Using LinkedIn as a Small Business Owner

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LinkedIn is looked at as one of the recent online success stories.  The service, which is used to help people manage and make connections with other people, is easy to use and provides a helpful breadth of information.

Since the basis of LinkedIn is work information, the service obviously has value to recruiters and to those looking for a job. Over the past few months we’ve also used LinkedIn in a few other ways to help our business that may be useful to other small businesses.

New business – The number one question I’m always asked about LinkedIn is “Can it help my business grow?”  The answer is yes.  This month is our second month working with a new client, that came to us through LinkedIn. How did it happen? The answer is “Answers.”

Check out the “Answers,” section of LinkedIn. This is a forum for people to ask questions. Two months ago, I came across the question below:

Recommendation for PR Agencies with experience in the education market?

Hi, can someone recommend a good pr agency or freelancer in the San Francisco Bay Area with a strong background in the education market?

Below is my answer.  I noted our experience, along with a link to our firm. More importantly, I included the recommendation and links for several other agencies with similar experience.  This demonstrated our confidence in our abilities as well as our familiarity with this specific market.

Our firm (morgandorado.com) has extensive experience in education specifically in education technology. A few others to look at include Charlene Blohm (cblohm.com) and Kati Elliott (kehcomm.com).

Links:

So what happened?  A week later we received an email asking us to present our capabilities. We won.  The cost of the new business?  Our time spent on the proposal. Ps – also keep your profile current!  Check out mine. If anyone has ideas on how to make my profile more effective, I would love to hear from you.

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18 thoughts on “Using LinkedIn as a Small Business Owner

  1. Thanks for checking in Charlene. I always try and point people to the best, and you and your team are there for education (when it’s something we can’t do 😉

  2. I have found busines and business solutions using Answers on Linkedin. The size of your network affects the reach of your questions so first expand, get some 500+ people in your contacts and then ask and answer relevant questions. I’ll gladly connect and share!

  3. Thanks for your comment Jane, but I think you and I see LinkedIn a little differently. The network of people I have on LinkedIn is made of people I know and in most cases have worked with. This is why my network is powerful. The connections have value. There is history associated with the connection, therefore if someone makes a recommendation I am more likely to trust it. If I just make connections to make connections, and connect with people I don’t know, then how do I place a value their input? Just as importantly, how would they value mine?

  4. When we were running our web development firm, LinkedIn was the second largest source of new business (direct referrals were our first.) One could argue that LinkedIn is merely a reflection of your existing network, but we saw plenty of evidence that people search LinkedIn for professional help within 2-3 degrees of separation. Many times, clients would skip the referral and come straight to us because we shared a common connection. Now that we have our own startup, we regularly use LinkedIn to source service providers.

    For professional service providers, building out your LinkedIn network is a no-brainer. The cost of doing so is negligible, the benefits material.

  5. I’ve also found that Answers are the best place to network on LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are filled with junk, and people don’t really use the ability to search their network much it seems – they’ll even ask “do you know an accountant” in the Answers section even though the point of LinkedIn is that you can search your network.

  6. Thank you Kevin and Dobes for your comments. Just curious, how’d you run across this post?

    I agree with you both. I think there is quite a bit of power in LinkedIn if you use it effectively.

    Like all social media, it’s necessary to hit that right balance of giving and receiving.

  7. I also have used the Question and answer facility of LinkedIn to do some market research on the stealth and it has given enough data points to keep me from making a wrong business decision around a technology start up.

    Thanks for the post.

  8. Thanks for the detailed tips on how to be profitable using LinkedIn. I’ll share it with my clients on my blog. It’s great to see the tool maturing into something beyond an online resume.

  9. Don’t overlook the obvious opportunity to reconnect with business contacts who used to be colleagues but who may now be prospects or who may be able to refer new employees to your company.

    Also, by carefully reviewing profiles of competitors or business leaders in your market or region, you will probably can find groups, associations, events, and relationships that you could join to expand your marketing coverage at very little cost. It’s worth taking a look to see if you are missing out.

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