That's what I used to ask myself as numerous acquaintances kept tagging me to be part of their realm of contacts in FaceBook.com or LinkedIn.com. It seemed a nuisance until I sat down with an old contact, Don Tinney from EOS Worldside (EOS=Entrepreneurial Operating Systems). Don is an EOS Implementer whose job is quite simple. He says simply, "We make millionaires out of owners of small to medium size companies". So maybe he has something to say I should know.
I was in both LinkedIn and FaceBook and didn't see the significance. My business was humming along just fine and didn't need the distraction. Don forced my mind open a bit and so I took it upon myself to find out if there was some gold to mine there that I had missed. Like hunting for Morel mushrooms, it went from "none to be found" to being surrounded with all kinds of uses. Here is my quick rundown of uses in the hopes all our business partners can begin to take advantage of these tools.
To begin with, I'm going to concentrate on LinkedIn.com because I find it the most dialed in of the two for "business networking". While I'm in Facebook also my contacts there are almost all personal life related. Sure, we all can use a few friends but the majority of my day is more about business and LinkedIn appears to me to have a larger corner on it.
So if you...
- Are new to LinkedIn and don't know how to use it to help your business and career.
- Have been using LinkedIn yet felt like you haven't really accomplished anything with it.
- Are trying to persuade your friends to join LinkedIn and want / need to communicate the value of it.
- Wondering if LinkedIn type sites can help improve your web site's visibility.
- Think there's no real value in LinkedIn.
... this is for you!
Here is a small amount I've learned about using LinkedIn, understanding there are millions of users who know a whole lot more about it than I do. This still should give you a starter kit on the value. It will also be a great link section to teach you as much as you can possibly know about this.
Off-Site Factors Enhance Your Web Site's Ranking More than On-Site Optimization
The original criteria the creators of Google used to rank web sites is still the same as it is today. It ranked sites according to the value of the web sites that linked to the evaluated web site. If you have dozens of important sites with links to your site and those sites are related in subject matter to what your site is all about, it will out-weigh many of the things you put (or fail to put) in your site for rankings.
When you have links to your web site in your LinkedIn or Facebook listings, those are off-site links. If you make recommendations for other people in your circle of contacts and include your web site address as part of your signature then you have even more. Make dozens of good recommendations and receive them in return. It's truly a "giver's gain" world there.
Add to this some effective Public Relations campaigns and you can really begin to boost your rankings. Write articles like this to online magazines and make links to your web site part of your signature. It takes some real honest to goodness work but the results can be magic in your rankings. There is more on how all this works in one of our blog articles: The Most Important Key to Web Site Traffic!
Business Development - Marketing - Sales
We all know that strength of a warm lead. All the initial hurdles have been jumped. Linked in contacts can help you get to the right people. Interested in doing business with Acme Widgets? Do a search in LinkedIn for current and former employees of the company. Find out if any of them are connected to someone you know in your circle. If so, ask that contact to give you a formal introduction.
Before you meet that contact look over their interests if posted. Going to meet someone who is President of the company you want to work with? Look them up in advance and discover their interests and background. See who they know that you may also know. Create common interests and connections from that information and start the conversation warmly.
Did you know that ALL 500 of the Fortune 500 companies are represented on LinkedIn? Either the CEOs or the upper level management are to be found there. There must be something to it. Those who are active on it may just be looking for you and who you are on LinkedIn. If you're not there, they may wonder why. This is dang near as good as the Mason secret handshake without all the silly rituals or red beanie cap.
For a good article on warm calling using LinkedIn see A Guide To Business Development 2.0 .
When searching for companies, uncheck "current companies only" and find out what former employees have to say about the company. What kind of talent has left the company and how fast? Contact them and find out things the company may not want you to know. Learn their weaknesses and how to market to it. The lÃst is endless.
Increase Your Credibility
Imagine that before agreeing to see you on a sales call the business owner checks to see if you are on LinkedIn. Not being there could be a strike against you because he feels he's flying a little blind in your regard. If you are there, he or she may want to see your background, your connections, or your recommendations. Finding numerous positive reviews from others who have worked with you can create a positive frame of mind. If they know some of the same people you do, it can get even better.
Here it can get even better - receiving calls from buyers who found you on LinkedIn and want to buy something from you. Shocking? See how all this can work in the real world in Using LinkedIn to Make the Sale .
Career Enhancement and Job Search
Enhance your efforts in searching for a job or finding qualified applicants for positions you need to fill. It should be no stretch to your imagination at this point on how you can take advantage of this when looking for career advancement. Use your LinkedIn link as part of your email signature or refer to it in your resume. A large number of HR people and managers will recognize it. If you've done your homework and have numerous recommendations, it can really work in your behalf. Make friends and get recommendations before you need them. The best way is to start by recommending others first.
For more on this check out "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn" .
Improve Your Website's Visibility
This will be the subject of my next article because this one's getting a bit long. In short, there are two main things that can positively affect your website ranking and visibility with search engines. The first, and least important are your on-site factors. The most important is your off-site factors. This aspect is mostly ignored by business owners and web developers. It is all part of true professional web development. In this regard you will truly get what you paid for.
If you are a member of LinkedIn - log out and then search for yourself. When you find yourself, copy the address from your browser's address bar. Use it for a link in your signature for emails.
Other Sites for More Education:
Top Ten Reasons to Use LinkedIn
How do I use LinkedIn to find a job
How to use LinkedIn to Create Authoritative Content
Wall Street Journal - The Right Way to use LinkedIn
About The Author
John Clark is the President of Wow Web Works in Kalamazoo, MI.