How to market yourself on LinkedIn
Marketing via LinkedIn
If you’re a professional, then the chances are that you’ve got a profile on LinkedIn. There’s also a fairly good chance that, once you’ve set your LinkedIn profile up, you give it very little thought – noting who wants to connect with you, deciding if you want to join there network of contacts and not a lot else. This is a mistake, however, since, used in the right way, LinkedIn can be put to work as a powerful marketing tool, not least because, in terms of marketing, it has the ability to slip under the radar, delivering a ‘sell’ that doesn’t feel like a sell. And this, as any consumer will tell you, is the most effective selling technique of them all.
In some ways, it would be easy to categorise LinkedIn as the antisocial social network. It’s the platform which hasn’t got time to stop and chat, to share funny videos and discuss the latest Twitter spat between two celebrities you think you might have heard of. LinkedIn is far too busy being useful for any of that, and is looked upon mainly as a tool via which individuals can further their careers and build a strategic network of contacts. The specific nature of the way in which it is intended to be used – i.e. all business and no social – means that it can be underestimated when it comes to being used as a marketing tool, with the assumption being that it can be used to grow and develop your career as an individual, but not your business as a whole. There are two basic mistakes in this assumption, however. The first mistake is that there is a difference between your career and your business, whereas, in fact, they are one and the same thing. Anything which helps your career by bringing you into contact with the right people is going to help your business, not least because ‘the right people’, by definition, are likely to be interested in whatever it is that you’re selling.
The second mistake is the assumption that, because you can’t engage in ‘hard selling’ on LinkedIn, you can’t sell at all. The other social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al – allow you to communicate directly with consumers, in a manner which means you can forge a brand relationship with them. Within this relationship is a tacit acceptance that you’re going to try and sell them stuff. Indeed, a consumer who follows your business on Facebook and Twitter does so, at least in part, because they want to be the first to know when you launch a new product, redesign your range or cut your prices. The audience you’re talking to on LinkedIn, however, are in it for the same kind of professional benefits as you, and will not react positively if they feel they’re being blatantly sold to.
The process of using LinkedIn as a marketing tool begins with your title description. In some ways, it’s simple – it’s what you do or who you are. What it also is, however, is a device via which you can pull traffic to your profile via our good friends, keywords. Select the right keywords to include in your title and you’re more likely to appear in searches, both on LinkedIn and on Google. Bearing this in mind is the first step towards working with LinkedIn as a marketing tool rather than a glorified online CV.
Once you’ve got people to show an interest in your LinkedIn profile, you need to keep them interested, and you do this via the content of your profile. If this is beginning to sound familiar, then that’s because the same applies to every other aspect of your online presence – get them interested via tools like keywords, keep them interested through content marketing, turn them into customers – and the only real difference where LinkedIn is concerned lies in the highly targeted nature of the people you’re talking to. By definition, the contacts you make on LinkedIn are likely to be interested in your products and services and are liable to be open to learning more, just as long as you don’t make the mistake of being seen to sell too hard. Working in this field means that I make contact with marketing managers and directors on a daily basis, and my LinkedIn profile needs to be managed in a way which maximises these contacts. Take the right approach to LinkedIn and you can pull off the trick of turning a disparate and unconnected group of contacts into a single audience, all receiving the same message about you and your business via the content you present to them.
The mistake which many people make regarding LinkedIn is to separate it, in their marketing plan, from the other social networks. Put your LinkedIn profile in the hands of a professional agency, however, and it will soon be a powerful arm of your marketing push, building tools such as email marketing lists, gathering vital market research such as information on the latest questions which the people working in your field are asking each other, and keeping your profile vital by regularly updating both your personal and company pages.