I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the basics of creating a professional profile on LinkedIn and connecting with your peers in the industry. If you need a refresher on how to effectively leverage LinkedIn, I recommend glancing through Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Ways to Use LinkedIn.”
But if you could just do three things on LinkedIn to further your B2B marketing, I recommend doing these to expand your reach:
1. Share. Your LinkedIn homepage features the “share” functionality just like the Facebook status bar. By using this feature, you can share a hot industry topic that’s on everyone’s mind, share your company’s latest announcement or simply post a question pertaining to your market to get instant feedback. This share feature helps you to stay fresh in the minds of your key stakeholders, who I bet are on LinkedIn. What’s even better is that you can cross-promote your LinkedIn updates on Facebook and Twitter and vice versa.
2. Group engagement. If you just maintain a profile and add connections on LinkedIn, you have missed the whole networking aspect of LinkedIn Groups. Thousands of professional groups representing a huge variety of interests (IT, public relations, online marketing, social media, human resources, nonprofit, etc.) give you the opportunity to stay on top of leading trends within your professional track and stay connected with your peers in the same profession.
For example, a software developer should try to identify groups that focus on the same challenges and solutions that their market space addresses and engage effectively with those groups. It’s like playing Beethoven for an audience that understands and appreciates the classics versus playing it to an audience that has no clue about the genre.
3. LinkedIn answers. Much like the Yahoo Answers forum, I like this feature where anyone can ask a question about a particular topic to the entire LinkedIn membership. The “Answers” function is a great way to get feedback and feel the pulse of your business community in real time. If you are a smart B2B marketer, you would try to answer questions that specifically apply to your business, consultancy or service and position yourself as a thought leader in your space.
So it’s not so much about posing the right question to your LinkedIn community as it is about answering questions that make you look smart and experienced.