So what is LinkedIn and how can you make use of it as a small business?
You may have been seeing the LinkedIn logo among other social networking logos like Facebook and Twitter on company websites.
If you have not yet made use of it, LinkedIn is a social networking site directed at strengthening and extending your professional network.
LinkedIn now has over 250 million users worldwide and has the capability for networking, sharing ideas as well as job opportunities that are listed within the site. If you're someone who moves location or moves job frequently then it is also a way to keep your professional address book up to date, and means that people can always find you! Forget about ever needing to keep or file another business card again!
When you create your LinkedIn Profile you control the information that you make available to people. If you are web savvy you can also link an RSS Feed from your website, or your Twitter account to your profile- this means that whenever you update or make changes to your website, or send a 'tweet', you can literally 'feed' that information through to your network.
Company profiles are now available, which in turn contain individual profiles within them. You cannot create a company profile that is not linked to an individual profile (a little like Facebook - the individual profile must be created first, and then the business page/profile attached to it.) They have the functionality to upload videos about your company, information about products and services, as well as available jobs.
Whether you are seeking a job, or have a new position available within your company, LinkedIn can be used to tap into a mine of skilled people.
Job seekers can apply online, or you can recommend a job to one of your connections. Hiring is as easy as posting your available position online, with details and how you'd like to be contacted by each potential employee. Job posting is a paid feature, but has discounts available- See the Jobs tab on LinkedIn for more details.
The benefits of tapping into LinkedIn Groups is to take part in discussions that are relevant to your niche. Like Twitter, you have the ability to follow leaders and influential people within your industry. You can set up your own Group, and control the quality of comments and discussions. It is also a way to make vital new business contacts to help you meet your business goals.
Like all social networking, as a business, you need decide if it's a 'good fit' for you. It is virtually impossible to spend quality time on all of the social networking sites (unless that is what you do for a living), so pick a couple that are most applicable to your audience and get started.
If LinkedIn is a place where where your networking contacts are found, then maybe its a good networking platform to consider for your career or business.