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LinkedIn 101: What Small Businesses Need to Know

ByRyan Gould,
business.com writer
|
Oct 28, 2019
stnazkul / Getty Images
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Find out how you can use LinkedIn for business.

Unlike other big-name social media sites (we’re looking at you Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), LinkedIn was specifically made for professional networking purposes. Although other social media platforms have business elements to them, none of them are geared solely toward making professional connections, showing off your job history and linking up with other like-minded businesses. 

Why use LinkedIn for business?

You might be thinking that channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a better fit to promote your business only because they have more users. The more people you can reach, the better, right?

But people scrolling through their social feeds might not necessarily be looking for a business like yours. They might instead be looking up old school friends, researching hot travel destinations or trying to find a breakfast recipe for their new beau. 

However, people on LinkedIn are actively in a professional mindset and are often looking for business information. The power of LinkedIn predominantly lies in its advanced networking ability. Users can link up with other professionals all over the world who are in their industry or parallel industries. 

Connections and leads are created organically through the platform, and the features like Pulse, Groups, and the advanced search function provide businesses with numerous opportunities to grow their reach. 

What is LinkedIn used for?

People tend to use LinkedIn to list their job history and to network with companies they might like to work with. From the business side, companies can headhunt promising individuals and get more eyeballs on their business. 

The platform allows you to

  • Join groups that are relevant to your industry (or create groups to build a community around your brand).
  • Collect information about promising individuals in your industry.
  • Share articles and visual content to get more traffic and leads.
  • Build your expertise through thought leadership content.

The ultimate aim is to create a business network, and LinkedIn's hyperfocused business environment provides the perfect landscape to do that.

What information should you put on LinkedIn?

The information you put on LinkedIn will vary depending on whether you're operating from an individual perspective or from your company's perspective.

For the former, you'll have a digital resume page, where you can upload things like

  • A professional photo. This should be high-quality, up-to-date and professional. A headshot is ideal. If you've browsed LinkedIn, you might have noticed that many profile photos are in black and white – this is perhaps to give a more serious, professional feel, and you may choose to follow suit.

  • A headline. This is one of the first things people will see when they visit your page, so make it count. You want to get across exactly what you do in one sentence (for example, you might put Owner at Your Business Name). The key here is to keep things descriptive. People can find you based on your headline when they use the search bar. If you're a social media manager, put that in your headline so that you show up in search results for that term.

  • A brief summary. This is where you can elaborate a little on what your role is and what your business does. Keep it short and concise – about two to three small paragraphs work best. Make your summary descriptive and inject some keywords into it, as there is more chance of it showing up in search results if you do this. 

If you're using LinkedIn with the main aim of promoting your business, you're going to want to set up a company page. Here you need to share information like what your business does, what kind of products or services you offer, and any company visual collateral, like your logo, and brand colors. 

Your company page is a separate entity to your personal page, but you can link them together to create a connection between you and your business. There are tons of widgets or sections to a company page, and it works in your favor if you try and fill out as many of them as possible. The more information you have, the more likely people are to stick around on your page and then get in touch with you. 

How to improve your LinkedIn for business

Once you've got your personal page set up and your company page is good to go, it's time to leverage the tools that LinkedIn has to make connections and generate leads.

There are several ways you can harness the power of LinkedIn.

Connect with individuals and businesses

Use LinkedIn's powerful search function to find individuals and businesses that are a good fit for your company. Making connections with other brands will strengthen your position in your industry, and the more individual connections you have, the more quickly word will spread about you and your business. 

Here, you can use the search function to search specific keywords relating to your industry to find businesses or professionals to make connections with. The LinkedIn Mail feature allows you to send a short note to people you want to connect with, so you can explain who you are and your reasons for getting in touch. 

Be active in groups

LinkedIn's Groups are a powerhouse of business potential. Search for groups that are relevant to your industry and start engaging in them. This doesn't mean spamming members with your latest blog posts and website URL. Instead, think of it as a professional conversation that you can add your expertise to. 

You can answer questions related to your industry, share interesting industry insights, and interact with people who might later on become collaborators, customers, or fans. The aim is to get your name out there and known as an expert in your industry. 

Post content consistently

LinkedIn may well be a professional networking site, but it also works like any other social media platform in that you can share your latest content with your connections and followers.

By keeping your page updated with valuable content, you’ll create a legion of loyal followers who will continue to share, read, and interact with your content. 

The key thing to remember is that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook – i.e., keep things professional. 

The content you share might include things like:

  • Your latest blog post, with a short blurb introducing it to your followers
  • Testimonials and case studies from past customers to provide social proof to future prospects
  • Upcoming events or conferences your business is hosting to encourage attendees to sign up 
  • Your latest service or product that you think your followers will benefit from to show off what you do
  • Content created by others that’s relevant to your industry and customers

Leverage the power of LinkedIn

If used correctly and consistently, LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool for attracting customers, generating leads and building the online presence of your business.

Start by making sure your profiles are packed full of important information and are optimized especially for your industry. Then you can get involved in groups, share your knowledge and grow your authority in your industry. Finally, show up consistently by sharing relevant, engaging content, and starting thoughtful discussions around your brand and industry. 

Ryan Gould
Ryan Gould
See Ryan Gould's Profile
Ryan is known for taking complex marketing and business challenges and developing solutions that simplify processes while driving customer outcomes and business value. He also thrives on guiding Elevation teams toward execution of strategies that help companies succeed in new verticals, while staying true to core values and brand integrity.
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