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Networking is a game an entrepreneur has to play both online and offline. While you always have to make sure you're making yourself known at expos and startup events, upping your game on LinkedIn is key to getting one step ahead of your competition.
1. Raise Your Profile
Your LinkedIn Profile is one of the ways potential clients, employees and industry partners can find you. Get your profile to appear higher in search results on the Web for your name by customizing your LinkedIn Profile URL so it’s your first name and your last name together as one word (i.e. AliMatar). Also, make sure your LinkedIn Public Profile is visible to everyone. You can make both changes under your account settings.
2. Put Your Best Professional Foot Forward
Make sure you fill out the summary and experience sections of your profile. People with at least one past position listed on their profile are 12 times more likely to be viewed for potential opportunities. Include keywords and phrases that clients might search in your profile description. Also add skills to your profile and don’t forget to upload a photo. Professionals with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed in general.
3. Update Your Status
Let your connections know what you’re up to and how your business is growing by updating your status regularly. Use status updates to announce new products, to post interesting articles, and even to get answers to business questions you’re pondering (like, “Does anyone know a great accountant? I’m hunting for office space.”).
4. Create a Company Page
Create a LinkedIn Company Page so clients can “follow” your company. There are more than two million company pages on LinkedIn. As an example, here’s Entrepreneur ME’s LinkedIn Company Page. Make sure you “follow” competitors, clients and companies that you admire so you get the latest information from those companies.
5. Grow and Nurture Your Network
Connect to at least 50 people that you know and trust. It’s the magic number of connections to have on LinkedIn. When you connect to at least 50 employees, clients, business partners, friends, family members, etc., that’s when you start seeing more first-, second- and third-degree connections that can help you get in touch with people or companies that will help propel your business forward. Import your address book to find out which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn.
6. Let Customers Vouch for You
Recommendations are one of the best ways to secure new clients, because they spread virally on LinkedIn. They also enhance your professional credibility and create a great impression when potential clients read your profile. Request recommendations from happy customers and don’t be afraid to hint at some of key things that you’d like them to mention in the recommendation. (For example, “Zaina, I’d love it if you could post a recommendation on my profile. If you could note that you’ve been using out product for X years and also discuss how we were able to customize it to fit your company’s needs, that would be fantastic.”)
7. Find Other Passionate Small Business Owners
Search for “small business” or “entrepreneur” to find related LinkedIn Groups. There are a number of small business, start-up & entrepreneur Groups in the region, including “Start-Up Network: Middle East.” Groups are a great way to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer SMB-specific questions. Also, join groups that are related to your industry, city or province. Look for groups where you can get information about potential clients too. (If you usually sell to marketers, join marketing related groups to get a better feel for the topics and discussions your potential customers are concerned about.)
8. Find Employees and Experts
Whether you want to hire a rock star salesperson or if you’re looking for an expert to help you solve a problem, LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search is an easy way to search by title (Head of Sales) and company name (Etihad) to find exactly the person you’re looking for. Any member can search those facets for free by clicking the “Advanced” link in the top right hand corner of LinkedIn after they sign in.
9. Get Info on the Go
Use LinkedIn’s Android or iPhone apps to get info when you’re on the move. Are you running late to a meeting and want to get more information about someone before you arrive? Use the app to look up their profile. You can also use the apps to find connections you have in common with people before you see them in person at a conference.
10. Gain Insights
Visit LinkedIn daily to get valuable insights about your connections and their activities. Follow the top trending news each day on LinkedIn Pulse so you’re up-to-speed on industry news.