LinkedIn isn’t just for professionals and job seekers.
Sure, millions of professionals use LinkedIn every day to grow their networks and their careers, but did you know you can use LinkedIn to grow your business, too? From making connections to generating leads, establishing partnerships and creating better brand awareness, LinkedIn makes an invaluable addition to your digital marketing strategy.
At its core, LinkedIn is a professional social network. It’s all about career development, professional connections, industry discussions and other types of business-related activities. It’s not like other social media marketing platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; there, businesses have direct access to consumers that they can easily market to with status updates, images and other casual posts.
Moreover, unlike LinkedIn, brand followers on these other social networks already expect or are at least aware that companies use the platforms to sell their products and services. This is definitely not the case on LinkedIn, where blatantly pushing your business, spamming and obvious hard selling is highly frowned upon. Because the network consists of a totally different audience, LinkedIn marketing requires a different type of approach to get the results you want.
To help you navigate LinkedIn as a marketing platform, here are 15 LinkedIn marketing hacks you can use to find new customers, create new contacts and ultimately grow your business.
1. Find highly targeted customers and connections
The targeting on LinkedIn is unparalleled in the realm of digital advertising. Small businesses can zero in on the exact industry, company size and job role [of the people] that they know typically would buy their product or service. For example, if you are selling customer support software to small businesses in the United States, you can set your advertising campaigns to only be showing to businesses [that are] under 100 employees, based in America — and within that grouping, only to executives at those companies with a customer-support title. — Tim Peters, director of marketing, IntelliResponse
2. Stay on customers’ radars
My company helps small businesses generate leads on LinkedIn. Clients tell us what kind of people make high-quality customers for them. We search on LinkedIn for people who fit their criteria, and then introduce them. (We do it so it looks like the client is introducing themselves, but we do all the work for them.) Then we stay in touch with the people who have expressed interest, again using LinkedIn. We do daily status updates and weekly LinkedIn blog posts to keep the client’s name in front of their network. We also send monthly emails that share information about the kinds of problems our clients can solve for their customers, and share the results they have achieved for other customers. We also make offers, such as inviting people to a webinar or offering a white paper. The result is a simple, inexpensive, systematic process for doing lead generation, with all the work done through LinkedIn. —Judy Schramm, CEO, ProResource, Inc.
3. Grow your email marketing list
I highly recommend everyone on Linked write a crafted letter, saying thank you for being connected on LinkedIn, and that you invite them to be part of your email marketing list. Do apologize for the lack of personalization in the email. LinkedIn lets you message 50 people at a time this way. I added about 300 people to my email list with this method. Include in your email a direct link for the email signup. It is imperative that you have reciprocity in the message: 1. Tell them what they will receive by signing up for the email list, and 2. offer to look at something of theirs, which is a fairly noncommittal method to garner goodwill. — Bradford Hines, founder, YumDomains.com and HungryKids.org
4. Use Sponsored Updates
With Sponsored Updates, businesses pay to push their post onto an individual’s LinkedIn feed. This “pay-per-click” or “pay-per-1,000” impression feature offers demographics similar to other social platforms (location, gender and age), but one key differentiation is the ability to customize based on company name, job title, job function, skills, schools and groups. Users can target interested industries, without competing against the noise of other irrelevant companies and messages. A sponsored update can be an excellent way to promote thought-leadership content useful primarily to the targeted audience with a strong call to action. People don’t want to see pure advertising anymore and want something useful for free. By promoting a firm’s content (white paper, guide, etc.) through a LinkedIn Sponsored Update, a firm can target a niche audience, increase website visitors and, if the content is compelling enough, generate sales leads. — Jeremy Durant
business principal, Bop Design
5. Post high-quality content
Good content can be highly targeted and should accomplish two goals. First, it should teach others how to solve a problem or how to do their job better. And it then establishes you as a thought leader in that space. Each aspect naturally leads to more business, if you offer them real value. It’s basic psychology, and it gets real results. — Michael Riley, co-founder, Boxter
6. …and go viral
Posting directly on LinkedIn is the most powerful tool available on LinkedIn today. If a post begins to gain some momentum, LinkedIn will put a spotlight behind it in one of their categories, and it can get tens of thousands of readers (or more). This is a great way to improve your visibility while reaching readers in a way that would not have been possible on your own website/blog or even posting an article link on LinkedIn. — Lavie Margolin, author, “The LinkedIn Butterfly Effect” (H. Delilah Business & Career Press, 2013)
7. Give a face to your employees
Get as many of your employees as possible to create and complete their profiles on LinkedIn. These should include appropriate photos, relevant job history that includes a description of how they help your business, and professional connections. My current company is putting together a LinkedIn Day when we’ll have a photographer available to take profile photos, and we’ll help employees set
up their accounts. — Tam Frager, marketing and communications manager, Front Range Internet, Inc.
8. Join groups — and stay active
One tip I always share for small business owners is to join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to their target demographic. Not only is this a great way to “listen in” on what your audience is talking about, there may [also] be times for small business owners to interact or offer their advice. More importantly, you can message the members of groups you are in, even if you aren’t connected. LinkedIn InMail adds up quickly, so this is a great way to save money when building relationships with potential clients. — Lauren Covello, content marketing strategist, Ripen eCommerce
9. …and create your own LinkedIn group, too
Here’s a secret sauce to find your ideal, ready-to-buy prospects right away on LinkedIn: Create your own LinkedIn group to start with. After you have your LinkedIn group set up, go out and join as many groups (LinkedIn allows you to be in 50 total) where your prospects are hanging out. The next step is to pick one of those new groups you’ve joined and start working the Members page to find prospects. Once you’re inside the group and approved as a member, click on Members, then filter the list of members further by searching for certain job titles or something else to winnow down the list to your ideal prospects, and then invite them to join your group (tip: send personalized invitations). Once these invitees join your LinkedIn group, you have all your proverbial fish in the same barrel — all your best prospects in one place! You can control this LinkedIn group so that no competitors get in, and you can share great/valuable content within the group that your prospects will love. You also get to demonstrate your value/expertise for them while avoiding overt sales pitches or spam. Plus, you also have a built-in email list, focus group of your core prospects/clients and so on. This is a great tactic to build your brand and generate leads to boost your small business. — Ali Liaquat, head of marketing, IT-Serve.com
10. Make your Company page matter
It’s also important to have an updated and consistent presence for your brand with its own Company profile page. Imagery, colors and content on this page should be consistent with your website and any other social media profiles the business has. The page should be updated regularly, so the brand is active and appears to be a current business. We’ve all had the experience of stumbling upon a company social media profile that’s updated once a month, or worse, hasn’t been updated in months. Creating a LinkedIn presence then not maintaining it will be worse than not having one at all. — Carrie Booher, chief marketing officer, Online Optimism
11. …and don’t forget to claim your custom URL
Everyone should claim their custom URL to ensure it includes their name (e.g., http://linkedin.com/in/davideerickson). This is especially important for people who have a lot of contact with potential clients — especially for those who [are in] professional services and the B2B sector — because when meeting with someone they have not yet met, many people will search Google for the name of the person with whom they’re meeting in order to learn more about them. Claiming your custom URL makes it more likely your LinkedIn profile will rank in the top of those search results. — David Erickson, vice president of online marketing, Karwoski & Courage
12. Complete the Summary section on your own profile
The summary section is the most overlooked section. You have 2,000 characters to speak to your target audience, directly and persuasively. Use complete sentences, write in first person, and address their pain points clearly and succinctly. Many people prefer to go to LinkedIn than a website. Most of the time, people want to connect with the person before the product or service, and this is your opportunity to introduce yourself to prospective clients and customers. Also, include your contact information at the end of the summary section. Even though it’s elsewhere on your profile, make it easy for people to reach you. — Susan Tabor-Kleiman, Esq., owner, Your Professional Writer
13. Think of it as a numbers game
I have learned that LinkedIn marketing is more science, less art. In other words, it’s a numbers game. I know that each Wednesday, I’ll touch at least 2,000 C-level executives. These touches will lead to about six responses, and two of those six will become clients. Instead of attending trade conferences, exhibiting and speaking at a cost of approximately $10,000 per conference, I have built my own practice for less than $1,000 a year for marketing, $250 of which goes to LinkedIn for a Premium account. I can afford a few hours each week of my time more than I want to swallow the $40,000-per-year pill that I know most of my colleagues spend, attending an average of four conferences each year. — Greg Taylor, owner, Telecom Law Attorney
14. Avoid hard selling
Treat LinkedIn like any other form of marketing that you do, and get clued up on the latest trends. People don’t want to be interrupted, so try your best to be “discovered” on LinkedIn. Read up on Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing, and apply these strategies to this network. There are plenty of people acting like hard-sell 1980s sales reps on LinkedIn, so be wise and don’t become one of them. — Nikki Hammett, digital marketing manager, blur Group
15. Start with connections, then build relationships
Understand that LinkedIn is a social network for professionals to connect with other professionals. A business owner can, and should, connect with prospects, strategic partners, referral partners and other business owners. And once those connections are made, the business owner can decide how to nurture specific connections to grow the relationship. — Charlene Burke, CEO, Search by Burke, LLC