13 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn for Small Business Marketing

“I have a LinkedIn page, now what?” We are keeping the Small Business Week 2013 celebration going with tips on how to maximize LinkedIn.

Forget what you heard about 13 … today it’s your lucky number. In celebration of Small Business Week 2013. Here are 13 ways to maximize LinkedIn for small business marketing.

1. Connect with everyone you know on LinkedInmaximize Linkedin, small business marketing
Contacts are golden for small business owners. Maximize LinkedIn by connecting with past bosses, co-workers, colleagues, friends, etc. Visibility is the key here – when you connect with others, you connect with their network and that opens up a world of opportunities to build your customer base.

2. Follow competitors, prospects and clients
Now that you’ve connected with everyone you know, start following your competitors. How can you corner the market if you don’t know what you’re competitors are doing. You should also follow prospects and clients so when you are called for that initial meeting or opportunity to sell more products and services; you have something to talk about.

3. Maximize LinkedIn connections
Now that you have connections, use them – that’s why you spent time making the connections through LinkedIn. Have a friend that works for a prospect? Contact him and request a referral. It’s just that easy.

4. Gain credibility
LinkedIn profiles are like cash in the bank, when completed properly! Be sure to complete your profile, keep the content fresh and updated to show your background, experience, education, etc. Your history could be valuable to a prospect or client. But if your profile is incomplete – you may never know.

5. Connect to others in your industry
As a small business owner, you benefit most from staying abreast of what’s going on around you. So be sure to join industry groups and keep your ear to the streets.

6. Connect to prospects
Increase your rate of relationship building by connecting to prospects after the first contact attempt. Studies indicate that LinkedIn increases response to communications by 300 percent versus email. Don’t stop there. Also, try searching by keywords to find prospects.

7. Conduct prospect analysis – five is number to reach
Take five minutes before calling a prospect to find five common topics to discuss. Check LinkedIn for a resume, company details, education, common trade groups. Also, Try Facebook (I know this is all about LinkedIn …) for details on hobbies, sports.

8. Join LinkedIn groups
Find industries that you want to prospect and join relevant services groups. Also, type in Cleveland or surrounding areas and see if there are any relevant groups close to your location that you may be able to attend in-person versus communicating online.

9. Try double responses
Remember when we would always follow up a voicemail with an email or vice versa? New Rule! Respond first to email, then by LinkedIn. When someone contacts you via email, simply response by email and mention that you will be connecting by LinkedIn. Then connect and remind them of the email. Remember that LinkedIn frowns upon those who try to connect to too many people who reject them to prevent spammers from running rampant on the site.

10. Add value to your connections
Interact occasionally with your connections by sharing valuable information. This could be a blog you read, free webinars, etc. Don’t try to sell – just share content. This could be daily, weekly, monthly – be sure to stay visible.

11. Give LinkedIn recommendations
Freely give recommendations to colleagues, co-workers, vendors, former employers, etc. There’s no need to wait until someone asks for a recommendation. Set a personal goal to recommend at least two people a month.

12. Ask for recommendations
Asking for recommendations from colleagues, former employers, clients, etc. is a great way to build your credibility. So don’t be shy – ask for recommendations and remember to recommend others. Customer recommendations via LinkedIn can be a bit trickier. It’s important to build a rapport with the client prior to jumping in and asking for a LinkedIn recommendation.

13. Send sales and marketing messages via LinkedIn sparingly
Sending sales and marketing messages via LinkedIn are considered faux pas. But we say send your messages but only if what you are promoting is valuable information for the recipient(s). Be smart about sending promotional messages.

What’s the Word: Social media presents a whole new way to build your customer base. By take a strategic approach to maximize LinkedIn, your small business will cash in on the many benefits offered by this highly popular social media site. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, set a goal to create one and complete your profile by Monday. You never know who could be waiting to hear about your product or service.

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