A Guide to using LinkedIn

mashuniNews, Uncategorized

(15 minute read)

Introduction

As of January 2019, LinkedIn reached a mind boggling 500 million members, with new users signing up every day. Of that 500 million, over 260 million professionals log in and scroll LinkedIn on a daily basis. It’s the No.1 media platform for networking professionals.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you and your connections know. Connect with new recruits, collaborate with other businesses, share content, and get involved in discussions. LinkedIn, quite literally, links you to the professional world.

This is major for business marketing. Building networks and connections on LinkedIn is, for some businesses, where most of their marketing takes place. If, like most professionals, you’ve identified the importance of adding LinkedIn to your marketing strategy, then this guide will come in handy.

I’ll explain how to maximise potential business from LinkedIn and how you can make the most of its features. Because not one size fits all, you can pick and choose what parts are suitable for you and your brand.

Part 1 | What can LinkedIn do for my business?

LinkedIn can offer you and your business a host of benefits once you’ve identified what you want to achieve.

Known mainly as a networking tool, LinkedIn has lots of benefits and marketing opportunities. From sharing information about an article you’ve written to researching your competition, i’ve made a list of features for you.  

Check Out other Businesses

A lot of businesses are active on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in working with a particular business, or you want to find out about possible competitors, you can use LinkedIn to read business profiles, connect with people who work for that business and more.

Introduce People to your Blogs, Texts, Websites and other Content

Your profile has areas where you can list articles you’ve written and add links to your blog, website or other online content. By sharing this relevant content, you will build a picture of who you are and what you do.

A web developer might write about a website he’s recently built, but he might also share some tips on how to improve SEO – presenting more of his knowledge and skills.

As well as establishing what you do, you are putting yourself in a position of expertise.

Show Everyone You are an Expert

You can use the LinkedIn content platform to demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency in your industry. As well as increasing sales and connections, you will encourage a good reputation.

Sharing news of an award you’ve recently received, or a link to an event you were a speaker at, instils in people’s minds that you know what you are talking about.

Eventually, your profile could be the go-to place for like-minded people for reference material.  

Share Content, Get More Traffic

Sharing interesting and helpful content not only establishes your role as an expert, but it drives traffic to your websites and calls to action.

The Content Marketing Institute carried out a study and found that 97% of B2B businesses used LinkedIn for sharing online content. In fact, last year the number of professionals using LinkedIn for content marketing purposes was higher than the number using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.

Not only is LinkedIn the more popular platform for professionals, but the study also found that 78% of its users agree that it is an effective platform to share website links and contact information on. Comparing this with the 42% score Facebook received, it demonstrates how profitable LinkedIn could be for your business.

Encourage Valuable Connections

Because of the way LinkedIn lists your details, your accreditations, skills, interests and connections are on display for potential business to see. Searchers can read your profile before choosing to connect with you, which makes your network more meaningful.

If you’re looking to work and network within a partnership or team, LinkedIn has a platform where you can search for your ideal associate. You can also join groups on LinkedIn where you can meet like-minded people.

Unlike Twitter and Instagram’s default setting, when people want to connect with you, you have the opportunity to decline. This means that over time you can build a network of meaningful and select connections.

Tip: People you have linked with aren’t called followers or friends; instead they are considered Connections.

Establish Brand Authority Online

For some businesses, this might not fit in with your brand’s ethos. But for most of us, LinkedIn is a brilliant place to flex our brand’s muscles.

Sharing branded images, videos and content reminds people of what your business stands for. You can weave your brand’s aesthetic with your profile by displaying a cover photo and matching profile picture.

Part 2 | Features on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can help you achieve nearly any goal that you set for your business. But why LinkedIn? What tools do they have to help you accomplish your target?

Your Profile

Nailing a solid LinkedIn profile is key to increasing your visibility. Your profile is the perfect platform to show off your experience, expertise and education to future clients and new contacts. This is your opportunity to give a clear and concise intro to you and/or your brand.

