Thursday, June 21, 2012

LinkedIn Marketing: 7 Tips for the Small Business

LinkedIn has over 135 million members, the majority of whom are professionals, in 200 countries.

For businesses looking to connect with particular industries or specific business demographics, its powerful search facilities and networking opportunities make the most out of a limited marketing budget.

The following LinkedIn tips will help you focus on the network’s potential;

1. Listen to your market
LinkedIn Groups can essentially provide you with free market research if you spend time browsing in the right places.

Once you have identified your target market, you can search for the groups in which people are discussing the sorts of problems or challenges they are facing, or learn more about how they would like to do business.

2. Maximize your profile
Make the most of your company profile by filling in all the sections, including the keywords, which will help others find you.

Be sure to keep all links current and customize what you can. For instance, you can change the URL to be your company name rather than a string of numbers and letters.

You can also upgrade your account to allow you to do more, such as using the InMail service to contact members, get introductions to companies and see more information on potential contacts.

3. Make the most of what you already have
You can use LinkedIn apps to link your blog, portfolio and other content directly into your LinkedIn feed.

You can also upload YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations and other media. Or you can set your Twitter or Facebook updates to post automatically to LinkedIn.

If you do this, however, beware of how you would like your business to be portrayed; frivolous Facebook or Twitter remarks may seem out of place on LinkedIn.

4. Use LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn Ads can offer a low-cost alternative to traditional advertising, with a potentially wider and more targeted reach, including CEOs or senior decision makers. Because of the detail in LinkedIn accounts, LinkedIn Ads can specifically target your demographic by industry, geographic location, seniority, age or LinkedIn Group.

5. LinkedIn recommendations
One of the best ways to build your business’s reputation on LinkedIn is to ask for recommendations from customers, clients or business partners.

Recommendations from others will show up in their profile, meaning that their own network will see it, which gives you a much wider reach than your own network.

You can also use LinkedIn’s Recommendation Ads to have your recommendations placed strategically on your customers’ profiles.

6. Make the most of LinkedIn’s search feature
LinkedIn has detailed search criteria in their Advanced Search, which can help you target your efforts and reach contacts or other networking opportunities in a more focused way.

In addition to keywords, names, location and company, you can also search industries, groups, seniority, experience, function, company size and several other categories.

7. Manage your goals
It is important to realize that, as with any social network, LinkedIn is a tool for connecting but it is only as good as the way you use it.

You can maximize your effort by having clear goals of what you want to achieve, whether it is numbers of client connections, hits to your website, recommendation targets or an increased exposure with a particular demographic.

Keeping your goals in mind can help you focus on where to concentrate your resources and create a more successful outcome.

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