LinkedIn: What it is and why you (and your business) need it
LinkedIn is the Facebook of business. It’s a social media platform that has more than 238 million users across the globe.
It’s a great place to network and find new employees (or new jobs), as well as for getting advice and tapping into industry expertise. It’s also perfect for finding new customers, especially if a segment your business focuses on corporates in addition to brides – and, most importantly, have them find you.
LinkedIn works in much the same way as Facebook and the basic service, which most people use, is free.
You have a profile and share information via that profile with ‘Friends’ or, in this case, Connections. But the focus isn’t on pictures of what you’ve cooked for dinner that evening, nor is it about discussing your upcoming weekend activities. LinkedIn is about letting your Connections know about the goings-on in your work or business life, rather than your private life.
Users post updates about their jobs, about work-related projects, articles of interest in their industries or news of a new role, among other things. They also build up a network of connections, either of people they work with or have worked with, or just people they’d like to have in their business network. If there’s someone you’d like to know, but don’t, LinkedIn will show you how you’re connected to them and you can request an introduction via someone in your network who is also in theirs.
There are two ways to use LinkedIn, either as an individual or a business (or both). As an individual, you would create a profile of yourself, your education as well as your current and previous roles and work-related skills. It’s like an online resume but with a few extras. Current or former colleagues can endorse your skills and the more people that endorse you for that skill, the higher in the rankings you will appear when visitors to the site search for people with those skills.
As a company or business, you’d have a Company Page. Just as brands and business have ‘pages’ rather than individual ‘profiles’ on Facebook, on LinkedIn, business can run Company Pages.
There are more than three million Company Pages on LinkedIn and, again, they run just like business profiles in Facebook but with a slightly more corporate focus. Companies share more business-oriented information, such as highlighting products and services, telling your business’ story, engaging with followers and sharing career opportunities.
Another great strength of LinkedIn is its Groups. They’re like mini forums that focus on industries and areas within those industries and there are more than 2.1 million of them.
For example, Easy Weddings runs a global wedding industry group where we discuss issues that affect our industry with fellow members. Similarly, there are groups dedicated to Project Management, eMarketing and entrepreneurship, all of which are in the top 10 most popular on LinkedIn, with hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of members.
Each is teeming with a mixture of experts willing to share their knowledge and novices eager to ask questions, as well as those in the middle who are happy to ask and answer questions. It’s a goldmine for sharing expertise and mingling virtually with counterparts in your industry, no matter how big or small.
You may think that you don’t need to join yet another social network but being a business-oriented social network, LinkedIn is well worth the time and extra effort it takes to build a presence and profile and, frankly, it’s so big and influential that you really cannot afford not to have a LinkedIn page either for yourself or your business or, preferably, both.
LinkedIn profiles to visit:
Matt Butterworth (Easy Weddings MD)