Essential LinkedIn tips for small businesses

Over the past few years, LinkedIn has become the ultimate place to be if you are looking to connect with like-minded business professionals and to keep in touch with your peers. The user volume is impressive and given its popularity, it’s an ideal tool to use if you are looking to promote yourself and/or your business. I suspect that most people reading this blog will be LinkedIn users already or at least would have their profiles set up and this guide is to point out a few things you might have missed:

1. Create a strong profile

Profile photo

Having a clear, presentable profile picture is essential as it adds credibility. Someone you met in the past will be able to recognise you and it also represents your personal brand, particularly if you use the same photo across all your social profiles.

Cover photo

To add to your personal brand, the background picture allows you to say something about yourself – you decide what it is that describes you best. If you are looking to market your business it can be a good idea to use your business logo or a visual associated with your business.

Headline

This is the first thing people see, therefore it’s important to keep it as accurate as possible, using the keywords you want people to use when searching for your profile. It doesn’t have to be your current job title, but it should state your professional interest or activities.

Email address

To make it easy for others to contact you, include your business email address. There are no limits to how many emails you can use, so add any that are relevant.

Custom URL

By default, LinkedIn will generate a URL for you. You can customise this on your profile, by clicking the “Customise” button next to the link and preferably making it your first name and last name. It works better for search engines and it looks much tidier.

Recommendations

Request recommendations from your colleagues and peers to increase credibility and raise your personal brand. In return recommend others that you worked with in the past.

Skills

Include a list of specialities in your summary to showcase your expertise. These are reflected in your skills section and your connection can then endorse you.

2. Build connections

Contact suggestions

LinkedIn will suggest people you might want to link with based on your existing connections and common interest – having something in common will help to start the conversation and establish a relationship. Just because you have a connection in common it doesn’t mean that they will automatically want to connect with you so remain personal and include a message in your invitation.

Email contacts

LinkedIn allows you to sync your email contacts. You can handpick your selected contacts or import your entire library. It’s easy and it will reconnect you with those you already know. This will also indirectly extend your potential lead list, you will uncover your contact’s second level connections and will get better visibility into those.

Alumni

With all the data LinkedIn collects, you will be able to track your contacts from school and previous roles. It’s also a great way to reconnect with people you haven’t been in touch with for a long time and see if there is potential for any business partnership or introductions.

Advanced search

The basic search functionality works well if you know the name of the person you are searching for. In case you are doing your research and have a set of criteria that defines your audience, you will find advanced search very helpful. You can search by title, functionality, country, language, keywords and many others and go through a list of people who match your search criteria.

3. Interact with others

Regular updates

You can copy and paste a link to content that you find interesting or share updates shared by others. You can also create your own content and once published, the update will be attached to your LinkedIn profile and it will show up in your connections’ feed.

Groups

Groups are an effective way to exchange ideas and knowledge with fellow members. You can search for groups based on your interests and apply for membership. All groups are free. Once you are a group member you can message your fellow group members as well as leverage groups for content sharing, polls and keeping in touch with your peers, clients and colleagues.

Company pages

Interact with businesses that you are interested in. It will help you to stay connected to their latest activities and make any marketing efforts more relevant. The more you know the better. You can also consider directly approaching individuals with a personal message and invitation to connect if you feel it’s relevant. As always avoid a hard sell and focus on long-term relationships instead.

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