LinkedIn For Business: How to Use The Social Media Platform to Achieve Faster Growth

LinkedIn is not just a resume— it’s a platform to connect, create, and converse with your community.

We may not always think of LinkedIn as being a social media platform, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But it’s time to think again.

LinkedIn is important to your business because it’s a dedicated business network. According to Statista.com, towards the end of 2015, there were close to 400 million users on LinkedIn, all with the common goal: to connect on a deep, professional level.

But, how do you actually leverage LinkedIn to grow your business? This is a big topic, so we’ve broken it down into 5 areas:

  1. The personal profile;
  2. The company page;
  3. Your products and services;
  4. Building a network; and,
  5. Publishing content.

We’ll burrow down into each of these 5 areas, covering them off comprehensively with tips and examples so you’ll come away with a stronger knowledge and skill base to start growing your business on LinkedIn.

Excited? Good, then let’s get cracking with our first area of improvement.

01. Let’s Start With Your Personal Profile

Like any other social media platform, it all starts with a profile, and even though you’re looking to grow your business’ presence, you need to have your own personal profile to begin with.

The big tip for this area is that your personal profile needs to be a professional representation of yourself (your personal brand) and your organization (your business’ brand). Here are our tips to achieving this:

Personal Profile: Customize Your Headline, URL, and Photo

The headline is one of the most important elements of a LinkedIn page and is, effectively, a 120-character sales’ pitch.

Here’s Amy Porterfield’s headline:

Be sure to include your job title or position using keywords that will help people find you, and consider including the organization (if you have the characters to do so), like Melanie Perkins does with Canva:

Customizing your LinkedIn URL to include your name will help you be discovered and contribute to the overall visibility of your profile.

Plus, a photo will make your profile 14 times more likely to be found in searches. This should be a clear and professional photo of you, and only you. Not a social picture or group image.

Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s profile, which ticks both of these boxes:

Personal Profile: Write a Succinct and Relevant Summary

If your headline is the 120-character sales pitch, your summary is the 30-second elevator pitch.

Summarize who you are and what you do by promoting your biggest achievements and key strengths, or telling a story about your career. Write in a casual tone, be interesting, and don’t forget those all-important keywords.

Here’s Pat Flynn’s summary, which tells the story of his career:

If you’re going to use your LinkedIn page to help boost your business’ presence, make sure your personal message is aligned with that of your company.

Personal Profile: Big up your Experience and Education

Fill in at least your previous two positions and where you’ve studied. Flesh out the descriptions of each with information (and keywords) about your skills, experience, knowledge, and achievements.

You can add different media – like photos, videos, documents, presentations, and links – to showcase your work. You can also add links to publications that feature your name or work.

There is also the opportunity to fill in awards, honors, interests, volunteer work, plus more, so add in any relevant and interesting information.

Here’s a section of Peg Fitzpatrick’s list of experience:

Personal Profile: Collect Endorsements and Recommendations

When you log onto LinkedIn it will often prompt you to endorse the skills of your connections, and vice versa.

Skills are like keywords, highlighting, well, your skills, and endorsements are great to get and easy to give. You can also request recommendations from connections that, if they agree, will be posted to your LinkedIn page.

This is the endorsements’ section on Guy Kawasaki’s page:

Personal Profile: Know Your Privacy Settings

Don’t forget that unless you make your privacy settings ‘anonymous,’ people will know when you visit their page. This is great when you want people to know you’re looking, but not so flash if you’re checking up on your high school crush. Save that for Facebook.

02. Now, Add in Your Company Page

Once you’ve got your personal page looking slick, the next step is to build a LinkedIn Company Page. Google frequently ranks optimized Company Pages high in search results so create a page that provides visitors with insight and value and make sure you have all the right keywords in all the right places.

Company Page: Create and Optimize 

Follow LinkedIn’s ‘getting started’ instructions to create your Company Page and optimize it with a logo and company details. Then just like you did for your own profile, write a description about your business or organization and fill it with keywords and relevant and interesting information.

Be on brand and write in a professional and personable manner.

Company Page: Add a Header or Banner

Design and upload a header or banner that represents your brand and is consistent with your other marketing material and social media platforms.

Studio Alto is a great example of branding consistency. It has the same image across all social media platforms and tailors the dimensions to suit the size of each banner.

Company Page: Add the LinkedIn Icon to Your Website 

Make it as easy as possible for your website visitors find and access your social media pages. It’s as simple as adding the LinkedIn icon to your website and other associated pages. Here, Gladeye has included the LinkedIn icon alongside Facebook, Twitter, and Google Maps.

Company Page: Post Updates About Your Company

There’s a vast variety of information you can post on your Company Page, including job opportunities, behind-the-scenes photos, product announcements, blog posts, new employees, recent projects, event reviews, designer interviews… really, the sky’s the limit.

But whatever you choose to post, two underlying principles prevail: it should bring value to your community and it should be on brand.

For a few tips on writing posts – keep the headline concise, include a link, add visual rich media (image, video, infographic), ask questions to involve your audience, monitor discussions, and make your LinkedIn Company Page posts part of your content calendar.  

Company Page: Use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates 

Sponsored Updates enable you to target an audience beyond your page followers in order to get your best content in front of the right people. Set your budget and you’ll pay either per click or per impression – the choice is yours.

Here, HubSpot used LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to reach marketing professionals in small- to medium-sized businesses in order to promote its ebooks, webinars, and other marketing tools.

