Article by Vicky Walmsley owner of Risus Wholesale,
In earlier articles I’ve mentioned the importance of networking and after doing a bit of research I have written the following guide to hopefully give people a little extra knowledge about LinkedIn as I think it is a fantastic way of spreading the work about your business and building a good network of contacts. I myself have only just started using the site so my experience is a little limited so I may miss a few things but hopefully it should give you enough info to give it a go.
What is it?
In a nutshell it is a social networking site like Facebook but dedicated to businesses. It was launched in 2003 and currently has over 90 million business professionals from around the globe (10mil in Europe). The site has a range of features aimed at furthering your business and building relationships with other professionals in your particular niche. You can also post and view job opportunities based on location and sector.
Create your own company profile
The best way to get noticed is to create a company profile. Obviously this needs to include details including your products, services, staff and the kind of relationships you are looking to build. You can personalise it with logos and other supporting material and another great feature is the ability to integrate any blog you may have and have your RSS feed on your page. It is important to make your profile as detailed as possible as this is essentially a shop window on your business and you want to convey an air of professionalism.
Using LinkedIn answers.
LinkedIn has a system that allows users to post questions in particular niches and also answering other users questions will improve your own credibility. It is a great way of spreading the word about your business and getting extra online visibility.
Updating your status
Much like Facebook you can post status updates to your network to announce product launches, special offers, discount codes etc and the more often you update with useful information the more interest you will generate. You can also use it to share tips and get picked up by other professionals.
These can be a great way of conducting market research and best of all its free! You can choose who has access to any poll you create and you can even tailor it to individuals if you need to target specific demographics. You can then feed the results into your business plans. Don’t forget to take part in other peoples polls though as this shows willing and an interest in collaboration.
Of course they also offer advertising opportunists if you want to increase your visibility within your sector. You can break it down by demographic, location and other key factors.
Building your network using first-level contacts
An interesting tool is the one that lets you view ‘degrees of separation’ or how you connect with third parties that you don’t already know. Now, I have only just started looking into this but from what I can gather you can ask business colleagues to introduce you to their own contacts thus increasing your circle of contacts. You can even go a step further and organise a local event much like a mini version of a BNI meeting.
As I have said previously I am by no means an expert and my own profile (which I created ages ago but never used) is a long way from being as good as it could be but I was impressed with the website and thought I would share my findings so far.
Written by Vicky Walmsley.
We have a retail website launching at the end of August to supply Mums with party bag toys and party supplies – www.archiestoybox.co.uk
We also run a wholesale business for customers who wish to buy in bulk for retail shops, fund raising events, school PTA’s or Ebay selling – www.risuswholesale.co.uk
Other articles by Vicky Walmsley:
Other articles about business
Other articles about Social Media
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