LinkedIn is the gold standard for online professional networking. The social network is a great place for individuals, companies and organizations to network with industry contacts, make new connections, stay up-to-date on relevant news and trends, share content, create a following and increase brand awareness and lead conversions. One of the most impressive facts about LinkedIn is that it has a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.74% —almost three times higher than the conversion rates of Facebook and Twitter. As the world's largest and most influential professional network and a rich avenue for lead generation and conversion, you and your company should certainly start taking full advantage of all LinkedIn has to offer. Sharing high-quality content, actively participating in industry discourse and building a following via LinkedIn could win you a reputation as a thought leader and increased publicity and reach for your company.
Garner Recommendations and Endorsements
To get the most from LinkedIn, you need dive right in and fully immerse yourself. Fill out your profile completely—listing all your skills and full work history. One of the most effective ways to generate new business is to get recommendations and endorsements from industry contacts and current and former clients. LinkedIn allows you to request recommendations for each position in which you have worked and for your educational experience. You should aim to garner as many recommendations and endorsements as possible. The endorsements show up on your profile within the Skills & Expertise section. Endorsements are fast and painless, as all you have to do is click on the + sign next to a particular skill on a user's profile. Endorsements and recommendations are powerful word-of-mouth marketing tools.
Recommendations require a little more time and consideration than endorsements, since you actually need to write something about other users. Collect more recommendations by writing them for others without being asked; some of your contacts will likely return the favor. Recommendations are not just for individuals. LinkedIn users can leave a recommendation for anything you feature within the Products & Services tab of your Company Page as well. After clicking on an individual item on such a page, you will see all the user-generated reviews of that particular product or service.
Create Engagement and Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
LinkedIn offers an ideal platform to position yourself as an industry thought leader. People want to connect and work with experts in their fields. Join relevant groups, and be a thoughtful, vocal member. To foster credibility and gain influence, share your expertise and answer questions in LinkedIn's "Question and Answer" section. Each question you answer will become a permanent part of your profile, allowing you to demonstrate your wealth of knowledge to your connections and potential prospects. Participating in relevant LinkedIn Groups can help you expand your professional network and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.
You could even create your own LinkedIn Group based on a relevant industry topic and become a LinkedIn Group administrator. You could use your group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, increase your influence and credibility and discuss relevant trends and ideas. You can also use LinkedIn to search for interesting in-person networking events. LinkedIn has made networking on a global scale highly accessible, which is great. However, meeting others face-to-face can be very valuable. The Events application allows you to see what events your connections are attending and find places to engage in face-to-face professional networking.