The Benefits of LinkedIn for Business Development

LinkedIn  initially gained popularity as a tool for job seekers and it remains a popular go-to source of candidates for recruiters and HR professionals. But businesses, large and small, and business people in a variety of professions are also finding LinkedIn to be a great networking tool and an opportunity to do business development across a much wider market area than ever before.

I’ve used LinkedIn for some time and have to confess that I have a bias for this tool compared to other social  networking tools (although I dabble in all and my clients use social media in various combinations depending on their goal and target audiences, as they should).

For businesses thinking of how LinkedIn might benefit them, here are a number of benefits I’ve discovered for both myself and my clients:

  • The ability to establish a profile which contains key words designed to help your target audiences find you when doing searches on LinkedIn. As an added bonus, because of LinkedIn’s relationship with Google, your presence on LinkedIn will also cause your LinkedIn profile to pop up in general Google searches.
  • The ability to participate in Groups. LinkedIn has literally thousands of groups covering virtually every professional interest there is. Participation in groups can be a good way to gain information from knowledgeable professionals about issues that impact your small business, or to establish yourself as one of those knowledgeable professionals.
  •  The ability to establish your own Group. Anyone can establish a LinkedIn Group and begin inviting others to participate. This can be a great way for small businesses to connect with their customers – or potential customers – and start, lead and participate in topics relevant to their business.
  •  The ability to ask and answer questions. The Answers area of LinkedIn is a rich source of information on just about any topic. Like Groups, the Answers area offers small business owners a chance to ask questions about issues or concerns and gather information from a wide range of business experts. Since many people participate in LinkedIn primarily to establish themselves as thought leaders, many of these answers are rich and detailed. (On the flip side, you can also Answer questions to establish your own expertise.”
  •  Business development. The networking aspect of LinkedIn, as with other social media sites, is particularly suited to boost business development. By growing your list of contacts, sharing relevant information and reaching out to others you can make connections that turn into leads and, ultimately, customers. LinkedIn’s advanced search function allows you to search for people based on a variety of criteria so you can reach out specifically to those you’d like to bring into your network of contacts.
I’ve written about LinkedIn frequently, including pieces on the benefits of LinkedIn groups and putting LinkedIn to work . I know that there are probably many other innovative ways that businesses and business people have used LinkedIn effectively to meet their business goals. Would love to hear your tips!

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