This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
If you’re not utilizing LinkedIn to network, build and grow your brand, you’re missing out on an essential resource. According to Hootsuite, in 2019, 30 million companies were on LinkedIn (and that number is constantly growing) – so why not yours?
For a technology software company like mine, LinkedIn has been a powerful tool for growing our personal and professional exposure. I’m creating this article to share a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned throughout years of experience. I am by no means an expert in this realm, but I’m consistently educating myself on how to grow a business successfully and the LinkedIn platform plays a huge role.
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Below are five guidelines to building a strong professional presence on LinkedIn:
Build and strengthen your individual profile before you work on your company page
It’s important to establish your individual credibility and personal brand on LinkedIn before creating a company page and promoting yourself as the owner, founder or CEO.
Creating connections, receiving endorsements, recommendations and posting articles indicates that you have experience and rapport in your given field. It establishes trust between yourself and your followers.
Actively participate within the LinkedIn community by engaging in discussions that are relevant to your industry. To find these topics, you can research trending hashtags and see what posts come up. Try and increase the engagement on your individual page by creating poll questions, sharing your thoughts on recent industry news, and sharing about yourself as an individual.
Network to create genuine connections and interdependent alliances with key players in your target market
Do not make the mistake of copy and pasting the same generic message to every prospect you’d like to connect with. Do your research first, as it only takes a few minutes to parse a LinkedIn page and find a topic worth discussion.
Here are a few points of reference that are great icebreakers:
- Your prospect graduated from the same school as you. Mention that you’re an alumni!
- Your prospect is from your hometown. Mention something worthy about it.
- Your prospect recently published or was featured in an insightful industry article. Read the article and comment your thoughts.
There are numerous to break the ice and start a conversation. The goal when sending a first message should not be to get a new customer (that’s way too far down the pipeline), but to focus on getting a response and beginning to build a meaningful connection.
Below is an example of an impressive message our marketing director, Jessica Wein, received. You see how RJ did his research on MaestroVision and mentioned Pitt as a point of reference?
Build and strengthen your LinkedIn business page (visibility comes before engagement)
Once you’ve established yourself as a professional with your individual profile, it’s time to create your business page. Here are some tips for building brand exposure and followers:
- Utilize the power of hashtags: Search Google to see what industry-related hashtags are trending on LinkedIn, and then use them (where relevant) on your posts. Try not to stuff your post with too many hashtags, or it may look spammy. We usually use three to six hashtags per post. Below is an example of a post that performed well because we incorporated the right hashtags. The more engagement you get on your post, the more impressions it’ll get as a result. We did not pay to sponsor this post; it was 100 percent organic. In addition to all of the likes, comments and impressions, we gained 14 new followers as a result.
- Host virtual events: Are you hosting a virtual conference, webinar or livestream? Share it as an event on your page and sponsor it to get attendees. This is a great way to market your brand as a thought leader in your given industry.
- Share valuable content: Diversify your posts so you’re not just sharing information about yourself and your company’s products or services. Think about it from the consumers point of view: your business page isn’t about you, it’s about them!
Turn on Google Alerts for product-related keywords and business mentions and share those articles alongside your input and its relevance to your business.
For example, Milestone Systems created a poll to encourage followers to vote on what kind of content they’re most interested in viewing on their page.
- Encourage engagement: Ask your followers what their thoughts are on a question posed in an article. Simply posting the link won’t cause your followers to want to like or comment, you need to create engagement. Make sure you vary the content type as well: graphics and videos are a nice visual medium for sharing information, in addition to written word. Always be sure to tag any individuals, businesses or publications responsible for creating the content as well as those who are mentioned in the content you share! It’ll increase your views and will notify them that you tagged them, which may result in a few new followers.
- Participate in relevant industry conversations: On the bottom right section of your business page, you’ll see a box that allows you to add up to three community hashtags. Choose wisely! Experiment with different industry-related hashtags to find ones with a big following and frequently posted content. You can like and comment on posts containing these hashtags as well as comments made on your page. Use the community hashtags as an opportunity to share your voice and make your brand known.
Use it as a hiring tool (if applicable)
According to LinkedIn, top recruiters are 60 percent more engaged with their recruiting tools versus average recruiters. We noticed a drastic increase in applicants when we sponsored a job posting on LinkedIn versus using Indeed.
With Indeed, we had approximately five applicants in total, but with LinkedIn, we had almost 40 applicants in total and scheduled a quarter of them for interviews. Even if you don’t have the budget to promote it, post a job on LinkedIn and see how many high-quality applicants you get in a week’s time – you may be surprised with the results.
Utilize Linkedin as a tool for personal growth and development
Linkedin Learning is a great tool for acquiring new skills and knowledge to make you a better entrepreneur. In addition to reading this article, research ways to leverage the platform to get the full benefits from it.
There are many resources out there to assist you with this, including: