Even if you’ve never checked out LinkedIn, you’ve probably received requests from friends or coworkers to be added to their network on the site, or you’ve heard mention of it from around your personal or work circles. For those who are unaware, LinkedIn is, most simply, a social network for professionals. Whether you are a CEO of a large company looking for new employees, the owner of a small business trying their hand at searching out new clientele online, or a professional looking to advance your career or find new job opportunities, LinkedIn is for everyone. It’s taken the place of the traditional networking event, where you meet people in person, talk about business and grab some business cards from each other. All of the communication is done digitally, either via private message or in whatever form of contact information available, and your business achievements and information are laid out and organized in your profile. LinkedIn works similarly to adding friends and conversing on Facebook, so it’s very user friendly. It’s a straightforward option for networking that reaches much farther than conventional means.

So if you’ve decided that LinkedIn may be a good option for you and your business, here are three steps for utilizing this tool to maximize your business network:

Take full advantage of your Profile

Too many people attempting to use LinkedIn approach their profiles haphazardly – this is by far the most important step to finding and converting clients! Start with the headline – if a potential client reads nothing more than that, then you have 120 characters to grab their attention. The default is your job title, but take the time to make this description stand out to those looking at your profile. Then use the 2,000 word summary section to its full extent. Who do you want to see your profile? Think about what they might be searching for and use appropriate key words that will come up when a search is done. Definitely include your relevant experience as well, but also take advantage of the other features that LinkedIn offers, including articles, video and presentations, and utilize the recommendations section of your profile. This is all the foundation for reaching as many potential clients as possible.

Access and Increase your Network

To build your initial network, connect with people you already know. LinkedIn offers a multitude of ways to upload your contacts, such as importing your Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo address books. You can also add contacts by directly entering their email address or uploading a CSV file. If this doesn’t work, do a search using LinkedIn’s search engine to locate contacts you might not have an email address for. You can then start to expand your network by using LinkedIn’s blogging platform. Write at least one blog post for LinkedIn on a topic that would be of interest to the clients you want to connect with.

You can also try joining groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your industry and interests. Success on LinkedIn, as well as in real life, is to provide value to those searching for your business. This can include sharing links to valuable content and helping people find solutions to their needs. Aim to contribute something at least a few times a week to each of the groups that you belong to in order to see results.

Also, any time you send a connection request, take some extra time to customize the request message. If you have met the client offline, remind them how you know each other and reinforce the fact that you are not a stranger! If your interactions have only been online or if you haven’t actually interacted, then use the connection email to emphasize the value that you think you can each bring to each other.

Convert your Contacts from ‘Network’ to ‘Client’

Once you’ve built an extensive LinkedIn network, it’s time to start converting these connections into clients. There are several strategies available to approach your contacts, from LinkedIn ads to casual conversations through LinkedIn messages. The right strategy for your business to grow depends on what products and services you’re offering.

LinkedIn ads can be one way to reach even beyond your network – the site offers several advertising methods to reach out to your target audience. Their ad formats include text, text and image, and video ads that allow you to tailor your advertising style to your audience. To improve your conversion rates and stay within your advertising budget, target your ads based on job title, location, function, seniority, and other crucial demographic information. When using the ads, remember who the actual decision-maker will be. For example, if you want to sell an IT solution to an HR department, should you be targeting their HR leaders, IT leaders, or both?

If you don’t want to spend money on client conversion, you can directly approach potential clients. Reach out to connections who fall into your target audience, or who are connected to decision makers within this audience. Watch their group posts, profile updates, and other interactions with the site. If your sales pitch tracks with their recent social activity, you have a natural way of opening up the conversation. If you don’t have much to connect with, talk to the potential client about recent projects they’ve done, or news related to the company to create a more receptive audience.

LinkedIn is the top rated business-to-business website in the country, and you know what you or your company has to offer a potential client. If you use LinkedIn strategically, you have the potential to seriously grow your business! And if your company is in need of office space (dedicated or virtual) or modern and flexible meeting spaces, and you are in or near the Huntsville, AL area, please allow us at Huntsville Hub to find solutions to all of your office needs!