LinkedIn: Powerful Marketing Tool for Entrepreneurs
By Robert Mandelberg, The Viz Wiz
Looking for a high-powered way to increase your visibility, establish new relationships, and cement your expert status? You’re in luck! By opening a free account on LinkedIn.com, you can affordably and effectively accomplish these objectives. With close to 100 million users and a great search mechanism, LinkedIn has become an indispensible tool for business owners and service providers.
Use LinkedIn as a tool to uncover new opportunities and position yourself to be found by prospects. Here are a few ways to optimize your presence on LinkedIn:
Create a strong profile: LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters to build a profile summary. Use this space to convey your value and unique selling proposition. Your profile will be seen by prospects, customers, colleagues, and anyone else who wants to learn about you and your business. Be sure your profile focuses on the results you are able to produce – and not just the service you provide. In this section, you can also include your “specialties.” These are searchable terms that will help your name and profile appear in searches.
Build a strong network of customers and prospects: Connecting to people you want to do business with is a great way to introduce your services, build up your pipeline, and keep your prospects informed of your new programs, services, and specials. On LinkedIn, the more contacts you have, the greater your capability to search for and connect with people. When someone accepts your invitation to connection on LinkedIn, they are known as your “first-level contact.” Their connections are then your “second-level contacts,” and their connections are your third-level contacts. Each time you make a first-level contact, your network grows exponentially, since you have certain privileges with their contacts. This enables you to conduct more robust searches and connect with more prospects.
Join Professional Groups: LinkedIn has a growing community of hundreds of thousands of professional groups. Some of these groups have as few as a dozen members, while others boast membership in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. There are multiple groups for practically every industry, every specialty, and every niche. Joining groups gives you many benefits. First, you become a member of a community with like-minded professionals and prospects. This enables you to learn and share best practices, new trends, and innovative ideas in your specialty. In addition, your search capabilities are expanded, as you are better positioned to reach out and connect with fellow group members. Another benefit is that you can display the group’s emblem on your home page, letting visitors and connections know that you belong to this industry association.
Participate in Discussions: Members of groups receive email digests of all group discussions. Each time you contribute, your name and home page link is associated with your comment. This invites readers (prospects and potential partners) to click on your link and read your profile. And since you have a professionally written, value-driven profile, you are more likely to establish new business relationships.
Recommendations: When one of your connections writes a recommendation about you, it is prominently displayed on your home page. What a great way to let prospects know the value of your services! Ideally, you would like to have three or four well-written recommendations attached to your business. This inspired trust and confidence in potential customers. Most LinkedIn users understand the value of recommendations and will provide them when asked. Also, when you write recommendations for others, your name and home page link is attached to it, giving you another opportunity to subtly invite people to your profile.
As a member of LinkedIn, you are also broadcasting your connection to current technology, marketing, and networking. To many people, if you do not have a LinkedIn profile, then you simply do not exist. If you are not a member yet – sign up today; it’s free! If you are a member and have not optimized your page, then do so following these tips. If done correctly, you will tap into a resource that could prove to be very rewarding. And feel free to connect with me – I would be happy to have you as a member of my network.