5 Top LinkedIn Tips for Small Business Owners | PrintFirm.com

by Katherine Tattersfield on March 22, 2013

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LinkedIn Networking Tips

Photo credit: LinkedIn chocolates by Nan Palmero on Flickr

The first time I saw an invitation from a friend (I can’t recall who it was now) to connect with her on LinkedIn, I simply sighed deeply and ignored the note. My initial thought was, “What’s wrong with these people; wasn’t Facebook enough drama for them?” Fast forward a year later and every day my inbox is filled with interesting discussions, blog posts, and comments from various groups I am a part of on LinkedIn.

What changed my mind? If you really want to know, then read on my friends!

LinkedIn is arguably the world’s largest networking site for professionals. As a matter of fact, Craig Smith on Expandedramblings.com indicates that there are more than 200 million users on LinkedIn to date.

LinkedIn: It’s More Than Just a Resume Site

It is not enough to upload your photo and put out a laundry list of your qualifications and expertise (though that is not bad in itself). LinkedIn is about starting relationships of the professional kind and maintaining them.

So, how does that affect you as a small business owner and what should you do about it?

I love it when I get asked these questions because I just love to share helpful tips.

1. Get your business face on – It’s good that there is a personal profile for you on LinkedIn, but you should also set one up for your company. What do you do? What does your business offer uniquely that I would be hard pressed to find somewhere else? After all, you need to stand out and be different in a world of so many small businesses.

When you set up a company page, there are three headings which many companies fail to utilize: don’t be one of them! The three headings are:

  • Home – Under this heading, give the basic information on what your business does, when it was founded, and the number of employees, etc.
  • Products – Too many times this has been left empty. Let it work for you. What does your business sell? What are its featured products or services? Highlight them here, and include an image, video, and a link to your website.
  • Updates – Under this heading you will give information on the latest happenings in your business. Did you just acquire a new employee? Promote that here. Have you become involved with a local charity? Inform your readers here. Do you get my gist? Everything that can impact your business positively should be highlighted and shared.

Actionable tip: Check out the business pages of at least three of your favorite businesses on LinkedIn. See how they use their business pages. Adopt and tweak as you need. Have someone update the page regularly. If you blog, you may post links to your article on this page as well.

2. It’s all about connecting baby. Let’s get this straight: people can’t know who you are and what you have to offer until you connect with them. Find new customers, engage them, and connect with them in meaningful ways. Some experts advise that you ask your 1st level connections to introduce you to someone you’d like to be connected to. And that probably works (although I have not tried it as yet).

You see sometimes I can be a contrarian. For the most part, I try to personalize my requests and send them off. So far no one has queried why I would like to connect with them yet.

Actionable tip: Once you have identified your ideal customers (you’ve done that haven’t you?) search for them on LinkedIn. For example, if you sell educational supplies for teachers, who would your best target customer be? Teachers, of course! A search for teachers on LinkedIn netted more than 3 million results! This is a good base from which to choose your prospective connections.

3. Engagement is key- Now that you have reached out to these customers, just how do you intend to keep them? People like to know that you are not all about selling your products or services. They love getting tips from someone in the know. That means joining groups aligned with your small business goals (or you could start your own, which would establish you as a thought leader in your chosen field). Start discussions and answer questions to demonstrate your expertise.

Actionable tip: Give your connection a reason to come and check out your business either online (if you are) or in person. For example, whenever you connect with someone new, send a message thanking him or her for connecting with you. You may also tell the new connection that if he or she visits your business during the next 5 days, you will provide a discount of 10% on a purchase. Your prospect may not be able to pass up this opportunity.

4. Share, share, share, and share again. Remember the old adage that we learned from our mothers as children: it is better to give than to receive?

That is one of LinkedIn’s golden rules.

You have specialized knowledge that others need to know about. Don’t’ be selfish with it; help them out! But don’t see this as an opportunity to talk about yourself only. Post updates, quotes, and relevant articles that may be of interest to your connections from other parties.

Actionable tip: Determine how much time you are able to spend on LinkedIn each day. If you decide it will be fifteen minutes in the morning, then stick to it. And with sites such as Hootsuite, you can schedule future updates to various Social Media accounts without being overwhelmed.

5. Looking to expand and need capital? Have you ever wondered how some startup companies get so lucky and find investors to help them expand?

Trust me, luck has very little to do with it. They have to seek out these investors, see which ones are a good fit for them, and then bring their A games to sell their ideas to these investors.

Those same opportunities exist for you on LinkedIn.

Angel investors, venture capitalists, and investment firms that specialize in funding small businesses live on LinkedIn. Reach out or ask your 1st level connections to introduce you and get a conversation started. You never know just what may happen.

Actionable tip: Using LinkedIn search, identify angel investors, venture capitalists, and investment firms that fund small businesses. A search for information for this article on angel investors alone gave me a result of 746 companies! That is quite a number to choose from.

One last bonus tip:

6. Go Premium if you can – That is one of LinkedIn’s other features. With the Premium account there are a lot of options available, such as Inmail (where you are able to contact someone directly from LinkedIn even if you don’t know their email address). You are also able to see expanded profiles and see the full list of others who have viewed your personal profile.

Actionable tip: The basic account in LinkedIn works well for a small business. If you don’t have space in your budget for the Premium account, stick with the Basic until you feel you are in a position to explore the other options available to you.