Make your first impression count with a professional profile photo that sets the tone for what you are about. A fun pose in a colourful shirt might be suitable for a quirky graphic designer, but it would probably miss the mark if you’re an insurance broker. Because your photo is the first thing new contacts will see, it’s important to get it right.

On LinkedIn, you are given 120 characters with which you can write a snappy ‘about me’ headline. It can be tricky to sum yourself up in roughly 21 words, so it’s a good idea to draft a couple of ideas first. The main points you want to cover are who you are and what you are an expert in. Use keywords in your headline to increase your chances of appearing in potential customer/employer search results.

Tip: To help identify what keywords would be beneficial to sprinkle around your LinkedIn profile, find several job postings for industry positions you’re interested in and copy and paste them into a document. Notice the keywords and phrases that come up repeatedly and think about how you can weave these into what you write.

(There is plenty of online software that can analyse and spot keywords for you.)

The summary section of your profile is where you can get personal and creative. You have 2,000 characters to talk about your hobbies, interests, volunteer work and things are you passionate about. On the new LinkedIn interface, only the first two lines of your summary show up, so make them compelling! Just like the headline section, using keywords will also help you to get noticed by the right people.

Under the experience section, be specific. Let everyone know what your company offers and what they can benefit from if they use your service. Explain your brand’s general ethos, and point out what you can personally offer.

LinkedIn allows you to order, rearrange and prioritise the various sections of your profile. This will help you make your profile even more eye-catching and can help your business to get the attention it deserves. Take a look at the sidebar to check the strength of your profile and keep tweaking it until you reach the fully optimised ‘All-Star level’.

You can also use LinkedIn’s long-form publishing tool to share extended text to your profile. Using this tool can help to boost your trustworthiness within your LinkedIn community and increase the number of people scrolling through your profile.

Your Contacts

Your contact list is important as the individuals and companies listed in it will get regular updates on any items you share. By continually working to grow your LinkedIn network and your professional contacts, you can make the most of the platform and connect on a professional level with others in your industry. Use the ‘People You May Know’ feature to grow your professional network.

When using this tool, you’ll see people listed as ‘first degree’, ‘second degree’ and ‘third degree’ contacts.

People connected directly to you are known as ‘first degree’.

People connected to your first-degree contacts are ‘second degree’.

People connected to your second-degree contacts are ‘third degree’.

Use the ‘My Network’ tab, located in the navigation bar, to find all possible connections. Contacts can be searched for and filtered using a number of criteria. This is an easy and effective way to sort through your growing network of connections.

Your Company Page

This feature offers you a way to quickly and easily mould your company’s presence on LinkedIn. Post relevant content onto your company’s page to engage your audience and build your business’ online reputation.

Although this is a popular tool, a lot of people don’t realise that you can target your updates at a specific audience. Have a look at the Company Updates section on your page and select the profile you wish to target.

The company page feature can be especially beneficial if your firm has sub-brands for different markets or if it’s slightly different overseas. All your sub-brands can come under the umbrella of your main brand and be followed individually. This allows people in your network to follow a sub-brand, and receive relevant updates, without getting notifications from the umbrella company.

Groups

LinkedIn Groups can range from over 100,000 members to just a small group of peers. Groups can include working professionals, potential new clients or simply consist of a private group of friends. You can create your own groups, join private groups or have a group just for internal communications within a business. This is a way of keeping in touch beyond emails and meetings and is especially useful if your company is distributed across multiple locations.

Groups can be used in a similar way to an email marketing list. Administrators can send all members a message up to once a week. However, group members have the option to opt out completely from receiving messages if they so desire. It’s also possible for members to decide how often they would like to receive messages.

Use keyword searches to find groups that are relevant to you. You can also go on to the profiles of your contacts to see which groups they’re part of. If you’re in the same profession or have the same interests, you can apply to join the groups yourself.

Search Tool

The search tool is probably the easiest way to track down a contact. It can be used to seek out businesses, firms, groups and people.

One tool that not everyone is aware of is search engine optimisation. Both individuals and businesses can optimise their profiles for visibility through LinkedIn and outside search engines such as Google. You can manage this via the settings on your profile. For example, you can select topics, companies or people who are important to you and LinkedIn will suggest content that may be of particular interest.   

