ask the expert | What Can LinkedIn Do for My Little Biz?

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Today we have a post from our expert partner in online marketing: Martina Iring from

Small Business Bliss

. She is answering a question I get asked often...

"What can LinkedIn do for my little biz?"

I think that any biz owner can benefit from having a LinkedIn profile. How active you should be on LinkedIn all depends on whether or not your target market is there. If your business caters to other business owners in any way (ie. B2B) then LinkedIn is a great place to spend some of your marketing time. But it also has some great things to offer for a small business that caters to consumers (ie. B2C).

If you’re new to LinkedIn or not really sure how you can use it to your best advantage, read on…

Your Online Resume

LinkedIn essentially acts as your online resume. Anyone that searches for your name online is more likely than not to see your profile in search results (more on that later). I personally like looking at LinkedIn profiles. They give a nice, general synopsis of what a person does and what they’re about business wise.

By having recommendations and a strong, well-written presence, a LinkedIn profile acts as a credibility tool and shows someone thinking to do business with you professional insight and information about you.

What should your profile have?

  • a nice picture of you
  • a strong overview of what your small business is about and why you do what you do
  • recommendations
  • links to your website and social media

Take advantage of all the fields and fill out your profile as much as you can.

A Networking Tool

Even the smallest business will have contacts. Whether it’s the owner of the local store you want to sell your wares in, or the accountant that does your taxes, your business will have a network that helps it run. LinkedIn makes it easy to keep in touch.

It also opens doors for new connections. Many people use LinkedIn search to find professionals. When someone is searching for an individual in a particular industry, LinkedIn will bring up search results based on connections. So, if one of your accountant’s connections is looking for your service, you will show up higher in search results than a LinkedIn user that has no degree of relationship to the searcher. And the searcher just might reach out to your accountant for a personal recommendation.

You can also use LinkedIn to scope out and search for new potential contacts to network with. It’s a great place to meet new business people and establish new relationships.

Search Engine Juice

A LinkedIn profile is a great way to support your search marketing efforts. As I mentioned above, more often than not when you Google a person or business, LinkedIn shows up pretty high in the search results. Make sure that you optimize your profile with your keywords and include the website and social media links mentioned above. In terms of optimization, your headline is the most important area so make sure that your keywords are there.

A well optimized profile is also important for the internal LinkedIn search engine we discussed above.

LinkedIn Goodies

LinkedIn itself has plenty of goodies that any business can benefit from, such as getting your name in front of your target market, or doing some

free market research

.

The groups area allows you to participate in discussions and get access to resources shared by other group members. If you’re B2B marketing, find groups in your industry and start participating and networking. Demonstrate your expertise! You can even start and administer your own group.

Even if you’re B2C and your industry is not represented in groups, you still can benefit from small business related groups and the resources and support you can get there.

LinkedIn Answers is another fantastic tool to take advantage of. You can either use it to ask questions (to help yourself out) or answer questions (to demonstrate your expertise).

Before choosing to participate on any social media channel, you first must decide if it is right for you and your little biz. LinkedIn is one of those channels that makes sense for any small business – how you actually use it will depend on your target market and your goals.

Martina Iring works with entrepreneurs overwhelmed with all that web stuff. She’s on a mission to help the little guys make sense of internet marketing, teaching small business owners how being online is not only profitable, but enjoyable! Her blog, Small Business Bliss, offers up gobs of marketing info and doses of inspiration just for little biz owners. Be sure to go visit and grab a free website improvement guide.