Conversations with my clients have convinced me that people don’t understand the reach of LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn users tend to treat their profile as an online resume. They set it once then forget it. Big mistake! According to Social Brothers, a social media management and consulting firm, the average age of LinkedIn users is 43 versus 18-34 for both Facebook and Twitter. The average annual income of LinkedIn users is $109,000 versus $26,000-$50, 000 for both Facebook and Twitter. This is a strong and influential demographic and using all of LinkedIn’s capabilities to reach them is a smart business move. Most LinkedIn users are aware of its more obvious capabilities, but here are three less obvious ways to use LinkedIn to help you reach potential clients, solidify your online reputation and find people working inside of companies you are interested in speaking to.
1. Search Companies
Let’s say you want to speak to the Vice President of Marketing at Hubspot (one of my favorite companies). You can use the traditional method of emails, letters or phone calls. Good luck trying to get past the gate keepers who have been trained to keep you at a distance. Or you can search Companies on LinkedIn.
Simply type the name of the company you’re interested in into the search field. Your search results will be a list of people you are connected to who work inside the company. I tried this and was surprised to find that I knew two people working inside of Hubspot. Now I’m not looking to meet the Vice President of Marketing at Hubspot, but if I were what an advantage it would be to get a personal introduction from someone already working there. No more gatekeepers.
2. Join or Start a Group
Groups are online communities built around a particular topic or area of interest. Currently there are over 250,000 LinkedIn groups covering a wide variety of topics. Why join a group? When others view your Linkedin profile they will see the names and logos of all the groups you belong to. This involvement boosts your authority and lets people viewing your profile know that your interests are deep and diverse. In addition, being plugged into groups within your sphere of interest helps you learn from others.
Finding groups to join is easy. Type a keyword phrase into the Groups search field. The screenshot below shows the results for a search on the phrase “paul reed smith” (Paul Reed Smith or PRS, is a handmade electric guitar. I own one). This is a highly specialized area of interest so the results show only 3 groups. You can see the Join Group button on the right. If you can’t find just the right group to match your interest or expertise, the yellow Create a Group button on the left allows you to start your own.
3. Ask or Answer a Question
LinkedIn’s Answers feature is a great example of the collaborative nature of today’s social web. By asking a question you are tapping into the knowledge, expertise and experience of hundreds of thousands of people who can see, and if they choose, answer your question.
The screen capture below displays the screen you will see after selecting Answers from the drop down menu.
When you ask a question, LinkedIn prompts you to categorize the question so that others with expertise in that category can answer it. When answering a question, it is in your best interest to choose a question about something you really know well. Bear in mind that many people will be responding and the person who asked the question gets to choose what he/she believes to be the best answer. If your answer is chosen as the best, this will be reflected in your profile. The more best answers you provide, the more credibility you build… and that, after all, is the point.
Three under used features of LinkedIn:
- Company search
- Groups – join or start your own
- Questions – ask or answer
Now Back to You
What LinkedIn features have you found useful? Were you aware of the three I’ve covered here?