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Small Business

Manage Your Business

For cost-effective marketing, tap into LinkedIn

Showcase expertise, connect to clients and establish an influencer presense

The following article is part of the Small Business Ad Academy, a series that offers timely advice on marketing and social media for small businesses, presented by Chase Ink.

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As the world's largest professional network, with more than 400 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is an increasingly powerful tool for small business owners eager to raise their profile. That's because, as a community of professionals, the social platform's users are already pre-disposed to business-oriented messaging. This makes it a powerful vehicle for companies seeking to establish their expertise with key, targeted audiences.

Jennifer Grazel, LinkedIn's global director of vertical marketing, says that 25 million business owners are active on the platform. More than half say their primary purpose in using the platform is to engage current and prospective partners, suppliers and customers.

"Sales are driven by relationships, so it is important to humanize expertise as part of a business proposition," explains Grazel. "We're finding that business owners who develop and share their voice through strong, consistent content are seen as influencers. And that can provide them with a real competitive advantage."

For a fraction of the cost of large-scale marketing campaigns, a small business owner can build a presence as an influencer. Grazel outlines four brand-building steps:

1. Create a winning profile

Write a succinct and compelling overview, laying out both career accomplishments and company facts in the summary and experience sections, and then use vibrant photos. A solid profile can garner instant credibility, impressing first-time visitors who may be unaware of those details. And be sure to add relevant keywords or phrases throughout the profile. That improves visibility when prospective customers search those terms in LinkedIn and Google.

2. Expand your network

Take time each week to search for, and reach out to, relevant friends, colleagues or others who may be interested in your business. "The power of a network like LinkedIn is not only about who you know, but who they know, as well," says Grazel. Set reminders and follow up with contacts periodically on LinkedIn Contacts, especially when adding new content that may be of interest to them.

3. Speak up

Keep content fresh by updating your profile regularly with product launches or marketing offers and illustrate your expertise by adding news that engages and informs connections. Don't shy away from publishing long-form posts to express opinions, points of view and relevant experiences to further establish a professional identity. Further position yourself as a thought leader by joining pertinent LinkedIn Groups, and adding to the conversation on topics and trends. Sharing knowledgeable insights will help build rapport with other contributors, including those who may benefit from their expertise, products or services.

4. Syndicate and amplify

Cross-post long- and short-form content from personal pages to the company page to extend your reach. Efforts to raise visibility may be further enhanced by strategic investments in LinkedIn sponsored content, which places your content on select feeds. LinkedIn uses advanced algorithms to help target desired audiences, thus enhancing your return on investment. Plus, there's the option to add personalized messages to specific, segmented audiences.

This ability to create—and share—a genuine voice separates authentic business influencers from the pretenders.

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