LinkedIn to many is seen as a recruitment portal. The place to be to get headhunted into that dream job. I have yet to be blessed with that experience.
To me, LinkedIn was kind of … well, boring. If Facebook is the street party, LinkedIn is a stuffy reception with piped-in music at one of those soulless function facilities.
Does that sound harsh? For sure. If your thinking the same, let me tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong.
While the early adopters flock to Google+ and our kids and moms become power-users on Facebook, LinkedIn is where business gets done. Execs from all Fortune 500 companies are there, and 59 percent of those active on social networking sites sites say LinkedIn is their platform of choice over Facebook or Twitter, up from 41 percent who called LinkedIn their most important social account a year earlier, according to a June report by Performics and ROI Research.
LinkedIn, it turns out, is a happening place. As of this spring, it has more than 150 million members in more than 200 countries, on all seven continents. LinkedIn adds around 10 new members every 5 seconds.
All of this adds up to making LinkedIn the dark horse in social networking. Or the “unsung hero” of the social platforms.
There will –as suspected– an awful lot of job searching going on at LinkedIn. But there’s much more going on over there, too. I have seen that top-level executives and entry-level workers use LinkedIn differently: Younger members use the site mostly to post résumés and network for jobs, while more experienced professionals use it to demonstrate thought leadership and expertise, promote their businesses, conduct market research and–perhaps most important–win new business.
So how might companies use it to win new business, specifically?
- Target searches for keywords you’ve identified as central to your business. Target specific roles ie: “Director of Technology” specific post codes and company names to identify key contacts to call, e-mail, InMail (send a message via LinkedIn’s internal messaging system) or forward a hard copy information.
- Track who is looking at your profile and your staff’s profiles. Understand what searches you are appearing in and perhaps strengthen your profile to appear in more. Reach out to those who stopped by “how can I help”.
- Research, or as I call it “social sleuthing’ others call it stalking, but there is a law against that now!
- Set up a company page. Setting up your business as a “company” on LinkedIn can if you do it right, generate a bunch of leads, as well as it give you an opportunity to have a presence on LinkedIn beyond a personal profile to ratchet up your company’s charisma. I like the way you can embed banner images and videos in your company page, as well as feed your blog posts and tweets. You can also feature your products on your page and seek recommendations for them. That’s a kind of social proof that only enhances your credibility.
- Discern patterns. Notice who’s connected in your industry. Noting that an individual is suddenly connected to several execs at a single company may indicate that the company is open to dialogue. “Which suggests to me that I might want to get my brand (me) in front of them”.
- Participate in LinkedIn groups catering to your target market in order to engage in conversations with the right people. Seek out groups with lots of activity rather than simply lots of members. (You’ll have to join them to get a sense of the activity.) Monitor each group’s discussion posts and respond thoughtfully with content rather than a pitch. The goal is to engage rather than sell outright.
Does all of this work? Yes, although it takes some focused effort, but its worth it. If you are interested in hearing more about the success myself and colleagues are having please drop me a line or tweet with a #wesoe (we sell or else)