LinkedIn for Business: Best Practice Tips

By Chris Lee

Business social network LinkedIn is so much more than an online contacts book, it is an incredibly powerful channel to individuals and businesses to connect. LinkedIn Premium member InMails are seven times more likely to be opened than regular emails, for example, and the platform is very strong for search engine optimisation (SEO).

NMK asked Niamh Kinsella of social media agency TopLine Communications, who recently guest edited the B2B Guide to Social Media, for her recommendations on LinkedIn best practice for business.

Is LinkedIn right for you?

According to Kinsella it is essential for businesses to know whether the time they spend on LinkedIn is worth their while. Kinsella argues that LinkedIn can be used to achieve the following:

– Networking and business relationships

– Finding quality people for your business

– Finding and giving free business advice

“Research conducted by the B2B Guide to Social Media on how SMEs use LinkedIn discovered that businesses in primary industries, transport, government and construction are hugely underrepresented compared to corporations and other sectors in IT, technology, media and finance,” she told NMK. “If you’re looking to network with businesses in those well-represented sectors, then great! If you’re looking to network with farms, small transport companies and government suppliers however, it seems LinkedIn may not be for you just yet.”

Get networking

Building a relationship with other people and businesses online is much the same as it is face to face; consistency and generosity with your time and knowledge are much appreciated, Kinsella believes. Businesses should use LinkedIn Groups to find other similar businesses or monitor potential suppliers’ and customers’ discussions, offering advice and pitching in opinion where they can.

“You know someone who knows everyone. Once you’ve amassed a few dozen contacts you’ll be surprised at how many people you are almost connected to,” she added. “You can request introductions, as well as endorsements and testimonials from the people you have worked with which will build your credibility for when you do branch out.”

LinkedIn is arguably most famous for being where companies go to research potential employees or individuals go to search for jobs.

“If you’re hiring someone new you can look at their credentials, previous employers, and endorsements to assess whether they’re up to scratch – and also see if you have connections in common,” Kinsella advised.

Using content marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers massive opportunities for thought leadership, according to Kinsella, including the opportunity for businesses to post their own and curate others’ content with will be of use to their network or customer base.

Kinsella said: “If you read a lot of advice articles and news relevant to your sector then there’s likely to be a lot that you can offer budding entrepreneurs or business owners experiencing a rough patch. LinkedIn Groups have forums, but your page will also have its own newsfeed that enables you to share links to articles. Don’t just post links by themselves; always accompany a shared article with your thoughts on it and how you’ll apply it to your business. Doing this creates the opportunity for others to agree or disagree and enter meaningful discussion with you.”

Finally, Kinsella argued, businesses need to be thorough. LinkedIn is regularly updated with new features that enable you to connect in more ways with your professional contacts and it’s important to complete your profile from start to finish, with links, pictures and up- to-date information.

“Don’t abandon the LinkedIn guide after the third step because you’re bored or too busy. LinkedIn profiles and company pages are one of the first search results on Google and it could harm how people view your business if you do a sloppy job,” she concluded.

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