The world’s most powerful professional social network, LinkedIn, can prove to be an excellent inbound marketing tool for startups and entrepreneurs. LinkedIn gives you access to the most influential people and organizations in your sector, allows you to explore cross promotion opportunities, and even secure sales leads. If you’re just started up and looking for ways to connect and build business relationships with influencers in your industry, then LinkedIn is just right for that.
How to Get Started?
To start with, create your company page on LinkedIn and encourage your employees to also sign up and maintain updated profiles. Use these profiles to connect with people who can have a direct or indirect impact on your business – it can be potential customers, especially if you are a B2B firm, or even individuals like potential investors.
As a next step, join relevant communities and groups where you can participate in discussions, voice your business’s opinions and get noticed. Make sure you share valuable and intelligent opinions to get more people in your niche to take note of your startup.
You can also use these discussion groups as a source of information – any question you have related to managing your firm or business processes can be posted to your network and you know someone out there can provide suggestions to guide you.
Top Tips to Make the Best Use of LinkedIn
Research and Connect
It’s great to make new connections on LinkedIn, but the connections you make should be relevant to your niche. The following are some of the most effective ways of finding connections:
- Search through business directories to find contact persons of businesses in associated niche areas as well as potential customers. For example, let’s say you have an app development start-up. Niches associated with your business would be app analytics services, app listing pages, etc. Potential customers could be e-commerce sites, restaurant chains and so on.
- Look up local meet-up groups, search through their member database to identify contacts that could be worth networking with.
- Good old Google is also a great resource. Run a keyword research to identify the top keyword associated with your niche. Run another Google search using the same to create a list of the contact persons of the top websites listed in SERPs.
Invest Time and Effort in Drafting E-mails
Don’t make the mistake of sending generic mails to all potential connections. Instead spend some time on studying their profile and add a personal note to make people feel that you are genuinely interested in connecting with them.
A great strategy is to identify at least 3 things that you have in common with the prospective connection, it will help you personalize your introductory message or email.
Also, avoid making any sales or business pitches in the introductory mail; keep your mails simple and straight. As a matter of fact, never make a sale inquiry on LinkedIn; use it just to make connections and build relationships. Later on, if it makes sense, decide which people to approach to get more business.
Join The Right Groups
LinkedIn members are allowed to join up to 50 groups, as a startup you must make the most of this opportunity. However, don’t just join the groups randomly, the following are some of the most effective strategies for identifying the Groups that can help you build relevant connections:
- Join groups that most businesses in your niche have joined.
- Zero down on groups that your customers or potential customers have joined.
- Use the key skills that connections you want to target may have (as keywords) when searching for groups to join. For example, let’s say you want to connect with Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists, you may use keywords like “Start-ups”, “Start up funding”, etc.
- Use the LinkedIn Advance Search feature to identify influential prospects based on their industry, seniority and/or company functions. Join the groups that these prospects are members of.
- Monitor your home feed and time your messages to influential prospects around the time they post an update. Your mail or message will have a better chance of being read.
Invite your network to attend events
The Events feature on LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools from a startup’s perspective. You can invite your potential customers, vendors and investors to attend any upcoming events at your company to indulge in a more personalized networking experience with your LinkedIn contacts.
The virtual world can only connect you so far – real world connections go much further and mean a lot more. So, be sure to engage your virtual contacts through real events as well.
Survey your network
Want to find out how your market could potentially respond to a new idea? You can use LinkedIn to send out polls to specific contacts and test out your new ideas. Be it your customers, investors or facilitators, you can analyze trends using this polling feature to tweak your business model and optimize your startup.
Surveying your LinkedIn contacts offers you professional insights into your potential ideas from various perspectives – see how people in your fellow industry react, see how your potential customers react, and also gauge how the investors take your ideas using LinkedIn polls.
Recommend others and get recommended too
If you have worked with a business partner, be sure to recommend your partner on LinkedIn and give that business a boost. You know this favor will be repaid and you can even request your network to write recommendations based on their experience with your firm.
The more positive recommendations your startup gets, the more are your chances of being noticed and the more are your chances of generating more revenue. Recommendations on LinkedIn are a great way to enhance your company’s online reputation – and especially important when you are just starting out and are relatively unknown as a brand.
Link with other social media accounts
Use LinkedIn’s Twitter app and WordPress app to link your Twitter account and blogs to LinkedIn to increase the number of followers. But remember to follow the basic tenet of social media – post interesting content regularly to continue garnering positive attention.
Keep Track Of LinkedIn Conversations
Being online on LinkedIn at all times is neither possible nor feasible, however, there’s a great tool on LinkedIn that can help you keep track of discussions, updates and conversations related to your chosen keywords.
When you hover your cursor over News, the drop down menu will show you three options, select ‘Signal’ and create a trigger words to keep track of your chosen keywords. For instance, let’s say you want to keep track of all conversations around ‘app development’, when you set the same as your trigger word, you’ll get an alert whenever someone mentions those words.
You can also narrow down your trigger word alert as per your geographical location as well as your connection level.
These tips should help you find excellent networking leads on LinkedIn and create an offline network of customers, investors, and promotion partners. Good Luck!
Traian is the Director of SEO and co-founder of Pitstop Media Inc, a Canadian company that provides top rated SEO services to businesses across North America. He writes on various Internet marketing subjects and likes to help others succeed online with search marketing. To invite the author to guest write on your website, please contact www.pitstopmedia.com.