What Doors Could LinkedIn Open For Your Local Business?
Our brains like to categorize things. But sometimes, these categories keep us from experiences that could be beneficial to us. This type of thinking can close us to opportunities. I think this is the case with LinkedIn.
For some of you, LinkedIn will conjure up thoughts of a giant job board for HR recruiters. That’s how it started, but that’s not what it is today.
Others will consider LinkedIn to be exclusively for sales people and not suited for a retailer, a service provider or someone who caters to a consumer audience. Not so.
True sales professionals are heavy user of LinkedIn. Certainly, the top sellers are and they most likely considers it their primary social media tool. With LinkedIn, they rub elbows with, prospect, research, generate leads and influence some of the most influential business people around.
Plus the LinkedIn user profile is top notched.
- 200 million users across the globe
- 4 out of 5 drive business decisions
- Approximately half average household incomes of $100K plus
- More likely than general population to own smart phones and tablets
- Two-thirds are considered thought leaders
- Eighty-seven percent (87%) trust LinkedIn as a source of information that effect business decisions.
- Forty-nine percent (49%) find LinkedIn to be a good source of word-of-mouth information on brand experiences
But stop and think about it for a moment. LinkedIn represents people, people within companies. These people not only make purchase decisions for their companies, they also purchase products for themselves.
Let’s expand our mind a little bit about what opportunities this could represent for the independent business owner – the local area retailer, a service provider, a dentist, a travel agent, a cafe` owner or even a florist.
A big part of LinkedIn is about groups in which people share information – business information. Another part of LinkedIn is about individuals who have jobs involving a lot of different responsibilities. Some might be responsible for catering, or events, or even personal services. If LinkedIn is where I spend my time and I trust the information and recommendations I see there, why wouldn’t I use it for my own personal needs?
Here area just a few examples of how LinkedIn can open doors for local area businesses.
1. Connections with other similar business owners in their local community, in other communities across the country or globally through groups or through individual connections. In so doing, you find out about new marketing techniques, new ways of using technology, etc. in your specific business and industry helping you be more profitable and more efficient.
2. Let’s say you are one of those people who wants to leverage your professional expertise in running a local retail shop into a book or into consulting at some point in the future. Best way to start laying the ground work is to use LinkedIn to make connections with the influencers in your industry.
3. Raise your profile among the influencers within their local community, which in turn may open the doors to new business opportunities. Example: A cafe owner or a florist might target the large company’s HQ a few blocks away for catering or floral opportunities. Through LinkedIn you identify who is responsible for a select area within the company. You can also make connections with a variety of individuals within that company and direct them to your own LinkedIn company page.
4. Connect and explore the possibility of joint ventures with non-competing businesses. These days having buddy companies for joint marketing and promotional opportunities is a smart way to go.
5. Use LinkedIn advertising to grow your community and promote your products and services.
No, one still has to has a specific plan about the role of LinkedIn in their business. One still has to invest the time to nurture connections into true relationships that will be mutually beneficial by providing value and by doing so consistently. And the tenor and tone of the relationships on LinkedIn need to be business professional and not light or vacuous.
What do you think? Is LinkedIn and the connections it represents a place that could open doors for you and your business? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.
If you’re still undecided, here are some additional resources that may help you decide if LinkedIn is for your business.