Launched in December 2002, LinkedIn is a social networking service primarily used for professional networking. With more than 400 million users, the platform is a goldmine for nurturing professional relationships. It has eight times the number of users on Viadeo, its immediate competitor. With more than 33 million users in India alone, one can be assured that the who’s who of the country’s business world is on LinkedIn and takes it seriously.
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As a LinkedIn user, you can add people to your network as connections. Once you build the first level of such connections, you will get access to the individual networks of every person on your list. Thus, you can use your connections to get introduced to new people, find and list jobs, search for potential candidates and so on. Only those who are, in some way, connected to your network can send you requests. This builds trust among the user community and also keeps away unwarranted stalkers. Prabhav Garudadhwajan, founder of Easykrishi, which enables NGOs, farmer co-operatives and government agencies to help farmers earn more, says that LinkedIn posts have helped him connect with a lot of interested individuals. “Each post would bring in a lot of readers who are interested in what we do. Thanks to all those who shared our posts on LinkedIn, we could get in touch with many officials in our field who held senior positions. It also led to a meeting with investors, and we even got a chance to connect with one of the founders of Infosys. All of this because of a simple LinkedIn post. That’s the influencing power that LinkedIn boasts of.”
“Each post would bring in a lot of readers who are interested in what we do. Thanks to all those who shared our posts on LinkedIn, we could get in touch with many officials in our field who held senior positions. It also led to a meeting with investors, and we even got a chance to connect with one of the founders of Infosys.” - Prabhav Garudadhwajan, founder of Easykrishi
Let’s examine some of the ways in which you and your startup can stand out by using LinkedIn:
Keep your profile updated with work experience, educational qualifications and any information which you think is relevant to help your cause. A complete profile will not only increase your visibility, but it will also help find prospective employers, recruiters and prospects. Use a good, professional photograph on your profile. The chances of people connecting with you are high if they recognise your face.
The best way to speak about your experience is to get people to toot your horn through LinkedIn’s recommendation feature. Friends, colleagues, partners and clients can vouch for you. Recommendations are word-of-mouth testimonials and add to your reputation as well as your business’s brand image. This provides you with credibility and encourages potential clients to do business with you based on the recommendation.
Some of you might be wondering if this is like a Facebook group. Well, yes and no. The purpose of a LinkedIn group is to find a set of people who are passionate about the field your startup is in. So build a community based on this. If your group members find value in connecting with each other, it’s a sign that you’re doing it right. Having a generic group name would help since thought leaders need not necessarily be familiar with your startup’s name.
Find people whose areas of interest lie within the confines of the issues your startup addresses. Once someone accepts your invite, use their email address to add them to your startup’s emailing list. But there is a catch here. People might be annoyed to receive your emails if they haven’t subscribed for them. You should make sure that your recipients’ interest aligns perfectly with your newsletters. Also, give them the option to unsubscribe. You will find low unsubscribe rates if there are other value additions in your newsletters like free tutorials or eBooks which add novelty to them.
LinkedIn has introduced a suite of apps that supports different activities of the application and lets you customise your experience on the website. LinkedIn Connected allows you to stay in touch with members during important events like birthdays, anniversaries and promotions. LinkedIn Groups lets you find, join and engage with like-minded individuals. LinkedIn Pulse provides access to content from thought leaders. With a Slideshare.net account, you can also post your documents and presentations to your profile. The Events application shows events that people in your network are attending. The mentions of a company from Twitter are aggregated by The Company Buzz tool. LinkedIn Elevate gives an easy way to discover unique articles and insights on topics that you are interested in.
Using LinkedIn for your company’s marketing strategy is a good idea. Immediate results cannot and should not be expected; you have to build your network first, become more active, engage in groups and answer questions. Over time, you can become a pro at handling LinkedIn. When you know that there is a lot at stake with your LinkedIn marketing, it is wise to hand it over to a specialist. LinkedIn doesn’t work for all businesses, but if you find that it is the right platform for you, then go hammer and tongs with it!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)