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The advantages of using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool have already been widely written about. Through its online CV format and “friend of a friend” introduction system, LinkedIn uses social media to allow you to tap into networking circles in order to find a new job, research the job market, or network with others in your industry.
Beyond just its recruitment capabilities though, as business owners and entrepreneurs, you can use LinkedIn to increase your company’s exposure to the LinkedIn community, and to establish yourself as an expert in a particular subject area. Used successfully, these two elements mean more quality job applicants to your company, an increase in partners, vendors and clients for your business, and an improved reputation within professional circles. Like many social media platforms, LinkedIn is free, which means you’re only limited by your own time constraints in how much you can leverage the site in this way.
Here are five steps to get you started:
1. Set up your company profile
Many people still don’t realise that in addition to being able to list your own professional profile on LinkedIn, you can also add a professional profile for your company on the site. This company page will show up for searches on your company name, as well as for generic searches for companies within your industry. In addition, your company page will be linked when you add your company name to your own profile page.
To create a company profile, you first need to have a personal profile on the site. Once you’ve set this up, log in and go to www.linkedin.com/companies, and then click “Add a Company” from the top right menu. You can enter a wide range of company details to your page such as your company name and URL, the services you offer, the industry you’re in, and the number of employees you have.
2. Use your employees
If your employees already have professional LinkedIn profiles, encourage them to include your company name in their profile so that it links to the company profile page that you created in step one.
3. Include the “Share on LinkedIn” widget on your site
This widget can be placed on any web property that you own, such as your company blog or website. Visitors reading content on which the widget resides can then share your content, such as a blog post, with their own LinkedIn contacts by clicking the widget’s “Share” button. Adding the widget allows your blog audience to publicise your business to their own network of LinkedIn contacts, since this sharing action will be published in their LinkedIn news feed. To install the widget, click the “Developers” link in tools menu of the footer navigation once you’re logged in to the site.
4. Join groups
Joining and participating in groups on LinkedIn is a good way of exposing your company to the wider LinkedIn community, as well as establishing yourself as an expert in your particular industry. For example, if you sell tax software you could share tax advice in a group about the subject. Participating in groups is also a good way to generate leads, and make contact with potential partners or vendors in future.
Although you can create your own group, it’s usually a good idea to start by participating in existing groups instead, since they’ll have pre-existing members in them. To start participating, search for groups by clicking “Groups” in the left navigation menu of your profile page and then “Find a Group”. From here, enter in keywords relating to groups you’re looking for and browse through groups to join. As a group member, you can participate in existing discussions or start new ones, submit related news articles, view related jobs or post new ones if you’re looking for new employees.
5. Ask and answer questions
LinkedIn Answers lets you ask a question to other LinkedIn members, or answer a question asked by someone else. Participating in this section of the site is another way of exposing your knowledge and advertising your expertise to other LinkedIn members. By answering questions that others are asking, you prove your knowledge in your industry, which can result in qualified leads from LinkedIn members needing your services.
Reading questions and answers is also a good way of gathering knowledge and insights relating to your industry. If you answer enough questions where a questioner selects yours as the best answer, you can eventually graduate to “expert status”. Having this status means you’ll have an “expert” star on your profile page, and you’ll be listed as an expert via a link on the Answers home page. These two elements increase your exposure and improve your credibility in the eyes of other LinkedIn users.