LinkedIn is the most popular social networking website for professionals. It was founded in 2002 and launched in 2003. In June 2012 it had more than 175 million users, making it the go-to place for professional networking online. Many people feel that LinkedIn is nothing more than an overbuilt job search board, but it can be used as an effective business-to-business marketing tool.
When building your LinkedIn profile as part of your business-to-business marketing strategy, the first thing to pay attention to is your heading and title. These are search engine optimized for LinkedIn and make it easier for others to find you on the network. Your title lists your job, but your heading lets people know specific aspects of your job and areas of expertise. An additional way to increase optimization of your profile is to tag your skills and expertise. Tags are great supplementary information for your profile visitors.
As with any marketing plan, LinkedIn requires diligent management as you add your contacts both online and offline and continually add new people you meet. Growing your network through these personal connections allows you to increase your web of other potential business contacts on the network. It helps to tag and filter your new connections in order to better organize your contact framework and build relationships with them.
Everyone loves a personal touch to their interactions with acquaintances. Whenever you establish a new connection on LinkedIn or when someone joins your network, take a few moments to personally welcome and acknowledge that person. This helps affirm your relationship with the individual and makes that person feel important to you, giving you a better opportunity to develop further business relations with the new connection. It only takes a few moments, but it could lead to valuable opportunities in the future.
Don’t waste your LinkedIn summary. No one wants to see another profile with job-seeking buzzwords like “team-oriented,” “results focused,” and “goal setting.” These words have become empty in most of the modern business world and it makes your profile work more like a job search board than a professional business networking tool. Instead, use your summary to add a human element to your profile by answering a simple question such as why you are in your profession.
Gather business intelligence. In addition to being able to view details about your contacts that could be useful in your business relationship with them, you can gather a contextual look at your contacts connections. By examining the relationships your contacts have with others, you can find opportunities to connect with others who may be interest in your business or even see whether your contacts have connections to your competitors, giving you valuable information on how to approach your contacts when you do business in the future.
LinkedIn is much more than a job board. It allows you to make yourself more accessible to other people in your industry who can help your company and it gives you avenues to learning valuable information about how everyone in your business sphere is connected. It can even give you key insights into capitalizing on your connections.