LinkedIn is a business-focused social network that claims more than 150 million members, including companies and individuals.
For SMEs, LinkedIn offers a range of opportunities that are different from those provided by consumer social media such as Facebook and Google Plus.
The site can be used by businesses in a number of ways, including:
- promoting new products, services and ideas
- finding sales leads
- extending sales into new geographical areas
- making, building and renewing business relationships
Many users don’t fully use the facilities that LinkedIn has to offer, and the new ones which are continually being developed. Simply building a profile and connecting with known acquaintances is only using part of the site.
Other valuable opportunities include:
- synchronising your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, ensuring that Tweets are more widely read
- linking blog posts and other social media accounts to your LinkedIn profile, which will help increase the number of followers
- asking for customer recommendations which will go on your public profile, and giving recommendations to other businesses as appropriate
- meeting potential business partners and associates among complementary businesses, with which you can link to make joint bids for work
- finding out about industry events such as conferences, networking sessions and webinars, particularly those held by specialist business advisers
- showcasing projects and applications on which you have worked
- finding supplier recommendations from other members, particularly those with whom you have a connection or who are in the same Groups as you
- building networks of contacts through specific industry Groups
- extending connections through links to contacts of contacts
- tapping into expert opinions to find answers to questions, and following them through Tweets and other posts
- sharing your own knowledge and building a reputation as someone who knows their industry well
- showing up-to-date records of training, conferences, speaking engagements, qualifications and related activities, – all of which can be helpful to people searching for specific skills
It’s very important to keep a close eye on LinkedIn updates, such as new applications, because additional opportunities are regularly made available.