How to Get LinkedIn for Small Business

Ray Sidney-Smith presented a workshop about how to use LinkedIn for small business. Here are some takeaways and important points to consider when using LinkedIn as a small business owner. LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking platform today. They also happen to now be owned by Microsoft. As a Small Business Owner, you may think… Read more »

The post How to Get LinkedIn for Small Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Ray Sidney-Smith presented a workshop about how to use LinkedIn for small business. Here are some takeaways and important points to consider when using LinkedIn as a small business owner.

LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking platform today. They also happen to now be owned by Microsoft. As a Small Business Owner, you may think that LinkedIn is purely for keeping an updated “Web resume,” but you’d be heartily mistaken. LinkedIn is a dynamic, rich environment for developing your professional/industry reputation, building your company’s reputation, recruit talent within and outside your community or network, market your business, and increases your sales. Here’s an overview of the LinkedIn platform and what each has to offer your business.

LinkedIn Profiles

This is where it all begins. LinkedIn allows you as a business owner to create a user account and profile so that you can best represent yourself. You can create your profile using whatever email you’d like (and add additional email addresses–both personal and professional–that people you know might use to connect with you on LinkedIn) and then follow through the onboarding process. The onboarding process attempts to have you input your interests, work experience, and other data points that gives LinkedIn a good picture of you professionally. Remember, you don’t need to tell LinkedIn everything, but you want to put in as much as is necessary to get your profile mostly complete (above Beginner or Intermediate according to LinkedIn’s Profile Strength indicator).

Your professional engagement begins for your business with the connections you make and the content you share on LinkedIn as the owner of your business. It continues with additional engagement in LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups is a powerful community-building tool where groups are people with shared interests. Those interests are for those who need your professional expertise, products, or services. So, while you might join a few active LinkedIn Groups where you are among colleagues, your main groups to be active in are those where your target audience is and engages.

The power is in that while people sometimes engage by going to LinkedIn.com and visit the Groups forums, most people engage with the Groups discussions via email conversations and daily/weekly digests they receive from LinkedIn about the groups of which they are members. It’s similar to having a large email list without the need to maintain it. LinkedIn is doing the work for you.

The focus for you is to be helpful and provide only the most valuable content in these LinkedIn Groups so that people don’t ever feel like you are spamming them, and that they look forward to your assistance and content.

LinkedIn Company and Showcase Pages

Remember, the goal of all content is to inform, entertain, and persuade. And, while it may be good to have that content also shared from your blog, curated from others, to your profile’s connections, there are people on LinkedIn who don’t know you but do know your company. For that, you want to create Company and Showcase Pages as appropriate to engage them so that you and your brand stay “top of mind” when potential customers are ready to buy.

LinkedIn Company Pages are the actual entity that exists and represents your primary business. Underneath that, you can create what are known as Showcase Pages, or sub-pages that can act as company divisions, product channels, service lines, business areas (human resources, marketing, accounting/finance, etc.), or any other slice of your company that has an external audience with whom you want to share content through updates.

Now, you can create or curate that informative, entertaining, and/or persuasive content out to audiences not connected to your individually. But, sometimes you just don’t have time, and that takes us next to “paying to play.”

LinkedIn Advertising

In the world of Social Media, it was once heretical to talk about advertising, but that’s no longer the case. In fact, now it’s almost impossible to get seen without spending money on social networks such as Facebook (e.g., boosting posts, placing advertisements, or promoting your pages) or Twitter (e.g., promoted tweets). On LinkedIn, this comes in the form of sponsoring content updates, and placing text and image advertisements, that appear throughout the LinkedIn ecosystem.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Next in the world of LinkedIn pay-to-play, you have the ability to put your social selling on steroids. By engaging directly with leads without the limitations of LinkedIn’s profiles, LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows you to search and prime leads (individuals who can buy from or refer you) for conversion. You have the ability to InMail message them, watch their company and profile updates (and engage with them), and connect with them. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a completely separate platform from LinkedIn.com and designed with sales in mind, so it’s got an effectively-focused layout to do just that. It’s well worth at least designing a social sales strategy for your business and then trying out the 30-day free trial.

Altogether, LinkedIn gives you opportunities to build your professional reputation, broadcast your brand’s value to an external audience, and engage in talent acquisition (not discussed here but if you can learn more about their job tools for employers) via the world’s largest online pool of professionals. There are many tools on LinkedIn, and one-third of the American population is there (i.e., working professionals who need your products and services); your goal is to build your profile and page, engage them effectively, and provide compelling calls-to-action for them to buy from you when they have the need or want.

