Are you looking to expand your firm’s reach in its industry? Perhaps you are looking to establish your leadership team as influencers and thought leaders. Maybe you are looking for potential strategic or business partners, or even talented new employees. Of all the social media tools available to you, LinkedIn is your best bet to achieve these and similar outcomes.

How to Use LinkedIn for Business Purposes

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In this article we look at, 1) introduction to LinkedIn, 2) purpose of LinkedIn, 3) benefits of LinkedIn, 4) how to use LinkedIn to grow business reach, 5) hiring on LinkedIn, 6) terms specific to LinkedIn, and 7) target marketing with LinkedIn groups: Citi.

INTRODUCTION TO LINKEDIN

There are other specialized industry specific social networks, but none has the reach of LinkedIn. Since its founding in 2006, LinkedIn has grown from 4,500 users in its first month of operation to 300 million users as of May of 2014. With an average of two users signing up per second, LinkedIn is on track to reach its eventual three billion-user goal. Currently, LinkedIn has a presence in 200 countries and territories, and is available in 20 languages.

In addition to its reach, no professional social network has the brand recognition of LinkedIn, either. Moreover, none has the credibility with firms, hiring managers, and industry journalists, all of which are key when it comes to networking. Indeed, in terms of hiring alone, the percentage of recruiters using LinkedIn profiles in recruiting efforts increased from 78% in 2010 to 93% in 2012, according to a recent survey by Jobvite.

Free Accounts vs. Paid Accounts

Anyone can sign up for a free LinkedIn account simply by visiting www.linkedin.com and filling out the required information. Free accounts are called Basic accounts and have limited features, with further features available through (paid) Premium Accounts. The different Premium Accounts come with different features and prices based on your intended use of LinkedIn. They include:

  • Business: This membership type is designed for users who are looking to expand their firm’s profile or their professional brand. Premium Business accounts include spotlight, Business, Business Plus, Executive, and Pro. They range from $7.99 to $549.99 per month and features varying numbers of InMails, introductions, increased search visibility, access to search filters, the ability to create varying numbers of search alerts, and enhanced profile customization features.
  • Job Seeker: Designed for professionals who are actively or passively looking for a job, this membership level includes Job Seeker Basic, Job Seeker, and Job Seeker Plus. Costs range from $19.99 to $59.99 a month. For that price, you receive salary data for job listings, along with similar features to the Business premium accounts.
  • Recruiter: This membership type is intended for use by recruiters, hiring managers and other HR professionals to help them identify and recruit potential employees and interns. Prices range from $47.99 to $719.95 a month for a Talent Basic, Recruiter Lite, or Recruiter Corporate account. Moreover, with one of those accounts, you receive a customized interface to manage the recruiting process and collaborate with internal team members, as well as similar features to other premium accounts.
  • Sales: This is meant for professionals typically engaged in B2B sales, seeking to generate sales leads and identify decision makers at firms in their target market. The Sales Basic, Sales Plus, Sales Executive, and Sales Pro Premium account types offer many of the features of the previous account types, such as varying numbers of InMails and Introductions. Monthly fees range from $23.99 to $439.99 per month.

More information on the varying membership levels can be found here.

Paid membership levels are one of three core revenue generators for the firm, according to founder Reid Hoffman. The others are job listings and advertising. When Hoffman founded it in December of 2002, and officially launched six months later, he, and his team of former PayPal executives were looking to create a site which was “about individual professionals doing business with their network,” according to a 2009 interview with Fortune. According to Hoffman, “We want to get all of the world’s professionals on LinkedIn. We should be relevant to professionals everywhere[.]”

PURPOSE OF LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is a professional networking site commonly used by individual employees and job seekers to grow their careers. It can be used for: 

Networking on professional level

LinkedIn is designed to facilitate networking between professionals through use on InMail, Introductions, and Connections. As a professional you can manage your personal brand through a well-maintained LinkedIn profile, connect with other users in your industry using InMail, Introductions and Invites, and through participation in LinkedIn Groups. Possession of a Basic account (or any Premium account) allows you to invite people into your LinkedIn network by inviting them to connect.

You can do so in one of three ways:

1. Import your contacts: You can import your contacts from the address book of one of the major email clients you use. LinkedIn will then automatically send invites to all LinkedIn users who have created an account using the email addresses you have provided.

