The world’s largest professional social network connects colleagues with each other and businesses with current and potential employees, all while enabling community development and content sharing. LinkedIn’s potential lies in its power to build authority, establish thought leadership, and cultivate a robust network. Join us for a peek behind the curtain to see if LinkedIn is a match for your business.
How are people using LinkedIn?
If you took your water cooler, networking event, business card holder, and Rolodex, smooshed them together, and put that concoction up on a domain, you would approximate LinkedIn.
People build out their profiles to showcase their professional background and resumes. They are able to connect with individuals they know or have worked with, leave each other recommendations, and find new connections. LinkedIn can also be a great place to look for and find a job, as it takes the utility of job boards and adds in the human connections that are so invaluable in finding the right position.
For companies, especially recruiters, that is just the beginning. Business professionals have created their profiles and gotten recommendations from co-workers, making it a solid fit for brands looking to recruit new talent. LinkedIn allows hiring managers to search and filter candidates based on multiple factors, and users can join groups based on professional interests.
Beyond recruiting efforts, LinkedIn is a great place for a variety of helpful social activities to boost your business.
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for generating B2B leads, with nearly three times the conversion rate of Facebook or Twitter. Your mileage may vary, but this certainly signals the platform is one that comes with great opportunity. Some tips include:
Keep your company page up-to-date
Use the products and services spotlight
Solicit recommendations for your products
Establishing thought leadership
Establishing yourself and your brand as an authority in your area of focus will help build authority and trust among your customers, both current and prospective. LinkedIn’s feature set can help brands stay up-to-date on users’ professional networks, in addition to establishing a business presence and sharing company news.
Add your blog’s RSS feed to a widget that will automatically pull the feed in and showcase to the company page followers.
Groups are a great place to offer professional assistance and advice, although they are only open to individuals, not to companies.
Building customer advocates: Be careful not to overdo self-promotion. Advocacy and word-of-mouth magic happen through positive engagement. When brands engage customers and build strong relationships based on respect and trust, customers will “like” the brand and perhaps even love it. LinkedIn makes it easy to be both personal and specific. You know a lot about the person you’re interacting with, so use that information.
LinkedIn drives business value because it is based on a user’s professional interests. This makes it an obvious and natural fit for sharing brand-based updates, news, and info; as well as driving traffic to company-focused websites.
Strategies and tactics for success
- Complete your personal profile thoroughly and honestly.
- Find your connections and reach out. Every once in a while, pick someone you haven’t talked to recently and send them a note—without needing anything—just to say hi or share something interesting that you think they’ll enjoy.
- Link to your profile from your blog, Facebook, and/or Twitter accounts to help people find your profile. (In fact, if the content being shared is relevant, link back to those pages from your LinkedIn profile. Keep in mind, though, that those links might draw hiring managers to those associated pages.)
- Participate in Groups. Your personal authority and trust can be boosted, leading to new opportunities, leads, and connections. Note that this functionality is currently only available to individuals.
- As LinkedIn continues to become a place for people to share quality content, we will see more engagement around that content. Be a part of that movement: Share your own content and share high-quality content from others.
- Complete your company page and ensure it is always up-to-date. If you change your structure or have company news to share, be sure you’re updating your company page on LinkedIn; this will update in your followers’ newsfeeds.
- Make updating your LinkedIn page part of the compliance process when fundamental updates occur at your company, as LinkedIn is often a source of truth for individuals doing research.
- Make sure to respond to your posts, reviews, and questions. If a user leaves a product review, thank them. If they have a complaint, address it. Answer questions and offer advice and assistance.
- LinkedIn can be an amazing source of competitive intelligence for your business. Follow your competitors’ pages and watch for their news, updates, and employee changes. Certain exits and job openings can provide insight into strategic direction.
What success looks like
Companies that have found ways to grow professional communities have seen the most success on LinkedIn. This task requires more than just posting valuable content; the superstars of LinkedIn have found ways to facilitate meaningful interaction within their networks. Here are a few that stand out.
Teach for America Example
The Teach for America team clearly recognizes that LinkedIn is a valuable and high-potential platform for their recruiting efforts. They have a very well-developed page taking advantage of all of the features available. This creates a deep experience that adds to the authority they’re building here. They not only share openings they’re trying to fill, but also work to start conversations through the content they share. Additionally, they have worked to build and showcase testimonials on their company page, adding a level of trust to their presence.
