Every social media platform has its place. Twitter is a virtual bar or cafe where people gather to talk about pop culture and shared interests. Facebook helps friends and family stay in touch. And Linkedin provides tools for professionals to network, so it makes sense to use it for your business, right?
Yes and no.
Linkedin can benefit many different types of professionals, whether they’re job searching or networking. And yes, it also offers business pages that can provide a boost for some, but not all. We’ll explore which businesses should establish a Linkedin presence, but first, let’s look at what Linkedin offers.
A Quick Tour of Linkedin
Linkedin has loads of features — too many to fit in a single article — so we’ll focus on the main ones:
- You get a profile where you provide details about your work experience and education as well as your skills and interests. If that sounds like a resume, you’re right. It’s a lot like a resume.
- You can connect with other professionals. Linkedin will hook you up with people from the schools you’ve attended and businesses where you’ve worked. You can also network with people by searching for them, sending them invitations, or through links that they send you.
- Once you’re networked with someone on Linkedin, you can recommend each other’s skills and interact in a variety of ways, such as commenting on each other’s posts as well as sending private messages.
- Linkedin has a bunch of one-click options for wishing people happy birthday or congratulating them on work anniversaries, which is at best a convenient way to stay connected and at worst a mild annoyance because of all the notifications that pile up, asking you to issue these communications.
- Linkedin also lets you add a business page, which similar to a Facebook page. So if you’re a small business owner or independent professional (such as a consultant), you can create a business presence on Linkedin that is connected to your personal profile but functions as a separate entity.
Note: Linkedin won’t let you view other’s people’s profiles unless you have an account. And if you view someone’s account, they can see that you’ve viewed it if they are paying for a premium account.
Like I said, there are other features; these are just the highlights.
Pros and Cons of Linkedin
Linkedin is an excellent way to stay connected with former coworkers, classmates, and colleagues. You can also use it to network and expand your business connections to clients, vendors, and collaborators.
If you’re in the market for a job, prospective employers might ask for your Linkedin profile, and that makes it a fast and easy way to provide lots of detail about your work experience and skills when you’re looking for a job. In fact, if you’re actively looking for a work, it’s almost mandatory to have a Linkedin profile these days, and some employers will ask or require you to set up a profile for networking purposes, after they’ve hired you.
I haven’t found any major drawbacks of using Linkedin. In fairness, I haven’t been a heavy or over-active user. I find the constant pile-ups of notifications mildly annoying, and there are regularly promotional (paid) messages in my inbox. This is only problematic because it adds to the heaps of similar notifications and reminders that I get from all other social media platforms and in my email inbox. Everybody’s trying to sell you something, and Linkedin is yet another way they can reach you.
As far as I know, I haven’t benefited directly from my Linkedin presence — my posts there don’t get as much traction as they do on other platforms, and I haven’t made any leads there. However, some of my prospective clients might have checked out my profile before hiring me, and even the possibility of that makes it worthwhile to set up and maintain my profile. If anyone ever asks to see my work history, it will be easy to send them to Linkedin. It’s convenient in that you can set up your profile and then update it every year or two to maintain a comprehensive online record of your curriculum vitae. I’ve noticed that this how many people use it — whereas other social media sites demand constant attention or they look abandoned, with Linkedin, you don’t have to frequently engage on the platform.
Tips for Linkedin
As with any social media platform, you’ll get out of it whatever you put in. If you spend time exploring the site and learning how to use it well and then connecting with people, you’ll probably reap the benefits, assuming it’s a good match to your business interests. Here are a few tips:
- Make sure your profile is thoroughly filled out. Don’t leave gaps in your employment history. Make sure the information you post is accurate. If you’re not going to complete your profile within the first few days of setting it up, it’s probably better to forgo it altogether. It’s better to have no profile than an unfinished or unpolished one that makes you look unprofessional.
- Build your network by following Linkedin’s recommendations (they’ll connect you with people based on your education and employment history). Send invitations to people and accept invitations when you receive them. The whole point of social media is building and expanding these types of connections
- Take the time to recommend other professionals (based on your experience with them) and list their skills. If you’ve got a decent network and you recommend others, you should see the favor returned.
- Use a personal photo for your profile. Social profiles that lack photos come across as spammy and generic.
Who Should Use Linkedin, and Do You Need a Business Page?
If you’re a professional, it only helps to have a Linkedin profile, especially if you work with vendors, engage in any kind of marketing, business-to-business, or are in search of a job or gig. I don’t think Linkedin is a great place for arts and entertainment. It’s more about professionals and less about brands or personalities (there are plenty of other social media networks for brands and personalities). So if you’re running an e-commerce site, I’d probably recommend setting up a professional profile as an entrepreneur but skipping the business page. Linkedin is not likely to draw online-shopping customers, but you could leverage to build relationships with vendors and colleagues.
With regard to creating a business page, I have recommended Linkedin to some of my clients and discouraged it for others. In general, it certainly can’t hurt. If you have the time and want to build up a wide online presence, you can get a business page set up pretty easily. If you’re tight on time and resources, then there are probably other things you can do that will provide a better return on your investment. On the other hand, if you discover that a lot of your clients, vendors, or colleagues are active on Linkedin, then that’s where you should be active too.
Using Linkedin for Your Small Business
With that said, social media is increasingly versatile. There are many ways to use each platform, from simple campaigns that give your other marketing efforts a boost to more elaborate strategies that are designed to generate bigger business leads.
If you’d like customized and tailored advice on whether you should build a presence on Linkedin or if you’d like a one-on-one consultation about which social media platforms would be a good match for your business, you can get a no obligation quote online.
Melissa Donovan is a website consultant and copywriter. She is also the founder and editor of Writing Forward and the author of over seven books.