Social Savvy: Using LinkedIn for business – Nov 2019

By Christine B. Whittemore

Recognizing that Floor Focus has a wide spectrum of readers, many of whom seek to grab the attention of not only consumers but also other businesses, it is important to consider social tools that cater to the business-to-business audience, such as LinkedIn.

Many individuals think of LinkedIn as a tool for job seeking: it’s where recruiters go to hire and, increasingly, an important implement for individuals on a job hunt. For this reason, it’s important to keep your online profile up to date-an easy task, I might add.

But LinkedIn is also useful for salespeople seeking to build relationships with peers on the inside of a company who can help influence the decision maker to buy.

The truth is that you are doing business with people, and if your people hang out on LinkedIn rather than Facebook, you want to be there. And if they are on both networks, it means that you have a multi-dimensional perspective on them.

Let’s explore six ways to use LinkedIn to benefit your business.

#1: NETWORK AND CONNECT
When you set up your personal profile, LinkedIn encourages you to add your connections. That unlocks the magic because your first-degree connections link you to others one or two connections away who may eventually become direct connections. They also connect you to companies. Through connections you can make use of LinkedIn’s search functionality to network and connect further. Looking for new vendors or suppliers? You should search based on a specific company or certain product names. Need a particular brand of expertise? Then search based on industry or position. Do you want to connect with specific professionals in a city? Combine a city search with a role-based search. Researching people at a specific company? Base your search on that company name.

There’s also a side-benefit to all this searching: you’ll gain insights on how to strengthen your own profile.

#2: EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE
If you’re looking to expand your business knowledge, LinkedIn can help. Start by mining your LinkedIn newsfeed. There, you’ll come across article links, updates and tips from your connections. These updates give you the opportunity to interact and comment, which further develops your relationships and knowledge base. As you come across companies you’re interested in, be sure to follow them after checking out their business profiles. Many companies will post blog content and other industry-related information. You can also discover who works there.

And then there are LinkedIn groups. Are you involved in an association or organization? Check to see if there’s a related LinkedIn group you can join and actively participate in by joining discussions. What about the schools you attended or the companies you’ve worked for? They may have alumni groups. Explore whether groups related to specific business areas exist; consider joining them if they’re relevant to your world.

As you interact, though, be sensitive to how you do so. Don’t be self-promotional. Be sure to pay attention to the posted group’s “rules of engagement.”

#3: HIRING FOR YOUR OWN ORGANIZATION
You may not want to switch jobs; however, you may be desperate to discover new talent for your own organization. Consider LinkedIn. Attach a list of open positions to your company LinkedIn page. Use your search skills to find people to poach. Find out if you can share job postings in the groups to which you belong. Reach out to your connections for employee recommendations.

#4: SHARE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
If you’re looking to establish your business expertise, consider sharing thought leadership on LinkedIn. Start with the information and perspective you share in your updates, the comments you make to news in your feed, and how you participate in group discussions. If you’ve published content, associate it with your profile. If your company regularly publishes content, make sure you publish links to that content to your company page as well as your own profile.

LinkedIn offers another way to share thought leadership via its own content platform. Consider repurposing an article you’ve published on LinkedIn after publishing it on your own platform.

#5: VALIDATE YOUR BUSINESS
If you have a business, you will definitely want to create a LinkedIn company page for it. LinkedIn is the professional social network. If you’re in business, establishing your company on LinkedIn is a terrific way to communicate professionalism.

Once you’ve created your company profile, invite your business associates to link to it in their profiles (this assumes they are on LinkedIn; if they aren’t, you might encourage them to join). If you’re feeling ambitious, you might suggest that they use specific wording about your company as well as a header image that reinforces your company brand.

Then, if you regularly publish content on your website (i.e., via a blog), invite your associates to post about new articles. If they’re shy, you might suggest “lazy” updates for them: prepare comments with the appropriate link and image that they can post to their profiles when something new goes live.

By the way, be sure to identify an admin for your LinkedIn company page. It’s always helpful to have someone other than you who can make changes.

#6: BUILD TRUST IN YOUR BUSINESS
Ultimately, your LinkedIn presence is about trust and building it with employees, future employees, vendors and suppliers, customers and fellow thought leaders in your space.

Building trust with customers may be one of the most critical aspects of business. Not just in the traditional or real-life sense where you develop relationships through in-person interactions, on the phone and via written communications, but also online where more prospects begin the purchase process.

McGraw-Hill has a fabulous 50-year-old ad developed as a reason to advertise in business publications. It succinctly captures why you need to connect with your prospects and develop the basis for a relationship by addressing the objections many customers express to cold calls. The ad states,
I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?

In other words, selling starts before the sale (and before the salesperson reaches out).

Can you imagine the modern-day version of that ad? How will you go about selling if your prospects know nothing about you and can’t find anything about you online?

Maybe it’s time to consider LinkedIn.

Copyright 2019 Floor Focus