The Bridgespan Group’s LinkedIn Groups Example
Bridgespan builds relationships with and supports non-profit organizations, and when it comes to community-based engagement, it has taken a bit of a non-traditional approach. Where many companies would attempt to build out and maintain their own on-domain forums, they’ve chosen to curate their community on LinkedIn with nine separate, functionally different LinkedIn Groups. They have broken up the Groups in ways that are meaningful for the community members, thus ensuring valuable conversations.
Companies can also have their own Groups centered on their product, offerings and related topics. This can be a great opportunity to host discussions, much like one would host a networking event. The SAP Group on LinkedIn allows the company to post targeted jobs and recruit new employees, with data and demo information about the group helping the recruiters narrow their searches.
Etiquette tips and guidelines
Connecting with professionals on social media involves a mindful and even graceful back-and forth; it’s all too easy to come across as insincere or even spammy. The best relationships are cultivated through a natural and careful progression of communication. Pay attention to social cues, and you can avoid the many things that might result in a complete social train wreck.
A business card is not an invitation to be annoying: We’ve all likely seen this happen: the business-card crop duster. The high-speed networker at an event circling the room like a Roomba looking to collect and distribute as many business cards as they possibly can. LinkedIn requests are immediately sent, likely without a personalized email, and invites are sent for a bunch of groups, events, or even to download their eBook. Please don’t be that person.
You might find someone on LinkedIn with whom you’d like to get in touch. If you do, use a personalized approach and give context to the email you send. Let them know who you are and why you would like to connect. (Your “why” should never be because you have something to sell.)
While LinkedIn has no smart user alerts, using the @name when responding to comments on your Page or in Groups is a good practice to keep conversation flow coherent and directed. However, LinkedIn did recently start doing an activity alert; instead of just emails, it now tells people when conversations that they’ve been part of are updated.
Fix broken windows
You want to make sure to clean any spam from your LinkedIn Groups. Members—especially those who need new jobs or other types of promotion—sometimes have a problem telling spam and low-quality postings from what you need to engage and grow your community. Be gentle and empathic, but make sure to have rules for your group which you can cite when moderating comments.
In every interaction you have on LinkedIn, be yourself as much as you possibly can. When connecting with someone else, avoid sending the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Not only is it less likely to be accepted, you may even get marked as spam, resulting in your inability to send future connection requests. Personalized interactions make the other people feel like you actually value and care about them and take interest.
LinkedIn recommendations can be an incredibly powerful thing, but should only ever be solicited from people you know well and who know your work. The recommendation itself will be much better for it. If you request one, feel free to tell the person you’re approaching about a specific goal you may have for the recommendation. You don’t want to do this in a pushy way, but you may get a more useful recommendation, and it can actually make their life easier as well since they’ll have a predetermined area of focus.
Not all your content needs to be shared on LinkedIn, as what you share here can very easily reflect on your professional reputation or make you look self-absorbed. Avoid tools that automatically transfer posts from other platforms. Above all, be conscious and aware of what you’re sharing, and try not to share too much—since connections are so important, LinkedIn is one place where you really don’t want to be hidden from people’s feeds.
There are ways to view LinkedIn Group activity in “Discussions” under “Choose Your View: Latest Discussions” and “What’s Happening.” “What’s Happening” shows the discussions with the most recent activity, so you can keep tabs on current conversations. “Latest Discussions” shows the most recently posted discussions.
Building a professional community can be a very different experience from business to business, so finding the right features and functionality that work for you is an essential step to success. Here are some of the more useful tools to help you customize your LinkedIn experience.
LinkedIn for Outlook
If you use Outlook, this tool brings your professional network right into your mailbox. It also scans your Outlook contacts and finds new connections for you on LinkedIn. Having this information in your inbox can help you better keep track and engage with your contacts.
This app, which raced to its millionth user in less than three years, will help you schedule posts and give basic click/reach analytics for all posts on your company page, in your groups, and in any of your individual profiles.
For the analysis enthusiasts, TrueSocialMetrics gives you a huge amount of data about applause and engagement on your LinkedIn page.
Brought to you by LinkedIn Labs, this nifty tool lets you log-in with your LinkedIn credentials and visualize your network over a map. Want to measure your social efforts’ impact on the rest of your inbound marketing?