LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of slide-hosting service, Slideshare, has put it in the spotlight in the past couple weeks. Its presence in the business world is growing and with it, the obligation of marketers, especially those in B2B companies, to get involved. Let’s face it, 135 million people can’t be wrong.
How it Works
New to the game? First off, it’s a social network based on professional ties, not social ones. The infographic below can visually explain how it works.
Why and How to Get Involved
First, it’s built for business connections. It just makes sense. It’s popular, easy and pretty darn useful for drumming up new connections and cultivating existing ones. B2B companies can’t afford not to be included! Here’s how to get linked up with LinkedIn:
- Keep your personal profile current. All of your involvement starts with your personal account. As your duties change at your place of employment, note that in your profile. Any major successes, presentations, memberships, or affiliations ought to be noted as they happen. LinkedIn includes a search function, which will crawl your profile for queries. By including all relevant information, you can show up in more searches and make interesting connections!
- Connect to your colleagues and contacts. Like any social arena, LinkedIn is a network. It relies on these links to bring you closer to people whom you may not know first-hand. By building up your network, you may be seen as friendly and engaging, and an active resource in your field. When you create an invitation to connect, try not to use the stock “I’d like to add you to my network.” message. It denies a lot of the proactive effort of your invitation in the first place! Mention how you met or came across their name.
For example, the other day I requested a media packet from a popular online blog and received both the packet and a personal LinkedIn request from the Sales Manager with which I was put in contact. His invitation was personaI, referencing my request and specific details. I thought it was a polite and friendly gesture, which, in fact, bumped up my interest in doing business with his company. I mean, you always want the edge, right? This is a 10-second way this guy got it.
- Use Groups for discussions. Get your name out there and respond to relevant topics. When you engage with others in this forum, you can gain trust and rapport. Because the interaction occurs on LinkedIn where your professional profile is one-click accessible, you can be quickly and easily verified as a credible source.
Just be sure to Always Provide Value! Simple comments like “Great idea” or “I agree” are quickly glossed over as people read through these threads (which, admittedly can get lengthy). Note that some groups have “rules” for where certain things may be posted within the group, so look into that before diving in!
- Follow companies. Late last year, LinkedIn introduced Company Updates, a status feature for company pages. Updates work much like they do for other social media network pages, like Facebook pages. Companies can post an article, (very popular as they can be shared by others), an opinion, news updates, or create a poll for its followers.
Everything here tends to be more professionally oriented than, say, the contests and photo albums often posted to Facebook. By following a company, you can stay incredibly informed. Certainly, some companies use these updates more than others, but the connection can be useful when evaluating a potential business partner or keeping up with an existing client or competitor.
I mean, let’s face it. You’re reading this blog because you’re a professional person. So, really, you already belong on this network. Sure, other options exist (like the newer BranchOut for Facebook), but LinkedIn is a mainstay and a valuable asset to your Inbound marketing arsenal. Get Involved!