We’re big fans of LinkedIn, considered the world’s largest professional network. The Markit Strategies team has seen terrific results from our business-to-business clients who leverage LinkedIn to expand their online awareness.

To get the most out of b-to-b social media, remember it takes strategy and focused effort to connect, converse and engage with a relevant audience. A recent Markit blog post about social media as branding reinforces the point.

Looking at LinkedIn

Launched in May 2003, LinkedIn is considered the “grand-daddy” of social media platforms. At the ripe old age of 11 years, LinkedIn has demonstrated its staying power in today’s rapidly changing world of online social media. Think of LinkedIn as a gathering of your business buyers and decision makers, waiting to hear about your company.

Some notable facts about LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn has more than 300 million members – with 100 million members in the U.S.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members
  • 40% of users check LinkedIn every day
  • Over 50% of users (with some sources reporting much higher) are business decision makers in their company

See additional research here.

5 Tips to Get You Started

As business-to-business marketers, we encourage our clients to make the most out of LinkedIn. But many organizations either don’t have the resources to apply to this effort, or simply don’t know where to begin.

Noted below are five tips to get your started in the right direction.

1. Craft a profile with punch. Join LinkedIn for free and start building your professional profile. Be sure to completely detail your professional history in your free profile, including education, career highlights, a professional headshot and references. Those in the LinkedIn community and even those who are not in LinkedIn will be able to access your public profile – so spend time to craft the best possible profile. We encourage our clients to use a professional headshot. Sources say that profiles with photos are 11 times more likely to be viewed than profiles with no photo.

2. Connect. Reach out to colleagues, clients and industry associates by searching for them under “people” in the search box. Chances are, they already use LinkedIn. Ask to “connect” with them to build a relevant LinkedIn network. Ask those who truly know you, your company and its products or services, to write recommendations for you. These references, once you approve them, will appear in your profile. As you engage with colleagues in your professional world or attend conferences, remember to ask for LinkedIn connections to keep building your network.

3. Grow through relevant groups. Make time to join relevant LinkedIn groups, follow companies of interest, post in discussion forums, and to engage other related activity. Take the time to research LinkedIn groups that are appropriate for your service or product offering. Simply search the “Groups” area of LinkedIn using relevant keywords. Think of LinkedIn groups as your target audience, but proceed with caution. Don’t “spam” the groups with overly promotional messages. Instead, follow rules they lay out regarding discussions and postings. We’ve seen clients gain new customers from the connections they have made engaging with LinkedIn groups.

4. Create a compelling company page. Take the time to craft a carefully written LinkedIn company page. Google previews up to 156 characters of your page’s text. So develop powerful, keyword-rich descriptions. It’s all about making it easy for other LinkedIn members to find your company. That’s why it is important to include words and phrases in your company page that describe your business, expertise and industry focus. Once you start posting, you’ll see how many folks clicked through to view your content.

And here’s a basic, yet surprisingly often over-looked tip: include your company contact information, website URL, and thorough descriptions of product/service offerings and your areas of expertise. Encourage all employees to follow your company page.

5. Apply a strategic approach. Actively updating your LinkedIn status signals your connections that you stay current and active in your field. For either your personal profile page or your company page, status updates should offer relevant and professional content or link to industry-related content. Examples include availability of new products/services; industry accolades received by you or the company; events hosted by your organization; etc. Remember that LinkedIn isn’t a personal blogging platform. It is a professional social network. So keep it professional. At the very least, try to post a professional update every week.

Final Thoughts

LinkedIn constantly adds new features. Set aside a half hour every week to click around and see how to enhance your company page or personal profile with new features.

Remember that LinkedIn is a powerful part of your integrated marketing communications programs.

It’s worth the time and effort to converse, connect and engage on LinkedIn. For further insight into your b-to-b social marketing programs, contact Markit Strategies and PR.