, , , ,

Business professionals to make connections and build their network. At times though, it can seem like only big businesses or recruiters use LinkedIn.

However, LinkedIn offers plenty of great tools for small and medium-sized businesses to connect with current customers and find new customers as well. In fact, LinkedIn can help your business look bigger, extend your marketing efforts and drive growth for your business.

LinkedIn and other social media tools allow you to get your messages out more quickly and easily than ever before. While most small businesses can’t compete with high-scale advertising campaigns that large companies produce, leveraging social media levels the playing field as the tools available are the same for all companies, big and small. Even niche small businesses have the potential to do well on social media, because you can find customers anywhere in the world interested in your unique offerings.

The following are 10 tips for growing your business on LinkedIn:

1. Create your company page. If your business doesn’t have a company page, create one right now. Follow the steps here to get your page set up quickly. You will need to verify that you are an official representative of the company during the process. Make sure you build out your company page completely by adding a header image, logos, a detailed description about your business, industry, website link and contact information.

2. Maximize your presence. Add products and services to your page and include detailed descriptions and images. Once you’ve created your products and services, ask your connections to recommend them through the tools offered by LinkedIn – it’s easy. Having recommendations on each of your products and services allow prospective customers to see who’s finding value in your business. Also, add job openings to your company page to let potential employees know that you’re hiring. Your current customers and followers may also see these openings and have the perfect candidate in mind. LinkedIn also recently created Showcase Pages that allow companies to highlight brands, products and services with dedicated pages that allow for specific content updates about each product.

3. Update your personal profile. Like it or not, you and your employees frequently become the “face” of your business. A professional-looking profile on LinkedIn goes a long way to present the image you want for your company. Make sure your profile – and the profiles of your key employees – includes:

  • Professional photo.
  • Concise description about you and your position at your company.
  • Industry keywords and terms to further demonstrate your business expertise and what makes you different.
  • Complete education and work history with description of each role at previous employers.

4. Make connections. A key for growing your business is networking and making connections. And chances are, you know many of your customers personally. Invite them to connect on LinkedIn and grow your personal network. One note though – resist the urge to use LinkedIn’s “stock” connection invitation. Instead, write a short note telling the individual why you’d like to stay connected on LinkedIn. Once you’ve built up your connections, LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” tool can help you find even more connections. Having more connections gives you more opportunities to get introduced through LinkedIn to people you’d like to know – future customers.

5. Engage your followers. When posting updates to your company and your personal profile page, make sure you’re following best practices to create content your followers will read, comment on or share. Make sure you:

  • Use images – According to LinkedIn, posts with images have a 98 per cent higher comment rate.
  • Include links – Posts with links to other content have twice the engagement rate than posts without.
  • Add videos – Adding a video in your company page update can result in a 75 per cent higher chance of that update being shared by your followers.
  • Post frequently – Companies that post 20 times per month reach at least 60 per cent of their audience. That works out to about once per business day.
  • Pose questions – When adding links to content, don’t just post them and hope someone replies. Ask your followers questions relative to the information you post to get them to engage with you.

6. Attract more followers. First, invite your customers and your connections to follow your company page. Explain that you’ll be providing valuable content and updates on your company page, making it easy for them to stay informed. Add a LinkedIn icon to your website and email signatures and link the icon to your LinkedIn company page. Give your current followers a reason to share your content with their connections. This provides your business with exposure to a greater audience and the opportunity to gain new followers. You can always view who is following your company by clicking on the number of followers near the top of your page. Try experimenting with sponsored updates to reach additional new followers as well. LinkedIn provides great segmentation tools to help you reach your target audience.