Leveraging LinkedIn for your business

By Deb Krier, CWCC Member

Show of hands…how many of you think that LinkedIn is mainly for people looking for a job?

Of course, LinkedIn is used by many people in their job search. However, job seekers aren’t the only ones who can benefit. According to their website: “LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return.”

The question is: how can you use LinkedIn for your business?

Think of LinkedIn as your own personal Rolodex…with over 70 million names. Well, maybe not your Rolodex, but you want to build your list of connections to as many as possible. Begin by connecting with people you went to college with, business associates, and co-workers (current and former).

Additional ways to build your list include checking to see if the people you meet at networking events are on LinkedIn. If you use MS Outlook, you can download a toolbar from LinkedIn that automatically checks to see if the person who sent you an email is on LinkedIn.

Why do you want to do this?

Here’s how it works: you want to try to sell your product or service to XX Company, but you don’t know anyone there. Search for XX Company in LinkedIn. The goal is to find people who have XX Company in their profiles. If there’s a graphical “1st” by a person’s name, you are directly connected to them. If there’s a “2nd” then you are connected with someone who is connected with someone at XX Company. LinkedIn even tells you the name of the person you have in common. Then, it’s time to use the relationships you (hopefully) built to contact them to ask for assistance.

When you have a meeting with a potential client, use LinkedIn to research them. Hopefully they have a profile. What you are looking for is something that you have in common with them. Maybe you went to the same university, like the same sports team or have a similar hobby – people like to work with people they share interests with. Even if you don’t have anything in common, knowing more about them can help build a rapport.

And speaking of profiles – you want your profile completed with lots and lots of information. Ignore the “your profile is xx% complete” that LinkedIn tells you. It’s only looking for something in the various fields. Provide as much detail as possible. Some of the fields allow for 2,000 characters – that’s about two PAGES of information. A great resource to walk you through completing your profile is the book Rock The World With Your Online Presence. Ultimately, your LinkedIn profile is your online “marketing brochure” about yourself, so the more details and information, the better.

Have you used LinkedIn to generate business and if so, how?

Deb Krier is a social media adviser, professional speaker, and trainer. With nearly 20 years as a marketing and public relations professional, she’s passionate about helping people use social media to promote themselves and their businesses! For more info, go to www.debkrier.com.

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