If it weren’t for the business-oriented social media site, a headhunter working for my current employer never would have found me. And I wouldn’t be happily working for an innovative medical technology firm that lets me wear flip flops and jeans to work while I gaze (occasionally) at the Pacific from my office in sunny San Clemente, CA.
But marketers who think of LinkedIn solely as a job search tool are missing point. And missing a great opportunity in the process.
Integrating LinkedIn into your social media marketing efforts may be the most important step you take. Why? Simple. Because that’s where the people are. Real people with real jobs in your category who you can identify and connect with today.
And by connecting with a large network of like-minded professionals who share your market space as well as your personal and professional interests, you get a chance to communicate on a personal level with people who can make a difference in your life and in your business. Not bad, huh?
So how do you take advantage of the world’s largest global network of business professionals? Here are four simple steps to take to get started.
- Become real. Too many people on LinkedIn don’t take the time to fully flesh out their profile with a professional looking photograph and relevant information about their experience, accomplishments, training, and interests. This is a mistake, because as you begin to share content, advertise, and otherwise engage with folks who click back to see who you are, you won’t look real. And as a result, your content will lose credibility.
- Reach out. Unlike Facebook, your LinkedIn contacts should extend way beyond personal friends and family. Use the Advanced People Search function to find people in your industry with whom you want to connect, and reach out and ask them to join your network. Make sure to include a personal note (not LinkedIn’s generic request) to let the person know where you know them from, how you’re connected, or what common interests you share. Then check out their contacts to see who you know in common. Join appropriate groups and connect with other members. Repeat. It won’t take long to get a meaningful number of contacts if you do it right.
- Create a company page. If you don’t have a company page yet, start one. If you do, join it and work to enhance it. It can be an important place to start a content chain, and a great common ground for employees. Encourage everyone (especially your marketing and sales teams) to create his or her own LinkedIn profile and connect with the company page.
- Create and share content. Now that you’ve built the basics, it’s time to build visibility and relationships by creating sharing meaningful content—and have others in your company and in your network share what you’ve created. Don’t forget to take advantage of the many tools LinkedIn has for connecting with other members—like SlideShare Content ads, for example—to extend your reach and amplify your message. But remember, this is a social media. You don’t want to be so fixated on your commercial messaging that you lose the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with your network. Share other people’s relevant content. Make comments. Start group discussions. Engage!
There’s a reason that the fastest growing companies are flocking to LinkedIn and abandoning Facebook as their go-to marketing vehicle.
Maybe you should too.
© 2013 Tom McCall