Welcome to our new series “Busted! Top 10 Myths About Social Media for Business,” where we debunk many of the myths out there surrounding social media as an effective business tool. Inspired by many objections I’ve heard (and overheard) from real business owners, I developed this series to help you separate the fact from the fiction in this still-uncharted territory. Stay tuned for more mythbusting every Monday and Wednesday ’til the list runs out!
In our last post, we debunked Myth #5 about social media for business—”It’s strictly personal”—by discussing some key correlations between social media and email in the transition from personal interaction tools to important brand-customer communication venues. Now I’d like to take a look at a specific social network, LinkedIn, and the popular misconception that it’s just a place where job-seekers look to connect with hiring companies.
Thus far in our series, the myths we’ve tackled have been very general and apply to any and all social networks. But today I think LinkedIn deserves some special attention, as it offers a host of valuable opportunities for business but continues to bear the label of “online job fair.”
Yes, LinkedIn is the place for job-seekers to put themselves “out there,” to grow their networks, and to interact with potential employers. And to many observers, that’s all it is. More than once clients of mine have responded to the question “Are you LinkedIn?” with “What for? I’m looking for business opportunities, not looking for a job.”
DEBUNKED! While LinkedIn is a must-have for any job seeker’s toolkit, it’s also a vital business tool for targeted networking, identifying strategic opportunities, and yes, engaging current and potential customers.
With over 120 million members, including the top brass at all Fortune 500 companies, LinkedIn has become the place to be for anybody who’s anybody in business—and that includes you.
Take a second to browse through your own LinkedIn profile and look at all the information that’s there. Your contact information. Your interests. Your website(s). Your connections. Your blog. The Groups you’ve joined. The Events you’ll be attending. Now consider this question: Is there anything there that you’d be interested to know about someone in your target market? Welcome to your new market research tool.
Okay, so market research, check. What other treasures does LinkedIn offer the non–job seeker?
- LinkedIn Answers: An opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in a non-sales, no-pressure environment.
- Searchable Contacts: Want to get your foot in the door at a particular organization? A quick flip through your LinkedIn contacts could reveal that you already have an “in” and didn’t even know it. (And if not, a little more digging may reveal a common contact who could introduce you.)
- Group Discussions: The chance to raise and discuss the issues that are important to your industry peers as well as your present and future clients.
- Events: An opportunity to find out in advance who’ll be attending which seminars, trade shows, conferences, and other events—can we say “turbo-charged networking?”
- Recommendations: A one-stop shop for all your recommendations from customers, peers, partners, fellow coworkers, visible to any connection who visits your profile.
- LinkedIn Today: A collection of the day’s top news stories, based on the content your connections and industry peers are reading and sharing.
- For more ideas, check out Guy Kawasaki’s excellent guest post on the LinkedIn blog, “10 Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn.”
Doesn’t look so much like a glorified job fair now, does it?
So, what about you—have you harnessed the many and varied powers of LinkedIn as a part of your business development efforts? Tell us about it in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!