5 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Business Tool

In addition to being an exceptional tool for personal business networking, LinkedIn is also a great place to market your business. Here are five tips to help your business network grow through LinkedIn:

In addition to being an exceptional tool for personal business networking, LinkedIn is also a great place to market your business. Here are five tips to help your business network grow through LinkedIn:

1. Use the Q&A function. The Q&A function of LinkedIn is a powerful revenue-generating tool. Try using the advanced answers search to find questions specific to your company’s expertise. Don’t pitch your company’s products or services here, just give the best — or most altruistic — answer you can. The Q&A is definitely a give-to-get medium: Give freely and you’ll get back in spades.

2. Become an expert. When a question is asked on LinkedIn, it remains open for answers for seven days. After the question closes, the asker can rate the best answer to that question. The best answerers for a given question are awarded expert status on LinkedIn. From that point on, whenever an expert answers a question, that expert gets an expert badge. People’s expert status follows them around wherever they go on the site. Since you’re representing your company, this creates expertise for it as well.

3. Join groups. You can join as many as 50 LinkedIn groups. When you join, introduce yourself and your services. Much like Q&A, this is a give-to-get medium.

4. Start a group. Starting a group is super easy — just a couple of clicks and you’re done. Start a group around your company’s core competencies. For example, if you’re a printer, set up a group for people to ask questions about printing. If you’re a search engine marketing company, set up a SEM for beginners group.

5. Promote your blog. Many of you already have corporate blogs and have produced whitepapers and corporate presentations. Promote your blog in the news section of the groups you belong to. Promote whitepapers and presentations in the groups as well via the discussion function. This adds value and enhances your image.

People always tell me they see me all over LinkedIn. I try to gain as much notoriety as possible within the LinkedIn Q&A and group functions. As a consultant, this has brought me new customers. It takes some attention and time, but when done right, it can be a wonderful source of leads and business. Feel free to check out my blog.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. Reach him at jimdirect@aol.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect.

Author: Jim Gilbert

Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.

11 thoughts on “5 Tips for Using LinkedIn as a Business Tool”

  1. thanks for your insight Jim. There is so much to learn about the properties of all of these social media sites. Every little bit of info is helpful. Where would suggest I go to get an overall picture of how LinkedIn works? appreciate it.
    Kappy

  2. Thanks for the specific info on LinkedIn Q&A. I can see that it could be a powerful tool. I’ve answered a few. As with all of this social networking stuff, I often question the investment of time. You want to write frequently and need to write quickly, but you want to write well enough to be credible and demonstrate real knowledge and info that people will want more of.

    Run the risk of loosing valuable time or answering in a less than thoughtful manner. Also, sometimes I wonder if it’s a lot of preaching to the choir, or selling to sellers. Seems like a lot more consultants and not as many organizational folks who need consultants. What do you think?

  3. Jim,

    Another advantage to joining groups is that it expands the number of people you can directly send a LinkedIn message to. Part of the value to using a Pro Account is the availability of In Mails. But with the $50 account you only get three, and they max out at 10 I believe for the account around $100 a month.

    With In Mail you can directly contact anyone, so it is still better. But for the price, being able to contact fellow group members directly is nice.

    Sean
    http://www.linkedintuition.com/blog

  4. Excellent point Sean. There are some excellent reasons to upgrade to a paid linkedin account. Personally I love to see all the people who visited my profile page. With the free version you can only see five.

    Jim

  5. You got me on that one. I’ve found that if I look at my profile visitors page throughout the day it shows me different ones. Not as good as seeing all of course. Now if it would show the names (and maybe the paid account does) instead of only company or industry (based on visitors account choices).

  6. Have you already signed in and setup your profile in Linked In? It is very user friendly and guides you through the whole process. Once you start to make connections you will immediately see the value and how it works. Definitely find groups that interest you or in your industry and join those. For now, LinkedIn is my first choice for online targeted business networking. Thanks for the good read Jim.

  7. I think as LinkedIn ages we’ll see its full potential. The Q & A section of LinkedIn gives users a more interactive experience and a chance to display knowledge, but I think interactivity in each field/veritcal can go even further. It’ll be interesting to see where LinkedIn goes as the needs of its users evolve and develop.

  8. I’ve found that one of the best ways to use LinkedIn as a business tool is combine it with other networks – including my personal favorite, Quora.com – to reach the end goal of #2 on your list: become an expert. I’m fond of the saying “go deep, not wide” and that, to me, means that you can become an expert in your niche without spreading yourself too thin at any given time. Being an expert doesn’t mean being a generalist, so take the time to really get to know your niche inside and out, and always have good solid resources/evidence to back up your stance on things. Great post, thanks.

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