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By now, almost everyone who wants to develop a business knows about LinkedIn. We’re inundated with tips and tricks to expand networks, stay in touch, and broadcast offers.

But there’s a big difference between knowing what you can do and knowing what you should do. Way too many people have no idea how to effectively use LinkedIn to their advantage.

Let’s take a flashlight and make the dark a little bit brighter, shall we? In this 3-part series, we will look at your business goals and how you can support them using different LinkedIn strategies.

Flashlight

First, let’s talk about goals.

Many people make the same mistake on every platform they utilize for their business: they have no goal in mind. They start posting, following people and hitting the like button as often as they can without any impact on their bottom line. They are addicted to advice, tactics and tools to make their appearance bigger, not better, on social platforms.

Let’s look at 3 common business goals:

  1. Expand your network
  2. Establish yourself as an expert
  3. Maintain and strengthen your existing relationships to cross-sell or get introductions

You still have your flashlight on, right? We’re digging deeper into LinkedIn to see how the platform can support these goals.

Expand your network

All of us have heard about LinkedIn groups. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this helpful article http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1164).

They are the best way to extend your network, besides asking people for introductions or sending InMail. Groups have their own beauty – pick the right one and you are surrounded by potential customers.

LinkedIn-Groups-3

The most common mistake people make is to join the wrong group. Don’t participate in discussions with people of your own profession. I know, it is exciting to chat about the latest trends and gadgets for your own industry and we all get a thrill to discover the next big move. But your potential customers are not part of these groups.

Follow these 5 steps to identify the right group:

  1. Define your ideal client
  • What industry is he or she in?
  • What size is the company?
  • What location?
  •  Is your ideal client in a certain age group?
  •  Does he or she have a specific hobby?
  1. Identify companies representing your ideal client
  •  Search for the company name in the LinkedIn search box
  • Look through the list of people who work for this particular company
  • Identify employees who you would like to talk to (based on job title or division)
  1. Gather information
  • Open a profile (Keep in mind: not everybody allows their information publicly displayed, so you might have to open a couple of profiles)
  • Scroll down to the “Group” section
  • Record the groups this contact belongs to
  • Repeat this step with other contacts at this company or other companies
  • Identify the most common groups in your targeted segment
  1. Identify the right group
  • Join each group on your list
  • Identify who is a member of this group by clicking on “members”
  • Figure out if this is a very large group or a smaller gathering – this will influence your engagement strategy
  • Look at the most recent group discussions. Do these topics interest you? Can you contribute to the discussions? Do you have a different point of view?
  1. Engage
  • First, follow a very simple rule: Talk WITH people not just TO them
  • Provide valuable content to earn the trust and respect of other group members
  • Market your services with a well crafted message that is geared towards the audience

Grand finale Ninja trick: when you comment on a discussion in one of your new favorite groups, include a signature with your name, LinkedIn company page and website. Make it easy for people to find out more about you and your company.

Well, that’s a wrap for the first part of our flashlight enhances adventure. We will see you for part 2 of our excursion: Establish yourself as an expert.

 Until then, follow us on Twitter at @miriamchristof!