The golden rules of using LinkedIn to grow your business

LinkedIn has some 610 million users in more than 200 countries and territories1 (20m-plus in the UK2). More than 260m LinkedIn users log into the site every month, with 40% of those being active daily users.

LinkedIn3 describes itself as the “largest global community of business professionals” who “come to LinkedIn to consume professional content”. They have “a very different mindset and intent from those using other social media platforms”.

According to LinkedIn3, 80% of its users “drive business decisions” and its audience has “twice the buying power of the average web audience”. LinkedIn says 90 million of its users are “senior level influencers”, with a further 63 million “decision-makers” and 10 million “C-level execs”.

It’s hardly surprising that so many UK businesses are using LinkedIn to raise awareness of their brand3, generate new leads and win new customers. However, if you get it wrong, it can have the opposite effect. So, what are the golden rules of using LinkedIn?

1 Use LinkedIn to its full potential…
Searching LinkedIn can reveal so much valuable information. You can quickly identify target companies and key people. The key is to find the right people at the right companies – think quality rather than quantity.

2 Have a winning profile…
Whether for your company or yourself, getting your LinkedIn profile right is essential, because you must make a good first impression. Be concise, but don’t leave out key facts. Including a good image on your profile is believed to attract up to six times more4 visitors to your page.

3 Get your posts and content right…
Using LinkedIn simply to broadcast your sales messages or beg for business isn’t recommended. And people see right through any “modest bragging” (ie making a seemingly humble statement to draw attention to your achievements).
More than 130,ooo articles are created on LinkedIn every week5, so, your content has to be up to scratch. Think carefully before commenting, sharing or liking other people’s posts, because it will influence perceptions of your business. Be selective.

4 Be a LinkedIn regular…
If you’re using LinkedIn just a few times a month, your chances of success are very limited. You’re better to set aside 10-15 minutes two or three times a week for your LinkedIn activity, commenting on, liking and sharing posts, starting and joining conversations, congratulating your connections on their successes and anniversaries, etc. In tandem with posting your own content, this will ensure that you consistently appear on the site.

5 Always be totally professional…
LinkedIn is not the same as other social media channels. It’s a professional platform. Showing some personality is good, but always be professional. If you wouldn’t say something in a face-to-face professional meeting, don’t say it on LinkedIn. Avoid arguments and consider all LinkedIn communication to be public (it can easily be screen-shot and shared).

6 Join the right groups…
A good way of ensuring that you’re having the right conversation with the right people is to join the right groups on LinkedIn. There are various groups for UK SMEs. Normally, group managers review requests to join and may ask for additional information to make sure that you meet their membership criteria. Membership approval is solely up to the group. Once you become a member, you can make, like and comment on group posts, thereby raising your profile. LinkedIn provides advice on finding and joining groups6.

And finally… 7, think long term
It’s unrealistic to expect sales straight away from your LinkedIn activity. As with many things in business, you must take a longer-term view.

If you invest enough time and effort, it could be an important part of your sales and marketing strategy.