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LinkedIn for Business Development

Published 18 March 11 01:34 PM
So you created a LinkedIn profile detailing all your accomplishments and promotions over the years. You've also been steadily building your network of coworkers, clients and former classmates. But what is this effort really doing for you?

LinkedIn's potential lies in its ability to help you network with the people who will help you advance your career, whether those people are clients, peers or thought leaders in you industry. Network, however, is the key word. Simply adding someone to your list of LinkedIn connections won't do anything for your bottom line.

If your goal is to use LinkedIn for business development, think of your LinkedIn connections as a captive audience to hear your thoughts and ideas. On the flip side, your network can offer you insider information about your industry as well as strategies for moving your business forward. LinkedIn Groups foster this two-way conversation and help you expand your network beyond your former high school classmates.

Here are 4 ways groups can help you use LinkedIn for business development.

Establish yourself as an industry leader. Once you join groups that are relevant to you, you can contribute to the conversation by posting discussions and commenting on other threads. By posting your own discussions and commenting on others, you will broadcast your knowledge on a topic. You can post links within your comments to drive people back to your blog or professional website. Be sure that leaving insightful, helpful comments is your No. 1 priority, though. Too much self promotion or external linking will cause group members to tune you out. You may even get blocked from the group by its moderators.

Show off your presentation skills. Another way to use LinkedIn for business development is to showcase your public speaking and presentation skills. Did you give an interesting talk at your rotary club or lead a recent webinar? Put a link to it in relevant LinkedIn Groups. Be sure to entice readers to view your presentation with a couple sentences of summary copy. (Note: You can use Slideshare to upload a PowerPoint presentation to the web and share it on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.) 

Scrutinize suppliers. Increasingly more suppliers realize the importance of participating in LinkedIn groups. In addition to simply reviewing a company's website, you can also read and monitor a company's activities on LinkedIn. Do you like what you here? Great! You can feel more confident in partnering with the vendor. If you feel your business is evolving beyond that supplier's goals and philosophy, use LinkedIn groups to shop for new suppliers. Simply post a discussion explaining what products and services you're looking for. You're bound to receive a host of responses by eager suppliers.

Build your network. Of course, continuing to build your network is at the core of using LinkedIn for business development. Use LinkedIn groups to learn about the movers and shakers in your industry and make connections with influential people. If you get involved in an active LinkedIn discussion, feel free to send the participants an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Be sure to include a personal note in the invitation to introduce yourself and remind them you're a group member. Once you add them as a connection, continue to foster the relationship by engaging them in discussions and sending updates about your professional activities.

LinkedIn is the most business-focused social media site. But as with all networking, the results you experience directly relate to the effort you put into fostering relationships.

We recently created a LinkedIn group for marketers focused on promotional products marketing. Check it out, and become a member!

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    ADVANCE
    Occupation: Media, Marketing and Merchandising
    Setting: King of Prussia, PA
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