The post How to Get LinkedIn for Small Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2

This is the second post in a two-part series. To read Part One, click here. Last week, we talked about how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications strategies. As a reminder, these strategies can be divided into six main categories: Executive Visibility Media Relations Content Marketing Events Recruitment Staff & Membership Morale Last… Read more »

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Integrating Social Media and Marketing - Part 2This is the second post in a two-part series. To read Part One, click here.

Last week, we talked about how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications strategies. As a reminder, these strategies can be divided into six main categories:

  1. Executive Visibility
  2. Media Relations
  3. Content Marketing
  4. Events
  5. Recruitment
  6. Staff & Membership Morale

Last week, we outlined a few ways in which you can incorporate social media into executive visibility, media relations, and content marketing. This week, we will be covering using social media for events, recruitment, and staff & membership morale.

Events

Whether you’re hosting an event or attending a conference, there are always opportunities to market your business. If you know who will be attending the event and would like to engage with those attendees, create Twitter lists to organize your targets. This makes it easier to follow what these people are saying and to start a dialogue with them over social media. If you know some of the content for the event ahead of time, schedule social media posts to alleviate the pressure of posting during the event. Make sure to create or use hashtags for the event so that your posts will show up when others search the event or hashtag.

Recruitment

Attracting and retaining the right talent can be a challenge for small business owners. We often think of social media as a way to recruit clients, but it can also be used as a tool for attracting employees. Many potential employees will check out a company’s social media channels, not just the company website. Post pictures of your office brownbag to show your commitment to professional development. Share posts about the community day of service in which your staff participated to demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility. Retweet an employee’s message about enjoying happy hour to show that your team has fun working together. All of these tactics can help potential employees see the benefits of working at your business.

Staff/Membership Morale

Many small businesses will tell you that, when their staff are happy, they are more productive and stay at the organization longer. The same can be said for member or partner relationships. Social media is a great way to acknowledge staff, members, and even customers. Use Facebook to highlight mini-bios of staff on their work anniversaries and talk about why you appreciate having them at your organization. Tag and thank members when they renew their membership. Give a shout-out on Twitter to a partner organization when they win an award or a new contract. Making people feel appreciated and valued will make them more loyal to your small business.

Social media is a critical tool for marketing and business growth. We shouldn’t think of it as a standalone tactic, though, but rather as an integrated tool for supporting all other marketing and communications efforts.

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2

This is the second post in a two-part series. To read Part One, click here. Last week, we talked about how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications strategies. As a reminder, these strategies can be divided into six main categories: Executive Visibility Media Relations Content Marketing Events Recruitment Staff & Membership Morale Last… Read more »

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Integrating Social Media and Marketing - Part 2This is the second post in a two-part series. To read Part One, click here.

Last week, we talked about how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications strategies. As a reminder, these strategies can be divided into six main categories:

  1. Executive Visibility
  2. Media Relations
  3. Content Marketing
  4. Events
  5. Recruitment
  6. Staff & Membership Morale

Last week, we outlined a few ways in which you can incorporate social media into executive visibility, media relations, and content marketing. This week, we will be covering using social media for events, recruitment, and staff & membership morale.

Events

Whether you’re hosting an event or attending a conference, there are always opportunities to market your business. If you know who will be attending the event and would like to engage with those attendees, create Twitter lists to organize your targets. This makes it easier to follow what these people are saying and to start a dialogue with them over social media. If you know some of the content for the event ahead of time, schedule social media posts to alleviate the pressure of posting during the event. Make sure to create or use hashtags for the event so that your posts will show up when others search the event or hashtag.

Recruitment

Attracting and retaining the right talent can be a challenge for small business owners. We often think of social media as a way to recruit clients, but it can also be used as a tool for attracting employees. Many potential employees will check out a company’s social media channels, not just the company website. Post pictures of your office brownbag to show your commitment to professional development. Share posts about the community day of service in which your staff participated to demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility. Retweet an employee’s message about enjoying happy hour to show that your team has fun working together. All of these tactics can help potential employees see the benefits of working at your business.

Staff/Membership Morale

Many small businesses will tell you that, when their staff are happy, they are more productive and stay at the organization longer. The same can be said for member or partner relationships. Social media is a great way to acknowledge staff, members, and even customers. Use Facebook to highlight mini-bios of staff on their work anniversaries and talk about why you appreciate having them at your organization. Tag and thank members when they renew their membership. Give a shout-out on Twitter to a partner organization when they win an award or a new contract. Making people feel appreciated and valued will make them more loyal to your small business.

