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Making Linkedin Work For Your Business

Social media tools are a fantastic way to network and market your business. I am, admittedly, still figuring out what the best way is to leverage the online world and turn it into real, live connections. Facebook and Twitter are another blog post entirely – today I am going to explore things I’ve learned about Linkedin.

A few months ago I attended a seminar hosted by the Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) – part of IABC-Toronto on “Getting the Most Out of Linkedin”. The keynote speaker was Jaime Almond, a Toronto-based social media strategist. Her presentation was packed with strategies and useful tools to implement a successful Linkedin marketing and networking strategy. She taught us how to leverage Linkedin as more than an online resume. Linkedin, she said, is a tool that leads our target market right to us.

So, how do you get your target market to come to you? Jaime broke it down into three key step: build Interest, build Trust & build Credibility.

Build Interest:

Your profile is the key component to building interest particularly in the keywords that you use. Jaime highlighted three key areas:

  • Your Headline – did you know that you can use up to 160 characters in your Linkedin headline? You know, the space next to your photo that defaults to your job title. Jaime suggests that you use this space to highlight, in addition to your title, to your target audience, what is their main problem and what you deliver. This is a tall order for 160 characters but very effective.
  • Your Photo: Forget cropped bar shots or stunned computer pics – spend some money and have a professional headshot photo taken.
  • Your Recommendations: Increasing the number of times you are recommended increases the chances you will appear in Linkedin searches? Jaime has developed a “Recommendation Strategy” where she has a friend interview her clients and then write recommendations for them to approve and post to Linkedin. This produces recommendations that are specific and results focused. A win for all as you get an effective recommendation & it saves your client time. Jaime’s blog has a list of suggested questions.

Build Trust:

Think about Linkedin as you would a networking event. Personalize every interaction. Delete the default invitation that says “I’d like to add you to my professional network …” and write a personal note. Ask new connections about themselves – don’t dive into a sales pitch about what you do. Invariably a new connection will finish their overview about themselves with something like “What is it that you do?”. This is a perfect opening for you to talk about yourself and your business.

Build Credibility:

You’ve connected with someone, you are building a two-way dialogue so how do you establish your credibility and turn that prospect into an actual client. Jaime had two suggestions to achieve this: A Video and A Free Gift. Sounds cheesy right? That’s what I thought. Until I listened further.

She introduced us to the idea of a video call to action using Slideshare. This appears just above your Summary area in Linkedin. A video gives you the opportunity to personally introduce yourself, give a brief overview of what you do, invite people to connect and share a free gift with them.

So what’s with the free gift? Admittedly I heard the words free gift and thought branded pen, notepad or ballcap. No so. Jaime suggested offering something you aren’t offering anywhere else to get people onto your prospect list and give them something relevant and useful. Examples include a white paper, a resource list, a webinar or a how-to tip sheet.

Building Interest, Trust and Credibility are cornerstones of any successful marketing strategy. Jaime taught us how to utilize Linkedin as an effective networking and marketing tool – going beyond an online resume and making it work for our businesses.

I left the seminar with three action items for my Linkedin profile: build a better headline, get recommendations and brainstorm a free gift. If you get a chance to hear Jaime speak go for it. You’ll walk away with learnings you can immediately put into action.

How are you going to make Linkedin work for your business?