16 smarter ways to use linkedin to build your business

16 smarter ways to use linkedin to build your business

reader comments (79)

  1. i believe that getting recommendations from credible people is the most ideal endorsement someone could possibly want. sometimes they are tough to come by due to a number of different things.

    what i’ve found to be paramount in generating leads is answering questions in the answers section. here you can show your expertise and help people solve their problems. if you can’t solve their problem you can refer an expert who can. people appreciate people who help solve their problems and it usually leads to them seeking further information about my consulting service.

    great insight!

    • …on the same lines, contributing to groups and helping others really works.

      answering questions is fine but… it can veer into self-promotion if one is not careful.


  2. i just started blogging and have yet to make a linkedin profile.

    i was planning on making one later on when i have a little bit of a following and become more known. do you think this is what i should or should i create one from the beginning? i just didn’t want to waste time creating profiles when i could be working on writing posts and other things.

    i have bookmarked this for later reading so i know what to do when i do make my linkedin profile.

    i appreciate the help!


    • stephen, better to start now since creating a comprehensive profile will help you build your following. you will be pleasantly surprised how many people you can connect with and once connected you can use your network to build your audience for your other work.

        • really? wow! i did not know we can do so much with linkedin. all i did was make a profile, put in my info and left it. hummm. i’m going to have to go to my linkedin and get to work.


          • i have a link to my blog, my twitter account as well as to a school where i teach part time on my linkedin profiile.

            the order they went up? linkedin, wordpress, twitter (to publicize my blog)

  3. great information about linked in. agree it’s definitely one of the top social sites for networking and community building. with seo, i’ve seen a lot of linked in answer posts coming up close to the top in google in addition to profiles. when i took a class on how to use linked in, they suggested asking questions to start conversations in your niche, just as dewane mentioned. if you research keywords before writing the question, you can also get traffic from google once the question has indexed.

    some groups i’ve seen that work the best are all customer focused. whatever your niche is, think about what your customers want to know and create a group around that information. a friend of mine has created a healthy recipe group on facebook and has had good results for his weight loss coaching website based on it so i believe the same would be possible with linked in groups aimed at what your customers want.

  4. really good article.
    i really liked the number 4 – create connections that matter and the number 6 – don’t waste your summary.
    those are really important in all social media networks 🙂

  5. this is a great article.

    the idea behind weeding out your contacts down to the ones that pass the “would you call” test is completely true. this is what separates a professional social network from facebook. the quantity of connections isn’t as important as the quality.

    it was also a great point to bring up seo for your linkedin page. it is something that linkedin makes so easy for you to do and especially with that great tip about entering links into your page!

  6. i am a big fan of linkedin groups. they are a great way to connect with very specific audiences and start building individual relationships with the people in them. they are also a great place to promote your blog posts, events and other business related things.

  7. i love linkedin due to the ability to be known and enhance my personal brand. linkedin is one of the must effective social media tools for businesses, but most of the talk typically surrounds twitter and facebook. great post and thanks for reminding me to connect my slideshare and other accounts to my linkedin page!

  8. headlines matter very much, sean, which is why i disagree with your stance on #3.

    your headline should never be restricted to your current title and current company — because the moment you are promoted, laid off, or change jobs, your headline then needs to change. i suggest to students that the headline be more universal about who you are and less about the job you’re currently being paid to do. bankers and financial analysts should have more common headlines, for instance.

    • i understand your point and believe you should keep your headline current with what you are doing now.

      as you point out, positions change. and the best way to communicate this change is by updating your headline to what you are currently doing.

      for example, in researching this article, i was amazed to see how many of my connections have changed jobs. the only way i knew this was because their headlines had been updated. so instead of me having to view their full profile, i could quickly glance at their headline and know what they were doing now.

      • the difference between me and you is you view linkedin as a description of what someone does, whereas i view the site as a description of who the person is.

        one’s headline should rarely change unless the industry changes.

        looking at your summary, sean, your headline could work very well as a complex business solver. that would spark someone’s attention at the least to keep reading about this guy named sean.

      • if you perform a particular type of work, say that.

        perusing my connections…

        melissa is an internet consultant and contractor.

        paul is a social media and internet marketing consultant.

        adam is an experienced sr. web applications developer.

        susan is an experienced drupal gardens developer.

        …and so forth. these are their headlines that illustrate more of their experiences, skills, passions, and personalities than the company who pays them to do work.

        • in the context of business-to-business marketing, including your brand/company is very important to distinguish you from others that share the same functional title.

          and if you are using linkedin to grow your business (and get leads for your business), then including the company name will be important since “the company who pays them to do work” is looking for just that – recognition of the company as part of the company’s online marketing effort.

          • linkedin is not a b2b site, sean. it’s a person-to-person site. it’s not much different from facebook or twitter these days, retaining the utility of connecting one person to another person and building networks.

            and i’m not suggesting to disregard your company in your headline. i am merely suggesting to be yourself and not some copy that a company says you perform.

  9. sean,

    excellent article! i learned a few things i didn’t know about linkedin. what do you see as the future for the linkedin company pages?


    • first, i think that the seo benefits of the company pages will be coming so capturing your page and completing it may help for reputation management and seo marketing.

      second, this could become a business match-making style service – connecting business together based on recommendations, common connections, etc.

      and finally, it could migrate into an advertising service for linkedin to direct target ads to specific people within specific companies. certainly a trade-off for the free service but for marketers, this could become a powerful way to target messages to decision makers.

  10. sean, thanks for the article. i have to disagree with your “quality vs quantity” of the relationship on linkedin for your connections. the amazing piece to linkedin is the “introduction” feature and being able to connect with someone you do not know via 1 or 2 others.

    now, i understand if i do not really “know or feel comfortable” referring someone, i may not be able to get an introduction, however now that linkedin has locked down 3rd party profiles, the less people you are connected to, the harder it is to view any of their info.

    so for me to try and even view someone, unless i have a large network, i will never see them. if i do have a large network and i am able to either ask for an introduction or send them a message and “connect” with them via a group, i have circumvented linkedin’s restraints.

    overall great article and i understand your pov about quality, just not for me! lion

    (feel free to connect)

  11. thanks for the article. i’ve always struggled with linkedin and appreciate your tips. they are straight forward and easy to understand.

  12. i can imagine 80-95% of people not doing what’s on this list out of either ignorance or laziness (the latter applies to me). man, for a linkedin dolt like me, this is a fast pass to ninja hood!

    i’ve seriously neglected this site but you’ve pointed out so many awesome points that help enhance this experience that don’t take much time! that’s what i’m talking about! and you’ve just done an awesome job of creating a piece of content that’s not only gonna be pegged in my top “social media guides” list on my computer but should be adored by google also!

    way to kick some ass sean! thank you for posting this!

  13. using your industry key words in the job description titles and website links is helpful too. just recently added our company and found that i can add products too and then ask for recommendations on those products. great things are going on over at linkedin.
    i’ve read some discussions that people are annoyed with all of the product promotion in the discussions, but i think your going to see that regardless, i still find great commentary and discussion via linkedin, you just have to filter through the various sales pitches. but then the moderator could remove these things if it gets too commercial.

  14. great article and summary.

    two quick things i would add.

    grab a custom public profile link such as http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock and use that in your email signature instead of the default profile link.

    check for duplicate profiles, clean up any that exist, and take steps to keep it from happening in the future.

    on 5) recommendations – perhaps “as many as possible” is too broad. there is such a thing as “too much”, and people that have 367 recommendations generally seem to be compensating for something;-) a modest number of good recommendations is a great goal for everyone though.


    steven tylock
    the linkedin personal trainer

  15. great article, i have had a linkedin profile for nearly a year now and have a few recommendations and several friends that i have worked with on various projects. other then setting it up i don’t really use it as much as i should hopefully your tips will help me get more out of it.

