In our previous blog post, we talked about whether or not you, as a business owner, should be on LinkedIn. We discussed the philosophy behind why people use the platform which hopefully provided some insight into the mind of the user. 

Now that you know WHY people use LinkedIn, which has hopefully started the wheels turning in your head as to how you can use it to advance your business, now it is time to take a look at specific tools within LinkedIn’s platform and the most effective ways to use them. Finally we will end with a very brief, unbiased look at LinkedIn Premium and what you may or may not be missing with a free profile. 

Building Your Network

An important first step in making LinkedIn effective for you is to be sure your content is reaching your business’ specific target market. Define it specifically. If your ideal clients are Spanish-speaking professionals in the medical field located in the Greater St Louis area who enjoy playing golf as a hobby, guess what? You can get in front of those people.

Click on the search box along the top, then click “people” in the dropdown that appears. This brings you to a screen where, along the top, you should see a button that says “all filters”. Click on this. Now you have a number of options for finding the people you are trying to network with. 

Click on 2nd degree connections (1st degree are already connections, and LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to reach out cold to 3rd degree or higher without a Premium subscription). Type in location > St Louis. Now go to Current Companies and type in St Louis hospitals. Or go to industries and type in healthcare or medical. Now click on Spanish under language. You can even type in a keyword such as “golf” so if they have golf listed as a hobby, it will pull up only these individuals. Now click search. Suddenly, you have a list of people in front of you who fit your target market. Crazy, right?

Start reaching out, one by one. I recommend typing in a customized message to each one and explain why you are reaching out. Don’t just hit “connect” with no explanation. That can seem like spam. In fact, LinkedIn might even flag you if you send out too many connection requests that don’t get accepted because LinkedIn is trying to avoid spammers.

Note: if your list pulled up no one, or very few people, it could mean that you haven’t built up your network much yet. You need to have a number of 1st degree connections before the 2nd degree lists generate a big list. If you are just getting started on LinkedIn, start by adding friends and family. This is a good way to build your 1st degree connections right off the bat.

Engaging

The next step is to start engaging on LinkedIn. There are many article written about how often you should post, what time of day, etc. For the scope of this article, we are simply going to say, find a consistency, whatever that looks like.

Secondly, if you want your articles to be seen, write your own articles instead of sharing others’. You can do this by clicking on the home screen. At the very top where you would normally share a post you will see something underneath that says “Write an Article on LinkedIn”. This allows you to actually write an article that will stay part of your LinkedIn profile forever. That way people who visit your profile can see your content.

In addition, when you publish an article, LinkedIn will actually notify your network when you click publish! Rather than sharing a link that disappears in a sea of other articles on everyone’s newsfeeds that is totally lost within a day, the article publishing feature actually buzzes your network and tells them that you have written something. USE THIS FEATURE SPARINGLY. You don’t want to oversaturate your network with things you’ve written, and you want to be sure when you capture their attention for the first time, that you validate their click to your content. Provide actual value and you’ll keep them wanting to come back for more.

Less is more!

Asking for business

Once you’ve provided enough value through the platform with your network and built a rapport with your connections, be direct about asking for their business or referrals! Send a message directly and try to take a virtual connection and make it a real-life connection. Ask them for a phone call or out for coffee!

LinkedIn Premium

You might be wondering if the features offered through LinkedIn Premium justify the costs. LinkedIn Premium has multiple levels with different offerings, and depending on which one you choose, the features could be tailored to your sales and marketing objectives.

That said, without getting into all of the details, the main benefits I’ve experienced with LinkedIn Premium are the number of detailed search filters you have access to. If you really want to pinpoint your target market on LinkedIn, LinkedIn Premium might be a good idea.

With LinkedIn Premium, you can also see people that are in your 3rd degree connections and you can reach out to a limited number of people through direct messages without being connected to them. How many you are allowed to reach out to depends on the level of your subscription.

Good luck in your LinkedIn efforts! Remember it is a long play. Don’t expect instant results, and don’t get frustrated if you don’t see any traction at first. It’s about building a presence, earning a reputation, and creating measurable goals for yourself.