There’s nothing better than a warm lead when you’re trying to sell something. One of the best places to generate warm leads is by using LinkedIn. 75% of all professionals in the U.S. have a LinkedIn profile. Even if you aren’t connected to someone, joining LinkedIn groups can help you connect with leads and business partners. Join a group they’re in and you are one step closer to making a one-to-one connection. Here are more tips on how small businesses leverage LinkedIn.
- Ask to be Recommended: What’s better than a recommendation from a satisfied customer? Landing a LinkedIn recommendation within two weeks of completing a job or project will boost your business credibility. Give to get is a good practice here; give a valuable recommendation for one of your contacts and you’ll likely get one in return. Don’t forget to ask former coworkers for recommendations, too.
- Establish a 100% profile: If you are just getting started in social media, this is where you should begin. Once your LinkedIn profile is 100%, you become searchable. This will add to your social media presence online. Make sure you have a professional headshot and the minimum three recommendations to complete your profile.
- Use it for market research: When you are trying to figure out a way to pitch a prospect, your LinkedIn account is a good place to start. You can find people by company, industry and city or search for a specific name. 75% of all professionals in the U.S. have a LinkedIn account. Always use LinkedIn to research prospects before meeting or contacting them. Look for any common contacts or interests to build rapport.
- Demonstrate your expertise: There is a section inside LinkedIn where you can answer questions in your industry. It’s called “Questions and Answers”. It’s a great way to show expertise without being a self-promoter. If the person who asked the question selects your answer as the best, that will always appear in your profile as well, which adds another layer of credibility.
- Gather insight from prospects: You can use surveys and polls through LinkedIn to collect valuable information from your contacts. It’s also helpful to ask questions to get a feel for what customers and prospects want or think.
- Grow your network: All accounts in LinkedIn enable you to join up to 50 groups. I would suggest joining all industry groups relevant to your business and any alumni groups related to your educational background. If you are a blogger, consider sharing content within your groups to drive traffic to your website and generate new connections.
- Integrate your other social media accounts: Use widgets to integrate other tools, such as importing presentations from SlideShare, your blog entries or Twitter stream into your profile.
- Use status updates regularly: All of your connections get a daily or weekly update on anyone that post a status change, so you want to update your status daily if you can, weekly at the very least. It’s a great way to keep your contacts up-to-date on any recent work changes, content or successful contracts. You can also share useful articles and resources that will be of interest to your prospects.
- Establish a group on LinkedIn: There is power in being a convener as a small business owner. Consider establishing and managing a LinkedIn group for your industry. If done well you’ll position yourself as a key influencer and make friends with industry colleagues. Make sure to post rules for interaction in the group. The best groups are regularly moderated. Do not start a group of you do not have time to monitor it.
- Ask for warm sales leads: Nothing beats a personal introduction when you are trying to generate a sale for your business. Ask your first-level contacts for introductions to their first-level contacts. Make sure that you only ask connections that you know personally for this assistance; otherwise you can really turn-off someone in your network.
How do you leverage LinkedIn to grow your small business?
This article was first published under the title: 10 Ways to use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business ©2012 Deluxe Corp.
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For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com. Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9 pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Her latest ebook, How To Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online was released in 2012.