Some background on Linked In
Linked In is a ‘business’ networking site rather than a ‘social’ networking site.
Linked In membership tends to appeal to and attract white collar workers, management and business owners rather than blue collar workers and in the Territory there are about 8,000 members.
Local PR firm, Cre8tive Territory noted in their analysis of Linked In membership that the majority of users are in Darwin with heavy usage involving RIO Tinto staff around Nhulunbuy. So, as you weigh up whether Linked In is for you or not, remember that it is based on individuals and their job titles rather than industry or sector. Hence, the white collar engineers within a mining company can be extremely active whereas their blue collar colleagues might not even know Linked In exists.
Some reasons to use Linked In in your Social Media Marketing
The power of Linked In comes from this fact of life:
It is not WHAT you know but WHO you know
Through Linked In, you can connect with people you do business with or have met and, through them, connect to their contacts. This can expand your networks and your reach. I think my few hundred direct contacts theoretically connects me to 3.3 million people around the globe, all accessible through a mutual friend.
You might use your connections, or seek to be introduced to people (you can search Linked In by name, job title, company and location to name a few) who could become:
- new suppliers (instead of introducing yourself to a supplier as an ‘unknown’, by touching base with a key person first, you can get a warmer welcome and possibly a better deal)
- new customers (if a certain job title is responsible for researching or ordering your products and services it is worth crafting a strategy for qualifying and warming leads through Linked In)
- new staff (Linked In really came about to help people promote themselves to new employers and it is still invaluable as a recruitment and background-checking tool)
Finally, when you have completed your profile fully on Linked In, you do benefit from some Google juice – it seems Google trusts the Linked In domain and therefore if people search for you, you will find your Linked In profile often floating higher in search results than your own website profile.
How to use Linked In for Social Media marketing
For most small businesses and organisations in the Top End, your main use of Linked In will be one of those things that are set aside as a medium to long term investment more than a quick sales hit.
There are three steps to take.
The first is to simply set up your personal profile. I suggest you only need the free membership for now. Fill in as much detail as you can and work towards getting the completion meter to 100%. Along the way you will need to invite a handful of people to Linked In and/or respond to some invitations. Start with colleagues, members of a group or club you are connected to or family members. To complete your profile you will need to not only leave some testimonials for some of your ‘connections’ but you will need to get THREE testimonials about you from them. Remember, although this might feel uncomfortable at first, it is an interesting experience and required to unlock the Google value of your listing.
Please make sure that you add links to your business website, blog or any other online channels where you broadcast business-relevant content. When somebody does feel inclined to check you out online before approaching you or sealing the deal on a contract/project, it is best to make sure they can see all of your professional output.
The second step is to poke around and get familiar with Linked In. Perhaps you could set up half an hour once a month to look at your website statistics and go over the Linked In activity of your contacts. While looking around, be forward enough to ask to connect with people you might know (Linked In will offer you suggestions based on the connections of people you have already connected with). But do read thinks NOT to do at the bottom of this page. Keep an eye out for ‘groups’ of Linked In users that you might be interested in connecting with. There are groups for industries, locations and occupations. There is even a new group formed in September 2011 called Destination – Darwin, created by locals to share what Darwin life is like for potential immigrants thinking of moving to Australia.
A third thing I would encourage you to explore is the Answers section in Linked In. This is a free forum where you can ask any business question you like and will most likely receive some good answers from Linked In users around the world. People share answers freely to build their reputation and demonstrate their expertise. I also know of small business people who have picked up work locally and from overseas (the local concert planner was flown to Canada to ply his trade there for three weeks), simply by answering some questions and sharing some insights in the Answers forum. Again, I wouldn’t spend all day on it but to begin with a monthly visit will be enough to give you a sense of whether Linked In and the forum are for you.
Good examples of Linked In use for Social Media marketing
As I explored in a previous RITE Series article on Linked In, this network gives you unprecdented access to people across all occupations in many industries. I just did a search on every LinkedIn member within 80km of the postcode 0870 and here are my top five:
- John Wilkinson, Chief Engineer at Imparja Television
- Tim Flynn, Consultant/Locum CFO to NFP and Public Sector
- Eleanor Dennis, Gallery assistant – casual at Mbantua Gallery
- Michael Steller, Regional Manager at Northern Territory Government
- Brad Bellette, Director at Bellette Media Pty Ltd
Now that Linked In has also ramped up its profiling and promotion of businesses, it will be very important for your search engine optimisation to make sure as many team members as possible have completed their Linked In profiles to boost the company’s online profile.
Things to avoid when using Linked In
The biggest mistake people make on Linked In is what many people do in face-to-face networking – they approach it with a ‘what can I get out of this’ mindset. Of course, we are all interested in networking to explore opportunities for growth and challenge but such opportunities typically grow from a foundation of trust and mutual interest. And that means GIVING to the community before you TAKE. I have catalogued a gross example of What not to do on Linked In in the RITE Series blog. In many ways, that article sums up the main no-no in the space. Apart from NOT doing the sleazy, hard sell approach, if you mimic what you do when mingling at a face-to-face networking event or social gathering, you will most likely have your mind in the right place for approaching Linked In.
If you have examples of Top End businesses using Linked In effectively, please share details in the comments field below.