2. Search for existing contacts: The second way is to search for your existing colleagues. You can run a search using a number of parameters such as name, employer, location, and more. However, it is critical to understand that the ability to search all of LinkedIn’s users fully is a feature-only accessible by users with a paid account. A search by a user with a Basic account will only return the first 100 results. The ability to view the full profiles of those LinkedIn users who have not made their profile private and who are not in your network is limited to paid accounts.

Further, inviting users to connect does not automatically result in that member becoming a part of your network. The invitee must accept the invitation. In fact, when you invite a member not in a contact list you have supplied, LinkedIn will ask how you know that member and prompt you to supply their email address. This allows LinkedIn to limit the number of emails a user might receive from users they do not know. It also allows them to monetize their user base.

So, say you have invited all of your contacts, and have stumbled upon the profile of a hiring manager, journalist, or other professional you would like to add to your network. How can you do so if you do not have their email address? LinkedIn offers two ways to do this. The first is Introductions: you can ask one of your contacts who is connected to the member with whom you are looking to connect, to introduce you, using the Introduction feature. Basic account holders receive five Introductions per month.

What if the member with whom you would like to connect is out of the network and out of the networks of your Connections? LinkedIn offers InMail – a LinkedIn specific version of email that allows you to reach out to any LinkedIn member. A set number of InMails come standard with each paid account. InMails can also be purchased for $10.00 each. LinkedIn guarantees a response from the InMail recipient within seven days; otherwise, it provides you with another InMail free.

3. Join LinkedIn Groups: A third way is to join LinkedIn Groups and connect with fellow LinkedIn users there. LinkedIn Groups are networking groups for professionals united by a specific commonality, such as an alma mater, an industry, or an occupation. There are over 2.1 million groups and the average LinkedIn user is a member of seven different groups.

Asking/answering questions

You can use your LinkedIn account to ask questions of other industry professionals. You can also participate in a LinkedIn Group and answer questions. Actively and correctly answering questions in a LinkedIn Group may gain you recognition as an expert in a particular subject. Your Company Page can also be another vehicle for you to offer customer service.

Research

Premium accounts offer a number of features that allow you to perform research on firms in your industry, or even on your own firm’s activities. For example, the Sales Executive account allows you to monitor the LinkedIn activity of your salespeople. You can also use LinkedIn to conduct formal research. You can send members of your network, or more likely, a subgroup of your network, links to an online survey, or use LinkedIn to prospect for the contact information of those who you wish to survey.

Hiring/finding employment

One of the key benefits of LinkedIn is its users’ ability to search through job listings and apply for jobs. Every day, over 44,000 applications are submitted to firms through LinkedIn. You can identify hiring managers, and potentially, gain an advantage over other applicants in your job search. Your profile serves as an online resume, one that is scrutinized far more than online resumes on other job boards. Integration with apps like Behance allows you to upload your portfolio. You can list volunteer opportunities and interests as well, giving potential employers an idea of who you are personally, as well as professionally. Further, integration of LinkedIn with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter provide further insight into you as a person and gives potential employers a sense of your social media savvy.

How & Why To Use LinkedIn.com

 

BENEFITS OF LINKEDIN

Given its high usage by affluent, ambitious professionals – a lucrative target market, LinkedIn can be used to help you achieve a number of strategic business and marketing goals. The benefits of using LinkedIn include:

  • Extending your personal and corporate brand visibility;
  • Establish your leadership as thought leaders and influencers in the industry;
  • Sharing news and information with your network;
  • Finding industry insights through participation in groups, review of LinkedIn profiles, and soliciting information from one’s network;
  • Identifying and networking with potential strategic partners;
  • Identifying and recruiting potential hires; and
  • Generating sales leads.

HOW TO USE LINKEDIN TO GROW BUSINESS REACH

LinkedIn Marketing: 5 Steps to Grow Your Business on LinkedIn

 

Increase your visibility

  • By ensuring that your profile is kept current and features regular status updates. Join a LinkedIn Group and actively participate by answering industry-related questions and answering those of others.
  • By setting up a Company Page that is kept up-to-date and share firm news through status updates. (You can automate this by cross-posting social media content using a third-party tool like HootSuite). Once you have set up a Company Page, ask all employees to add their current employment to their profile, which will increase your visibility with their respective networks. (Note: engaging your staff in this manner should be done only after clear, written social media guidelines and expectations have been laid out.) There are over 3 million Company Pages on LinkedIn, a number that is growing steadily.
  • By creating an industry- or firm-related LinkedIn Group. Regularly post topics for discussion, and invite all of your contacts to participate.

