LinkedIn is a really useful social media tool which can often be overlooked. It may not have the hype or buzz of Facebook or Twitter, but for building business relationships, it’s great.
A client recently found me via LinkedIn because I had a particular combination of skills and I also use it to back up face to face networking – it helps me keep in touch with people I may have met only briefly.
But to get the most of LinkedIn you need to think of it as a networking tool, not a sales tool. Just as at networking meetings, too many people go straight to the sales pitch and forget about getting to know and trust the contacts they make.
Here are the top 5 mistakes I see on LinkedIn from small businesses:
1. Anonymous people
Make sure you have a good quality headshot photo of yourself so people can recognise you. LinkedIn is about business, so a blurry shot from your wedding or night down the pub is not appropriate. And it should be a photo of you – not your business logo.
2. Bog Standard Invitations to Connect
I reckon about a third of the connection invites I receive are from people I’ve never met who indicate I’m a friend and who use the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. If you’ve met the person, a brief recall of where and when is good. If you haven’t, then give them a reason why they should connect to you.
3. What do you actually do?
Does your headline say “Owner at Mybiz”? Job title and company name may be suitable if you work for a global brand, but not for a small business owner. Let people know what you do as well as who you are.
4. Don’t be shy about recommendations
Chances are, no matter how brilliant you are, customers are not going to sponaneously leave a glowing testimonial on LinkedIn. So give them a little nudge and ask them to write a recommendation for you. Most will be happy to do so (but don’t be upset if they don’t – they probably just forgot or haven’t had time).
Just because we’re connected on LinkedIn doesn’t mean I signed up to your email newsletter. Or to receiving weekly messages about your latest offer. It’s OK to send the occasional message to selected contacts when you have something really worthwhile to say. In fact, simply connecting and then doing nothing to build the relationship means you’re not making the most of LinkedIn. But treat your connectons with respect and think about what they would want from you – not the other way round.
You can find me on LinkedIn here. If you’d like to connect I’d love to receive your invite – just let me know why!