Aside


by Krista Canfield, LinkedIn’s senior manager.

LinkedInisn’t  just a good resource for professionals.

When used the right way, it can be a powerful tool for businesses too—and not  just for recruiting, the way most managers think of using the site.

Businesses that navigate LinkedIn properly engage customers, generate sales  leads, and swap internal information among employees.

Krista Canfield, LinkedIn’s senior manager of corporate  communications has a perspective worth sharing, since she trains companies on  nontraditional uses of LinkedIn. She knows the platform like the back of her  hand, having joined LinkedIn when it only had 18 million members and 200 people  on staff (now it has 187 million members and 3,177 employees). Her team has also  trained more than 13,000 journalists to better navigate LinkedIn.

The most common mistakes she sees businesses make on  LinkedIn, and how all companies can use the professional social network  better

1. Your company isn’t even listed on LinkedIn

1. Your company isn't even listed on LinkedIn

CNBC’s LinkedIn company page

“More than 2.6 million companies already have a LinkedIn Company Page,”  Canfield says.

So why is it a big deal to add yours?

LinkedIn shows companies statistics about  their followers for free. Companies with pages can also share news and  information with their followers to keep people engaged and attract new clients  or employees.

2. Your company doesn’t follow competitors on  LinkedIn

2. Your company doesn't follow competitors on LinkedIn

LinkedIn company pages can be a good way to keep tabs on the competition.

“When you follow a  competitor’s LinkedIn Company Page, you can find out what talent is joining,  and leaving, those companies,” Canfield says. “You’ll also get updates from the  companies (when they share recent news articles or discussions with their  followers) and you’ll be the first to know when they post jobs on LinkedIn.  This information can help clue you in to the direction those companies might be  heading in.”

Canfield also recommends following company pages for partners, potential  customers and acquisition targets on LinkedIn.

3. Your employees haven’t spent much time on their  LinkedIn profiles

3. Your employees haven't spent much time on their LinkedIn profiles

Krista’s profile on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Employees are an extension of your brand on LinkedIn, so it’s important to  make sure their profile pages are a good representation of your company.

“LinkedIn Profiles (which appear in Google search results not just for names,  but also in Web searches for skills and areas of expertise) may be the first  encounter a potential customer or business partner has with your company,” says  Canfield. “A bare-bones profile on LinkedIn suggests that your employee and  your company may not have stellar online networking skills, so encourage your  people to fill out their profiles so they are 100 percent complete.”

Canfield suggests even little touches, like making sure employees have  uploaded profile pictures. A LinkedIn profile is 7 times more likely to be  viewed if it has a photo.

4. Your company isn’t sharing the right kind of  information at the right time on LinkedIn

4. Your company isn't sharing the right kind of information at the right time on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

“Whether you’re sharing media hits about your company via your LinkedIn  Company Page or sharing articles with your LinkedIn network, there are a few  useful tips you should keep in mind,” says Canfield.

“Post in the morning for best reach, add links when possible, share videos to  drive amazing viral engagement, and tell people what action you want them to  take on your update (so specifically call out that you’d want viewers to like,  share and/or comment on your discussion).”

Managers of your LinkedIn Company Page can also target  messages and updates to specific people. They don’t have to send it to every  follower of that page.

5. Your employees aren’t connecting with each other or  swapping information on LinkedIn

5. Your employees aren't connecting with each other or swapping information on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

“By connecting your employee base, you’ll be opening up a whole new world of  second-degree connections outside your company,” says Canfield.

“Joe the receptionist could have a best friend that works over at Nike, which  just happens to be the dream client that Sarah in sales is trying to land.  Trusted introductions from colleagues are a great way for any business to locate  the experts they need quickly and cost effectively.”

Employers can follow what their employees are sharing on LinkedIn too.

Canfield says all updates can be sorted on LinkedIn’s homepage (see  photo).

“When you first log into LinkedIn, just below where you can share articles or  an update with your network, you should see, ‘All Updates,’ in bold font,” she  explains. “If you hover over, “All Updates,” you’ll notice you can sort your  updates so you just see what your coworkers are sharing on LinkedIn. This is an  easy way to virtually hang out at your company water cooler.”