Company Page: Find Insight With Analytics

LinkedIn’s Analytics will provide information on your most engaging posts as well as helping you to identify trends and understand more about your followers, traffic, and activity on your Company Page.

This is very useful for determining what type of content to post and/or deciding what type of content to sponsor or promote.

03. Next, Actively Showcase Your Company’s Products and Services

Google is also a big fan of the LinkedIn Showcase Page and will rank them highly in search results. A Showcase Page is an extension of a Company Page and is dedicated to highlighting a particular product line, service, or brand.

Showcase Pages are listed in the right-hand column of a Company Page.

Products & Services: Create and Optimize a Showcase

Follow LinkedIn’s ‘getting started’ instructions to create your Showcase Page. It works like a mini-Company Page and should be designed to attract and target an even more specific audience.

Optimize it with a banner, logo, website link, company details, description, and keywords – you know the drill.

Products & Services: Post Updates About the Brand, Product, or Service

Just like a Company Page, a Showcase Page should be active, engaging, relevant, and professional. Post regularly and factor the Showcase Page into your content calendar.

Use visually rich content effectively and include photos, images, infographics, and videos for page visitors.

04. Start to Build and Engage Your Network

Now you’ve got personal page, Company Page, and Showcase Page/s ready to go, it’s time to build your network.

The goal is to connect with like-minded people to create a like-minded community, so think about quality, not quantity, and work at developing a relationship and rapport with connections.

Network Building: Build a ‘Smart Network’

According to social media strategist Stephanie Sammons, you should be building a ‘smart network.’

“The smarter the network, the more relevant people and opportunities you attract.”

Sammons suggests, considering connections in your home and work locations, current and previous industries, organizations, associations, referral sources, potential business partners, industry suppliers, etc.

LinkedIn will also suggest ‘people you may know,’ which will do some of the legwork for you. However, always use discretion in sending invitations as well as accepting invitations.

13. Connections

You can request introductions, so if there is mutual contact between you and a potential connection, ask them to introduce you. And because good karma is important, you can also be the mutual contact and help connect two people you have in common.

Network Building: Customize Your Invitation

When you send an invitation to connect via LinkedIn it will prompt you to enter how you know the contact. It will also provide a standard message: “Hello, I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Customize, tailor, personalize, modify, adapt this message. However you want to say it the message needs to be rewritten. You have 300 characters to invite, introduce, and impress, so make those 300 characters count.

14. Invitation

Network Building: Build Rapport on Other Platforms

When it comes to LinkedIn you might choose to connect with people you’ve heard speak at a networking event. After you’ve met and spoken, and built a rapport, you invite them to connect on LinkedIn.

Treat other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, in the same way. Establish a rapport, let them know you’d like to connect, and then send the invitation, referencing how you know them in the message.

Network Building: Other Tools to Build Your Network

LinkedIn has lots of great tools that can help you to build and engage your network. A saved search will enable you to search for people in your target market, save the search, and then be notified by email when new people match your search criteria.

Upgrade to a Premium account to send a Paid InMail. You get a limited number of InMails before you start paying for them so use them wisely.

Otherwise, keep in mind you can get a 30-day free trial of LinkedIn Premium and do a targeted burst of InMails during that period.

05. Finally, Publish Content

Now, are you ready to get you and your business noticed on LinkedIn? Ready to position yourself as a thoughtful leader and active participator? Then it’s time to start publishing content on the platform.

Keep in mind that when you publish on LinkedIn you share from your personal page. You can’t publish from your Company or Showcase Page, but you can communicate your organization or brand’s story.

Publish Content: Write For Your Audience

Your LinkedIn audience may be different from your other social media followers so write or adapt your posts to cater to this audience.

Your posts should demonstrate your authority or knowledge, or reflect on personal experience. Be informative, relevant and current, and don’t do straight out promotion, unless it has an educational element.

Guy Kawasaki, Canva’s Chief Evangelist, knows marketing, technology, and start-ups, and all his posts are relevant to these topics – even his Official Guy Kawasaki Father’s Day Gift List.

LinkedIn’s Trending Content tool can help you identify topics that resonate with specific audiences and can serve as a good starting point for publishing relevant and targeted posts.

Publish Content: Monitor Activity

Followers and connections can like, comment, and share your posts. Monitor the activity and respond when necessary. Shared posts reach an audience beyond your own, so use this as opportunity to find new connections.

And of course, do as you hope others will do for you – share, like, and comment on other people’s posts. It’s another way for 2nd and 3rd degree connections (and more) to see your name and your insightful comments.

Publish Content: Find Insight With Analytics

Just like posts on your Company Page, you can also use LinkedIn’s Analytics to gain knowledge about your personal posts. View engagement with your long-form posts, including views, comments, and reader demographics.

Your Turn

Building a relevant and like-minded community on LinkedIn is about connecting, creating, and conversing. It’s an interactive platform that can be used to connect with industry and business professionals you may never have the chance to otherwise.

They can offer you great value, insight, and opportunities, so why not do so in return? You’ll boost your personal presence as well as that of your business.

Hey, have you signed up to Canva yet? If you haven’t heard about it, it’s this super cool (and free) graphic design platform that allows you to create professional grade social media graphics (hey, like for LinkedIn), business cards, posters, and dozens of other design types. Check it out at canva.com.

Rebecca is a freelance writer, researcher, and design historian. She has a Masters in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from Parsons The New School for Design, New York, and studies cultural history through the lens of architecture, design, and decorative arts.