LinkedIn: More than just a Social Network, a Business Development Tool
While LinkedIn has proved helpful with talent acquisition, branding, mapping and recruitment, it has proved to be a powerful tool for business development which marketers and business development professionals would be fools to ignore. Leverage on your LinkedIn network of existing connections and the dormant digital connections. A decade after its launch, LinkedIn has grown to be the largest professional social network with well over 240 million members globally and the only social network platform to have the “official” endorsement of the Chinese Government. This growth can be attributed to the new features that the LinkedIn team have kept adding to the tool over the past year making it and keeping it more relevant to all. Some of the features are the “sponsored ads,” and the recently launched “university pages” which seeks to create a talent and career path pipeline for teenagers.
One of the top questions that is constantly asked is how can I use LinkedIn as a business development tool. Well here are a couple of tips which you may apply though not exhaustive these tips have produced incredible results for me and my team:
Be the expert.
So your profile is complete. Oh so you think! Ensure that you have included everything in your profile that positions you as an expert in your field, articles you have written, awards you have won, publications, presentations and even video media if any of your work and professional achievements. Constantly engage with your network, thank your endorsers by sending a little thank you note, ask for recommendations and give them in return. Ensure that you are visible on the public URL by changing your settings and making your profile visible to all. This will make it easier for people to find and connect with you on a professional level.
Interact with other like-minded professionals.
Now that your profile is up to scratch you need to be visible on the LinkedIn network by joining groups. Basically there are groups around each and every topic and in some cases more than one. Use these groups to stay on top of trends via the articles and insights other group members share, and as a resource to search for answers to questions. Groups are a great way to connect with those professionals who fall outside your network but have common interest with you.
Talk sense and constantly.
You have the expert profile, you have joined groups now engage. Constantly talk to your network by sharing updates. Share informative and relevant content. Let the noise you make be concise but keeping you top-of-mind with your targets. Participate in your groups. Be the thought-provoker, ask a question, start a discussion and give feedback on comments.
Use your network to the Optimum.
Say you have identified a prospective lead, the best way to win credibility with your prospective is to leverage on your LinkedIn connections. Find out who in your network can introduce you to the prospective. Like recommendations, LinkedIn introductions create that credibility around you as a professional. This is called synergy and that’s how it is created and maintained. If there is no one in your network, be tacit about how you approach the prospect. I always speak about rapport. Build rapport between yourself and the prospect and then take it from there.
Organise your connections.
My network has grown significantly in the past 3 months and to ensure they all stay relevant and important to me I have created contacts categories. Organise your contacts by professional field of expertise. LinkedIn tries to filter by all means possible your connections for you but you must take time to do that. This will help you when you need to find out information about a particular industry sector. You can then be able to even divide them further into Prospects and network connections; those whom you turn to to recommend you and introduce you to the Prospects.