Community Connection

As you can see, integrating LinkedIn Networking into your marketing mix can reap long term benefits for your small business. The success won’t come overnight, but the consistent work that you put in will surely help to push your business along.

Over to you: Have you been using LinkedIn at all? What has your experience been? Will you be implementing any of these tips above?

Please comment below.

Tasia Gonsalves-Barriero About the author: Hi, I am Tasia Gonsalves-Barriero and I am a professional writer at TGB Copywriting and am also a teacher. I write for the B2B and Education sectors. To learn more about me, check me out on LinkedIn, Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Hicks March 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

This is an absolutely terrific article, Tasia.
Very high quality content and the value level
is off the charts.

I’m happy to say that I’ve already implemented some
of your tips. I’ve joined several groups and comment
on them regularly. I’ve started discussions that you’ve
been kind enough to comment on. But after reading
your post, I see that I can do much more to expand my
reach. The targeted search strategy you explain is a
veritable gold mine – and it’s FREE to basic LinkedIn
members. It made me realize that success on LinkedIn
isn’t so much about upgrading to Premium. It’s about
maximizing the options already available to us.

Thanks so much for creating this post, Tasia.
The content is a tremendous value, and I
appreciate you taking the time to share it.
All the best!

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hello Michael,

Thanks so much for the feedback. You’re right about taking advantage of the regular account features. It seems as though a lot of users simply don’t know how much they can do with the unpaid resources. Go snag those dream clients!

Reply

Tasia Gonsalves-Barriero March 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Hi Michael,

Thank you for such insightful comments as always. I’m glad that you found the information quite helpful and useful. And you are so correct, we simply have to maximize the options that are available to us.

It is my pleasure to assist persons in their quest to provide valuable service to those who need it.

Take care all!

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Thanks for stopping by Tasia! Isn’t it wonderful to know that your tips helped a fellow marketer? *High Five*

Reply

Beth March 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thanks for the tips, Tasia-especially breaking them down into actionable steps. I am definitely not using LinkedIn to its full potential.

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Hello Beth, thanks for stopping by! We’re happy Tasia’s tips inspired you to make the most of LinkedIn. Happy networking!

Reply

Delia @ EosGrafx March 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Thanks for these tips on Linkedin, Tasia! Though we are mostly active on Facebook and Twitter, I agree Linkedin is a really important platform.
Add I’m glad you mentioned HootSuite to help you automate some of the sharing tasks so it’s not too overwhelming. Something to consider in the future ;)

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hello Delia,

I’m with you—I’ve personally never been into LinkedIn. I am also going to look into HootSuite’s LinkedIn capabilities.

Reply

Meire Weishaupt March 24, 2013 at 1:34 am

The tips are fantastic, and the article is very clear, I loved the “Actionable tips” idea. We can add those items in our to-do-list and go for them, I’m on LinkedIn for a long time, but I’m still not using it as much as I’d like. Other reason tho bookmark this post for the future! Thank you!

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hello Meire, let’s connect on LinkedIn! Here’s my profile: Katherine Tattersfield

Reply

Veronica Athanasiou March 24, 2013 at 9:39 am

It’s always good to be reminded about the potentials of different platforms. I came across your article on Meire’s Facebook page. It’s also very interesting how we follow each other across platforms and can take advantage of each one’s news feed/home climate.

Thanks for writing this and glad to have met you online,

Veronica

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Hello Veronica, what a cool connection! Welcome to the PrintFirm community :) Are you active on LinkedIn as well?

Reply

Eileen March 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Great tips and article! Especially agree with the need to be social and engaging (rather than promoting and selling non-stop).

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield March 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Hello Eileen, thanks so much for stopping by! We agree—LinkedIn should not be viewed as a giant sales pitch. Ditto for Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and the rest of the social sphere.

Reply

Tasia Gonsalves-Barriero March 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I am back again guys.

@Beth: It’s great to see that this post has you seeing the potential that LI offers. Don’t wait too long start taking those steps now in order to see long term benefits and potential.

@ Delia – I agree it can get quite overwhelming trying to stay on top of all your SM tools (almost like trying to keep a toddler quiet in Sunday School!). Hootsuite makes is to easy and I am able to schedule days and weeks ahead in advance. That is quite sweet.

@ Meire – your welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. Whenever I read a good blog that has something working for it I adopt and tweak. I try never to blog for blogging sake. I want that after you’ve read what I have written that you are able to do something with the information. Glad that goal was achieved here. (whew!)

@ Veronica: that is so cool right? Guest posting really does help to share the wealth. Thanks for visiting and commenting. And the pleasure is all mine.

@Eileen – I get you. Sometimes it’s so crazy that people just connect with you and before you’ve even said a proper hello they are already throwing a sale in your face. Nah, hold up. Let’s talk, engage then we’ll see where things go from here.

And of course a special shout out to Katherine – Gracias, thank you, merci beaucoup. And that’s all I know. Take care guys.

Reply

Ruby April 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Very helpful tips, thank you! It is “social” media, and people often forget that engagement is part of it. Have a great week!

Reply

Katherine Tattersfield April 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Hello Ruby, thanks so much for visiting our blog! You’re the social expert, and we can’t wait till you’re able to share some of your wisdom here, too.

Reply

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