I have continued using social media to gather advice on using social media for business. I gathered this advice from some people in this area who are connections of mine on LinkedIn. I used the LinkedIn question-and-answer function to email them this question:
How has LinkedIn been helpful to you in your business or profession? If you have found LinkedIn useful, I would appreciate a brief message providing an example of how you’ve used it or explaining which feature(s) you find most useful.
Shelly Turner, Economic and Community Development Product Manager at Alliant Energy:
I use LinkedIn to communicate with a specific group of partners that are eligible for funding through our Economic Development Department. I set up a group for the local economic development organizations in our service territory. That way I can communicate with them about programs that only they are eligible for. And can initiate or facilitate discussion that pertains just to our partners. I also use the Events section to promote workshops that we host every year. Economic developers and community leaders are invited to those regardless of whether they are in our service territory so I can share the events with anyone on my list that is in the economic development field whether they are a partner or not.
Nancy Garberson, CEO, Marketing and Communication Strategies Inc.:
LinkedIn is great – it is a true business tool where you can converse and share ideas with those of similar interest. There are several groups to join, from your sorority Alumni association to a global public relations group….it’s fun sharing ideas and getting feedback from like-minded folks!
Richard Moffitt, account executive at StratosFour:
Linkedin allows me to learn more about potential business partners and clients. I can find commonalities and additional insight into their businesses. After meeting a client, I’ll generally see if they have a Linkedin account. If so then I’ll review it and make notes. Then review those notes prior to our next meeting. If there is something we share it makes conversation much easier and helps to build that relationship.
Sarah Farebrother, Internet marketing specialist at NewspaperARCHIVE.com:
Not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I’ve found it useful for networking. I found my current job through LinkedIn, by keeping my profile up to date and building a network of work contacts. Someone who was hiring saw my profile and then contacted one of the people in their network who was connected to someone in mine and asked for an introduction.
Pat Shey, Cedar Rapids City Council member and Principal at Sage Companies & Benchmark Construction Services:
I use LinkedIn and Facebook to help me to turn a “cold” call, into a “warm” call. If I can find mutual friends or contacts, I am able to use that to my advantage to get in the door.
Stacey Hasz, manager/recruiting at Yellowbook, made a similar point:
LinkedIn has been a wonderful resource for me to reach out to “passive candidates” for niche positions that are hard to fill. Since the profile on LinkedIn is essentially someone’s resume, it makes it such a “warm” cold call.
Amber Mussman, public relations counselor at Henry Russell Bruce:
LinkedIn is a great tool for businesses and individuals who wish to make connections in the business world. The fact that it now includes the same status updating as Twitter and Facebook allows you to add to the conversation with your connections more simply, as well as comment on what others are up to. I use it to make connections with colleagues, peers and experts, get introduced to prospective clients through connections, and see what my peers are working on. I like to keep connected to the conversation in the groups, such as LinkedIowa. I have rediscovered former coworkers and friends through LinkedIn and developed client relationships based on these connections. It’s amazing what a small world it can be, especially online!
Will Lenzen Jr., marketing coordinator at Think Safe:
LinkedIn has helped me maintain a professional presence more consistently by allowing an easily-updated, somewhat-interactive online resume. It has also allowed me to connect with people I would have otherwise had to travel many miles for the opportunity to meet in person.
Brian Brown, president and regional director at Murphy Business & Financial of the Heartland Corp.:
I had a little used LinkedIn account in 2007 while working as a Cedar Rapids community banker. It was prompted by an acquaintance who was moving from the area & wanted to stay in touch. LinkedIn has allowed me to stay in touch.
When establishing my own Iowa/Nebraska regional, full service business & franchise brokerage company in 2008, I began to realize the potential for this valuable business tool.
With some effort & exploration, a precious network has emerged leading to strategic alliances, referrals & ongoing referral source relationships, direct business leads, avenues to market my services, a means of recruiting, & much more. I did not expect & was pleased to learn that prospective clients, referral sources, & strategic partners would look-up my profile & check my recommendations. Surprisingly, it has facilitated better networking in my markets by enhancing or leveraging an introduction or meeting at a networking event. Of course, it also helps me reconnect with friends from years ago in college or otherwise. LinkedIn has changed the way someone can establish & grow a business & ideal for B2B online networking & marketing.
I also pass along links to some blog posts I wrote in 2007 and 2008 about learning how to use LinkedIn and other social media: