Let's take a closer look at LinkedIn and how it can help your self-employed business. Here are tips on how to use LinkedIn to supercharge your business.
As a reminder, LinkedIn is a social network built around your professional networks. Whereas Facebook is geared around your friends and family, LinkedIn is built around work and business-related news.
Think of LinkedIn as the world's largest networking service. It's quite simple to connect with people you've done business with or want to do business with. For the self-employed and small business owners, LinkedIn can be a critical tool for finding new prospects.
It's quite common for customers or potential clients to do an Internet search of your name before signing a contract. LinkedIn is often one of the top results, so it pays to have a professional photo and title in your profile. You don't want to lose a deal because you have a silly photo.
Likewise, maintain professional titles. You may consider yourself a "rockstar" or a "ninja" but that doesn't carry much weight with others. The goal of LinkedIn is to put your best professional foot forward - stick with standard titles that capture your responsibilities.
The old line "It's not what you know, it's who you know" often rings true. That's why I advise connecting with as many people on LinkedIn as you can. Note: This doesn't mean connecting with people you don't know or have no interest in ever working with. Do not spam people on LinkedIn.
But you can and should offer to connect on LinkedIn with colleagues, former colleagues, existing customers, past customers, and potential customers. You never know when one of your professional connections can come in handy.
Also, try to help others in their attempts at networking. Sometimes, you may be asked to send an introduction to one of your connections. If it makes sense, do it. That favor will often be returned.
Like other social networks, LinkedIn lets you create a page for your company. For example, here's the MileIQ page on LinkedIn. This is a great place to brand your business in front of potential new clients, as well as share useful information.
The same rules apply to your company page as your individual page: use a professional logo and description. Be sure to fill out your description with the proper contact information for your business including any applicable websites, email addresses, physical locations or phone numbers.
Finally, don't just create your company page and let it sit around. The best LinkedIn company pages are constantly gaining followers by sharing useful content and answering questions.
The LinkedIn Groups feature allows you to connect with like-minded professionals around specific topics. This is a great place to network with other pros, as well as a way to promote your brand and products.
Avoid promoting yourself and your business every time. LinkedIn Groups are like real-life social circles: the person who's always talking about themselves and selling things can get annoying. Instead, try to earnestly connect with others by answering questions or offering your advice. Sooner or later, the right opportunity to promote yourself and your business will present itself.
LinkedIn also offers a variety of paid options you may want to explore. These are geared around three concepts: enhance your brand, grow your network and promote your business.
Under "enhance your brand", you can see who's viewed your profile in the last 90 days. For growing your network, you can message anyone on LinkedIn directly - even if you aren't connected or don't have connections in common. Finally, promoting your business allows you to sponsor content for your company's page or to send direct messages to potential business contacts.
Like with Yelp or other social media marketing, you should have clear expectations for the ROI of your budget. From there, do small experiments and see if paid LinkedIn options are right for you.