Your business undoubtedly has a page on LinkedIn, and you’ve probably used the site to find prospective job candidates as well.
That’s terrific, and those are good uses of the business social networking site.
But to really squeeze the most value out of LinkedIn, you’ll need to do more.
Here are five things that you should be doing on LinkedIn, whether your business is an airplane parts sales firm or a chain of alcohol rehab treatment centers.
1. Join Groups
Groups are a tremendous resource on LinkedIn, a place for like-minded (and sometimes not-so-like-minded) professionals to connect and ponder some of their industry’s big questions.
It’s a great way to network, and it can lead you to prospective job candidates even more effectively than placing an ad on the site.
In groups you get to hear what someone really thinks and observe their mannerisms and intelligence, things a job interview rarely reveal.
2. Get Free (Good) Publicity
One of the most important things a business can do in our social media-heavy world is get positive word of mouth. If you ask your customers to post their honest opinions about your products and services with recommendations on LinkedIn, you’ll be selling yourself to hundreds or even thousands of people without ever spending a dime.
Of course, the key to this strategy is ensuring that you’ll get good recommendations. If you encourage your customers to post about you and they say bad things about the company, then social media is probably the least of your problems.
3. Seek Out New Customers
LinkedIn provides a wealth of information about potential customers. Consider it a free market research tool. You can look for people who would benefit from your services, then reach out to them (in a non-sales-pitch-y way, of course) to make a possible connection. You must be careful not to alienate anyone and leave someone alone if they request that you back off.
4. Post Status Updates
So many people create an account for their business, and then never leverage it to market their products. That’s silly. If you’re working on something new and exciting, post something about it. Treat your LinkedIn status updates like mini-blog posts. Don’t worry about annoying people with endless updates – they wouldn’t sign up for your news-feed if they weren’t interested.
5. Answer Questions
Whether you do it in groups or you open up the “Answers” tab under the “More” heading on your profile, show off your business knowledge by advising people on their most pressing problems. But have someone reading over your shoulder so you don’t post any embarrassing typos. That’s one thing you should never do on LinkedIn.
As of the 25th June 2013 – The answers feature no longer exists, there are still many other ways to pose questions and facilitate professional discussions.