How small businesses are getting LinkedIn wrong

The social network can be a great place to promote a start-up. Here’s how to do it right. The social network is an inevitable part of online life for working professionals. But much of the advice on how to leverage it is targeted at big names.

With that in mind, here are tips on how small businesses can use LinkedIn.

Do not use LinkedIn for marketing
Smaller companies need to be strategic about where they invest their content-marketing budgets. Many businesses can get more bang for their buck on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, where consumers spend a lot more time and attention, or with Twitter or an independent blog, where it is easier to showcase expertise. Focus on LinkedIn as a source of connections and expertise—not as a way of building an audience or brand awareness.

Tap your network for business trips
While large companies may have sales teams in multiple cities, small firms must squeeze the most out of every business trip. Once salespeople book the meetings and events that constitute the primary purpose of a trip, they should use LinkedIn to fill the calendar with more meetings. They can use the geographic-search option to find first and second degree connections in the destination city and filter results to people whose job titles, company size and industry match a typical sales target.

Do not help competitors
It is great to have mutual relationships with other people in your field. But when connecting on LinkedIn, it pays to be a little ruthless. If small-business people accept mutual connection requests from people who work for competitors, they are making their entire network accessible to the competition.

Do not focus on lead generation
A sales team should use LinkedIn to identify prospects; a small company can make that easier by encouraging everyone in the company to connect with one another on LinkedIn, so that they share networks. But they shouldn’t expect their company page to be a source of inbound leads if they do not have the kind of advertising budget that big companies use to drive LinkedIn traffic. Instead, a small firm should polish and update its page only often enough to attest to its credentials, professionalism and experience.

Sell the business, not yourself
On LinkedIn, brand matters more than title. People who work at big, recognised companies have an advantage because their profile summaries can immediately convey their role and industry. At a small company, a C-level title does not mean much. Small-business executives should include a descriptive summary of their business, leveraging the brand of top clients, such as, “CFO of ABC Accounting, financial advisers to The Global Network”.

For more information, contact Karlien Theart at karlien@succeedgroup.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.