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How to use Linkedin to create a network of professional contacts for your business

Not sure where how to get started on this professional social network? Read our guide

LinkedIn is the largest professional social network in the world. At present it boasts 75 million members worldwide, 4 million of which are from the UK. And with an estimated 500 million professionals around the world, LinkedIn says one third of British professionals are now signed up.

It’s the large business audience that sets LinkedIn apart from other social media sites. There are currently over one million company profiles on LinkedIn and 100,000 in the UK alone. Professionals can use it to access insight and expertise, as well as a sales channel to promote their business. By building up solid connections, members can seek advice on strategies, and share information with other companies.

No matter how busy your company is, LinkedIn claims it can give small businesses the power of big businesses. Small firms can reach further by accessing information in any field, something they would otherwise not have the resources for. This professional network can also facilitate the recruitment process for companies, and may be a good way to get to know potential employees.

Top tips for businesses using LinkedIn:

  • Set up a group or company page and establish your business profile. This can be used as a channel for potential customers.
  • Start discussions - interact with other professionals and companies and keep content relevant and interesting.
  • Encourage employees to join LinkedIn – this can help your business strategy and make you more competitive as they interact with others and act as ambassadors for the company.
  • The ‘answers’ tool can be used to ask a specific question aimed at a particular industry. This is a great was to find out information and opens up a plethora of detailed responses. 
  • Companies may use the ‘direct ads’ section where they can post adverts on the network and then target them to certain industries of their choice.
  • Businesses can also construct and send out polls to specific industries, as a way of gathering data and information easily and quickly.
  • LinkedIn enables companies to keep track of their competitors and keep an eye on any developments or changes they make, staff they hire or fire, and new strategies they implement.
  • Be conscious that it is a network for professionals. The key is to build relationships, but this is not meant to be a social platform where people can organise their evening plans with friends.

 

Examples of business professionals successfully using LinkedIn:

  • Dave Smith: Things With Wings http://www.thingswithwings.co.uk/ A digital conversation agency that helps a range of companies to engage with their customers online. Dave provides specific professional information about his career and is a member of a variety of groups and associations on LinkedIn. He has included links to his company website and blog, as well as his Twitter page, making the best use of all his interactive platforms.
  • Jaime Keanan: Drinksin http://www.drinksin.com/ An online community that recommends events and offers for pubs and bars to users, based on interest and location. Jaime has included an Amazon reading list on her professional profile to help engage her connections. She has detailed descriptions of her previous work experience, including references from colleagues and employers, which all helps to enhance her online profile.
  • Victoria Atherstone: Love2scoot Manufactures electric scooters from scratch in the UK. Victoria’s LinkedIn profile gives a detailed account of her business and she has listed plenty of groups, many of them in the eco-field, which adds to her brand’s image.

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