As an entrepreneur, do you use LinkedIn as a social networking tool?
As an entrepreneur, have you leveraged LinkedIn to build a network of followers who can be your potential customers?
As an entrepreneur, do you leverage LinkedIn as the platform for your personal branding?
As an entrepreneur, do you employ LinkedIn as the platform to share your thought leadership?
If you answered "No" to any of these questions, this post is for you.
Why LinkedIn for Entrepreneurs?
Irrespective of whether you cater to a B2B or B2C market, LinkedIn is the professional networking platform that will be used by your audience, without a doubt. LinkedIn boasts of around 800 million users across the globe, with the US itself with around 180M+ subscribers on the platform. Take a moment to grasp the enormous networking opportunity right in front of you (for free). You do not have to pay membership fees like networking groups to build your presence here.
How Can You Make Use of LinkedIn As An Entrepreneur?
I recommend LinkedIn to every entrepreneur friend of mine because of the following reasons:
LinkedIn gives you access to the vastest pool of professionals across the globe,
The platform will provide access to professionals across industries and job roles,
It is easier to connect with anyone on LinkedIn and start a meaningful conversation,
LinkedIn also has interesting groups that you can be a part of, based on your interests, and
The platform also brings powerful advertisement capabilities for your business.
How To Leverage LinkedIn the RIGHT Way As An Entrepreneur?
Now comes the next big question - How can you make use of such an amazing platform for marketing your venture? Here is your LinkedIn Marketing Playbook for better results.
Create A KickAss Bio
As with every social media or networking platform, everything starts with your bio on LinkedIn. Your bio is what individuals will read before deciding whether to connect with you or not. Make sure your bio paints the right picture of you.
You need to highlight
your past experience,
your current work,
your goals, and
how you help individuals and organizations achieve their goals.
Share relevant proof of your experience by uploading your resume, website, blog, and other noteworthy collaterals onto your profile. Yes, LinkedIn allows that.
Determine Your Goals For LinkedIn
I do not want you to waste your precious time on a platform that may not be the right one for you. So this step is very critical. You need to decide on the goals you want to go after and achieve on LinkedIn. These goals will be your guiding factor for everything that you do on the platform.
Typical goals for entrepreneurs while using LinkedIn can be:
Building a network of prospects
Connecting with existing customers and colleagues
Building a personal brand by sharing your story
Share content that can help you grow your brand
Connect with influencers of your industry and build relationships
Run ads for increasing brand awareness and sales.
Your goals may be one of these or a new one altogether. But make sure you spend some time to decide your Linkedin goals before proceeding ahead.
Create Buyer Personas For LinkedIn
Hearing the word buyer persona, you might be thinking "Vivek, don't you dare make me start doing unnecessary tasks". Wait on. Buyer personas ( as in Inbound Marketing) apply on LinkedIn as well. These are the fictional representations of your target audience. I do not want you to worry too much about the intricacies of building a buyer persona, but make sure you have enough markers in there to identify the right individuals to connect with.
Some of the key factors to consider for building your persona are:
Designation of the individual (Owner or Director - Sales or HR Head, etc.)
Their primary responsibilities (check some profiles and you will be able to find some common threads)
Major challenges faced by them (check the common challenges these profiles share on LinkedIn)
Demographics and content preferences (Age group, and what type of content do they like, share, and engage with)
Follow the 5-5-5 Rule
Once you have got your personas figured out, next is the 5-5-5 rule. I want you to identify and:
Connect with 5 Prospects
Connect with 5 Influencers/Experts
Join 5 LinkedIn Groups
When you follow this rule, you will easily get connected with your initial network for learning. From your prospects, you will learn their challenges and how to help them. From the influencers, you will learn the latest in the industry and also explore collaboration avenues. With the groups, you will be exposed to an immense amount of conversations and learnings.
Prepare Your LinkedIn Content Calendar
LinkedIn, like any other social networking platform, runs on "content". Every member either creates or collates and shares valuable content for their network. You also can make that your strength on this valuable platform. But for creating, collating, and sharing the right content based on your persona, you need to create a content calendar for LinkedIn.
If you are already exposed to social media marketing for your venture, you might have prepared content calendars for social media. If not, no worries. Your LinkedIn content calendar needs to cover the following:
What content will be your sharing?
Is it created by you or collated by you?
What time will you be posting on LinkedIn?
What days you will be posting on LinkedIn?
Source of collation
Hashtags to be used (Yes, hashtags work on LinkedIn)
Any other information you seem fit
Note: You can download a social media content calendar from Hubspot's library of downloadable resources for free.
Congratulations, you have covered a long distance already in your LinkedIn journey. Now, I am going to introduce the most important action you need to do to achieve all your LinkedIn goals decided above. You need to post content consistently on LinkedIn to build your network and achieve all your goals. This content can be your own or curated ones that are useful for your target audience.
Content can take various shapes and form on LinkedIn. You can publish long-form articles on LinkedIn, showcasing your expertise. You can share a link to an article of yours or a curated one with a small description in your own words. You can share someone else's post with your own commentary on your timeline. You can give kudos to new team members, appreciate a coworker, or even wish your connections on their special days like birthdays, job change, and anniversaries.
Keep it consistent.
Posting is one side of the coin, but the other side that is equally important is engaging with your network and other individuals on the platform. You cannot expect good results on a platform meant for networking without networking. Start conversations with individuals and brands. Engage in conversations already happening and add value to the same. Add your views on an influencer's post on your area of expertise.
Always explore avenues to engage with people and make sure you behave like a human on this platform. Wish people birthdays, and congratulate them on their work anniversaries. Participate in live events and other group conversations.
Leverage Special Features (If Available)
LinkedIn is an innovative platform that keeps announcing new features to make the platform more intuitive and user-friendly. For example, LinkedIn Live is a feature that is available to a selected group of individuals and brands. Make sure you keep an eye out for new features and make use of them to the fullest.
Run A Pilot Ad Campaign
Now that, you have built a good reputation for yourself on LinkedIn, it is time to explore the paid advertising capabilities of the platform. LinkedIn ads are not cheap like Google or Facebook Ads, but they are highly targeted and specific to your audience. You can run ads to target specific designations in specific companies or geographies.
I highly recommend taking the ads platform for a spin and executing a pilot campaign to understand whether it is for you. Based on the results, you can decide whether to invest more in your branding.
Explore LinkedIn Premium Options
Hello, LinkedIn expert. Now is the ideal time for you to explore the premium options of LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers several premium subscriptions that you can choose, as per your goals. These include Premium Career (for jobseekers), Premium Business (for entrepreneurs and professionals), Sales Navigator Professional (for business owners and sales professionals), Recruiter Lite (for recruiters), and Linkedin Learning (which gives you access to specialized courses).
You can choose the right subscription plan, based on your goal and leverage additional features that come with them.
Stay On Top Of Analytics
As Lord Kelvin has said "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it", you need to stay on top of your LinkedIn efforts. You may ask "how do I do that". Simple - leverage LinkedIn Analytics. Make sure you check the analytics on your post and profile consistently. This will help you understand who engages with your post often, who has visited your profile, and what keywords your profile is appearing for, etc.
Analytics will help you modify your content and engagement tactics for the platform. If you use any social media tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Publer, they will also provide you with detailed analytics of your profile and content.
As I repeatedly tell all my entrepreneur friends and connections, LinkedIn is a MUST-have tool in your personal branding and marketing arsenal. Make sure you are part of this amazing networking platform and are making use of all the possibilities on it. Connect with the right people, engage with them, and make yourself seen. LinkedIn can open up many doors for you if you follow this playbook and use the platform the way it is supposed to be used.