  16. i’d like to reinforce gabrielle’s reference to the linkedin answers area as being a good place to start and join conversations. while the quality and activity level of groups can vary, answers is a great place to both learn and to forge connections. i use this area to get ideas for blog posts, to answer questions to show expertise, to learn about new best practices in my field, etc. it’s a very rich area of the site. alas it is hidden under “more” in the menu so many people aren’t even aware of it.

    regarding the headlines issue that ari commented on, i think there are a variety of ways to do this, but the important thing is to be clear. many people have job titles that don’t clearly indicate what they actually do, so i find it useful to include some sort of descriptive phrase that offers more meaning than a title might.

  17. just to add one more important point use linkedin. i mean seriously… not many of us revisit lin even once a month post setting it up. one needs to tap into those juicy contacts, use forums, genuinely help… thats what generates credibility

  18. our company’s experience with linkedin seems to be that their ppc advertising doesn’t generate much in terms of clicks or conversions. however, when we are searching for candidates to hire, the quality of people we get referred through linkedin is much better than monster.com, ladders.com etc. i’m sure we’ll continue to use linkedin as a recruiting tool in the future.

  19. great article. i was using linkedin but only because i thought i “had to”. i htink i am beginning to see some other benefits to it and your article opened my eyes to those. thanks!

  20. hey sean, nice tips.

    linkedin is sort of the red headed step child of social media, so it’s interesting to see it near an ipo [can anyone say “bubble”?] which suggests that it’s generating results/benefits for people in some reasonable way.

    i’ve yet to see that personally on a macro level when it comes to linkedin [i’m fully aware that the user could be at fault here, ;-)] but what’s worked really well for me is joining a group–and dominating that group.

    when you show up as the top influencer week in and week out, people take notice. and it’s nice to because if you’re like me and you like control, it’s easier to manage.

    anyway, just some thoughts.

    and by the way, i’m glad to see your copyblogger cherry has finally been popped. 😉

  21. thanks for this post! i’m pretty much doing all 16 actions that were mentioned, but the one thing that works best for me is networking and engaging within linkedin groups. i’m a member of 50 groups (different industries) and i post discussions, reply to discussions, comment on questions, etc. i’m averaging about 30 leads per week from linkedin alone and all these leads come from groups that i’m active in 🙂

  22. i agree and disagree with #2. yes, the headline is important. but if the headline says you are a “partner at flimm, flamm & fleecum, llc” it tells me nothing about who you are or what you do unless i already know you or the firm.

    • obviously it depends a lot on how tightly-knit your industry is, etc. like every headline, it needs to be crafted for the reader it’s intended for.

      if you get too cutesy with “chief awesomeness officer” or something, it just makes you look like you’ve seen kung fu panda one too many times.

      • i’ll respectfully disagree, sonia. linkedin profiles should be crafted for *everyone* to see it, not merely “the reader it’s intended for.” if the latter is true, then the entire profile is only for people in a particular network, a particular group, and/or a particular affinity for specific keywords.

        because anyone (linkedin user or not) can view a simple profile, and because any linkedin user can view a full profile, by intending that profile to only be read and understood by a select few is contrary to the point of the networking site.

        • ari, the profile can be for everyone, but if i’m primarily looking to network with colleagues in other companies versus primarily looking to generate leads from potential customers, i’m going to emphasize different aspects. and getting attention with a headline is part of that. in my opinoion, the point of the networking site is what we make of it.

        • that’s my position as well, beth. each of us will come to a large site like linkedin with different goals and different people we want to make a connection with, so our strategy should reflect that. someone who’s on linkedin to connect with fellow graphic designers and keep an ear to the ground for good agency gigs will approach it differently from a commercial realtor, or a cfo, or a partner in a law firm.

  23. great information and tips in the article and the comments area!

    i’m ex hewlett-packard director of advertising and former svp at millward brown, a global brand/ad research firm owned by wpp.. i’m now founder and one of the editors of marketingzone, a new how-to site and community for small business on marketing. i’m a huge fan of linkedin for b2b business development.

    how to market yourself & your company on linkedin is one of the most popular articles on marketingzone


  24. this post states you shouldn’t connect to anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable calling. at first i thought this limited my possible connections because i considered only people i know in person. then i thought about how comfortable i would want a business owner who found me on linkedin, for instance, to feel calling me, and the answer is very. so if i can find people who feel the same, despite being virtual strangers (literally and figuratively) then my numbers are good.

    great article; i loved it.

