Small business owners know that the use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter can help generate leads, build brand awareness and grow audiences. However, there is one social network that doesn’t get quite the same attention.
You may be surprised to learn that LinkedIn has more than one million members. When you combine this figure with LinkedIn’s reputation for being the best professional social search engine on the web, you realize that LinkedIn is a virtual goldmine for small businesses.
Here are a few ways that you can use LinkedIn to grow your business:
1. Grow Your Network. Unlike the other social networking sites, LinkedIn is all about connecting with others on a “professional” level. Most people who use the networking website are looking for future vendors, job prospects or new ways to build their resume. People are on LinkedIn with the sole purpose of connecting for business reasons, so small businesses need to take advantage of that.
2. Conduct Market Research. When you build your LinkedIn network, you can leverage it in the future to get opinions on new product ideas, current offerings, what they like about your brand, and more. By taking advantage of the LinkedIn Q&A or posing questions via your LinkedIn status, you’re able to pick your audience’s brain without spending a lot of money.
3. Find New Employees. While keeping tabs on people in your industry, keep your eyes open for potential new hires. If you haven’t used LinkedIn’s Advanced Search functionality before, you may be surprised to know that you’re able to search a number of criteria like keyword, years of experience, previous employers, and more. You can narrow down your search within just a few miles from your location, making LinkedIn the ultimate recruiting tool.
4. Follow Your Competitors. Your competitors are using LinkedIn. Keep an eye on who they’re connecting with, who they’re leaving recommendations for and the projects they are talking about. This allows you to learn about what your competitors are working on and where their focus may be.
5. Build Online Reviews. Reviews of your business help to build authority and relevance in the eyes of both users and the search engines. Use the LinkedIn network you’re building to help create positive referrals. Ask customers, vendors, partners and previous employers to recommend your business and share their experience with others.