LinkedIn now has over 1 million users in Ireland. That’s a good number for a “Professional” social media platform. This is a particularly high number given that there are 1.9m Irish Facebook users and just an estimated 385,000 Irish twitter accounts.
LinkedIn enables you to make the best use of your professional network and helps the people you trust in return. It’s no secret that LinkedIn is a great place to network professionally and to post and find new jobs. It’s also a great place to get an answer to questions and to build thought leadership.
LinkedIn is also a good way to identify influential individuals at specific organisations. A search for your target business or title on LinkedIn will identify people you may already be connected with, either directly or through your connections. LinkedIn is a great tool to leverage your existing contacts to connect with people and find potential customers online.
So what do you need to do to grow your online network, get your organisation noticed, and build sales?
The first is to make sure your profile is as professional as possible so that people want to connect to you. Make sure you include all the up to date information about you and your business. You can also include some key words about your business (this helps to make you profile easier to find if a potential customer is looking for something specific).
Remember to tie in any business apps that you might use, like SlideShare or a business blog.
This is may be the first impression that someone will get of you and your business. Use a good clear professional profile picture. LinkedIn is no place for pictures of your children or that picture of you dressed up from Halloween. Don’t bother. It would be better to use the company logo than those. But, remember people do business with other people not with companies.
The next thing is to ensure your business has a page under the company pages. Maybe it’s just you and your laptop but having a company page allows you to post news for your company and not have everything as part of your profile. This too needs to be as professional as possible and should include everything about your company including the logo, contact details and a list of products. This is also the place to add videos or product promotions if you have them.
The company profile should be updated regularly. Posts can be about the company but can also be information that reflects the company’s vision such as thoughtfully chosen articles, maybe from a thought leader that you follow.
Make connections to people you know, friends colleagues, people you went to school and college with. A good tip, is if you are out networking and meet a person of note, look for them on LinkedIn and connect to them afterwards with a “It was great to meet you” note. This is a good way of building new connections.
Join groups that are of interest to you and that you want to participate with. Groups are like little networking rooms on the site. The more times you participate in the group, the more connections you make. Making these new connections online is great but if you can, try to meet them off line after wards to strengthen these relationships.
Groups allow you to ask questions but also to answer them. Don’t be afraid to help if you can but only if you want to share. (Sharing is Caring, remember!)
A good point, if you can offer advice, do so, it helps you be seen as a Thought Leader in your area. If you people know and trust your advice, they are more likely to come to you do business.
Endorse other people that you have worked with previously. This is like on line reference so only endorse if you are willing to stand over it off line. If you had people write receommendations for you in the past or say that your service pr product is great off line, ask them if they’ll do it online for you. They can only say no.
The biggest thing to remember is people do business with people so be personable, professional and polite at all times!
Here’s the very lovely Lewis Howes, to offer some more LinkedIn advice…..