July 24, 2013
Used correctly, LinkedIn is a goldmine for businesses. Used incorrectly, and it can range from a waste of time to a major blemish on your brand. LinkedIn has released a wide variety of networking and branding tools for businesses and individuals since it first launched in May of 2003, and this can leave business owners a little flummoxed about how best to utilize the site. A fabulous LinkedIn business profile can connect you to thousands of potential customers and clients, help to strengthen your brand, and unify your employees in a digital space; all without spending scads of money. Check out the most common professional mistakes below; chances are you’re committing more than one LinkedIn crime. Addressing each issue will go a long way to helping you get the most out of this more than 200-million-member network.
A missing or incomplete profile
If your business has yet to make a splash on LinkedIn, it’s way past time to make your presence known. Be thorough and honest with your profile, and take time to craft your descriptions and services in a compelling and articulate manner. Don’t forget to add a ‘Products & Services’ tab that clearly outlines everything your company has to offer.
You have no recommendations or endorsements
One of the most powerful aspects of LinkedIn comes in the form of accolades and endorsements from your clients and customers. Don’t be afraid to solicit positive comments from customers you know have had a fabulous experience with your company, but please, always exercise integrity and never attempt to fake a comment. You get what you give, so likewise, don’t forget to be free with your own positive endorsements wherever appropriate across your network.
Attempting a hard sell with your profile language
LinkedIn embodies the soft, subtle sell. If you’re attempting to portray your products and services in a manner that’s too open, obvious and pushy, you will absolutely turn off the masses. Describe what your company offers without superlatives and let your customer comments do the heavy lifting.
Promoting your company in mass messages or group discussions
If you’re looking for a surefire way to anger a gaggle of LinkedIn members, send a hard sell message to your network. Better yet, never ever consider this rude and potentially damaging move. People link with fellow LinkedIn members and companies to mutually benefit from the connection. Permission to mass e-mail or promote your services is not automatically granted by a profile connection. Attempts to market to your network can feel like an outright violation.
Your employees don’t have a strong LinkedIn presence
Your employees are an extension of your brand. Active LinkedIn employees are ideal ambassadors for your business, so it’s in your best interest to train them on LinkedIn best practices. Encourage them to maintain accurate and polished profiles. Incomplete or mismanaged employee profiles also reflect poorly on your brand, so grant them the time and training to put their best face forward.
You have not created an exclusive LinkedIn group for your employees or customers
LinkedIn groups are powerful tools to keep people connected and discussions flowing; even better, all the features in groups are free to use. Savvy companies create exclusive groups for employees and customers, facilitating conversations about related topics, generating ideas and sharing information. Remember to never attempt a hard sell in these spaces but, instead, encourage your group members to offer insights, comments, ideas and recommendations.
Your website does not link back to your LinkedIn company profile
If you’ve put in the effort to create a smashing LinkedIn presence, your site should proudly link back to your profile. It’s shocking how many companies are still not funneling site visitors to their LinkedIn profile and vice versa. LinkedIn share buttons are free, easy to integrate and an awesome way to increase traffic and audience engagement.
Underutilizing LinkedIn’s various business tools
All of the services LinkedIn provides to businesses are done so in an effort to give them a competitive edge. If you’re not using things like LinkedIn Contacts and groups, you’re missing an opportunity to separate yourself from the pack. LinkedIn is far more than just a referral network.
Joining too many groups
Don’t join dozens of groups in an attempt to over-network. If you don’t intend to intelligently participate in group discussions and make your expertise known, don’t join the group. You’ll spread yourself too thin.
Attempting to connect with contacts you don’t actually know
LinkedIn is meant to be a network of individuals and businesses that already know each other or have a common foundation. Inviting random people will eventually land you on a list of LinkedIn violators, thereby requiring you to submit a valid e-mail address for any contact you attempt to link to.
Failing to follow your competition
Always follow your top competitors on LinkedIn, and you can keep in touch with their latest releases, employee shuffles, and much more. You’ll know when they’re hiring, when new products have launched, and various other important events. Likewise, follow any potential acquisition partners, key clients, and industry leaders too.
Not using LinkedIn’s mobile features
In recent years, the network has released a host of free mobile apps that help you stay on top of industry trends, company rosters, and mutual connections throughout your network. Many are ideal for meetings or conferences, providing a host of relevant data at your fingertips. CardMunch is a great example. LinkedIn acquired this startup in the last year, which makes collecting business cards in a digital format a snap.
There simply isn’t another network brimming with free tools and apps that can compare to the power and popularity of LinkedIn. While it does take some time to master, the payoff potential for your business is too large to ignore. Take the time to avoid these common mistakes, and you’re already light years ahead of much of your competition.
Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.