6. You tell employees office gossip is off  limits.

6. You tell employees office gossip is off limits.

That doesn’t mean employees should be able to leak company secrets on  LinkedIn. But they should feel like they can share interesting news about their  industries.

“Industry information is power,” says Canfield. “Encourage employees to check  out their industry-specific LinkedIn Today news feed to help you prioritize and  sort through the news that’s making the rounds. Make sure that they connect to  clients so that they catch important profile updates in regards to promotions or  job changes at those companies too.”

7. You’re active on LinkedIn, but no one would know it  from your website

7. You're active on LinkedIn, but no one would know it from your website

If you don’t have a LinkedIn button on your company website or blog, you’re  missing out on an easy way to share content on LinkedIn.

According to Canfield, more than 1.3 million publishers have a LinkedIn  Share button on their sites. The buttons are free and easy to add, and they  can drive immense traffic. They can also increase audience engagement.

There’s a Share plugin, a Share API, and a “Sign in with LinkedIn”  button.

8. You’re not equipping your employees for Premium  Accounts

For most employees, a free LinkedIn profile is all they need.

But people on your sales and HR teams are probably spending money already on  premium accounts. LinkedIn has packages especially for employees in those  departments, so you could end up saving them money.

LinkedIn Premium Subscriptions can be purchased on an individual or team  level, says Canfield. They give people access to more profiles in search  results, as well as the ability to send messages to people they aren’t connected  to.

There are also more granular search features that can be unlocked with paid  accounts. If your HR team wants to search for people by experience level, for  example, they need a paid account.

9. Your company has a lot of products and services, but  you don’t list them all on LinkedIn

9. Your company has a lot of products and services, but you don't list them all on LinkedIn

“It’s easy to add a Products & Services tab so potential clients know  what offerings you have, and which LinkedIn members have recommended those  products and services,” says Canfield.

“Make sure you’ve taken the time to add this tab to your LinkedIn Company  Page so that potential clients can see all of your offerings.”

10. You haven’t created an exclusive LinkedIn group for  your employees

10. You haven't created an exclusive LinkedIn group for your employees

Canfield recommends creating a members-only LinkedIn group that’s just for  current employees. It can become a tool similar to those offered by Yammer or  Asana where your team can swap ideas, and the discussions won’t show up in  search results.

“At LinkedIn, we have our own LinkedIn Group that’s just for current  employees. The group is a great place for us to share news articles, raise  problems that need to get fixed and brainstorm about ways we can make our  service even better,” says Canfield. “It’s an amazing way to capture all of the  ideas our people have from across all of our different departments and offices  around the globe while also saving our inboxes a bit of space.”

11. You haven’t created a group for your customers  either.

11. You haven't created a group for your customers either.

If you create a group for your customers, they can share experiences and what  they’ve learned by using your service with each other. Some great ideas on how  to improve your product can surface in a group like that, says Canfield.

It can also be a great way to convert a strong lead into a paying  customer.

Canfield recommends checking out Citi’s  LinkedIn group, which has nearly 80,000 members, for  inspiration.

12. You don’t participate in group discussions on  LinkedIn or, if you do, you’re spamming them

12. You don't participate in group discussions on LinkedIn or, if you do, you're spamming them

It’s important to hop into discussions in relevant groups on LinkedIn, says  Canfield. Just make sure you’re actually participating in discussions, not  spamming them with links and information about your business.

“Look at groups like mini conferences where you can learn about business  topics you’re interested in or curious about,” says Canfield. “Get to know other  group members and provide them genuine advice/feedback. Don’t just blindly blast  them with sales pitches and unsolicited information about your business.”

To find relevant discussions, surf LinkedIn  Groups and LinkedIn  Answers.

13. You haven’t gone mobile with LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t just a desktop tool. It has a suite  of free mobile apps that help you and your employees see where people work  and find common connections with them. The apps can be useful at conferences or  out-of-office meetings.

One of LinkedIn’s most helpful mobile solutions is CardMunch, a startup it  acquired last year that makes it easy to stop collecting physical business  cards. With CardMunch, you can take a mobile photo of someone’s physical  business card. CardMunch will then pull all the data from the photo and store it  as a mobile contact so there’s no need to keep (and probably lose) a hard  copy.

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