(First of three parts)
By that I don’t mean, “Have you set up your LinkedIn company page?” because many of us already have. (If not, what’s stopping you?) I mean:
- Are you promoting your firm and its brand to best advantage on LinkedIn?
- Are you sharing ideas, articles and blogs on it?
- Are you making desired business connections on it?
- Are you researching clients, companies and competition on it?
- Are you recruiting employees, consultants and partners through it?
- Are you really in on how far LinkedIn’s capabilities have come in 10 years?
These were key points raised at the May 22 BSA Marketing/PR Wizards meeting, where Julia Corbett Tanen of Riot Media and Patrick O’Malley of 617-PATRICK Social Media Training & Consulting gave us the skinny on getting the most out of LinkedIn as a marketing and networking tool, not merely a “Facebook for work” or a “resume on steroids,” in Julia’s words. For starters, here’s a link to Patrick’s PowerPoint presentation of LinkedIn as:
- a profile of your company or your personal work history and brand
- a discussion forum, ideas-sharing and blog-sharing channel
- a database of connections, recommendations and endorsements
- a ‘friends of friends’ network easing the referral/connection process
- a search engine for, say, prospects for CEOs of local companies
A LinkedIn profile is now much more than a company logo intro, services rundown, nutshell history, awards presentation and employee database. It’s an adventure through company milestones, project completions, new hires, promotions, blogposts, thought-shares, and virtually everything including the kitchen sink.
Patrick, however, said a LinkedIn profile’s proper role is to introduce the company and drive traffic to its website for a closer look at the firm’s products and services — an appetizer before the entrée, in a way.
One such example is this profile I coordinated for Pressley Associates Landscape Architects (click pic for full page):
The page begins with a concise overview of the firm, listing the types of landscapes they design, their most prominent works, awards won, and service specialties. The firm’s website link, http://www.pressleyinc.com, is clearly placed in the center column below to direct the user there for more company info, with no ancillary content to divert the user from getting to the main event, the website.
To the right of the info box are pic links to firm employees that have “LinkedIn” their personal profiles, which visitors are free to check out for potential LinkedIn connections, networking, project teaming, etc. — but a company page’s staff database should be handled with discretion if losing an employee to a competitor is a concern. “Competitors can see your Rolodex, so you must decide how private your Rolodex should be,” said Patrick.
Elkus Manfredi Architects, however, go more public with their profile. They introduce the firm as if we were to enter their office, then bring in the big news:
The splash photo of their reception area does make us feel welcome to the firm — then wowed by the Boston Globe announcement of the approval of their big Convention Center hotel project, with a link to that article and a comment box to kick off the congratulations and conversations. This way, they’re presenting themselves as a successful firm that welcomes your business, comments and congrats, in the hope of expanding by becoming the “talk of the town.”
By doing so, the visitor can easily follow the firm’s latest developments — and be awed by the string of successes Elkus/Manfredi has been having, as shown by its multiple project announcements, groundbreakings and completions to “like” and comment on as you scroll down the page.
Burns & McDonnell, a civil engineering firm based in Kansas City, Mo., really pushes the LinkedIn envelope by bragging, then blogging:
Leading off with a banner ballyhooing their “100 Best Companies to Work For” accolades from FORTUNE magazine, they jump right down into links to articles of general public interest — e.g., the benefits of reading every day (as “liked” and commented on by Yours Truly), job search issues and strategies, job interview techniques — as well as pieces of industry or company relevance.
“You must have a posting strategy that makes sense, that’s not spam, but caring about what’s relevant in your field, what a lot of people will be interested in,” said Patrick. “If you post that one interesting article that people want to read, they will follow you for that. The goal is not to promote your company, but to give something of value to the community.”
You are doing so by educating and informing your readerbase on the latest industry trends, tips and techniques, as well as tips for greater personal success in general. This makes you a thought leader in your field, hence heightens your industry credibility.
The Boston Society of Architects‘ profile finds a middle ground between LinkedIn as LeadIn and LinkedIn as LearnIn:
Starting with a shot of the BSA storefront (a good “introduction” to the organization), the page presents the “Recent Updates” as optional click-ons, thus leading the eye down to the company profile and weblink more immediately. As a bonus, below the BSA’s key contacts is a link to info about ArchitectureBoston, their magazine, for more information about the industry in general as well as “BSA Currents.” This page sets a good example for presenting a lot of content with minimal window-dressing — “less is more,” in Mies van der Rohe’s words.
— Todd Larson