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How LinkedIn is Actually Going to Benefit Your B2B Company. (Hint: Connections are only a Small Part)

April 20, 2012

Two nights ago I attended a social media panel/networking event, which ended up being rather enjoyable and not just because of the free food and drink. The topic of the night was Pinterest and Facebook, and how to use them for your business.

Once the panel opened up to the floor for questions I noticed that while the night’s discussion veered from Pinterest and Facebook to every other social media channel, no one mentioned LinkedIn.

LinkedIn seems to be like the social media equivalent of the friend invited to every party because you feel like he/she should be there, but then you just never really get around to talking to them….

In the hope of demystifying or at least displaying the value of that friend at the party, here’s a break down of LinkedIn: who’s on it and how do you use it for B2B.

Who’s Using It and How?

I admit, I’m guilty of this myself – until I had to start really thinking about LinkedIn for clients and to make recommendations.

There are three types of people using LinkedIn: entry – level employees, middle management and top level execs. Each group has their own motivations and it’s important to know what they are, so you know how to approach them.

  1. Entry Level- This group uses LinkedIn for networking, connection building and most importantly, job searching.
  2. Middle- Again, networking is big here, but the larger use is establishing and nurturing relationships with colleagues and hunting out valuable connections.
  3. Top Level Executives- For B2B companies, this group is the most important to target.

These individuals use LinkedIn primarily for networking, followed closely by promoting their business. If you’re on this level, take advantage of your communities (industry groups) and if you don’t have one, build one! Reach out to meet up, talk on the phone and educate others about your brand. Engage and Establish Expertise With Your Connections and Community Congratulations. You’ve made hundreds of connection with top level executives in your field and beyond. But what now? The secret to actually benefiting from LinkedIn is to understand how it works. This site is all about establishing yourself as an expert in your industry among like – minded individuals, without over-selling.

Some Tips to Get You Started

  • Take advantage of LinkedIn Status updates- use this like you would Facebook timeline, but keep it professional. Tell a story about what your business is up to, share stories you like and most importantly, remember that you should also link up to your Facbook and Twitter. The more connections between sites, the more traffic you drive.

  • Visit “LinkedIn Today” under your news section and take the time to read and share stories you like. This helps filter out more relevant topics for you over time. The social news page is especially useful and geared towards the B2B sector. Every time you share a story, it gets boosted up in rankings and shared with others in your industry.

  • Join groups relevant to your industry- and actually be involved. You won’t get credit by just joining a group for “Sales Consulting” you have to participate in forums and make yourself a regular presence. Better to join and participate in 2-3 groups, than be in ten and never visit the board.

  • Ask for recommendations! This is LinkedIn’s version of testimonials. Sure you can talk about your product and highlight stats but if you have a client or industry expert recommending your company or product- that gives series credibility.

  • Participate in Answers. This section is a great way for you do search on topics in your industry and answer people’s questions with insightful comments. The more questions you answer, (and well) the more visibility you get and you can even be deemed an “expert” in the group and listed for all to see. Definitely great for exposure.

Now go connect, listen and engage!

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