LinkedIn is more than just
a site for networking
By Harvey Meyer
16 The Costco Connection JULY/AUGUST 2013
who considers it game-changing “sales intel-
ligence” for small firms.
If Richter has an established contact, that
constitutes a “first-degree” LinkedIn connec-
tion, meaning he now, by default, can access
all of that contact’s first-degree connections.
Richter says he has had “tremendous success”
contacting members of this latter group—his
“second-degree” connections—after asking
his first-degree contacts for an introduction.
Company pages. All firms on LinkedIn
can set up a free company page to describe
themselves and their products and services,
and, for example, post updates that invite com-
ments and include links to a corporate blog,
Facebook page or elsewhere. The problem is,
many small firms ignore the company page.
Scott Phillips, CEO of StarFish Medical, a
Victoria, British Columbia, contractor for
medical-device development and manufac-turing-services businesses, makes abundant
use of the company page. For example, the
65-employee firm regularly posts links to its
press releases, media mentions and corporate
blogs, which include reputation-enhancing
content aimed at establishing the company as
an industry expert.
SIMIN FOSTER JOUSTED with an ever-present worry for entrepreneurs: how to
attract customers. In her case, it was how to
attract exhibitors and others to the Whole
Earth Expo she co-founded.
One way the Ottawa Costco member promoted the spring event was through LinkedIn
discussion groups spawned by the Ottawa
Chamber of Commerce, Invest Ottawa, Green
Ottawa and other organizations.
Bingo. A number of exhibitors read her
posts about the expo, clicked a link to her
website and signed up. “LinkedIn discussion
groups,” says Foster, “turned out to be a very
good way of attracting business.”
Intelligence gathering. Targeting the
right prospective customers is vital, so Sam
Richter appreciates a LinkedIn tool that can
help identify hot sales leads. Richter, a
Minnetonka, Minnesota, author, speaker and
small-firm marketing officer who teaches
about LinkedIn’s utility, uses a free “advanced
search” function on the LinkedIn home page
to find contacts by job title, geographic
region, industry and other identifiers. (A premium service supplies even more specific
Count Foster among the business owners
and small firms discovering that LinkedIn is
more than just a professional networking site.
It can also be a valuable tool to help them
grow their business.
“This allows people to get past gatekeepers and find the right prospects in ways that
would have previously been impossible or
unaffordable,” says Richter, a Costco member,
SETTING UP A LinkedIn account is easy.
LinkedIn is suited to assist small firms
with business opportunities, explains Lana
Khavinson, a LinkedIn senior marketing
manager and Costco member. “Our audience
is professional, educated and engaged. People
come to our platform to invest time in their
professional and business profile.”
Just go to www.LinkedIn.com and register.
Several resources on the site can help
you optimize it for your business. Scroll to the
bottom of your main page and click on “Help
Center,” then enter a topic in the Search box,
such as “company page” and “groups.”
Also, try these links:
Small firms can utilize LinkedIn in several
cost-effective ways, including the following.
Job postings. Just as many job seekers
upload their resumés on LinkedIn, many
small firms search for candidates on the network. They also post job opportunities, making them visible to 200 million members.
“The company page,” says Phillips, “is
one way of developing trust and building relationships with people who may want to
engage with us in a deeper way.”
Phillips, a Costco member, also pays attention to free company-page analytics, such as
the number of clicks on products and services