LinkedIn Pulse                                    

Pulses appear above the posts shared or created by your first degree contacts. They are based on your interests and your profile and are generated by the Pulse Content Aggregator. Pulse recommendations can be arranged by popularity and the age of the post.

LinkedIn will look at the channels and influencers you follow and tailor the news you see to suit your interests. Whether you’re looking for an insight from an industry professional or just searching for the latest market updates, there’ll be something posted that’s relevant to you and your interests.

Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn allows people to ‘endorse’ you. It’s the equivalent of receiving a Facebook ‘like’. Essentially, it’s a quick way of reviewing a person or company. For example, if you believe that someone has the qualities that they’ve stated in their profile, an endorsement will show others you can vouch for their skillset.

A ‘recommendation’ is a similar to an endorsement but takes a little longer. They require someone to feel so confident in your skills that they’re willing to write a traditional recommendation on your profile. As it’s more difficult to get a recommendation, they’re generally seen as more valuable than standard endorsements.

You can choose whether or not to display your recommendations and endorsements on your profile.

Analytics and Facts

LinkedIn offers insights and analytics for both your company’s page and your individual profile. This is an important resource and can help you to optimise your online presence.

Personal Analytics include:

  • Who has viewed the updates you’ve posted
  • The total number of people who have viewed your profile
  • This is then compared amongst connections

Company Analytics include:  

  • Performance of company updates
  • How many people engaged with the updates
  • Who and where the updates reach
  • Information such as follower trends and demographics
  • How many views your page receives
  • Who out of your page views is unique
  • Demographics of the people who have viewed your page
  • Impressions
  • Links shared
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • How many followers you have
  • Traffic driven to your website from LinkedIn

Mobile App

The LinkedIn mobile app offers a similar user experience to the desktop site. This makes it easy to move between phone and computer and to stay active when you’re on the go. The majority of things that can be done on the desktop site can also be done via the app.

The popularity of LinkedIn Pulses has lead to the generation of the LinkedIn Pulse app. This app lets users access and streamline their news and other related features on the go.

Premium Services

Not all LinkedIn features are free. Companies can pay a monthly fee to access parts of the website that aren’t available to non-paying users. For example, premium members can run targeted ads, create place-specific job listings and use more advanced talent search features.

If you pay the monthly fee for your individual account, you can see everyone who’s viewed your profile and, even if they’re not direct contacts, you can then send them a message. This is particularly useful when building your network as it allows you to interact with professionals who you may not have a connection with.

Before paying for LinkedIn, it’s worth sitting down and assessing how beneficial it would really be to you or your company.                             

Part 3 | Groups and interactions

Fitting It In

Using LinkedIn for just 10 minutes a day can help to give your business a boost. Here are a few ways that daily use can help to improve the results you see from the professional network. 

Using Your Time Efficiently

Attending networking events, chasing emails and making phone calls takes time. All too often, this time isn’t rewarded with tangible results. By redirecting your energies and focusing on LinkedIn instead of traditional networking techniques, you can save time and improve the results you see.

Patience

The more time you spend on LinkedIn, the more of an asset it will be to your business. As you build your skills and become familiar with the network, you can uncover new resources, grow your network and make the most of the tools on offer.

Profile

Building a strong, compelling profile is the best way to get your business the attention it deserves. It may take a few hours or even a few days to get right, but once your profile is fully complete and fully optimised, you should see big improvements in the results you get from the professional network. Check which parts of your profile are missing by using the tool in the top right-hand corner of the page.

If you’re applying for a new job, there’s a good chance your prospective employer will check your profile before offering you an interview. Include your goals, descriptions and past positions in your profile to ensure they find the information they’re looking for.

Recommendations are a big part of your profile. Think of the list of people you would happily contact to be a reference on a normal CV and ask them for a recommendation. You can look at other people’s profiles for guidance if you’re struggling to decide what to include.

Connections

Adding connections is another good way to build up your profile. You can do this on the ‘My Network’ page. Start by sending invitations to your clients or contacts. This is much quicker than exchanging numbers or giving out your business card and should bring you faster results.

Customising the default invitation will help to improve the responses you get. By using a personalised invitation, you can remind your contacts where you met them or how you became acquainted. This should help you to build a strong professional network.

Groups

You can bring attention to your business or brand by using Groups on LinkedIn. You can join groups by going to your homepage and clicking on the ‘work’ icon and selecting ‘groups’ from the menu. You then click ‘discover’ to see suggested groups. LinkedIn will allow you to join up to 100 groups, so make sure you select your groups carefully.

Use the search bar to find the groups that are most relevant to you. You can choose how frequently you want to receive emails from these groups and you can also opt out of recurrent emails altogether.

Aim for groups that are active and have 500 members or more. Monitor a couple of groups to see what’s being discussed. It can be hard to make yourself stand out in larger groups, so think about ways to make your contribution unique. Try to stick to groups that have the potential to reward the time and effort you put in.

Once you’re familiar with the type of content that’s discussed in the group, start sharing your insights and expertise. You can then begin to comment and interact with others in the group. Keep your contributions polite and relevant to get the most from the network.  

Group Discussions

After you’ve supported and commented on discussions within the group, you can start discussions of your own. Remember to be professional and polite as this will encourage further connections.

Following group discussions before you post will help you to select subjects that will garner interest and encourage contributions. This should help you to generate comments and get your content shared throughout your network.

Make sure the content you post is useful, relevant and can contribute to group discussions. This could include articles, blogs and presentations. The content you share should help to broaden and inform your group discussions, not just promote your skills or your business.

Interactions

Building a strong network can take time. However, putting the legwork in now will help you to make useful connections and give you the confidence you need to reach out to other relevant professionals.

Remember, the majority of people on LinkedIn are there for the same reason as you: to establish useful professional relationships. Exchanging your email with potential business partners and clients will help to build on these relationships and get you tangible results.  

Part 4 | Making the most of your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to building your individual brand. The platform has a number of key features that make it easy to help you define your brand, bring more business to your firm and even develop a different position within the market.

But How?

  • How do you want to be seen?
    You must have a clear idea of how you want others to perceive you. It’s helpful to be clear and concise around the main factors driving your brand.
  • Groups.
    Groups are a good way to connect with your target audience. Make sure you interact and network within these groups just as you would in person. This contact often forms people’s first impression of you and your business, and first impressions count.
  • Consistency is key.
    Keep your company or individual identity the same across different profiles/social media. Don’t confuse people with mixed messages.
  • Social media.
    Now that you have a clear message across all channels, use your brand voice by posting status updates, tweeting, adding hashtags and sharing relevant information. The more active you are, the more likely you’ll be to get noticed.
  • Promote yourself.
    There’s no point building a profile if no one’s going to see it. Direct people to your profile with links on business cards and at the end of emails.
  • Keep updated.
    Make sure your profile is up to date. Review it once or twice a year, or after any big changes within your business.

Part 5 | Creating and managing your own groups

As well as managing and contributing to existing groups, LinkedIn allows you to start groups of your own. Creating your own group can have a number of benefits for you and your company. Engaging with the community and building your network will be extremely helpful in the long term.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Tracking your own website
  • Being your own business leader
  • Creating awareness of your company
  • Contact group members
  • Creating new leads

Strategy Developing

When creating a LinkedIn Group, it’s important to think about what you want to get out of it.

Decide on the group’s purpose before you start it:

  • Your target audience
    Work out who you want to reach out to and the topics you want to cover. Decide if you want to make your group private or keep it open to the public. You should also think about how specialist you want your group to be.
  • Topics
    Create a focus point. What topics do you want to discuss in the group? Do you want to encourage conversations?  
  • Goals
    Having a set goal for your group will help to keep you motivated and inspire others in your network. Having a goal will also help you set clear targets. Work out what your aspirations are for the group. Do you want to meet new clients and make connections? Do you want to boost your company’s profile and brand awareness?
  • Success
    How are you going to measure your group’s achievements? Will it be determined on new connections and business generated from the group? Is the number of members important?

How to Create a Group

Once you know what your group is going to be about, you need to create it.

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn page. In the top right-hand corner you’ll see a grid icon. Click this and select ‘Groups’ from the drop-down menu.
  2. Just below the grid icon, you’ll see a button labelled ‘Create a new group’. Click on this and fill in the required information.
  3. Make sure any information you fill out is clear and to the point.
  4. You can then decide if you want your group to be public or private.
  5. Next, click ‘create’ and your group is ready to go.
  6. Build your following by contacting previous connections that are similar to your target audience.
  7. Stay active within the group. Get people involved, ask questions and start discussions.
  8. Act as the moderator.
  9. Remember, you can message every member of the group once a week about upcoming events. You can also feature announcements on your group page by selecting the grid icon in the top corner. Choose the group you want to edit and click ‘manage’. Enter your message and then click ‘send announcement’. 

There are a number of creative ways to promote your group. Use LinkedIn advertising, blogs and discussions to get people excited about your topics and get your content shared.

Part 6 | Developing contacts and building your network

LinkedIn gives you a number of opportunities for lead generation and social media marketing. This will help you to create a strong platform from which to grow your online presence.

Develop and Network with Contacts

Recruiting and searching for new clients to add to your network can be a struggle. Using LinkedIn becomes much easier when you can find potential clients all in one place. No matter how small your pool of target clients may be, LinkedIn helps you identify key contacts and begin networking. You can use the group’s search function to find concentrated pools of new customers and potential new leads.

You can also network with selected groups by following and participating in discussions. Look for opportunities to offer help and advice and establish relationships. And if you can’t find the right groups, take the initiative and create your own. Once you have found your target audience, click the blue follow button at the top of a business’s page to gain an insight into their LinkedIn activity to continue networking.

Position and Relevant Discussion

Skimming is a technique we all use to quickly find the information we need. It’s no different when it comes to using LinkedIn. The network enables you to filter through a vast array of discussions on endless topics, to find the ones that are relevant to your area of expertise. From there, you can offer your helpful and professional advice and begin networking. But remember not to come across as too ‘spammy’ by overly self-promoting. Show off your position as an expert in your field by sticking to a main topic. Make sure your profile reflects this, with well thought out headlines and keywords that capture the attention of your clients.

Media Advertising

LinkedIn allows you to promote yourself using media advertising. This enables you to streamline your marketing approach by focusing your attention on specific groups and audiences. You can achieve your goals using a variety of advertising options, from banners to whitepapers and videos. Use a range of techniques to reach your audience from every angle.

LinkedIn Media Advertising also allows you to target specific groups by demographics, job title, industry and geographic area. Using these tools ensures you don’t waste money or resources on unnecessary advertising, thus saving you money.

The Future

Incredibly useful and packed full of potential contacts, LinkedIn can help to get your business the interest and profile it deserves. With two professionals joining the powerful platform every second, and the total number of members approaching 600 million, the reasons for using LinkedIn grow every day. If your business wants to make the most of its online presence, this is one social media network you can’t afford to ignore.

Mashuni

A creative and innovative design agency based in the heart of Norfolk, Mashuni is perfectly placed to help you optimise your LinkedIn profile and make the most of the opportunities offered by the platform. Whether you need help streamlining the look of your company’s profile pages, designing posts or creating original content, we can help you to find the perfect aesthetic and the ideal media for your marketing message.

Thanks to our extensive experience in the area, and our team’s targeted skillset, we’re able to create compelling, interesting and engaging content for LinkedIn. All you need to do is give us an outline of what you want to achieve from the platform and we can help you create content that will work towards achieving your online goals, converting conversations into customers.

As we have experience in marketing as well as graphic design, we can ensure that all the content you post is engaging, original and eye-catching. It’s all about cutting through the noise and getting your customers to listen to what you have to say and noticing that you’re the ones saying it.

Whether you’re new to LinkedIn, or trying to revitalise your presence on the platform, we can help you to maximise the proven potential of your social media presence and get your business the attention it deserves.  

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