The recent years have brought about the huge growth and popularity of social and business networking sites. Though people were skeptical in the beginning that these sites would really work, nowadays, most people and businesses have realized that these networking channels have opened up opportunities that had not been available in the past.
LinkedIn is the largest business networking site online, with over 120 million users and still growing. As a direct seller, you may have set up a profile with LinkedIn, and you may occasionally visit the site to keep updated with what's happening, but are you really using this site to the best of your advantage? Have you realized the various ways you can use LinkedIn for building your business?
Though you may think that LinkedIn is great for increasing your sales, the real power of this business networking site is that it's a powerful tool for building and maintaining relationships. Successful companies and entrepreneurs know the importance of networking in the world of business. And as the saying goes, sometimes it's not what you know but who you know.
Here's a step-by-step guide in using LinkedIn for Business:
1. Craft a Compelling Profile
Before you should go ahead with networking and using other LinkedIn features for building your business, it's important to start with creating and crafting a compelling profile. A good profile will help you attract people's attention, increase your visibility, and help you achieve better rankings in the search engines. As a direct seller, there's a lot of value in achieving these three things.
Some quick tips for creating a compelling profile:
• Put up a professional-looking photo
• Make sure your professional headline really sums up what you do
• Take advantage of linking to your websites
• Include your work history and education
• Write a great summary of what you do
• Add a bit of personal information
• Complete your profile as much as you can
2. Form connections and build up your personal brand
Since LinkedIn is a social networking site specifically for professionals and business owners, the real power of it comes from the connections you form within it. After you've created an attractive profile, it's now time to add people you know and connect with these people. This is the best way to build up your personal brand and increase your credibility.
To be truly successful in business, one of the most important things is to build trust. The more you form healthy connections and build relationships with people, the more people trust you.
Here are some tips for using LinkedIn to form connections and build your personal brand:
• Post status updates
• Comment, like and share other people's status updates
• Contribute to Answers
• Contribute to Groups and participate in discussions
• Show off your expertise
3. Find people who can help you achieve your goals
As a direct seller, what exactly are your business goals? Do you want to increase sales, get new customers, acquire new partners, or generate new leads? It's a good idea to be very specific with your goals.
After you've defined your business goals, you can now use LinkedIn to find people who can help you achieve these goals. The power of LinkedIn lies in the network you have.
When you think about it, the real value of LinkedIn actually comes from your 2nd and 3rd degree connections, not your 1stdegree ones. Your 1st degree connections are people you already know and interact with, but if you really want to take your business further, you need to network with people whom you don't know but may be able to help you achieve your goals. And because LinkedIn easily shows the connections you have, you can ask the person you know to introduce you to the person they know who can help you. This is the best way to get their attention - through a mutual friend or acquaintance.
4. Harness the power of LinkedIn Groups
Perhaps the greatest value of using LinkedIn for your business is its Groups feature. Because here is where discussions happen, where people exchange ideas and information, and where relationships and connections really form.
Through LinkedIn Groups, you can ask questions and get valuable answers from the members. You can also answer questions to help you gain visibility and build credibility. Don't try to do a sales pitch - this is not the platform for that. By providing really useful information, you increase people's trust in you, which is more valuable.
Also, when you're a member of a group, you can actually contact other members directly, even those not within your first, second, or third degree network. This can prove invaluable in business, since it's all about forming connections and building relationships.
Truly, there's a lot of value that LinkedIn can provide for your business. Once you really understand how to use this excellent platform, you can really take your direct selling business to new heights it has yet to reach. So if you haven't gotten started, the right time to do so is now.
Maria Elena Duron, CEO (chief engagement officer), buzz2bucks
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