Think you don't have time for social networking? Think again.
Social networking has risen to the fore as one of today's most effective marketing strategies. By neglecting social networking, you're neglecting the possibility of recruiting masses of consumers to your brand through popular online channels.
LinkedIn is a social networking site dedicated to business profiles. It doesn't get as much attention as consumer-oriented sites like Facebook and Twitter, but its value to entrepreneurs is significant. Although a Facebook page or profile can connect you to your customers, a LinkedIn profile can connect you to B2B clients, vendors, and business professionals who will refer your company to others.
If you're familiar with social networking sites, you shouldn't have any trouble creating a free, LinkedIn profile. If LinkedIn is your first foray into the world of social networking, it may take slightly longer to get setup. The good news is that once your profile has been established, you can use your LinkedIn account to promote your business.
- Locating Customers. LinkedIn can be a useful tool for locating customers, especially for B2B companies. But connecting with customers on LinkedIn isn't without risks. Avoid reaching out to potential customers unless you have a solid reason for creating a LinkedIn connection with them. Random connection invitations for sales purposes are frowned upon and will ultimately backfire on your larger LinkedIn strategy.
- Forging Connections. Above all else, LinkedIn revolves around online social activity. If your intention for participating in LinkedIn is voyeuristic, the benefits you receive from this resource will be limited. Avid users proactively forge connections with other business professionals – and reap the rewards in the form of referrals, recommendations, and reputation building.
- Providing Insights. After you've created connections with other business leaders, you can begin offering insights in your area of expertise. Don't give away proprietary secrets, but use your learnings to take your LinkedIn relationships to the next level. Over time, your comments will help establish your business as a thought leader in the industry.
- Participating in Groups. Groups are where like-minded professionals congregate on LinkedIn. Rather than sitting back and waiting for contacts to come to you, actively look for groups that center around your areas of interest and business focus. LinkedIn groups offer the opportunity to participate in online communities and expand your business network.