As a 26-year-old recent college graduate, I am fairly new to the “professional world.” For the past few years, I have finally begun dipping my toes into the corporate ocean. With that being said, it is hard for me to grasp the fact that LinkedIn is considered the social network of choice for working professionals. I created my LinkedIn profile towards the end of my college career, for the sole purpose of being an online, public resume. The only time I ever log in to my account is when I need to add new information, like a new job or skill. Now I am in charge of creating a content marketing strategy for a small Architecture Firm, and a colleague of the owner highly recommends daily use of LinkedIn to develop professional relationships and promote the company. I am very familiar with the use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for a business, but LinkedIn… not so much. So, naturally, I head to Google and search “What are the benefits of using LinkedIn for my company?” to get some answers.
An article titled “Five Benefits of Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business and Your Career,” by Brian Hughes caught my eye (mainly because it was the shortest list, giving a mere 5 benefits, compared to the other articles boasting 7 or 10 benefits. If I’ve learned one thing about marketing it’s this: keep it as short as possible!). As my third week working for an architect comes to an end, I am realizing that my main role is to create a buzz for the company online. So with that in mind, what benefits will LinkedIn provide me in that role?
The first benefit is B2B (business-to-business) Networking. Many businesses have LinkedIn pages, which makes connecting with them quick and easy. You can search for vendors, suppliers, manufacturers and even competitors through LinkedIn. Hughes writes, “Rather than combing through a phone book and comparison shopping for days or even weeks before choosing a vendor, you can send a couple InMails and be done in just a few hours. In addition, seeing the vendors online presence gives a more complete picture of a company than just speaking to someone on the phone might.” Having trust worthy sub-consultants is a very important aspect of the AEC industry. If you are a new firm, just starting up in a new city, LinkedIn is a great tool to help you find and communicate with potential sub-consultants. It is also a great tool for checking out what your competitors are up too.
The second benefit is B2C (business-to-customer) Networking. Every company needs customers to stay in business, and in order to keep those customers, you want to build your brand and engage your audience with interesting and educational content. “By keeping active and posting often on the site, you can build your brand bit by bit, increasing likability and gradually building the trust of your potential customer base through timely, relevant, and interesting posts,” Hughes explains. On top of creating customer relationships, having a LinkedIn profile is also a great place to promote new products or services. Our firm can post photos of completed renovation projects, or post articles from the local newspaper that announce us as being on a new committee. It is important that I interact with our customers and keep them coming back for more.
The third benefit is Lead Generation. Your LinkedIn profile is a way of expressing what you do to the world, and naturally you hope that others are impressed. Hughes writes, “A direct result of continuing to build a more coherent and focused brand is the generation of new leads that will come about organically as people find you on LinkedIn and like what they see.” The more relevant and interesting content that you post, the more chances you have a generating new leads. I can post a recently completed project on our LinkedIn page and a potential customer might see that post and contact us with questions.
The fourth benefit is Staffing. If you are constantly updating your LinkedIn profile and creating interesting and exciting content, not only will customers take notice, but it may even attract applications to start rolling in. “Since LinkedIn is the social network of choice for business networking and career advancement, top tier talent is likely to come your way based on the quality of your profile alone.” Take full advantage of that by keeping an updated list of open positions attached to your company page, or create a post describing the position you are looking to fill.
The final benefit provided is Customer Satisfaction. LinkedIn provides a fantastic way to interact with your customers via surveys, messaging and comments. Use this avenue frequently – it shows the customers that you care! They appreciate feeling like their voice has been heard. It is also possible for customers to “endorse” some of your skills!
Although LinkedIn is still widely assumed to be a website for job hunters or recruiters, it’s popularity in the business world is increasing every day. It is another free and beneficial resource to help companies find new customers, new staff and build relationships with other businesses. Looks like I will be adding LinkedIn to my content marketing strategy from now on…
If you are also new to using LinkedIn as a social network for your business, here are some of the tips that a colleague gave me:
- Do not create a company page – a personal profile will better showcase your company and skills
- Create support statements in past jobs (show the client how past work experience will benefit them in your current position)
- Use keywords that clients would search in a search engine
- Change/update your profile at least once a month
- Use bullet points so people do not have to read long paragraphs
- Join up to (50) groups available on the site
- Add personal touches that will help people connect with you