Use LinkedIn to Boost Your Small-Business Profile
More than 3 million businesses have set up company pages on LinkedIn, where they can connect with some 225 million professionals in major industries across the globe, says Aviad Pinkovezky, a LinkedIn product manager.
Does your small business have a LinkedIn page? Do you have a personal profile? Or are you still debating whether it’s worth the effort to join this professional social network? If you fall in the latter camp, you may want to note that company pages and personal profiles rank at or near the top of search results.
“If you do a Google search for your name, guess what often comes up first: your LinkedIn profile,” asserts Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success. The same applies to a search for your company’s name. “If you do nothing more, realize that’s going to happen — that LinkedIn gets a high priority in a Google search.”
Here are four steps you can take to get more out of your presence on LinkedIn.
1. Complete your personal profile and company page. Your personal profile serves as your online resume. Post an appealing photograph (adding a head shot makes it seven times more likely that other people will view your profile). In the Experience section, include professional information related to your background — work history, skills and expertise, organization affiliations, honors or awards received — whatever lends you and your business credibility.
Next, set up a comprehensive company page. Be sure to include:
- Basic information about what your business does, when it was founded, how many people it employs, etc.
- Promotional details on your products or services (no hard sell, just the facts!), with photographs, short videos, client endorsements, and a link to your company website
- Ongoing updates about the business, including new sales offers, announcements of major hires, and news that casts your business in a favorable light
Use keywords relevant to your industry in your descriptions, so that the information you provide will appear in more search results, making it easier for people seeking your type of business to find you.
2. Ask for recommendations. Don’t be shy about asking for endorsements from satisfied customers. When you publish these recommendations on your company page (which are then broadcast as updates to your LinkedIn network), you lay the groundwork for a wealth of potential word-of-mouth referrals.
Don’t stop there. Solicit endorsements from current and past employees. This enhances the “vibe” for your business, both when other businesses consider working with you and when prospective job candidates determine whether you might be their employer of choice.
3. Enable others to connect with you. Encourage your clients, employees, and peers to connect with you on LinkedIn. Include your profile and company page URLs in your email signature, on your business card, and on the About page on your business’s website.
4. Create a group and join a group. LinkedIn is all about making connections, and there’s no better way to connect than by starting a group discussion on a topic of interest to people in your industry. Linda Ruck, owner of Linda Ruck Communications, says that “LinkedIn Groups is a great platform to engage in discussions and connect with like-minded professionals to learn and share, whether it’s for business or personal interest.”
Participating in established groups can also build your network. When you answer a question posed by a LinkedIn member, you help to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.