to network with the people who are in the same business as you; this can be a good way to learn from the issues and successes others are experiencing, but keep your mind on the goal. Who are your customers? What kind of groups are they in? It can take some time to figure out the best fit, but there is no penalty for joining groups and following the chatter to see if the people there are good business potential for you. You can leave a group invisibly at any time. If the group focus and membership are a good fit you don’t have to do anything; simply being a member with someone in a group shows up as something you have in common with them if they do a search on you or click to view your profile, and that is a plus. If you are willing to engage more, clicking to “like” a discussion, or typing in an appreciative comment for someone else’s post brings your image into view for anyone viewing that post, at least until other “likes” and comments push yours into hiding. More opinionated comments can make for more attention and lively discussion, but keep it classy if reputation matters in your industry (and when does it not?)
Share Content: Sharing relevant articles from the internet to your LinkedIn public audience is a great way to raise your visibility and give your network an idea of the kind of material you think is valuable. In short, it tells your audience a little bit about who you are, beyond your work and educational background. Select some articles that are directly relevant to your profession, and share them using the “InShare” button (include relevant groups,) or by copying the URL and pasting it into the “Share an update” field at the top of your LinkedIn home page. Win extra views by checking the Twitter box to share your article there, too. The more articles and other items you share, the more views you will receive. It is important to find a balance between sharing content others can relate to, and content relevant to your field and expertise. If you are a Marketing Director and you repeatedly share posts challenging people to do things like name movies without the letter “A” in the title, you might get engagement, but your visibility won’t improve your credibility.
The bad news is that sharing content with your network is an ongoing practice that needs to be done regularly and with thought. The good news is that the same kind of articles and content you find useful on the internet is going to be thought-provoking and come off as authentically engaging to your audience. So, dive in and add new connections on your social media platforms, then look for that content that catches your interest and pass it on. When people Like and Comment, respond in kind. The same energy you put in will come back to you.
I wish you every success!
Follow Lynnette @SBSLynnette
Social Business Strategies, LLC