LinkedIn Marketing is the new business mixer… Before social networking became so important, attending networking mixers and Chamber of Commerce meetings were the top ways for acquiring referrals and building business relationships. These networking strategies are still important but now those activities have also moved online within social media communities…and LinkedIn is now an essential site for this type of business networking.
With LinkedIn you get all the benefits of offline networking with less of the hassle. Instead of going from one business luncheon to another “hoping” to meet qualified prospects, LinkedIn provides a platform for you to specifically research individuals who you know will directly add value to your business.
LinkedIn’s ability to identify, research, contact, follow-up, engage and maintain your contacts in one place is unmatched by other social networks. For individuals who aren’t ready to take on the responsibility of a website, LinkedIn could serve as an online business hub to refer business prospects. That’s why using LinkedIn correctly and effectively is a key marketing strategy to incorporate into your daily marketing efforts.
Marketing and Networking with LinkedIn
After opening an account, creating a profile, and importing personal contacts as I suggested a few days ago in my blog post now you’re ready to move out into the larger network. LinkedIn works for you based on who you already know and who can acknowledge knowing you to become a bridge to new connections.
So the first step is to use those connections that you have already made to expand your network. A great way to do this is by asking for an introduction. Facebook has likes, Twitter has re-tweets, and LinkedIn has introductions. Designed around the principle of referrals, introductions are one of the best ways to meet new people on LinkedIn. Introductions are highly regarded because they deliver built-in trust.
The basic idea is that if you don’t know a person who you would like to be connected to, find someone within your personal network who will introduce you to this person. When a potential contact sees that you’re linked to someone who they know, it implies you’re a credible person.
Another great way to add people to your network is to ask people that you have met within a group your are a part of on Linkedin to become a part of your network. You already know you have similar interests because you are a part of the same group so why not expand that relationship within your network of connections.
Establishing yourself as an expert on LinkedIn takes more than a completed profile. In the same way an offline networking group works, people expect more from you than just handing out nice brochures, they want to see contributions and helpful input from you.
Some strategic ways to demonstrate your expertise on LinkedIn are with Recommendations, participating in discussions in Groups, and participating in LinkedIn Answers.
Similar to testimonials, business partners can leave Recommendations on your profile promoting you or your services. When you’re just starting on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to encourage people you’ve worked with outside of the community to join and post their testimonials to your profile. A Recommendation stands as social proof from a third party that you’re a skilled professional. (**You need at least 3 recommendations for your profile to be 100% complete on LinkedIn)
LinkedIn Answers is a great system where you can ask and answer questions submitted by the LinkedIn community. This is a great opportunity to be seen as an expert in your niche! Answering questions on LinkedIn is a savvy way to be positioned as the obvious expert without being pushy or annoying.
You can access the LinkedIn Answers forum by:
1. Clicking the “More” menu from the navigation toolbar.
2. Select “Answers” from the drop-down menu.
Joining a LinkedIn Group introduces the opportunity to strengthen connections with like-minded individuals in an exclusive forum. The Groups function provides a private space to interact with LinkedIn members that share common skills, experiences, industry affiliations, and goals.
Group leaders capitalize on this feature through providing additional benefits and access for each participant with the expectation of solidifying their overall brand and mission. It’s a win-win situation. In most cases, invitations are sent out asking a person to join a group but you can also request to be a part of any group you are interested in.
So in summary if you want to position yourself as an industry leader and add to the discussion on the issues in your market, LinkedIn is the way to do it. With a little effort, it’s easy to become recognized as the go-to person in your niche utilizing this great tool.
To Your Success!
Te Marketing Momma