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Guide for using LinkedIn to promote your small business

March 1, 2012

(By Ashley Ferremi, Eiler PR in Ann Arbor. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

While there are numerous social media sites available online, unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s primary target is the professional work force. According to LinkedIn, they reached 100 million users in March 2011 and that number continues to rise. 

What Do You Need to Do as a Small Business Owner in Order to Effectively Utilize LinkedIn?

  • Create a public profile where you can add connections and describe the skills you have and what your company can offer just as if you were an individual on LinkedIn. Ask for recommendations from people or businesses that you have done business with and from past or current employees. These will be beneficial when prospective customers or employees are on your LinkedIn profile. With recommendations, they can see evidence of work you have done for others in the past or the experience of your employees. This is especially useful if they do not share any connections with our company and would not otherwise trust your company.
  • Create a company page that LinkedIn users can choose to ‘follow’ which provides prospective clients or employees with an overview of your company, including facts about its history and founding, company size, location and the industry it operates in. The more information people can learn about your company the better.
  • Add links to the company website and any social media sites that you use on the company page and public profile. LinkedIn offers integration with Twitter where you can add a button right on your LinkedIn profile for users to follow your Twitter account. This will direct traffic to all sites and increase awareness of your company.
  • Provide updates that are relevant to the industry your company is in, your company itself, and people who would be viewing your pages. Whether you are looking to hire for certain positions, you need a company to help aid you in a certain task, or you want to announce news about your company, you can release updates that will be visible to all of your connections on LinkedIn. This can also be accomplished through blogging and articles that are posted on the LinkedIn public profile.
  • Define your perception through LinkedIn by using your public profile to convey the image that you wish to create. While remaining truthful, your company’s LinkedIn ought to display your desired perception. An example of where this has worked well is for the Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business in the way that they gained awareness of their capabilities of being innovative, applied, and global. It conveys the value of who they are because of what they wanted to be.

Key Ways LinkedIn Can Help a Small Business Grow

LinkedIn can be a great tool for recruiting new employees. With 100 million users on LinkedIn and counting, this is a great database for finding new talent. It provides the opportunity for people to connect with those who do or have worked for the business. If the person shares a connection with a past or current employee, there is a link to get introduced through a connection. LinkedIn helps to highlight the employees that your small business currently employs. The company page shows people any employees that are in their network, as well as alumni from their college. This aids prospective employees in learning more about the company by means of its current employees without being costly to the company. Additionally, these people will use the LinkedIn sites in order to learn more about the company through the updates and articles it posts and recommendations they read on the page which can contribute to recruiting. 

Prospective customers and clients will likely visit a company’s LinkedIn site prior to deciding to do business with them. They can essentially learn everything about a company from their LinkedIn profile and company page because what isn’t covered there will be easily accessed on the company’s website or other social media sites that are provided on LinkedIn. Also, LinkedIn provides statistics about the company such as: annual company growth; job function composition, years experience of employees, and educational degrees of employees in comparison to companies in the same industry of similar size; and shows the universities attended by its employees all based on the employees on LinkedIn with the company listed on their profiles. 

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