Having a presence on LinkedIn is a must no matter your business or your occupation. So if you think LinkedIn isn’t for you, think again!
If you’re a plumber, painter or plasterer, for instance, or if you’re a teacher, nurse or hairdresser, don’t think the platform is simply for the likes of lawyers, marketers, accountants and managers. If you work, you should have a profile and if you’re a builder, barber or barman running your own business, it’s even more important you make yourself known to a wider audience.
Accountants need plumbers, childcare and their hair cut, just like these businesses need accountants. Your garage business, bakery or boutique still needs a website. You get the picture, LinkedIn puts you in touch with potential clients and you can easily find the additional professional help you may need to run your business.
Chances are you hold strong views about the effect of economic policy on small businesses or you’re interested to see how other businesses handled an HR issue or took their business to the next level or perhaps you’re after some insights on how to improve your social media presence. You will find blog posts, companies and discussion groups on LinkedIn covering all these topics and more. It’s a wealth of information as well as offering you the opportunity to connect with a wide range of like-minded working people.
Once up and running on LinkedIn, you will definitely receive invitations to connect from people you don’t know, often recruiters or people who want you to do business with them. Just don’t do it yourself. It’s against LinkedIn rules for a start and by signing up to the platform you agree to abide by them. I tend to accept such unsolicited approaches simply because ‘you never know’. However, it’s not a practice I indulge in myself.
I do use LinkedIn to research potential speakers for the B2B conferences for which I provide content. I usually have something specific in mind, an omni-channel expert, a customer experience professional or a digital guru of some description. I then contact them via their company and often follow up with a LinkedIn invite if the exchange has been positive. Or if the person I wish to connect with (usually to invite them to speak at an event) is connected to someone in my network, I ask to be put in touch, usually by phone or email. Once contact had been made I send a LinkedIn invitation request.
And LinkedIn keeps on giving. One particular speaker from a large digital agency spoke at a client’s event and we connected on LinkedIn. A few years later I saw a white paper he had authored with a colleague on the platform, he put me in touch and his co-author spoke at another event. I wouldn’t be able to provide my client with such a bank of exceptional speakers without utilising LinkedIn.
The big question for companies, particularly small ones whose owners have so many other pressures on their time, is ‘will LinkedIn get me any business’? If you take a step into the world of LinkedIn purely with the aim of driving new business leads, you will be disappointed. The point of the platform is to connect with fellow business people and professionals, share ideas, join in conversations and keep up-to-date on issues, influences and trends affecting your industry.
Having said that, LinkedIn is definitely a source of new leads. The more active you are, sharing, commenting and even using its blogging platform, the more you will be noticed and inevitably business will come your way.
When a dealer group needed its website rewritten, the MD, who had worked with me some years before, recommended his marketing manager find me on LinkedIn. So it’s not a cold lead but it still brought me in new business. Likewise, I had ghost-written a LinkedIn blog post for a client who received a compliment from a businessman and dad at her son’s rugby club. When she admitted it had been written on her behalf, he asked to be put in touch as he thought his business could benefit from some professional writing.
LinkedIn is also great way to establish yourself as a thought leader, even it is just within your network, after all, that’s where you will generate most of your business leads. The LinkedIn blogging platform provides you with the means to share your expertise and insights, when one of your contacts requires a service you provide, he or she is most likely to think of you and trust your judgement having read your pieces. Much has been written about providing content for the likes of LinkedIn rather than hosting and therefore retaining ownership of the material on your own site. It’s a valid point, but I also think it’s worth investing the time and energy to provide your thoughts and expertise on LinkedIn to boost your own professional status as well as that of your company.
LinkedIn is a slow burn and not a quick win when it comes to generating leads. Even though you can pay for LinkedIn to highlight your content as a sponsored post to a relevant audience, you will still need the blog post, white paper, infographic or whatever it may be to capture attention and drive engagement.
So if you’ve only dabbled on LinkedIn, you haven’t logged in for a while or you don’t have a profile, do yourself and your business a favour and get yourself noticed.