In 2022, if you want to attract new customers to your business, you can’t ignore the largest network of professional individuals and companies on the planet: LinkedIn.
Launched in 2003, it’s one of the oldest online social media platforms available today. For a long time, it was considered a forum for working professionals to connect and talk business, rather than a network for recreational purposes, such as Facebook (created a year later in 2004).
In recent times, though, LinkedIn has increased in popularity and become a hybrid between the professional and the personal, blending the two to create a place to facilitate social and shop-talk. Its purpose, nonetheless, remains all about business – marketing yourself or your company to others within the commercial world.
What is unique about LinkedIn is a seemingly boundless demographic. Unlike Instagram or Snapchat, often referred to as platforms for Millennials, or Facebook, a platform for Gen-X and, at a push, baby-boomers, the LinkedIn brigade ranges from students and people just entering the working world to those pushing on towards retirement. It is ageless. And it is growing at a phenomenal rate as more each year recognise its value as a means to increase their career or discover new business opportunities.
LinkedIn is a platform for people and businesses to explain their ‘why, how and what’.
LinkedIn turned 18 in 2021, making it the oldest major social network still in use today.
Over 756 million people worldwide are listed with a profile on LinkedIn as of June 2021 (32 million in the UK alone!) – which, in marketing terms, is one almighty audience!
Plus there’s 55 million company pages on LinkedIn.
The demographic using LinkedIn is varied, and it suits all ages, from students and those new to the working world to the veterans and 80% drive business decisions.
It’s rated as the most trusted social media platform
How does LinkedIn work?
Let’s assume for a moment you know nothing about the largest professional social network in the world. Or perhaps you do know of LinkedIn and have wondered, ‘What’s all the fuss about?’.
There are many ways you can benefit from being active on LinkedIn, whether you’re using the platform as an individual or a business.
The first place to start though is with your WHY. Why are you on LinkedIn, what is it you want LinkedIn to do for you and who are you talking to, as this will underpin what you say on your profile, who you connect with and what you will post.
Let’s start with your LinkedIn profile.
101: Your LinkedIn profile
As your professional brand online, your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to shine, to build your credibility and position why you, ready and available to be found both on Google and LinkedIn in just a few clicks.
The critical thing to remember here is that this content is available in the public domain – so, you want to put your best foot forward! The biggest mistake is using LinkedIn as an online CV. Success comes from putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and using your profile to speak to them. Think about what you want people to know, think and feel about you when they visit your profile.
Always include a professional photograph (not one your friend took of you on holiday!) and make use of the headline to highlight in 220 characters what makes you stand-out. Think of it as your ‘elevator pitch’.
The about section – which includes a generous 2,600 plus character limit – is a great place to tell your story. Why you do what you do, to summarise your background and outline what you do now so that anyone looking at your profile can quickly see what it is you bring to the table.
And people will be looking, from those wanting to hire – recruiters, HR professionals and business owners – to those looking to find someone who can provide a product or service. In other words, customers and prospects!
Growing your network
Once you have your LinkedIn profile at the ready, the next step is to build a network of people you want to meet, which you do by making connections.
When you are new to the platform, the best place to start is by connecting with people you do know. Those that you network with, suppliers and partners, or your colleagues, for example.
Building your network is a marathon not a sprint, so start by sending a few connection requests a day. Personalise them so the person who you’re asking to join you in your network knows why. My advice is to treat LinkedIn, like you would a face to face networking group. If you approach LinkedIn this way, you can’t go far wrong.
Raising your visibility
At the same time as carving yourself a nicely-sized network on LinkedIn, you also want to start raising your visibility on LinkedIn by engaging and posting content.
Posting content is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership and increases your exposure to new customers, prospects and employers.
How many posts should you create per week? What should your post talk about? Can your posts be personal, or must they always be professional? This itself is something of a minefield, and the answers will always depend on who you’re talking to.
However, when it comes to posting consistency is key. Provide relevant and useful content, whether it’s once a week or three times a week or one a day.
What about likes and comments?
Not sure what to post? Here’s the great thing about LinkedIn – you can like and comment on posts created by someone in your network, and instantly, your profile becomes visible to others which can have a huge impact.
If you like a post, people within your network see what you have liked, and those connected to the person whose post you liked will also see it.
Commenting though is a step up from just liking. It’s like mini posting and is often a great place to start if you feel a little nervous posting your own content. Commenting increases your visibility more than just liking a post. People see your comment, can check out your profile, and even send you a connection request. Engaging with other people’s posts on LinkedIn is one of the best ways to build your network.
What about sharing? Sharing someone else’s post doesn’t have the same impact as liking or commenting so is best avoided. My advice is to always like and comment on other people’s post making it a win for them and a win for you.
So, that’s the basics about LinkedIn uncovered. Of course, the platform has many features – which, when used correctly, can support your business or career aspirations.
To get in touch with Judy, or find out more about how she helps other business owners, follow these links.