LinkedIn’s New Small-Business Site: What You Need to Know
LinkedIn recently launched a microsite for small-business owners. The idea behind it is to “give [entrepreneurs like] you the tools, tips, and guidance you need to make the most out of LinkedIn.”
What Is It, Exactly?
LinkedIn Small Business provides a crash course in using the professional social network to benefit your company vs. yourself.
After all, even though the site has added other features, at its core LinkedIn connects job-seekers and employers. This can make it an awkward fit for some business owners: You're not looking for your next job; you're running a company. Just creating a profile — a big part of which is your resume — may seem a bit strange. Many small businesses are sole proprietorships, too, which means they aren’t on the hunt for employees.
Who Stands to Gain?
LinkedIn, of course, isn’t running the microsite out of the goodness of its corporate heart. The now-public company aims to grow its user base, ad sales, and premium tools, and small businesses present major opportunities in these areas.
As a result, the microsite is probably most valuable for LinkedIn newcomers and small-business owners who created an individual profile or company page but who have rarely (or never) visited the social network since. Savvy LinkedIn users may find some of the microsite's content to be old hat.
I'm Busy. Where Do I Find the Good Stuff?
The answer here largely depends on your business, your goals, and how active you are on LinkedIn and other social networks. In any case, we found several useful topics that go beyond posting your resume or promotions for LinkedIn’s premium services:
- Advice on how to manage your company page — LinkedIn’s company pages offer free real estate for any small business that’s looking to establish a presence on the site. But it’s not like you can just slap one up and watch the sales leads roll in. You need to engage your audience and keep your content lively.
- Guidelines for contacting decision-makers and researching leads — “Social” is often the operative word in the phrase “social network.” But on LinkedIn, the emphasis rests squarely on “network.” Networking on LinkedIn can lead to sales, marketing, partnerships, and more. But you can’t just start knocking on virtual doors and expect positive results. Check out these guidelines for connecting with decision makers at other companies and tips on researching leads.
- Hiring employees without a recruiter — A good recruiter can be a key asset when looking for new employees, especially in tight labor markets. But recruiters don't work for free, and some small businesses can't afford them. If that's you, read this case study [PDF] on how one growing tech firm hires engineering talent without a recruiter in brutally competitive Silicon Valley.
The bottom line: LinkedIn's small-business resource center is worth a visit, especially if you are intrigued by the site's professional focus but unsure of how best to use it.