When hunting for bear, go where the bear lives. That’s common-sense advice for hunters, and success-minded business leaders, influencers, marketers, and job-seekers. If its business you want, LinkedIn is the place to hunt.
When Reid Hoffman created LinkedIn back in 2003, he envisioned a place where professionals could gather, connect, and exchange information. He wanted a platform where business professionals could readily find each other.
Before LinkedIn, Reid’s first attempt was a social networking platform called Socialnet. That was back in 1997, seven years before Facebook. Reid said the experiences of Socialnet “gave him scars and spilled much blood.” The primary lesson he learned was the need to focus on one specific area, business.
He realized that there was a growing need for a one-stop network where professionals could enhance their careers, gain, or share knowledge, build brands, or find talent. LinkedIn was born.
Planned Specifically for Professional Networking
Credit: Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com
LinkedIn has 61 million senior level influencers of which 40 million are the decision-makers. For the Millennial demographic alone, there are 87 million registered members, and 11 million of them are in a decision-making position. It’s an ocean of professional networking opportunities.
Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, it’s a logical entry point for business-oriented people who don’t have time to waste slogging through a lot of personal posts.
There’s little appetite for trivial or personal sharing on LinkedIn. Instead, you will find mostly professionals wanting to connect with like-minded business people and other organizations.
Grow and Influence Your Target Market
Whether you are a new entrepreneur or a top executive, your LinkedIn profile is where people get the first impression of you, your brand or company. The profile is the starting point to grow your business.
Influencers on LinkedIn promote themselves as thinkers, leaders, and innovators. In doing so, they grow their target market by:
- Expanding their target audience
- Increasing the number of followers
- Expanding networking channels
- Promoting the brand
Each additional exposure through posts or videos provides credibility, further strengthening an influencer’s position. Other advantages include gaining confidence and increased revenue streams.
LinkedIn editors choose the most influential thought leaders on their platform using the following metrics:
- Total engagement as measured by likes, comments, and shares across each member’s articles, posts and videos.
- The growth of followers tied to publishing activity.
- The number of times editorial channels features the influencer. It’s a signal of high-quality content.
While you may not be striving for a place in LinkedIn’s Top Voices, these metrics can help you focus your efforts at influencing your market for better leads, connections, and sales.
Don’t underestimate the value of your thought leadership efforts. In a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 41% of C-suite executive buyers and 37% of decision-makers agreed that thought leadership efforts paid off by garnering more RFPs.
Let Buyers Know Who You Are
You must know your audience, and they must know you. B2B buyers and decision makers are risk-averse. Unless they are sure about you and your company, they won’t buy. They can’t afford to make a mistake when buying or forming a partnership.
LinkedIn provides for 2-way information exchange between buyers and prospects. Once connected, the platform is a source of reliable information for B2B buyers. For example:
- 50% use LinkedIn as a source for making purchase decisions.
- 76% find endorsements from trusted partners and validate the professionalism of the person or company before they do business with that company.
- LinkedIn provides a broader range of experts than any other platform.
Sellers can also use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool to find and pre-qualify leads. Because cold calling has gotten tougher, LinkedIn provides a ready-made warm market in the form of groups and professional connections.
Building trusted relationships are the key to doing business and LinkedIn is the place for that.
Establish a Strategic Partnership
It has never been easier to establish relationships and partnerships on a global scale. Finding people in-line with your kind of business, and associates with the right experience begin with a simple connection.
For example, a flower store owner can save days of researching local wedding planners, event planners, funeral directors, hotels and anyone who would be an ideal customer.
Successful marketing and business-oriented people invest time on LinkedIn. A proven approach is to help others (future business partners, customers, etc.) perform their jobs better by answering questions or posting relevant content.
Business buyers don’t “buy” your product or service, they “buy into” your perspective and approach to solving their problems.
Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Providing More for Business Than Any Other Social Media
LinkedIn is more useful for business than other social media platforms, for example:
- Compared to Facebook, personal information in LinkedIn is more secure. According to CNBC security breaches affected 50 million Facebook user accounts.
- Facebook is more about sharing social events such as weddings, vacations, pets, birthdays, and other non-work-related topics.
- Although Twitter is more for businesses, it’s limited message capabilities, reduce its usefulness. It’s good for announcements, latest news, and trending topics, but there is no way for users to search for past information or posts.
- Instagram limits users to iPhone and Android platforms. It’s more about sharing pictures and videos which limit it to products rather than the entire business.
- Pinterest is about collecting and sharing images of products, or events. It’s better suited for cooking recipes, home designing, and fashion.
While other social media platforms can play a part in your social media marketing, LinkedIn is the keystone to any marketing strategy. None of the other social platforms are as complete as LinkedIn when it comes to networking with different groups or generations.
Virtual Rolodex For Business, Recruiters and Job Hunters
Before digital apps, there were business cards and Rolodex files to keep your business contacts in order. Today, there are numerous CRM apps to keep your contacts organized. LinkedIn is usually the first step to finding leads, new talent or other business connections.
When it comes to talent acquisition, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn profiles to vet candidates, and 93% of companies begin with LinkedIn to find their talent. Moreover, most online job applications sync with a LinkedIn profile with just one click.
People still use business cards as a networking tool. The difference is now the cards usually contain the person’s LinkedIn address as a primary source of contact.
Continually Upgrading and Adding Features for Better Connections
To keep up with their social competitors, LinkedIn continues to upgrade the platform by adding new features.
Here are some of the new features to help you connect more efficiently:
Taking a cue from YouTube’s popularity, LinkedIn allows users to add video, of up to 10 minutes long, to the experience and summary sections of their profile. A video helps people and businesses stand out. It enhances credibility, demonstrates skills or unveils the latest product.
LinkedIn also took a page out of Facebook’s playbook, allowing users to add and stream live video on their feed. Users can edit their live videos using filters and captions to personalize their videos including stickers that say, “On the Air,” “Side Hustle,” or “Work High Five.” The feature also allows users to type in text captions to clarify the video and get the message across if the sound is off.
Another Facebook-inspired feature, Trending Topics, is a news widget showing what people in your sector are reading. A combination of algorithms and real editors select ten relevant articles based on your groups or industry. It’s an excellent way to:
- Monitor the latest trends in your vertical or niche.
- Post comments to stay top of mind with your prospects.
- Choose relevant topics for more effective content marketing.
Trending topics saves time and keeps you up to speed in your industry.
Like typing into a smartphone, LinkedIn’s AI helps populate words and responses while you type messages. It’s a time saver if you message frequently and make daily connections. It merges personalization with automation.
These are a few ways the LinkedIn platform continues to evolve.
A Quiet Zone for Business Networking
What marketers need to remember is that spammers and inappropriate contacts are unwelcome on LinkedIn. It’s a place where people can concentrate on business-related themes and topics without being sidetracked by a parade of miscellaneous cat videos.
It’s worth the time and effort to offer professional quality content and build relationships. LinkedIn is a lead magnet for any business endeavor. It drives 80% of all social media leads which is phenomenal considering the next four leading social media platforms combined account for only 19.67%.
A Content Marketing Institute survey concluded that 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing purposes and 78% of them said LinkedIn was the most effective content marketing tool.
LinkedIn should be the center of your social media marketing strategy. Whether discovering new supply chain contacts, business talent or nurturing leads, you have all the tools and contact information readily available. There is no better business networking resource.