If you are in business to business sales or marketing, you should be using LinkedIn to grow your business. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are great to show potential customers and clients you have an online presence, but with B2B, you can start a conversation and close a deal on LinkedIn… if you use it right.

Here are seven FREE ways to use LinkedIn to Grow your Business

grow your business on linkedin

Creating an all-star profile

First things first… and that means your profile. Thankfully, LinkedIn tells you what’s working and what’s not working as you create your profile with the “profile strength” circle. What makes for a great profile? Well, a few things.

    1. Pictures. You have two spots for pictures here. One is a professional picture of you. When I say professional, I mean don’t pose with your dog. (The only time that’s okay, is if you’re a vet.) I suggest a standard headshot that shows what you do professionally if you can show it. Then, there is the commonly forgotten cover photo. In mine, I placed my logo on either side. I did have another image in the middle, but it wasn’t compatible on mobile. Your cover photo will look different on a desktop vs. a mobile, so before deciding on one, make sure it looks centered on both devices.      2. Your professional headline. This is probably the most important part of your entire LinkedIn page. I suggest making your headline eye-catching and exciting. Many people have titles that sound complicated… or need further explanation. For example, if you’re an “account executive” or “support manager,” I’d elaborate a little more so when someone sees your headline, they can visualize you at work and how you can help them.      3. Summary. This shouldn’t be too short, but it also shouldn’t be too long either. Some people prefer bullet points while others like to write this section in sentence form. This is no right or wrong way, but I think of it as an elevator pitch. Here, you want to tell prospective clients you can solve their problems and this is how and why you are the person for the job. linkedin grow business      4. Posts. The post section is like your blog… but it’s your blog on LinkedIn. While your LinkedIn profile exists for you to promote yourself as an expert in your industry, the post section lets you take it one step further by offering your expertise to help others who may stumble across your post. How can someone find it? Well, after you write your post, spell check it and add a picture, you can add up to three tags. I usually use tags like “public relations,” “media relations,” and “public relations and communications.” Depending on the post, those tags may change. Just by using this method, I’ve earned public speaking opportunities and have been published in industry trade publications.      5. The rest. While it is time-consuming, you should not skimp on completing the rest of your profile. Some of it shows up at the top as an abbreviated version – like your current employment, work history, education, etc. Don’t forget to include your skills, organizations you’re involved with, volunteer work… the list goes on – and it is all important to creating an all-star profile.

Searching for leads

LinkedIn offers a great “advanced search” tool. It’s right at the top of the page, just to the right of the search bar. You don’t have to be a premium member to use this. As a premium member, you can really advance your search, but the free version works well too. I think it’s best to start by clicking “2nd connections” under the “relationship” tab. This way, you aren’t only connecting to someone who knows a person you’re already connected to, but you are allowed to add them as a connection. When you make your way down the relationship tab, it’s more difficult to grow your connections. linkedin-advanced-people-search On the left-hand side under “people,” you can narrow your criteria to exactly what you’re looking for by using keywords, the person’s title, company, or even someone in your zip code. It’s not just people you can search. You can also look for leads for jobs, through companies, in groups, by industry, etc.

Discovering who’s interested in you

Just like you can view other people’s profile’s, LinkedIn shows you who’s viewed your profile as well. With the free version, you can only see so much of this information, but still, sometimes that little bit is all you need to make a connection. You can find out who’s viewed your profile, who’s read your posts, and even how you rank for profile views among your connections. who's-viewed-your-profile The most useful part of this feature, in my opinion, is to see who’s viewed your profile. This is where creating an all-star profile comes into play. I look at the person’s picture and professional headline to decide if I want to click on their profile to learn more. If I do, I’ll take a look and see if he or she looks like an ideal client of mine. If so, I’ll send a message and open it with, “Hi. I noticed you stopped by my page this week. I was just looking at yours too and noticed…” But beware! There are many lurkers on LinkedIn as well. I have clicked on a person’s profile after seeing they’ve viewed mine only to find a lot of my information copied and pasted to their page. It happens. If and when it does, you just have to take it as a compliment and continue doing business on LinkedIn, ethically.

Including a call to action

If you have created an all-star profile, your call to action should already be in place. If you want people to call you, is your phone number easy to find? What about your website? Or your email address? free-media There are a few ways to post this information. One is right at the top of your profile under “contact information.” You can also give connections another option in the “additional info” section in your profile. It can’t hurt to use both. After all, with websites, emails, phone numbers, and countless social media channels, we have lots of ways to drive people to a specific call to action.

Asking for recommendations

Recommendations on LinkedIn is just like your references on your resume, expect you don’t need to call them and ask questions. It’s all right there! After you’ve created your all-star profile, you should have at least four to five different places of employment. Hopefully, you’re connected with some professionals you worked with at those businesses. If you are, you can click the button that says “ask to be recommended.” LinkedIn will prompt you to select how you know that person. Then, that person will get a notification you’re asking for a recommendation. After they write something nice (hopefully) it will be placed on your profile for all to see. recommendations-on-linkedin

Using your news feed

Your news feed is what you see as soon as you log on. It’s the homepage and it’s news you choose to see based on who your connections are and the groups you follow. It’s no different from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram… but it’s all business related (or should be). Just like on those social media platforms, it’s important to interact with your connections in your newsfeed. Like, comment, and share content you appreciate and is relevant to your business. linkedin-newsfeed You may notice some posts from people you aren’t connected to or companies you don’t follow. These are sponsored posts that you may be interested in because the person behind the advertisement targeted you.

…and what I don’t do

When you’re using LinkedIn to grow your business, don’t try too hard. That’s when it doesn’t work for you. Some things I’ve noticed, that I don’t like…
  • Right after a connection is made, the person who requested the connection doesn’t wait longer than five minutes to send a message with a sales pitch. We’re not on LinkedIn to be pitched left and right. We’re on LinkedIn to build relationships with like-minded people, and if relationships develop through strategic interactions, then maybe a sale will be made… eventually.
  • Automated messages on any social media platform drive me nuts. Usually, it’s a person asking for a sale, but once it wasn’t. Yes, once.
Brandon Gaille with The Blog Millionaire is the only person I’ve seen automate messages perfectly. In his automated response after following him, he asks to help you, then he tells you how he can do it, and he actually does it. He is offering value by taking time out of his day to help you one on one. Guess what? That turned into a sale for him. About a month later, I shelled out $400 to him to help me with some business coaching.
  • I don’t have time read long messages on any social media platform, so I wouldn’t recommend opening a conversation with more than three to four sentences. Sometimes, I get messages that are so long, I don’t even start to read it.
Here is an example of all of these things wrapped up into one: linkedin-messages I’m not sure if this is an automated message, but to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to assume it is. Not only did this message come right after a connection was made, but it’s too long, and this person is pitching me with a sale… to do exactly what I do! If she took three minutes to look at my profile, she would have seen that we would be great collaborators and possible referrers for one another. Maybe a message like, “Hey, I’m so happy to connect and see we do similar things so probably have the similar clientele. We should get together…” Instead, she’s trying to do too much at once, and by doing that, she isn’t really doing anything. Just like any other job, but especially with public relations and social media, being strategic is vital. Yes, it takes more time, but you will have a lot more success when you take the time to do things personally, with meaning, and an end goal in mind.   Do you have any success stories of using LinkedIn to grow your business?
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