July 09, 2012Are you attending a lot of events to meet new contacts? Are live networking events not helping you identify new business leads? While you shouldn't totally abandon face-to-face networking events, using social networking can help improve your ability to identify new business leads.
At the top of the list for professional networking is LinkedIn. Right now there are 150 million LinkedIn users worldwide. Founded in December 2002, LinkedIn has grown to become the premier business professional social media site in the world. The original purpose of this site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contacts with people they have a relationship with. Users can now use LinkedIn to look for a job, search for job candidates, follow companies, maintain contact with their relationships, expand their network and get new business leads.
To make the most of LinkedIn, it is important that you set up a comprehensive profile. This includes your job history, education, activities, interests and other pertinent information. For a small business owner, however, this can also be a great vehicle to highlight their products and services. In fact, LinkedIn now has a business page capability.
LinkedIn Company Pages is a centralized location where millions of LinkedIn members can go to stay in the loop with a company's news, products, services, business opportunities, or even job openings. For a small business, it's a place to tell your company's story, highlight your products and services, engage in a dialogue with visitors, share career opportunities you are offering, and drive word of mouth on a scale far more reaching than networking events.
Setting up a Company Page is quite easy. Go to the "Companies" menu on LinkedIn, and from their select "Add a Company." You'll be prompted to enter basic information on the "Overview" tab about your company including a description, number of employees, and the industry you operate in. Click on the "Products & Services" tab and you can begin to add information about the products and services you have, and also provide links to your web site.
Once this is done, LinkedIn provides analytics and statistics on your followers, page statistics and insights. Follower statistics show you how many people are following your page and their "impressions" with the content you post. Page statistics let you know what people are looking at, and insights allow you to see who has visited you company page. Combined together, this provides you with leads from people and companies who are interested in your products or services.
While face-to-face networking is still a good idea, complementing that with a social strategy using LinkedIn is a great way to generate new leads for your small business.
Dick Jones is the Founder & President of Simply Sales in Alpharetta, Ga. As a 4th generation sales professional, he has over 30 years of experience advising, coaching, consulting and working with small business owners. Office: 770-663-4681, web: www.simplysalesllc.com