  25. a very interesting post about linkedin. i am using like din from so many years. but i didn’t think that much about linkedin. i think i miss a lot in linkedin and need to customize from the beginning. and customize according you that will help me in improve my business.

    thank you and regards
    deepak malviya

  26. a question on linkedin company pages:

    i’m struggling with how to best structure our linkedin presence. follow this hypothetical and let me know your thoughts…

    acme corporation consists of 3 brands (brand x, brand y, and brand z). should they have a company page for just acme corp, just the 3 separate brands, or all 4? employees are typically dedicated to a certain brand, but acme corp is the name on their paycheck. this creates confusion when they list their employer (do i choose acme corp or brand x?), and results in fragmentation.

    i don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but need some input on this.

    thanks in advance,

    • dj, in context of this post, the answer lies with how you will be using linkedin. if it is to build each brand through the connections available through the system, then promote the brands. if you will be using linkedin to promote your acme corp, then focus on that.

      how we at copyblogger faced this question is to focus on building the copyblogger brand on linkedin versus our individual products like studiopress, premise, scribe, etc. for us, the core company brand was important – hence our company page, etc is based on the company, not the products.

      to answer your question, think in what context you will be using linkedin and the answer will manifest itself from there.

  27. linkedin is has the depth to contribute to whatever promotion you are engaged in. it’s a good tool, but like anything on the internet, there is a learning curve to it. thanks for the tips!

  28. this is the most exhaustive, most helpful article on linkedin i have ever read. three cheers!

    i added it to my “must reads” page!

    you rock.

  29. this is a very helpful article. i am thinking about putting more development into creating a linkedin account. i have bookmarked this page to refer to it often. linked in does seem great for networking. people do need to keep in mind that it is primarily for business networking, but it can be a great addition to anyone’s social networks. i think that the ipo will help linkedin to expand it social applications. thanks for the great post. it helps a lot.

  30. some great insights on linkedin use. i am fairly new but this resource has been very helpful so far. as a speaker, i’ve been targeting hotel sales managers and convention sservices. as a realtor, i’ve been targeting fellow brokers and real estate boards. great results so far. thank you once more for your information.

    • matt, when i did consulting prior to joining copyblogger, i found that instructing other sales managers on how to use linkedin worked very well in building new business for me.

      you may find that as you evolve your understanding of linkedin, this experience can be used to teach others and, in turn, build new business for you, from them.

  31. wow, sean has provided us with a great blueprint for making sense out of one of the key elements of social marketing. i just hired a seo company to help in this endeavor who i’m going to fire right now! who need them when you’re getting this kind of advice.

  32. i love linkedin due to the ability to be known and enhance my personal brand. linkedin is one of the must effective social media tools for businesses, but most of the talk typically surrounds twitter and facebook.

  33. i was doing some research for a report on using linkedin for your business and this was extremely helpful. i have just discovered the company pages section and want to utilize this for my own business for sure.

  34. thx for your blog-post but especially for your ongoing posts. i’ve been following for a while n am impressed w your generous recommendations. u r a blog-site “for the people” n we r blessed. …now, to create the time to implement your excellent recs n u might also grateful to me for follow through! here is to hoping n striving towards personal growth! keep talking.

  35. there are lots more elements to linkedin than most people know, or make use of and it is a great tool if worked well. i must admit i do get turned off if people include their linkedin profile in their email signatures or on their business cards though. for me, i just get link overload.

  36. one thing i’m trying to wrap my head around is whether you should have both a group and a company page…it would seem more beneficial to just have a company page since there are some great tools built in to that to promote career opportunities, products & services, etc., but is is redundant to have a group as well? or would groups be handling more of the micro-site functionality where you can then have more specific/targeted discussions?

  37. thanks for the great article, it was just the help i needed. after signing up to linkedin some years ago it wasn’t until your blog that i realised i was missing much of the power and features available. thanks again and keep up the good work.

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