Until recently, I thought the website ‘LinkedIn’ was pretty much just a glorified job site with not much else going for it. I now realise that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Sure, for catching up on the latest gossip and sharing amusing anecdotes with your friends it may not be the most appropriate platform (but I guess there is always Twitter and Facebook for that), but that’s not what people are on there for.
LinkedIn it seems is where business gets done. Hundreds of thousands of senior executives from companies all over the world are signed up to the site, people from all the 500 fortune companies are on there, along with staff members from all the FTSE 100.
The statistics say it all, the increase of visitors to the site last year compared to 2010 was up a staggering 63% with 34 million unique users setting up profiles (according to internet analytics firm comScore). All that traffic meant it beat Myspace as the second most popular social network on the internet (behind the almighty Facebook).
Last year, market research company – Lab42, asked 500 people signed up to LinkedIn what they use the site for most…
Unsurprisingly, there is a large amount of job searching going on, but quite a lot more besides. The different tiers of business seem to use the site differently. Younger members use the site to post CV’s, portfolios and network for jobs, compared to the more experienced professionals, who are doing all sorts from promoting their company, to conducting market research, to the most important of all – winning new business.
So how do you do it?
- Target keywords in searches that are central to the business your company wants to drum up, for example if you were an architect, you could search for ‘surveyor’, ‘contractor’, ‘developer’ etc. Then start to make a list of people/companies to contact; collate everything from their email address to postcode, then send them your latest online newsletter or whack a brochure in the post.
- Keep tabs on who is looking at your profile or your employees’ profiles. Then have a closer look at those companies and ask yourself the question: “Could I get work from them?” If the answer is yes, then identify their head honcho and get a brochure in the post to land on their desk the next day. Then follow up with a telephone call, email or InMail (LinkedIn’s internal messaging service).
- Do reconnaissance work, watch Google Analytics and see which domain names are visiting your website. If any of these are companies which you could get work from – head back to LinkedIn, find their profile then approach the top decision maker (in the previously mentioned ways).
- Set up a company profile, It’s probably not going to generate a bunch of leads but at least your organisation will have an increased presence online. Embed videos, banner images and add a live Twitter feed to your page, seek recommendations from previous clients. Do all this and it’ll help raise your company’s charisma.
- Who’s connected to one another? Try and discern patterns and see if companies are linked in some way – then if you end up doing work with one of them, they might be in a good position to recommend you to other similar businesses.
- Get involved in groups; there are absolutely loads on the site. Get involved within your target market and strike up conversations with the right people. Try and seek out groups with plenty of activity rather than ones with loads of members and, don’t just pitch all the time; respond to comments with considered content too.
- Work won’t just come knocking at your door; you’ll need to focus a lot of effort to pull all of this off, although if you win just one or two contracts it will have been worth it.
Don’t forget too that there are others using similar tips and tricks, which could lead to them getting the inside scoop on your business and who you’re trying to connect to. Remember to always be aware about how transparent social media can be, so don’t give away too much!