How can I use LinkedIn to grow my business?

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Often referred to as a ‘social networking site for adults’, LinkedIn is a free social networking website developed for business interaction. Built around a profile page that reads like a CV, it allows users to create and maintain a network of people who they know and trust in business.

Some analysts view the LinkedIn profile as a replacement to the traditional CV. In terms of SEO, Google is a big fan, so if you already have an online presence, a LinkedIn profile can help to improve your ratings and increase your chances of being found online.

Here are a few ways you can use LinkedIn to grow your business:

  • Expand your network: Networking is a marketing opportunity in itself. People you contact are likely to view your profile page so making sure it’s up to scratch is a must. The ‘I want to add you to my LinkedIn network’ feature is a great way to introduce yourself/what you do and ask for connections to people who may be interested. In most instances, LinkedIn allows you to see who your contacts are connected to. If you find a potential client or partner through an existing contact, ask them to make an introduction. You can also expand your network by promoting your LinkedIn URL on your website and emails.
  • Promote your business and any significant news: Whenever you have any significant news about your website, notify your network by way of a profile update. It is also a good idea to send an accompanying email to your network inviting them to ‘catch up’, ‘make time for a phone’ call etc. Keeping in touch with your network in this way may well be the spark that generates a conversion that leads to a business opportunity. The ‘what are you working on feature’ is also a great way of letting people know what you’re up to.
  • Market valuable content: LinkedIn is a great place to promote useful educational content such as articles, books and white papers. If you produce this type of content, communicate this to your network of contacts and ask them to pass it on to anyone who may be interested.
  • Position yourself as an industry expert: LinkedIn contains many user created forums that cover practically every industry. Try to get involved in conversations with other users and answer any questions related to your industry. The ‘LinkedIn Answers’ feature is also a great way to give and receive business related advice. Regular use of these features will enable you to position yourself as an expert in your industry, helping you to generate new contacts and business opportunities.

I believe LinkedIn is a great way to network and promote your business. By 2010 it is expected to have over 100 million users, so now is the time to get ‘LinkedIn’ if you haven’t already.

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