Professional corporate women that are thinking about transitioning to become a business owner, this article is for you. Women business owners struggling to use LinkedIn as a viable source to drive new business, this article is also for you.
I run into the same questions and problems all the time, so I decided to shed some light on this subject to help my fellow women business owners out there. The top two questions or concerns I frequently hear from women in business are:
1. I am making or considering making the transition out of corporate to my own business. What do I do with my LinkedIn Personal Profile?
2. I am a new business owner with a long corporate career. How do I use LinkedIn to drive new business relationships?
1. Transitioning Your LinkedIn Profile
Before you go and rewrite your LinkedIn Summary and add your new experience, skills and any related multimedia materials, take the time to think through your new brand and how you will communicate it to your LinkedIn audience. Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself:
- How does my current LinkedIn Profile relate to my new brand? What cross-over skills have I identified?
- Can I leverage any of my existing LinkedIn 1st connects to gain referrals on LinkedIn? Who is connected to them that may be my next client?
- Are any of my current LinkedIn Groups and my related personal activity there useful in making this transition? How are the Groups Discussions related to my new business?
- Which LinkedIn Groups will not support this new brand? Where do I need to exit?
- How do I tell my story of transition?
- How does my current LinkedIn Experience flow support my transition into this new career?
Once you have given yourself ample time to do some introspective Q&A and put it on paper (or at least a Word document), assess your new bio, story and what kind of LinkedIn Social Ecosystem will support your new brand and career. Your bio and story are the beginnings of creating your LinkedIn Headline, Summary and defining Skills.
Your new LinkedIn Personal Profile, if you have gone through this exercise, should then communicate clear support of your decision and show exactly what it is you now offer. Of course, if you have created a new business, you will also need to create a LinkedIn Company Page that supports your new company brand, products, services and available jobs, if applicable. Your LinkedIn Company Page is your company. Your personal profile is where your business relationships will be developed. Make sure you create two to support each other; not one in place of the other.
2. Using LinkedIn to Drive New Business
Now you have a new LinkedIn Profile (assuming that you have gone through a true personal brand assessment and profile development exercise) that truly reflects your new brand and is engaging to your target audience. It’s time to use the selling tools that LinkedIn has to offer.
I view LinkedIn as a mini CRM that supports targeted business networking and cannot think of a better B2B Social Network that delivers these Solution Sales capabilities. In fact, LinkedIn integrates with most CRM systems, provides ample advertising opportunities from in-feed ads, to InMail to banner ROS ads.
Some simple ways you can use LinkedIn to drive new business include:
- Stay on top of moves and changes in your 1st LinkedIn Network. In this way, you have reasons to stay in touch your prospects.
- Use the tag feature in LinkedIn connections to segment your database for targeted messaging opportunities.
- Choose the right Groups that will support your brand position and need for influence. Choose industry groups for peer to peer support. Choose target groups for opportunities to deliver thought leadership.
- Follow, review and comment (appropriately) those LinkedIn Influencers that are a part of your Social Ecosystem.
- Have a LinkedIn Company Page (as applicable) that has engaging graphics and messaging that supports your new brand identity. Use it to deliver company news, job announcements, key articles, interviews and more.
- Use LinkedIn multimedia features to add in your original content, including presentations, videos, whitepapers, reports, etc.
- Use LinkedIn to poll and survey your target audience. This can be done via Groups and LinkedIn Advertising.
- Take your LinkedIn relationships offline. Make it a practice to do at least 1 call or meeting with a LinkedIn connect each week.
LinkedIn should be the first site you open every morning and the last one you close at night. It is the place for creating relationships. As a person in transition, you will find that LinkedIn will be your level playing field where, when approached and used correctly, can be your most useful marketing and sales tool.
Arguably the best social network for making a transition work from a marketing perspective, LinkedIn provides a very supportive structure for women professionals to help each other build and grow their businesses globally. I hope you are able to implement some or all of my findings; best wishes to your LinkedIn success!
If you have a LinkedIn success story to share, please use the comment box below — and if you know of a woman business owner who could benefit from reading this article, feel free to share on LinkedIn.
Title image courtesy of Shutterstock
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