How to use Linkedin for your business

In May this year, Linkedin celebrated its 10th anniversary. And now, with over 225 million users in over 200 countries, it has become very much the social media site of choice for business professionals.

More businesses are now communicating at an individual level

 

As a copywriter, marketing content through social media is my main marketing tool — it is highly effective and the only real cost is my time.

I spend at least an hour a day on social media, sharing my time between Linkedin, Facebook, Google + and Twitter. All these sites have their merits. However, as a copywriter working in the B-to-B space, I get the most value from Linkedin.

In this post I talk to Kirsten Hodgson of Kaleidoscope Marketing. Kirsten is known as something of a “maven” in the area of Linkedin. Her work involves helping professional services firms to generate more business and, for Kirsten, Linkedin is an important tool.

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Who uses Linkedin?

“Linkedin is valuable for anyone who wants to build their business profile or gain more work from new or existing clients,” says Kirsten. “It’s is also very good for job seekers.”

“There are less what-you-had-for-dinner conversations.”

She explains that Linkedin is different to many other social media sites because people are there for work reasons. “There are less what-you-had-for-dinner conversations. ” As a result, Linkedin is more trusted, particularly among professionals who are inherently sceptical of social media. “If you look at the stats, there are a high percentage of users in senior management positions earning over $100,000 US,” she says.

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Blurred lines

“More businesses are now communicating at an individual level.”

Kirsten feels that Linkedin, and social media in general, has blurred the boundaries between companies and the people in them. “It has empowered people to go out and build relationships and promote the company they work for by sharing really useful content,” she says. “In the past, messages would come from a company level only — more businesses are now communicating at an individual level.”

Business to business or business to consumer?

I have always seen Linkedin as best suited to the businesses servicing other businesses (B to B). I asked Kirsten whether Linkedin is suitable for businesses servicing consumers (B to C).

Kirsten: “I don’t work in the consumer space, but I guess we’re all consumers. For brands like Dell or HP, where their products are quite ubiquitous, I’d say Linkedin is a good tool. It’s also good for networking with intermediaries, like retailers.”

How to use Linkedin

Kirsten has a to-do list and devotes 15 to 20 minutes a day to Linkedin.”The way you use it depends on what you want to achieve,” she says.

Kirsten: “I check my messages and thank people who have endorsed me. I also look for status updates that people have shared; if they are of interest, I’ll comment on them or share them — I do the same thing on my Linkedin groups.”

For more information on how different social media sites suit different types of business, see A guide to five social media sites.

Inviting people to connect

Kirsten invites connections about once a week. Often these are people she has engaged with online or met in real life.

“I recommend that you always send an personalised invitation,”says Kirsten. When someone invites her to connect and she accepts, she always thanks them.  “I have picked up new work four or five times by just doing that,” she says.

Kirsten doesn’t recommend connecting with people just for the sake of getting more connections. However, if there is a benefit to someone you don’t know connecting with you, then go for it. When she wants to connect with someone she doesn’t know she usually invites them to her Linkedin group, which allows her to  learn more about them first.

Sharing material

I am a firm believer that to be successful with any form of social media, you need to give value by sharing material that’s useful to your connections.

“If it’s relevant and helpful to your connections you should share it.”

Kirsten says that to position yourself as an expert in a particular field, you need a combination of your own material and other people’s. I agree — my own rule is to share four pieces of someone else’s material to every piece of my own.

Kirsten: “In many ways it doesn’t matter who produced the content. If it’s relevant and helpful to your connections you should share it.”

By sharing other people’s material, Kirsten says, you are effectively doing people’s reading for them — making yourself the go-to person in your area of expertise.

Kirsten always reads material properly before sharing to ensure she agrees with it and she always adds her own commentary. “Everyone is busy. If you add your own comments, it’s easy for people to scan what you’ve written in order to decide whether it’s something they should read.”

Linkedin Etiquette

So, what’s an example of bad etiquette?

Kirsten: “Sharing blog posts across multiple groups that aren’t particularly useful, with no introduction, purely to get traffic to your blog isn’t good. Also, emailing people directly and not offering any assistance, just selling.”

Kirsten believes you should behave on Linkedin just as you would in a real-life networking session and results take time.

Endorsements

One of my pet peeves is endorsement. Unlike a testimonial where you have to put some effort in, giving someone an endorsement is too easy.  I often receive endorsements from people I have never worked with. To me, this is on a par with spam.

Kirsten: “I don’t like how testimonials have been relegated because of endorsements. I advise people not to endorse unless they have personal experience of a product or service.”

Kirsten says that, though Linkedin never explains why they do what they do, the theory is that the endorsement feature was introduced to help with search engine results within Linkedin. “In the past, people would stuff their profiles with key words in order to appear higher up in Linkedin search results— Linkedin wanted to stop that happening.”

I hope you found this post useful. If so, please share. Also, let me know how you use Linkedin and leave a comment.

Related posts:

A guide to 5 social media sites

How social media will keep you in touch with your prospects

A guide for successful content marketing

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