How European Entrepreneurs Can Use LinkedIn to Grow a Global Business
With the world's top three consumer markets being countries outside Europe (the United States, China and Japan), businesses with only a European footprint should seriously consider globalizing their operations. Entering new markets can bring new sales and might increase profitability, which can offset slow growth in the saturated local markets.
And today this is possible even if you run a small business and don't have a big budget for international marketing. With today's internet-based economy blooming, any local business can jump on the global bandwagon without a big investment.
Social media plays a significant role in building a global brand. With more than 3 billion people using social media every day and engaging with brands, this is an efficient and inexpensive way to get global exposure fast.
If you are in the B2B niche, the one social media network you should definitely use is LinkedIn. According to the latest statistics, more than 61 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions. Millennials are also very well represented on LinkedIn, with 87 million LinkedIn profiles and 11 million being in decision-making positions. And even if you don't sell directly to millennials, you should have in mind that they will soon take over the business decision-making process of their companies.
But, before starting to develop your LinkedIn strategy and promote your local business to a global audience, there are a few things you should carefully consider, otherwise your results will not necessarily be the ones you expect. Here are a few elements to have in mind:
1. Understand who your prospect is and go beyond local limits.
If you haven't yet built your ideal client avatar, this is the right time to do it. If you don't know exactly whom you want to target with your LinkedIn strategy, your message will get lost and you won't see any results.
A great way to start is to think about your best local customers and then draft a customer persona based on their characteristics, but leaving out anything that is too Europe-specific.
2. Understand LinkedIn specifics and how you can best leverage them to go global.
As opposed to Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn is a B2B dedicated platform and this should dictate your strategy. What would be considered lousy marketing or even rude on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram, can be normal and expected on LinkedIn, which is generally all about outreach, networking, career and business development.
3. Write your LinkedIn headline in a way that will leave your international prospects thinking, "Yes!"
Your LinkedIn headline is found in the two to three lines underneath your name. You have only 120 characters available and you should make the most of them because this is the first thing people see when they reach your profile. Don't write just about yourself, but try to include one main benefit for the reader, so that they become enticed to keep reading.
4. Write an attractive LinkedIn summary -- not a resume, but something that might help the reader with a specific need.
Your LinkedIn summary is not the place where you write your resume and accomplishments, but the point where your story begins. Make this story relevant to your ideal client avatar, by telling them why they should be interested in you. Don't be afraid to write about your motivation, your company's values, your passions and even include a provocative question that makes the reader want to know more about you and how you can help them.
5. Understand the cultural habits and customs of the people you are trying to reach.
Just like any social media network, LinkedIn has the power to instantly connect you with people from all the corners of the world. This, of course, can be a great asset, but it can quickly turn into a liability if executed poorly.
If you were to travel to Japan looking for development opportunities for your European business, you would study the Japanese culture and local customs before your trip, so to make sure you don't say or do anything that would offend the people you meet there. This should be the case with your networking on LinkedIn, as well. Therefore, you should begin by documenting the local culture of the countries you want to target: religious beliefs, holidays, local important events/conflicts, specific networking and business etiquette.
The entire LinkedIn platform was developed with one thing in mind: to connect companies and professionals with their peers, clients, vendors, network and do business. So, when used the right way, LinkedIn can play an essential role in the global expansion of any European business.