“second-degree” connections—after asking
his first-degree contacts for an introduction.
Company pages. All firms on LinkedIn
can set up a free company page to describe
themselves and their products and services,
and, for example, post updates that invite comments and include links to a corporate blog,
Facebook page or elsewhere. The problem is,
many small firms ignore the company page.
“It’s unfortunate if they do, because the
company page gives you additional visibility,”
says Lori Russo, Costco member and managing
director of Stanton Communications, a mar-
keting communications and public affairs firm.
She suggests populating the company page
with keywords and other critical information
to facilitate LinkedIn and Internet searches:
“You aren’t as likely to get new business if the
company page isn’t complete, because it makes
it harder for people to find you.”
Baltimore-based Russo says small firms
might entice potential customers with a com-
pany-page feature that highlights special pro-
motions on the header image. Russo pays
attention to free company-page analytics such
as the number of clicks on products and ser-
vices pages and info on “followers,” which
details their industry, organization, geographic
region and job title. Following up with follow-
ers may transform some into customers.
Groups. LinkedIn has more than a million member-created groups, so members can
access any discussion imaginable. Many firms
By Harvey Meyer
SIMIN FOSTER JOUSTED with an ever-present worry for entrepreneurs: how to
attract customers. In her case, it was how to
attract exhibitors and others to the Whole
Earth Expo she co-founded.
One way the Ottawa, Ontario, Costco
member promoted the spring event was
through LinkedIn discussion groups
spawned by the Ottawa Chamber of
Commerce, Invest Ottawa, Green Ottawa
and other organizations.
Bingo. A number of exhibitors read her
posts about the expo, clicked a link to her
website and signed up. “LinkedIn discussion
groups,” says Foster, “turned out to be a very
good way of attracting business.”
Count Foster among the business owners
and small firms discovering that LinkedIn is
more than just a professional networking site.
It can also be a valuable tool to help them
grow their business.
LinkedIn is suited to assist small firms
with business opportunities, explains Lana
Khavinson, a LinkedIn senior marketing
manager and Costco member. “Our audience
is professional, educated and engaged. People
come to our platform to invest time in their
professional and business profile.”
Small firms can utilize LinkedIn in several
cost-effective ways, including the following.
Job postings. Just as many job seekers
upload their résumés on LinkedIn, many
small firms search for candidates on the net-
work. They also post job opportunities, mak-
ing them visible to 200 million members.
Intelligence gathering. Targeting the
right prospective customers is vital, so Sam
Richter appreciates a LinkedIn tool that can
help identify hot sales leads. Richter, a
Minnetonka, Minnesota, author, speaker and
small-firm marketing officer who teaches
about LinkedIn’s utility, uses a free “advanced
search” function on the LinkedIn home page
to find contacts by job title, geographic
region, industry and other identifiers. (A premium service supplies even more specific
“This allows people to get past gatekeepers and find the right prospects in ways that
would have previously been impossible or
unaffordable,” says Richter, a Costco member,
who considers it game-changing “sales intelligence” for small firms.
If Richter has an established contact, that
constitutes a “first-degree” LinkedIn connection, meaning he now, by default, can access
all of that contact’s first-degree connections.
Richter says he has had “tremendous success”
contacting members of this latter group—his
Linking up LinkedIn is more than just a site for networking
Tablet or smartphone?
Scan or click here for an
introduction to LinkedIn’s
company pages. (See page 5
for scanning details.)