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Is LinkedIn Your Best Networking Tool?

By: Heather Legg

 

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Networking is key to running a small business. You want your name and your company out there for others to find and use. Social media is a great way to do this, and one of the best tools is LinkedIn.

 
Budget Friendly
 
LinkedIn and other social media are cost effective marketing tools. Depending on your membership, even with premium memberships, you can use LinkedIn as a very affordable part of advertising and it won’t eat into your budget. 
 
According to Tony Restell, CEO of Social-Hire.com, “Historically, businesses have had to advertise in order to reach the candidates with their business needs. When the advertising spend dries up, so too does the candidate’s interest in their business. Social media has completely changed this dynamic. Companies can now build their own audience or readership by adopting the right social media strategy—and therefore generate candidate interest in their business without the same reliance on paying to advertise to other people’s readerships.”
 
With other members sharing your company’s profile and joining networks, LinkedIn is an excellent, affordable marketing tool.
 
Your Connections
 
When you gain a new connection, send them a quick welcome or greeting note. It just takes a few seconds and makes LinkedIn a bit more personal. It’s a great way to stand out a bit. Also, put your connections into categories so that you’ll have tidy groups to work with. 
 
 
As the article “Should You Accept Every LinkedIn request?” examines, though there is something tempting in gathering big numbers of LinkedIn connections, be careful who you accept LinkedIn requests from. Most experts, including LinkedIn, advise that you should at least know of your connections, if not personally know them already.
 
Sure, sometimes you may need to meet new people to network. For instance, if you were at a career conference, you would make an effort to meet new people, but you already know at least something about them if they are there. You’d probably chat a bit or at least make an introduction before handing over your business card. Between spammers, frauds and unscrupulous people, it makes sense to know them (or of them) before accepting requests.
 
Finding New Connections
 
But how do you get to know new people? One way is with LinkedIn’s Inbox. You can send a message before a request saying you’d like to connect with them; they can do the same to you. It’s kind of like a formal introduction, then you “know” each other and can accept if you’d like. It just makes it a bit more personal. Remember, if a friend or connection knows them, they could very well be okay. Just like going to lunch with a friend of a friend, it’s not so unheard of. 
 
Use LinkedIn to increase your small business’s network, but be careful with it. Think of social media as real life—connect with those you want in your life and those who will enrich it, not random strangers.
Published: January 21, 2015
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