Conduct research on potential partners and competition

  • If you are a Premium user, use the tools available to you to conduct research on potential partners through in-Group networking and targeted searches.
  • Look at the Company Pages, status updates, and even LinkedIn profiles of the employees of rival firms to gain actionable strategic insights about your competition.

Tell your story using multimedia like video

  • Tell your company story using multimedia like video: Other social media tools, such as YouTube and Flickr, can be integrated with LinkedIn. This allows you the ability to broaden the reach of the story you were telling with those other tools to the LinkedIn audience. Photo and video content garners far more engagement online than simple text updates.

Advertise on LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn lets you create text-based ads on your choice of a Cost-Per-click or Cost Per Mille model, and target based on LinkedIn’s search filters. LinkedIn also offers sponsored content, which can increase the visibility of your update content in the feeds of other LinkedIn users. Given LinkedIn’s narrow user base, than, say Facebook, LinkedIn is good for very narrow, specific marketing efforts aimed at subgroups of professionals.
LinkedIn Ads

© LinkedIn

HIRING ON LINKEDIN

You can easily post a job to LinkedIn, with or without a Recruiter account:

1. When logged into your account, click Jobs at the top of your homepage, and then the Post a job button on the right.

LinkedIn Post A Job

© LinkedIn

2. Complete the required information on the following page. At the bottom, enter the job’s location to determine pricing. You can also “Sponsor” your job – paying a premium to increase the visibility of your job in other user’s search feeds.

3. Click Continue. Enter your payment information and click Review order.

Once you have posted your job, it will be searchable by all users. You can share the posting with your network or other contacts on or off LinkedIn to generate applications. You can also search for users who might be ideal and invite them to apply via InMail.

Hiring using LinkedIn is similar to hiring using competing job boards and/or your corporate website, with some notable exceptions. First, the LinkedIn user base skews towards white collar workers, and LinkedIn’s premium search filters are more robust than many other job boards, making it easier for recruiters to find employees with the specific skillsets they need. Second, the InMail and Introduction features allow job seekers to target the person in charge of hiring rather than just the corporate email account associate with the job listing. Another key difference between LinkedIn is the Groups feature allows job seekers, corporate recruiters, staff, managers, and executives alike to network based on their similar issues. This, and its brand reputation, make it the premier destination for job seekers to look for professional jobs, professionals to network, and corporations to extend their profile among influencers.

TERMS SPECIFIC TO LINKEDIN

Before fully taking the LinkedIn plunge, here are a few related terms that are indispensable to know:

Connections: users who are members of your network. You have sent them an invite and they have accepted or vice versa.

Second-degree Connections: users who are members of a network of a Connection of yours. They are not a Connection of yours however.

Third-degree Connections: Connections of your second-degree Connections.

InMail: LinkedIn-specific emails users can send to any other LinkedIn users.

Introductions: When a user introduces two unconnected members of their network to each other.

Recommendations: written endorsements by your Connections attesting to your skills, expertise, and/or job/volunteer performance

TARGET MARKETING WITH LINKEDIN GROUPS: CITI

LinkedIn’s user’s ability to target narrow groups of users is one of its greatest assets. With this capability, individuals and firms can ensure that they are getting their marketing messages out to exactly the right people. One firm that has harnessed this capability effectively is Citi, which used LinkedIn Groups to target professional women in a recent brand awareness campaign. Their Group, “Connect: Professional Women’s Network”, launched in April 2012 It was heavily discussion driven, incentivized participation and membership with giveaways of Premium accounts and InMails. Discussions included problem solving challenges, solicitations of customer insights, and polls.

Their campaign netted 43,000 Group members in a four-month period, with more than 30% logging in weekly – double the engagement of the average LinkedIn Group. By the end of its first year, 115,000 members had joined, and by July 2014, that number has grown to over 332,000. For its initial success, Connect also garnered a 2013 shorty award for best use of social Media for Financial Services. However, its ongoing success can be seen in the considerable numbers of professional women connected with and engaged with the Citi brand.

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1 comment

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Thank you very much for publishing this article. I found it really helpful. I have had a LinkedIn account for years but never actively used until after reading this article. Do you have any tips on how I can get more people to answer my questions posted on LinkedIn?