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Why Small Businesses are Using LinkedIn, by Barbara Kuppersmith

Posted By Becky Hull, Monday, June 21, 2010

 Did you know that LinkedIn is used by 70 million business professionals in 200 countries and 170 industries? And that a new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second of the day. Is there any doubt that LinkedIn is to business networking what Facebook is to social media and that it will continue to grow exponentially going forward?

 If you are not a user of LinkedIn, it is important to understand why it has become so popular and the benefits that can be derived by participating in this vast networking facility. Ultimately, I believe you will find that LinkedIn creates a level playing field that provides small business owners and entrepreneurs the ability to establish their brand on a local, national or international basis, a phenomenon that simply did not exist prior to LinkedIn. I started using LinkedIn shortly after its inception. I utilized LinkedIn extensively as a small business recruiter and business developer to find candidates, business development leads and business contacts and have developed a network of over 400 connections. Because of my expertise I began to teach job seekers how to use LinkedIn. It has led to the realization that if used properly, small business owners, as much, if not more than job seekers, can extract benefits that were simply not possible prior to LinkedIn.

So as a small business owner why use LinkedIn?

First, LinkedIn is here to stay. In a few years, if not sooner, if you don’t have a complete profile you will be seen as not with the times. Second, it is a great way to maximize your brand, be it for personal or business reasons. Third, there is no better way for you to access millions of people, both domestically and internationally, or for those people to find the products or services you provide. LinkedIn will simplify and multiply your ability to reach through your network. How many people can your reach? Well, take for example the network that I’ve established over the years, which gives me exposure to over 7,411,500+million people. Isn’t that an amazing number of people I can touch or help!

Benefits of LinkedIn:

  • Create a brand presence on line of you and your product or service. This will make you memorable to business connections and possible clients.
  •  Establish an online site where potential customers can find out more about you
  • Add credibility with recommendations Help to network and stay in touch
  • Connect with other professionals
  • Create contact with new people
  • Find contacts within an industry, company or group as a target market for business development
  •  Reconnect with past colleagues, alumni, clients, etc.
  • Find people with your expertise
  •  Give advice to be seen as an expert Keep your business "top of mind” through updates, postings and events

How to start using LinkedIn:

  • Set up a profile. This should include at least headline, marketing summary, company with description of your position, professional picture, link to your website and contact information
  •  Connect with people
  •  Request recommendations
  • Join groups

 To summarize, what is the essence of LinkedIn that makes it different? If utilized correctly, you can establish a brand online, build relationships and reach millions of people.

Barbara Kuppersmith teaches business owners and Job Seekers how to maximize their use of LINKEDIN. Also works with Job Seekers on how to get past "the black hole” of on-line job applications through networking, research, interview skills and resume writing. In her spare time Barbara does recruiting and business development at BRKSolutionsGroup, llc Barbara@brkSolutionsGroup.com

Tags:  business development  LinkedIn  profile  resume  social networking 

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Thoughts on Demystifying Social Media

Posted By Becky Hull, Sunday, January 17, 2010

SOCIAL MEDIA: When we first put social media on the agenda, I was a bit wary of the topic…not because I don't think we should use it, but more because I felt that it was one of MANY ways to market your business and should be considered within a larger context. However, for small business—for someone on a VERY limited budget, it is exactly the tool to consider!

Social media acts as a lightning rod for people. Though I consider myself somewhat technologically savvy, I had shied away from Twitter and Facebook until recently. I understood LinkedIn, thought it was incredibly useful and it met my needs as I networked my way to connect with colleagues I had worked with almost twenty years ago.

Facebook, like myspace, originally, was where my teens were, and therefore, I wasn't allowed. However, I logged on and created my profile. Even my twenty year old son became my friend. (Not my 16 year old daughter, though.)

I soon became sucked in to the Big Three (FB, Twitter and LinkedIn), spending way too much time on them. I had little to say but I did enjoy checking out what my virtual friends were up to. At some point, not too far along, I realized that I never really wanted to know what my BFF from third grade drank at Starbucks that morning. I swore Facebook off...for personal use.

Quite another story for business—when we launched B.I.G. back in September, Jackie Somers nominated B.I.G. for an American Express "Shine a Light” grant. The grant is terrific, awarding small businesses money each year. We shared our nomination with friends and colleagues through our Facebook personal pages as well through our B.I.G. page and in just under two weeks, we had qualified for the judging round (and we hadn't really launched the website yet). Just by telling our story and sharing, we had over 1500 people reading our endorsement! What a great way to get the word out. Since then, we have started a fan page!

So my take on it is this...we (as marketers) need to use social media wisely and carefully but we need to use it. Persona is everything and just like any direct mail package, press release or print ad you create for your business, stay on message and be consistent. And remember that 80% of social media is NOT selling—it is engaging.

Maintain all the tenets of the "old” way of marketing. Know your audience. Build your brand. Decide prior to launch what your goals are and work to make every marketing tactic lead toward those goals.

Five (relatively simple) Steps:

1) Create a page. The time commitment these take can be extensive. There are tools such as oomph.com, bit.ly.com etc, that can shorten what you want to say and schedule when you want to say it. Spend some time exploring the different sites and what they offer. Check out someone else's page with a similar business or lifestyle and see what you think. Learn from others. Read The Twitter Book to learn more about how to use Twitter.

2) Create your brand. What do you want people to know about you? Your product? Be innovative, try a few different things. The cost is time. Create different campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn and experiment with offers. Create purchase intent by driving your customers first to explore your site, then purchase.

3) Change it up. This is also where the issue of time comes in. But don't go crazy, if you are sick of your site, that doesn't mean your clients are. You see your page everyday, they don't.

4) Choose your friends wisely. Join groups and befriend those that make sense to you and your business.

5) Remember that social media is part of a larger marketing mix (if you have dollars to spend). In the meantime, enjoy and stay focused!

We are experimenting ourselves. Let us know how we are doing. We know we don't post enough, blog enough or twitter enough. We are working on it. We are introducing B.I.G. through Twitter, facebook and LinkedIn to build our membership in 2010. We have a YouTube video that we created when we had our launch party. We are trying to use that too! Work with us to help us reach our goal...you can follow us on Facebook at Business Ideas Group, and our B.I.G. fan page, on Twitter and on LinkedIn at Business Ideas Group (B.I.G.). Keep the conversation going....and keep it relevant.

Tags:  facebook  getting the word out there  linkedin  marketing  members  new members  pr for meetings  social media  twitter 

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