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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect.