Building a network is hard. Building a network for your business can be even harder. Make it easier by joining LinkedIn. This site has a few hundred million members. Each person you connect with is on average connected to over a hundred other professionals. That makes it really easy to build your professional network. Here are some tips to get you started.
Create a LinkedIn Company Page
This may seem like an obvious first step, but you would be surprised at how many people do not take the time to create a LinkedIn page for their company as well as themselves. This is not a suggestion; this is a must. A huge part of creating your LinkedIn page is creating a base network. Don’t worry; this part is simple. The best way to create your base is by connecting with the people you see every day, including your colleagues, clients, friends, and family. These are the people who are the foundation of your network. LinkedIn makes it easy to find these connections and will even suggest people you should get in contact with based on your Facebook friends, email accounts, etc.
Creating a company page and having a good base network will make you more credible as a small business and help you build your professional network.
Customize Your Profile
The best way to draw in new professional contacts is to have an appealing profile that highlights all of the best parts of your business and yourself. When you are creating your profile, there are many sections to fill out about yourself and your company, if you so choose. You have the ability to order these sections any way you want on your profile.
The sections that you feel highlight your business and your skills the most can be moved to the top where they will be front and center. If you feel like certain sections don’t apply to your business, you can take them out completely. Next, you should beef up your profile by getting endorsed for your skills. LinkedIn’s endorsement feature will allow your followers to endorse you for skills that you have listed in your skills section.
Be sure that you take the time to list the skills you want your contacts to endorse. You can’t guarantee that your contacts will endorse you, but chances are they will and when they do it will build your credibility and lead to more professional contacts. Spruce up your profile some more by showing work samples.
Whatever business you are in, show it off and get people interested. The more interested they become the more willing they will be to connect with you and eventually work with you. If your small business has a website (which it should), you can make an attention-grabbing link on your profile to draw viewers to it.
After you have finished customizing your profile the way you want, be sure that anyone looking for you will be able to find you easily. You can do this by customizing your profile URL. This way you don’t have a long URL that ends in a bunch of numbers. Instead, it can end in your company name or your own name if you choose. The easier you are to find, the easier it will be to connect with you.
Build Your Network
Now that you have started a company page, created an impressive profile, and built a base following, it is time to actually start building your professional network. One of the best places to start is with your fellow alumni. Chances are there are graphic designers, photographers, architects, etc., who you may need one day to help build your business. Don’t be afraid to use your alma mater as a means of meeting these people.
Another way of connecting with people on LinkedIn is using the advanced search option. Using this feature, you can look up any company or individual you are interested in. When you type in the company’s name, you can filter the results by “relationship” and it will tell you if you have any first- or second-degree connections with any of the employees within that company.
If you are connected to someone in the company whom you are interested in, making them a part of your professional network will be that much easier. If you have LinkedIn premium, you can message anyone you want anytime to introduce yourself, even if you have no connection to that person. If you don’t have LinkedIn premium, you can only message first-degree contacts. On average, reaching out to people on LinkedIn gets a higher response rate than emailing them.
Join LinkedIn Groups
One of the best ways to expand your network on LinkedIn is to join professional groups that relate to your business and fit your own professional interests. Earlier, I mentioned that if you are not a premium member, you cannot message anyone you want at any time. Well, when you are a member of a group, you can bypass this rule. As long as you have been a LinkedIn member for 30 days and a member of a group for 4 days, you are able to send 15 free messages to anyone in that group every month, whether or not you are connected directly to them. Establish yourself as a serious business owner by starting and participating in group discussions. Doing this will increase your professional network substantially.
Keep Your Profile Updated
If you want to create a stable and lasting network around your business, it is important for you to keep your profile updated. Check your network updates daily. If you do, you will always know what your connections are up to. You will also be able to see who has viewed your profile and shown an interest in you and your business. Be sure to post status updates of your own. Post regularly about your company and what you are up to. This will get more LinkedIn users interested in connecting with you and your business. Keep current in your field by checking your news feeds often. Knowing what is happening in your industry will help you keep your customers and potential partners interested in you. This is important because the more current your company, the more likely people will be to connect with you.
Building a network to help your business grow does not have to be difficult. LinkedIn was designed to make it easier. The tools that it provides will work well for your business. Take advantage and get started today.
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Micaiah Sowards is an HR writer for Built For Teams, an innovative HR and ORG chart solution in Utah. Micaiah has a Bachelors of Science degree from Brigham Young University. She has a passion for writing articles that focus on the human side of business. Micaiah also has experience writing blogs for a local nonprofit organization in her community. To learn more about Built for Teams visit their website at www.builtforteams.com
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