LinkedIn has over 66 million members in over 200 countries and territories. It’s used by businesses and professionals from numerous industries and fortunately takes no special knowledge to use. Using the concept that, “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know” LinkedIn makes it possible to connect with companies and people that you might otherwise have thought were beyond your reach.
LinkedIn is a social network designed specifically for business and is used to connect with other business people in order to build your business. It can be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in your contact network.
LinkedIn enables you to look up people in a specific position in the company or industry you’re targeting. You can also do advanced searches to find companies and people in a specific geographic area, and you can find people with common interests through relevant groups.
Registered users maintain a list of contact details of the people they know and trust in business called connections. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. This is as easy as exporting your outlook or email contacts into LinkedIn and sending an invite for them to join you. In this instance it’s important to personalize your invitations, otherwise, there’s a chance that people will claim that they don’t know you.
A contact network is built up consisting of your direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (second degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (third degree connections). Sound confusing? Think of it as two or three degrees of separation between you, the people you know and those that they know. It’s using these connections to gain an introduction to someone you wish to meet. This approach (where contact requires either a pre-existing relationship or the intervention of a contact) is intended to build trust among users.
Besides the free basic account, LinkedIn also offers a variety of premium accounts. These offer options for better communication, more powerful search tools, enhanced access to decision makers and access to other resources. The initial two months are free with upgraded accounts if you pay an annual fee. Costs vary from $24.95 a month to $1,199 a year.
The key question is why you would want to join LinkedIn to start with? Although this is a professional network of business people it is not always about connecting on a Business-To-Business basis. While this is the most obvious of motivations you can also use LinkedIn to connect with people within your target market. For example, if you know your ideal audience has a personal interest in food and wine you’d be wise to join a LinkedIn food and wine group. Or, join a group of Lawyers if you feel their household income might be a crucial demographic.
Like any social medium, when determining whether LinkedIn is right for your small business promotion you need to be clear about your objectives and what you want to achieve by participating.
Because of the professional nature of LinkedIn it can help establish you as an expert in your industry, enhance your brand and presence on the web but most importantly help you to gain direct and influential introductions with people you may never have the opportunity to meet offline. It gives you access and visibility to important people who are equally connected with other people you just might want to know.
This article was originally posted on MarketingTourGuide.com