Many small businesses haven't taken advantage of utilizing LinkedIn.com to expand their network and grow their business.
When used effectively, Linkedin can help businesses gain new business leads, collaborate with other like-minded business owners, and get help from others.
Here are some simple ways to optimize your business profile to get more out of LinkedIn:
By default, LinkedIn assigns you a URL that uses a numeric code (which doesn't mean anything). However, you can go into your settings and click on "Public Profile" to get the option to use your company name in your URL (e.g. linkedin.com/company/your-name-here).
To improve your chances of appearing for relevant searches in LinkedIn, you should incorporate a variety of relevant keywords in your company description. This will help you show up in more LinkedIN search results.
A great way to get more relevant traffic to your profile - and make your company stand-out is to get recommendations from current and past employees. This is a great way to make a favorable impression on people who are learning more about your business (and potentially considering doing business with you).
A great way to network with others is to begin a group on a topic that is relevant to your business or customers. If your a local small business that only does business in a certain city, you could start a group about industry in the city you work in (e.g. Huntington Beach Small Businesses). This can help you network with other local businesses that can bring you more business. Groups also help you become a thought leader in your area of expertise.
Share what's happening in your industry or company. Link to interesting articles and provide value to employees and companies that follow you to acquire more likes and comments.
Here are some other LinkedIn tips for small businesses . . .
"Offer news, tips and other insightful, relevant information about your industry or business. Get your followers engaged and build relationships. Don’t just sell all the time or blast them with promotional messages. Become friends first! If you build it, the business results will come. A pithy, punchy status update can go viral and expose you to a broader audience as your Followers share, “like,” or comment on company-driven content with their own professional network . . . Solicit feedback from your followers; find out what they want from your company. Ask questions, watch how they respond and interact with users who are commenting." - Mike Grishaver.
"Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. Increase your word of mouth referrals by asking your happy clients to write you a recommendation, which will be published on your LinkedIn profile and will be broadcast to their entire LinkedIn network. And use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise. This is a great opportunity to win new business or at least find prospective clients to pitch your business to." - Guy Kawasaki.
"You can be in the loop on potential business opportunities by following companies of interest to you. Most importantly, this feature can deliver insights – you may be surprised at – such as the pace of hiring at your nearest competitor or the start of a whole new industry as you see web technology companies hiring geography teachers." - Ryan Roslansky.
"What makes LinkedIn different and incredibly helpful is the instant access to my professional network with an easy to use interface. As a former venture capitalist I used LinkedIn to source deals, check references for management, and connect with entrepreneurs. I also use LinkedIn to generate buzz about my new business and keep my personal and professional network up-to-speed on my culinary happenings. Adding my profile link in outgoing emails adds credibility and the extra qualification nudge with certain requests." - Divya Gugnani
"Being a small business owner carving out a niche against the big players is very challenging. . . my LinkedIn profile has attracted clients and generated leads and referrals from the US, UK, Australia and throughout Asia . . . I also actively participate in relevant user groups on LinkedIn. Groups is a great platform to engage in discussions and connect with like-minded professionals to learn and share, whether it’s for business or personal interest. And, most importantly, helps establish my thought leadership in a space I’ve carved out for myself as a small business owner." - Linda Ruck
"Focus on nurturing your network by seeing what questions they’re asking and helping them when you can. You’ll build greater trust and rapport, and your support of your network will come back tenfold when it’s time to ask a favor!" - Patrick Crane