What separates LinkedIn from the other major players in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest) is that it is a social network created for business networking purposes. People visit the other social networks for a variety of reasons, but people that log in to LinkedIn do so with business in mind. For a business, specifically a B2B, LinkedIn efforts can be much more beneficial because there is less noise to compete with and users are much more focused.
LinkedIn provides a lot of value to businesses and individuals that are willing to put the time and effort in to use it correctly. The first step is to set up a complete business profile and encourage all employees to have up to date profiles too. Unfortunately many businesses never move past this first step. Like any other social network, the key to success on LinkedIn is to be active and share with connections and other LinkedIn users. If you aren’t an active member of the community, there is a smaller chance that your business or services will be found by potential prospects and you will lose out on opportunities. Perhaps one of the best ways to get found on LinkedIn is to join groups and become an active member.
There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, and you are allowed to join up to 50. Unless you have a large social media staff that can keep you active and involved in all 50, it’s probably not realistic to join that many. The best groups to join are the ones that are most related to your business or niche and don’t have too many members. It’s OK to join a few groups with thousands of members, but it’s just a lot harder to get noticed in these groups. By joining smaller communities (a few hundred members), it’s easier to gain visibility. It’s also important to join groups that have an active community. If nobody is posting or sharing with one another and the group has become inactive, look for other opportunities.
Once you’ve joined some groups, be sure to visit them at least a few times a week to look for an opportunity to share your knowledge and get noticed. Browse through the discussions within the group and see if there is anything that you can add. Take the same approach that you would take with blog commenting. Don’t simply write something like, “I agree.” Instead, take the time to write a thoughtful comment that takes a stance on a subject and proves that you have expertise in the area. Feel free to start your own discussion if there is a current topic that isn’t being discussed yet.
Remember, LinkedIn isn’t just for the HR department to post job openings. It’s a great strategy to get all of your team members active on LinkedIn. Because it’s a place for business to be conducted, some great networking opportunities can arise as long as LinkedIn is being used correctly.