With more than 50 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest online business social network and is used almost exclusively for business purposes. From a B2B perspective, having a presence on LinkedIn can be instrumental for influencing a broad range of audiences—from prospects and potential employees to industry peers.
The first step on LinkedIn is to create a profile for your executives and business. But there are other ways to increase your visibility and following. LinkedIn’s Groups feature lets you create and join “gated” groups – whether around a specific industry, expertise, or product. Joining groups relevant to your business and taking an active part in them will increase networking opportunities.
If your business decides to create its own group on LinkedIn, it can be linked directly to your company website and become a place for hosting online discussions or sharing relevant information. You will want to invite others to join your group. This can include customers, prospects, interactive agencies, partners, and journalists covering your industry.
Knowledgeable personnel inside your company might also consider taking part in LinkedIn’s Answers forum to give advice and respond to questions posted by other LinkedIn members. As a member of the LinkedIn community, you can increase your credibility by answering questions from people outside of your following. You can also ask questions. Often, smart questions can receive 20 or more answers within minutes of a post. This can also increase visibility.
Here are other tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn:
- Always include your LinkedIn profile or group on your website and on e-mail signatures.
- Give and accept recommendations on LinkedIn, which are revealed on member profiles.
- Cross-promote LinkedIn activities—such as a hosted event in a LinkedIn group—on other social media channels such as Twitter.
- Avoid direct selling; positioning yourself as an objective subject matter expert works best.
There are a growing number of other social networks focused on professional industries. There may be a vertical social network that is a better fit for you. For most people, LinkedIn will do just fine. Please share your suggestions on using LinkedIn.