When it comes to social media marketing, LinkedIn is often overlooked by many individuals and companies. They are already on Twitter and they have a Facebook Company Page, so why bother with LinkedIn as well? After all, isn’t it just used by people who are looking for a new job?
In fact, LinkedIn is just as useful as both Twitter and Facebook if you know how to use it correctly. Indeed, in some cases, certain businesses and business people would be better off focusing their social media efforts than they would on other social networks.
Here are just 7 of the many reasons why you should be on LinkedIn and be proactively using it.
1. It Clearly Establishes Who You Are
Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn clearly establishes who you are. Not only does your LinkedIn profile prompt you to give as much professional information about yourself as possible, but other people can vouch for the claims that you are making.
On your LinkedIn profile, you can ask others to write you a LinkedIn Recommendations (a written testimonial for your work in a particular role) or award you a LinkedIn Endorsement (where other LinkedIn users can publicly endorse you for a particular skill you have listed on your profile). These are an important selling point of LinkedIn, as only other users themselves can post LinkedIn Recommendations and award LinkedIn Endorsements, and both link back to the referee’s own LinkedIn profile (thereby enhancing the authenticity of the reference).
Profiles on other social networks are populated solely by the individual in question, and it is therefore comparatively easy to make outlandish claims about your skills and successes to date. LinkedIn encourages you to put yourself in a good light and then get others to confirm your claims, which in itself is a powerful selling tool.
As we shall see below, all your interactions on the LinkedIn network link back to your LinkedIn profile, so it is important that your LinkedIn profile is properly populated and accessible to all.
2. It Is An Effective, Non-intrusive Way Of Keeping In Touch With Your Address Book
LinkedIn in many ways is the modern equivalent of the Rolodex; instead of filing away a business card when you get back from a meeting or network event, the modern equivalent is sending a request to connect on LinkedIn.
While it would be foolish to be overly reliant on LinkedIn as a form of CRM (Customer Record Management System), LinkedIn is an alive, dynamic online version of your address book. Depending on how LinkedIn settings have be adjusted by others and yourself, you will get notifications of when others change jobs, are approaching work anniversaries or have been recommended/ endorsed by others. You can also see who others are connecting to as well (again, depending on the settings).
Not only that, but Linkedin, like Facebook, has a central news feed which you immediately see when logging into the social network. As with Facebook, you and others can post status updates, links and photos to this feed, which will be visible to all your LinkedIn contacts.
It is therefore sensible to view LinkedIn as a professional equivalent of Facebook through which you can cultivate your B2B relationships, and this should be a consideration when selecting what material or information you want to share via the network.
3. LinkedIn Groups Are A Great Way Of Networking Online
Away from your LinkedIn profile and the news feed, LinkedIn hosts thousands of web forums (exclusive to the social network) known as LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups are set up by LinkedIn users themselves and can be in relations to any professional sector, geographical region, interest or hobby you can think of.
The diversity of LinkedIn Groups is a great boon when it comes to meeting new people with whom you could have a professional relationships, while offering the user to establish their own credentials and online persona by contributing to the debates taking place within the groups.
Just as I have added to people to my LinkedIn network who I have met ‘offline’, I have also added people who I have only interacted with via the LinkedIn network itself. On the back of my posts in LinkedIn Groups, I have had enquiries about my services and requests for collaboration.
Even though some LinkedIn Groups have a particular regional focus, most of the sector-orientated LinkedIn Groups have an international scope, making LinkedIn great if you are looking to establish connections or a professional reputation overseas.
4. A Good LinkedIn Profile & Persona Is A Great Way Of Attracting New Clients
As has already been alluded to, proactive use of LinkedIn can lead to new clients or customers and this is why it is crucial that you have a professional demeanour on the network and a fully populated LinkedIn Profile. All your interactions on LinkedIn can lead back to your profile, so ensure that it is of the highest standard and fully reflects all of your abilities and accomplishments.
LinkedIn is also increasingly being used by employers and companies as a vetting reference when it comes to either recruitment or sourcing new suppliers. I for one always check out the LinkedIn profiles of individuals I am about to do business with, and I know that I am not alone in doing so.
In other words, a decent LinkedIn profile can seal the deal with any companies or other individuals who are looking to hire your services. All LinkedIn profiles are indexed in LinkedIn’s internal search engine, so also think about keywords that you should be using in your profile to attract the attention of potential clients or customers.
In addition, you can also have a special LinkedIn profile for your company, known as a LinkedIn Company Page. Given the focus on the individual elsewhere on the network, LinkedIn Company Pages are a bit of an awkward feature on LinkedIn in my opinion. However, I would argue a LinkedIn Company Page needs to be set up for an organisation or company for general external reference, although I personally would advise not spending too much time and effort in supporting it on an ongoing basis.
5. It Is Not Just About New Customers; LinkedIn Can Help You Source New Suppliers Too
LinkedIn is not all about finding new clients or customers, nor is just an exercise in personal branding; LinkedIn is an excellent source of finding new suppliers as well.
In many ways you can invert the advice given above; if someone has gone to the effort to fully populate their LinkedIn profile and have received many LinkedIn Recommendations and LinkedIn Endorsements from others, you are more likely to use their services than someone in an equivalent role in an equivalent sector. You can quantify a lot more about someone if they have provided you with the necessary information you need to make a choice about whether to use their services or not.
Again, one cannot emphasise enough that LinkedIn is not just about LinkedIn profiles. I have asked many times in LinkedIn Groups for suggestions of suppliers for particular jobs and services, and I have received recommendations and direct approaches in return. If a supplier is alert and proactive enough on LinkedIn, it can win them additional work.
6. LinkedIn Can Help You Find A New Job
Even though it does play into the predominant yet false cliché that LinkedIn is only for people looking for new jobs, there is no getting away from the fact LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for looking for new career opportunities.
You adjust your LinkedIn settings so that you get notified when businesses or sectors you are interested in are advertising for new staff, and many companies proactively push job opportunities in the LinkedIn news feed and within LinkedIn Groups.
Not only that, but you can even apply online via LinkedIn for certain roles, using your LinkedIn Profile as your CV submission. This only highlights the importance of having a decent and full LinkedIn profile, regardless of how you plan to utilise the social network.
7. LinkedIn Can Help You Find New Staff For Your Business
The obvious flipside of the above is that LinkedIn is great if you are looking to recruit additional staff for your own business. LinkedIn behaviour and a LinkedIn profile can tell you a lot more about a potential candidate than a static, traditional CV.
As a potential employer, you can even message those who have provided LinkedIn Recommendations via the network itself if you require further information or clarity about a candidate, and the LinkedIn search function allows you to headhunt without the need of a traditional recruitment agency.
The only caveat to this is that should involve your Human Resources department in all of this, to ensure that you are abiding by your organisation’s recruitment process and recruitment law in general. This is especially true given that many recruitment processes ensure that recruitment decisions are not made on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or age, some of which can be inadvertently discerned by looking at potential candidates’ LinkedIn profiles.
In conclusion, I think a LinkedIn presence is essential for almost all professionals, and is an absolute necessity if your focus, products or services are B2B. Like the other social networks, LinkedIn is far from perfect and it has its issues (the User Interface is at times woeful, for example), but I think having a LinkedIn profile will soon become an expect norm for the modern worker.