Social media is a critical tool for marketing and business growth. We shouldn’t think of it as a standalone tactic, though, but rather as an integrated tool for supporting all other marketing and communications efforts.

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 2 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Do I want to own or manage the recruiting process?

In my most recent blog post Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter, I began breaking down the process by raising questions you should ask before you decide to hire a recruiter. We considered the first question: Why hire a recruiter in the first place? In this post, we’ll dig deeper into your role in the recruitment process. Let’s assume my …

In my most recent blog post Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter, I began breaking down the process by raising questions you should ask before you decide to hire a recruiter. We considered the first question: Why hire a recruiter in the first place? In this post, we’ll dig deeper into your role in the recruitment process. Let’s assume my ...

Do I want to own or manage the recruiting process?

In my most recent blog post Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter, I began breaking down the process by raising questions you should ask before you decide to hire a recruiter. We considered the first question: Why hire a recruiter in the first place? In this post, we’ll dig deeper into your role in the recruitment process. Let’s assume my …

In my most recent blog post Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter, I began breaking down the process by raising questions you should ask before you decide to hire a recruiter. We considered the first question: Why hire a recruiter in the first place? In this post, we’ll dig deeper into your role in the recruitment process. Let’s assume my ...

Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 1

This week, Alexandria SBDC staff had the opportunity to attend a conference organized by the Louisiana SBDC and America’s SBDC. The topic of focus was how SBDCs can better engage with younger entrepreneurs. One of the sessions was presented by Blair Broussard of ARPR and discussed how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications… Read more »

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 1 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Integrating Social Media and Marketing- Part 1This week, Alexandria SBDC staff had the opportunity to attend a conference organized by the Louisiana SBDC and America’s SBDC. The topic of focus was how SBDCs can better engage with younger entrepreneurs. One of the sessions was presented by Blair Broussard of ARPR and discussed how to incorporate social media into marketing and communications strategies. These strategies can be divided into six main categories:

  1. Executive Visibility
  2. Media Relations
  3. Content Marketing
  4. Events
  5. Recruitment
  6. Staff & Membership Morale

In this two-part blog, we have outlined a few ways in which you can incorporate social media into executive visibility, media relations, and content marketing. We’ll be posting next week on using social media for events, recruitment, and staff & membership morale.

Executive Visibility

Many small business owners may not think of themselves as a marketing asset. However, potential clients often want to “know” the small business they’re working with, and the owner is the face of that business. Social media is a great way for business owners to be visible to their audiences. Make sure to have a good headshot, and use a picture of yourself on all of your social media channels. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people and gives you the opportunity to highlight your accomplishments. Keep your profile updated, and engage with potential clients by sharing information. If you have been invited to speak at an event, make sure you have a social media plan in place to share your thoughts and connect with your audience. Any opportunity to promote yourself is also an opportunity to promote your business.

Media Relations

When it comes to sending press releases and trying to gain attention for your small business, social media can be a great tool to amplify your efforts. Reporters get a lot of email, sometimes thousands of messages a day. Because of this overwhelming amount of information, some turn to social media for story ideas. Follow the reporters you would like to target and begin interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter. Once you have built a relationship, tag them on interesting stories that are relevant to their media outlet. This relationship on social media may make them more likely to respond to more detailed stories or to cover your press releases.

Content Marketing

In our increasingly competitive world, content marketing is a critical aspect of reaching you potential clients. Think of content marketing as the “free samples” of the business world. It establishes you as an authority in your field and makes your audience more likely to trust you when you pitch them to buy your products or services. Social media is a great way to increase the reach of your content marketing. Once you have created your content, whether that is a blog, a white paper, or a case study, you can use social media to distribute that content. Share a link to your blog on Facebook. Post your white paper on LinkedIn and ask your network to provide comments. Tweet a link to your case study and tag other businesses, consultants, or employees that were involved. All of these actions reach more people and get the word out about your business.

Check back next week for the second part of our social media marketing series!

The post Integrating Social Media and Marketing: Part 1 appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter

Graduation season always reminds me of insights I have gained from my favorite graduation speech of all time. In This is Water, David Foster Wallace begins with this anecdote: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ …

Graduation season always reminds me of insights I have gained from my favorite graduation speech of all time. In This is Water, David Foster Wallace begins with this anecdote: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ ...

Debunking the Hunt for a Recruiter

Graduation season always reminds me of insights I have gained from my favorite graduation speech of all time. In This is Water, David Foster Wallace begins with this anecdote: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ …

Graduation season always reminds me of insights I have gained from my favorite graduation speech of all time. In This is Water, David Foster Wallace begins with this anecdote: “There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ ...