Getting Started on LinkedIn

Chances are you’ve heard of LinkedIn. Maybe you even have a profile. 

But are you currently using LinkedIn to target leads and make sales for your business?

Despite boasting 660 million global users, LinkedIn is still an untapped resource by most businesses. In this guide, we’ll walk you through LinkedIn’s core features and give you insight on how to use LinkedIn to build your business. 

What Is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social network aimed at business professionals. It allows you to build an online network of everyone who matters to you at work: your co-workers and employees, contacts from previous jobs, clients and suppliers. 

In recent years, however, LinkedIn has moved beyond being just a place to run into old coworkers and classmates. It is a powerful recruitment tool, a marketing platform, an educational hub, a media company and so much more. Its reach is clear, and with the might of Microsoft behind it, LinkedIn’s dominance in the business world will continue to grow. 

Getting Started

When you first sign up you’ll be prompted to make a profile. This is the place to share your career and educational background, your skills, information about projects you’ve completed, certifications you may have and more. We’ll talk more about optimizing your profile in a moment.  

You’ll also be prompted to begin connecting to people you know, either through importing your email contacts or through a manual option. Connections are the cornerstone of LinkedIn, so you’ll want to build your network from day 1.

Free or Premium?

When creating an account, you can choose to upgrade to one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts. With a free account, you can create a profile, build connections, provide and receive recommendations, search profiles and use LinkedIn’s InMail system (on a limited basis). 

Upgrading increases some of the features you have access to and can allow you to target your LinkedIn experience based on your goals. Options include: 

  • Premium Career: Aimed at job seekers, this option allows users to reach out directly to recruiters and be listed as a “featured applicant” when applying for jobs.

  • Premium Business: Targeted at users who want more in-depth analytics for their business, this option provides business insights and online video courses. 

  • Sales Navigator Professional: Designed for users focused on using the platform to sell, this option includes sales insights and a lead builder tool.

  • Recruiter Lite: Targeted at users who are building their team, this option includes integrated hiring, automatic candidate tracking and smart suggestions to help you find talent. 

All premium options also include features such as tracking who’s viewed your profile and unlimited profile searches. The price of premium accounts varies based on the plan you select, but you have the option of a one-month free trial on any plan to figure out how you might use LinkedIn’s premium features. 

Building a Great Profile

If you want to start using LinkedIn to make new contacts and grow sales, you need to treat it as the marketing tool it is. This starts with a great profile, for yourself and your business. 

Your Personal Profile

We shared some great tips in our blog on using your personal LinkedIn to grow sales, but here’s a recap of the top tips for creating your personal profile: 

  • Use a professional headshot.

  • Use the “Headline” field on your profile to let your customers know how you can help them.

  • Use the “Professional Summary” section as an opportunity to pitch your customers, not a chance to list your achievements.

Also, consider using the “Ask for a Recommendation” tool to gather testimonials from contacts. A recommendation can build “social proof,” meaning that when potential customers visit your page, they’ll recognize you as the fire safety expert you are. 

Your Business Page

As well as your own personal page, you can create a LinkedIn page for your business. 

Source 

As with your personal profile, treat your business page as a marketing tool. Upload a cover image that represents your business, and make sure you add your logo; data shows that you’ll get six times more traffic when you do.

Although it may seem time-consuming, completing your page also pays off. LinkedIn states that completed pages draw 30% more weekly views, meaning you have more chances of reaching your customers. 

For both your personal profile and business page, remember to focus on search engine optimization. As with a website, you want your customers to be able to easily find you when they’re searching for key terms related to your business. As you’re filling in headlines, summaries or details of your business, keep in mind those keywords and use them to draw in potential customers.

Reaching Customers

Now that you’ve set up your profile and business pages, it’s time to start reaching out to potential customers — and luckily 79% of marketers rate LinkedIn a very good source of leads.

There are three major strategies for reaching customers through LinkedIn: building connections, content marketing and LinkedIn Advertising.

Building Connections

As you add your own co-workers, current and former customers as connections on LinkedIn, you’ll begin to build an organic network of people you know. But how do you connect with customers you don’t know yet? 

This is where you’ll need to identify and target prospects. LinkedIn has a powerful search function, allowing you to filter profile results by location, company, industry and interests. You can also specify that you are looking for people who are connected to someone in your network (which may help facilitate an introduction). 

Say you want to target building managers for a new product line you’re launching: LinkedIn’s search allows you to identify people in your area with that job title and connect with them. Remember, if you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know personally, don’t spam them and make sure you personalize your connection request.

Another way to build your connections on LinkedIn is to join and contribute to relevant LinkedIn groups. Groups are organized around industries, regions, workplaces, educational institutions and interests. In order to target your customers, identify the groups your leads are already members of (you can find this information through their profile). By connecting through groups and providing valuable insight and expertise, you can establish yourself as a trusted voice.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the art of creating content (e.g. posts, blogs, videos, etc.) that engages your customers. 

Customers like to buy from people that they know, like and trust. Content marketing helps you build these factors with customers by positioning you as an expert and someone who can help them. 

There are two main ways to share content on LinkedIn: 

Source

Selecting Start a Post will create a status update that your connections will see posted in their newsfeed. Use posts to share your company news, interesting industry information and or articles/blogs that your customers will find engaging.

What are your customers interested in? This isn’t the time to make a hard-sales pitch, but rather to share product reviews, how-to videos, tips and tricks, testimonials, case studies and thoughts on relevant industry news. 

In order to engage your audience, keep the following metrics in mind: 

  • Including a link with your post increases engagement by 200%.

  • Including photos with posts increases comment rates by 98%.

  • 59% of executives said they would choose to consume content via video.

  • Ending a post with a question increases engagement by 50%.

One of the reasons LinkedIn is such a powerful platform for your content marketing efforts is that you can target your posts to reach your potential customers, using criteria such as job function, industry, region, etc. 

You can also choose to Write an Article through LinkedIn’s publishing platform. This allows you to share a longer-form, blog-style piece. As with your posts, these should be customer-focused and showcase your industry knowledge and expertise. And because LinkedIn wants to keep its audience on its own platform, your LinkedIn published pieces will be shown more often via LinkedIn’s algorithms. 

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn also offers the option to purchase paid adverts to reach your customers. You have the option of either self-service ads, where you write your own copy, or working with a LinkedIn team to run a managed campaign. 

Types of LinkedIn ads include text advertising, sponsored content and sponsored InMail. If you’re using LinkedIn’s managed campaign option, additional types of campaigns are available.

LinkedIn’s advertising tools allow you to track key marketing metrics such as clicks, impressions and conversions to make sure your campaign stays on track and in-budget. 

Developing Your LinkedIn Strategy

LinkedIn is a rich platform with multiple opportunities to engage customers and grow your business. 

Before jumping in, spend a little time thinking through how you can use this platform to your business’ best advantage:

  • Define your goals: Do you want to create brand awareness? Are you looking to identify new leads? Be clear on what you want to achieve. 

  • Study your competition: How are your competitors using LinkedIn? What can you learn from them?

  • Define your target audience: Who do you want to reach through LinkedIn?

  • Align with broader strategy: As you build your LinkedIn presence, make sure your pages and posts align with your existing brand and strategy.

  • Track results: LinkedIn offers Page Analytics and reporting tools for business users. Use data to track your progress and to make adjustments. 

Remember: it’s ok to start small. Focus on building connections and you can gradually build and grow your strategy as you learn how to make LinkedIn work for your business.

And don’t forget to connect with Smoke Guard on LinkedIn and visit the Smoke Guard blog for great content you can share with your LinkedIn connections.