B2B Social Networking With LinkedIn

With more than 50 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest online business social network and is used almost exclusively for business purposes. From a B2B perspective, having a presence on LinkedIn can be instrumental for influencing a broad range of audiences—from prospects and potential employees to industry peers.

The first step on LinkedIn is to create a profile for your executives and business. But there are other ways to increase your visibility and following. LinkedIn’s Groups feature lets you create and join “gated” groups – whether around a specific industry, expertise or product. Joining groups relevant to your business and taking an active part in them will increase networking opportunities.

If your business decides to create its own group on LinkedIn, it can be linked directly to your company website and become a place for hosting online discussions or sharing relevant information. You will want to invite others to join your group. This can include customers, prospects, interactive agencies, partners and journalists cover­ing your industry.

Knowledgeable personnel inside your company might also consider taking part in LinkedIn’s Answers forum to give advice and respond to questions posted by other LinkedIn members. As a member of the LinkedIn community, you can increase your credibility by answering questions from people outside of your following. You can also ask questions. Often, smart questions can receive 20 or more answers within minutes of a post. This can also increase visibility.

Here are other tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn:

  • Always include your LinkedIn profile or group on your website and on e-mail signatures.
  • Give and accept recommendations on LinkedIn, which are revealed on member profiles.
  • Cross-promote LinkedIn activities—such as a hosted event in a LinkedIn group—on other social media channels such as Twitter.
  • Avoid direct selling; positioning yourself as an objective subject matter expert works best.

There are a growing number of other social networks focused on professional industries. There may be a vertical social network that is a better fit for you. For most people, LinkedIn will do just fine. Please share your suggestions on using LinkedIn.

photo_kathy_kabreraAbout Kathy Cabrera

Kathy Cabrera is a guest blogger for Journalistics. Kathy serves as Director of New Media for Carabiner Communications and leads the agency’s social media and video initiative. Kathy helps clients build and integrate social media tools and content into their communications campaigns. To learn more about Carabiner’s social media offerings, please visit http://www.carabinerpr.com or email Kathy directly.

8 Comments

  1. hello – nice article. can you name some B2B corp that use the groups (meaning they have one and maintain it) effectively. particularly where people outside can join…

    I think of facebook fan pages – and their interactivity… what is comparable on linkedin and who is doing it well. who might not be?

    thanks!!

    • For LinkedIn, I would suggest browsing Groups in the Groups Directory. Honestly, only the largest organizations seem to have the best LinkedIn Groups pages (for example, Best Buy does a great job with their employee alumni network – but you have to be a former/current employee). Facebook Groups or Pages are much better for keeping members updated (they also seem to be less “spammy”). I’m not sure what it is about FB, but people tend to be less commercial in most groups. There are always exceptions, but your best bet is to search based on your interests and try some out over time. I’m a lifelong lacrosse fanatic, so I enjoy US Lacrosse updates on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

    • Stephen – Thanks for your comment. Each company, depending on its culture, may need to determine whether it’s better suited for LinkedIn – which is strictly BtoB and for business/career use or Facebook – which combines everything from family photos to some work updates/recreational interests (like Jeremy’s lacrosse example). Some companies have a presence on both.

      A lot of smaller or mid-sized enterprises I work with have effectively developed a presence on LinkedIn and connected with a targeted niche of their prospects as a result. Some of the successful groups I work with include those that are created to support traffic to a blog (related to a cause/trend/issue) or expert’s profile. These differ from a company’s profile page on LinkedIn that just lists their business’ information. For example, I’ve found his trend-oriented group successful (listed below) and allows anyone who’s interested to join:

      – Dan McDade, President of PointClear – shares discussions on “The Truth about Leads” in this LinkedIn forum: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=2138290

      Any groups related to an industry, cause or trend that you create should be “open invitation” and also differ from member alumni groups which are reserved for past/present employees or members of an organization or educational institution or association.

      Please feel free to write with any other questions!

      – Kathy Cabrera, Director of New Media, http://www.carabinerpr.com

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