LinkedIn is commonly touted as a strategic social media tool for professionals and small business owners. But for many users (and even non-users) in South Africa and elsewhere, the power of LinkedIn is questionable.
How many of us have received LinkedIn requests to connect with random people we do not know and whose usefulness to us is dubious or uncertain?
How many of us have connected with or joined numerous people, institutions, and groups, but have only ever directly communicated with a small fraction of people in our LinkedIn networks?
How many businesses have created LinkedIn profiles which are rarely updated and do not contain much interesting or useful content?
What can South African small business owners realistically expect from LinkedIn, and what can they do to maximise the impact of their LinkedIn presence?
Considering that South Africa has about 1.6 million LinkedIn members (accounting for approximately 1% of LinkedIn’s worldwide membership), it seems to be a good vehicle for South African small business owners who are looking to establish international business relationships and contacts, particularly in North America, Latin America and Europe, the three regions with the highest concentration of LinkedIn members.
Interestingly, 39% of LinkedIn members hold the title of Manager/Owner/Director/Chief Officer/Vice President, suggesting that small business owners will be able to build networks with the key decision-makers whose input is required to broker business deals.
Below are some practical measures small business owners can take to enhance the benefits they receive from LinkedIn:
• Upgrade from a free account to a paid account – Paid accounts have additional features such as the ability to send InMails to people inside and outside your network, access to more introduction requests than are permitted on the basic account, and access to more search results.
• Make full use of the features available on company pages or profiles to showcase your business – This includes writing accurate and catchy descriptions of products and services, uploading videos, and advertising available jobs.
• Customise your LinkedIn profile for search engine optimisation.
• Focus on developing a quality network that helps you to achieve your small business’ goals - This means not feeling compelled to accept any and every request to connect, but instead being more selective about the people in your network. It also means that small business owners should proactively search the LinkedIn database to identify and approach potentially useful contacts. Finally, small business owners should cultivate relationships within their networks by sending occasional InMails to stay in touch, contributing to group discussions, and using LinkedIn to promote events being hosted by their business.
• Sync your LinkedIn updates with your Twitter updates – This ensures that these two social media platforms are integrated, reducing your workload by conducting only one round of updates which are then reflected on both LinkedIn and Twitter. Tell us what you think – how has LinkedIn helped you to market your business, connect with potential business partners, or recruit employees?
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi