How does LinkedIn help small business owners?
LinkedIn differs from Twitter and Facebook, but is also one of the primary social network platforms that help generate new business. LinkedIn represents your professional life, so it is important to create a LinkedIn profile that includes your small business information and employment history. Your previous experiences demonstrate expertise in your field. Even if you worked in another industry, and have now started an unrelated business, then your profile allows you to include your hobbies and interests that show why you have expertise.
As with other descriptions of social media sites, LinkedIn may not be the most important platform to engage your customers. If you are a jewelry maker, then LinkedIn will probably not help find customers, but some potential customers may look for more information on your company, so it is important to have a company profile. In fact, one of the first sites that will appear on a Google search of your company is your LinkedIn profile, which adds to your professionalism.
However, if you provide services like accounting or marketing, then your customers will likely be other small businesses. In the business to business (B2B) world, then LinkedIn may be the most important social media site to generate new business leads. In addition to general exposure, LinkedIn allows any and all individuals to post articles to the site. This publishing opportunity provides the opportunity to establish your expertise and member of the community.
The benefit in the B2B world is simple. About 40% of LinkedIn users check in daily, so any professional that is looking to hire a service provider will likely check their network (and that includes LinkedIn). In addition, LinkedIn has groups centered around certain affiliations (school, employer, industry), so there are organic groups that you can join without feeling inauthentic about participating. As your comfort level increases with your contributions to questions, then your expertise and brand develops as well.
Quick Sprout provided the following infographic about how to structure a LinkedIn profile.