LinkedIn: All business
LinkedIn is a social network for business. Unlike Facebook, which is often criticised for mixing our business and personal lives, LinkedIn is all business. And with more than 150 million members globally (about the same number as Twitter), it reaches deep into business and the professions.
You can use it like Facebook Profiles to build and stay in touch with a private network of business contacts. Most of the principles and techniques we’ve discussed with Facebook will apply to your LinkedIn marketing.
The power of LinkedIn Groups
One of the most powerful features – for both its users and for marketers – is LinkedIn Groups.
LinkedIn has thousands of professional groups supporting industries, job functions, professions, and topics which serve as a great resource for professional development and network-building.
A lot of group activity is built around sharing interesting links, discussing topical issues, and seeking advice from colleagues – great places for subject experts like authors and publishers to become known. As well as offering advice, you can ask for it. Asking the right question — one that prompts a lively discussion — can raise your profile.
You can participate in these groups or, indeed, you can easily start one yourself. Anyone can start a group and many of the most active groups have been started by businesses to attract prospects. Like Facebook, LinkedIn has an equivalent of the public, searchable Pages: Groups can be private or public. Many groups start off as private and open up as they grow, allowing their discussions to reach a wider audience and to be indexed by search engines.
Several developers have produced LinkedIn Apps that you can plug into your profile or group. Examples of things you can do with apps:
- Add your blog or Twitter feed
- Manage projects and provide shared team workspaces
- Add your Powerpoint presentations
- Share travel schedules with LinkedIn members to see who might be in the same city when you are
- Promote events
LinkedIn provides various advertising opportunities to reach its members beyond your own networks. It also has a number of tools to help you market to your LinkedIn networks, both free and paid.
LinkedIn is free to use. There are premium features that might be worth paying for later but you can do most things with the free account.
- Go to linkedin.com
- Create a free account
- Build your LinkedIn profile with details of your work, expertise, and education history
- Invite some colleagues to join your network. You can also kickstart your network by importing your email contacts and letting LinkedIn send invitations from you letting them know you’re on LinkedIn. As LinkedIn gets to know more about you and your business associates, it will suggest members you might know, helping you grow your network.
- Find some LinkedIn groups in your field and join them
- Join the conversation by posting updates, asking questions, and responding to discussions
If you’re publishing to a business audience, or writing on business topics, a LinkedIn profile is as essential today as a business card, and much more useful.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.