As we’ve talked with business owners around Grand Junction in the past few months about LinkedIn, the comments we hear most often are: “Oh LinkedIn…I haven’t updated that in years.”  “Do people still use LinkedIn?” “Isn’t that just if you’re looking for a job?” Over the years LinkedIn has, for many people, just become a site that sends you random emails.  It’s a site no one thinks about anymore. However, for business-to-business marketing, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that should be utilized.  In fact, the Content Marketing Institute found that 63% of marketers rated LinkedIn as the most effective B2B social media platform. ( Here are four ways to effectively use LinkedIn to grow your business.

Your Profile & Background Photo
Your profile photo is one of the first items anyone looking at your LinkedIn profile will see.  Therefore, it needs to make an impression.  This should be a professional headshot-style photo of you smiling.  An engaging photo will encourage people to connect with you. Most likely you have a great business photo that you can utilize.  LinkedIn is not the place to use a photo of you mountain biking or skiing unless that truly pertains to your business.

LinkedIn also offers you a background area in which to utilize an image.  For this, we recommend creating an image that utilizes your business’s logo and contact information. This way, the viewer sees your photo surrounded by your company’s branding, website, email, and phone number. If they’re interested in contacting you, having this information front and center makes it easy.

Your Summary
Instead of writing “Commercial Real Estate Broker” think of your summary area as answering these questions: What do you help business owners do? What problems can you solve? A better statement for a Commercial Real Estate Broker might be:  I help commercial businesses and investors in Grand Junction, Colorado find properties that not only meet their needs, but also give them the greatest advantage to meet their goals.  Here, we’ve identified a specific industry: Commercial Businesses and Investors. We’ve also identified a specific geographic area.  One final way to improve this statement is to replace “meet their goals” with something more specific like “grow profits” or “expand their business.”  In this way your potential clients know exactly what you do and who you help.

After this it’s fine to go ahead and include other information about you and your past job experience.  Remember to stay as focused as possible on the audience you’re trying to reach, even when talking about yourself.

Your Connections
Most of us have used LinkedIn as just one more way to connect with people we already know. Until I started researching how to use LinkedIn effectively, everyone on my LinkedIn page was someone I currently work with or used to work with.  Here’s the problem with that: none of those people are potential clients. This is where we often miss the mark with LinkedIn.  Instead of sending requests to people we already work with, we need to be connecting with people who could be clients one day.  If you’re services are B2B services, connecting with other business owners and managers benefits both you and them.  They may have services to offer you as well!

Search Function
LinkedIn has a search function that allows you to search for people by job title, and then to add additional factors like the geographic area you’re looking for, whether these are 2nd or 3rd connections (2nd means you are connected to someone they’re also connected to, like having a “mutual friend” on Facebook), and the industry in which they work.  Search for a job title, add in some other search characteristics, and you’re on your way! If the list in front of you looks daunting, you can always save that list link in a spreadsheet and work on it a little at a time.

When you decide to connect with someone who is a potential client, it’s important to not just click the “connect” button and be done.  Send a message. Sticking with our Commercial Realtor example, we might say, “Hi Bob, I’m looking to connect with more business owners and managers in the Grand Valley to share insights on business and commercial real estate. Thanks for connecting!” It’s simple and people will appreciate the extra touch.

Your Content
Finally, once you’ve started making new, useful connections on LinkedIn, and you’ve started getting connection requests of your own because of that great new profile photo and summary, share valuable content. Don’t share just anything that comes along, but find articles that will appeal to your audience.  A commercial realtor might share articles about finding the right commercial property, questions to ask when considering moving your company, and even more general articles about running a business.  Remember, we’re sharing content that our connections will want to read.

Finally, stay involved.
Don’t just follow these steps and then forget about LinkedIn again for another year. Use LinkedIn to truly network with others in your own industry and with potential clients.

As always, digital marketing and networking should be just one piece of your overall marketing strategy.  For a more in-depth look at how to use LinkedIn effectively, join us Friday, March 16th at noon for our Lunch and Learn session.  Snacks, coffee, and water will be provided; feel free to bring a bag lunch.

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