12 Ways to Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile for a B2B Company

LinkedIn is considered by many to be the professional social network, but since it is based around people and their individual profiles, many don’t realize the benefit their B2B company can get with a well-crafted, active personal profile. Users can develop and strengthen business relationships, receive industry information, demonstrate thought leadership and improve search results for their company website and blogs. The following points below can help you transform your profile into one that supports your company’s online marketing efforts.

1. Descriptive Headline
The default for this field is your current position at your current company. While many change this to a more general statement about themselves, keeping your company name in this statement clearly identifies you as a part of the company. Since many people use LinkedIn as a job search site, but claiming your company as part of your identity, you demonstrate your commitment to company to outsiders.

2. Company Branded Photo
Every social profile should have a photo and LinkedIn is no exception. If you company website has team photos, especially ones with a particular style or background, using that photo on your profile promotes your company brand and visually connects your profile to the company website.

3. Other Website Links
The default category for website links is My Website. Change the choice to Other, as shown below. This gives you a customizable field to enter your company name, or even descriptive keywords, that display as a link to your company website or blog. This also creates a better anchor link, which connects keywords to the link coming from LinkedIn. This will help search results, especially if everyone in your company adjusts their links in this way.
Change category to other.

4. Summary with Keywords
The summary describing yourself, your work experience and your skills is usually thought of as a personal section, however, you can include a company description with keywords that will help people discover you, and your company, will doing searches, both on LinkedIn and on the web. Another option is to use the same descriptive company keywords, but not mention the company in your summary. This still gives you the search benefit, but makes your profile seem more personal.

5. Company Presentations
Connect your Slideshare account to your LinkedIn profile to display uploaded presentations. You can even create a company Slideshare account and upload all presentations, and connect that account to multiple employees’ profiles. These presentations demonstrate you’s and your company’s expertise on the topics you are speaking about. If you are not speaking to groups, and don’t have public presentations, convert some of your client or customer presentations in to general slide decks about the topic or your industry. This is a great place to upload portfolio decks or company overviews.

6. Standardize Company Name
Make sure all company employees list the company the same way on their profiles. This links to the Company profile page, which is both autogenerated and customizable (see #9 below). While this is not a problem for big companies because it is obvious how to list the company, and it usually comes up in a drop down list since it is already in the LinkedIn database, smaller companies sometimes get added a variety of ways. This includes things like having commas in a company name or adding inc or LLC to the name. Use the most common form of the company name so that people can find your company.

7. Full Job Description
In addition to adding a job description that summarizes what you do, add a one or two sentence standard description of the company. This is another opportunity for all your employees that have this information on their profiles to show up in search results for the keywords that describe your company.

8. Connect with Others
Social networking is all about connecting with others, and now that you have a completed profile that represents you as an employee of your company, reach out and connect with other employees, partners, vendors and customers. Now when you meet new contacts at industry events, make sure you ask people to connect on LinkedIn. The more people in your network, the more powerful your connections become.

9. Company Summary
Most of the information on the company profile is pulled from personal profiles with this company name, but you should complete it by adding a description and the company logo. This description is similar to the one used on employee profiles, but may be a sentence or two longer and add a bit more depth to it. This is a chance to include additional descriptive keywords or even industries that you serve. If you understand how your current customer describe your business, or how they found you in the first place, this information helps craft the summary that helps others find you online.

10. Follow Companies
A recent feature is the ability to follow companies. This is a fully public feature, so before you follow a competitor or customer to keep up with employee changes and other company updates, be aware that this is announced to your network, and it shows on a list on the company page. You should definitely follow your own company to keep up with employee changes and promotions. This is less important in a smaller company.

11. Join Groups
Groups are ways for people with similar interests to connect on LinkedIn. These are usually industry specific, and are frequently started by companies, maybe even competitors. So long as the discussions are open and helpful, it is worth joining any relevant groups. Start by reading discussion topics and understanding how the group functions. Add helpful information based on your industry expertise and knowledge. With a company-based profile, others in the group will know what you do without you having to respond in a salesy manner.

In addition to discussion topics, people post and comment on news articles and blog posts (maybe even this one). This is a good way to get industry specific news in a filtered manner. Group activity is emailed to you, so you can keep up with a group without constantly going to the site. And if their are many industry groups that you want to join, you may want to divide and conquer with other employees with multiple people joining all the relevant groups, but set responsibilities for who keeps up with which group and forwards information back to the team.

12. Answer Questions
These are category based discussions threads that are not connected to Groups, all though the approach is the same. Read answers to understand how people respond, especially look at answers that have been selected as the best answer. This is another chance to demonstrate your knowledge and your company’s expertise and thought leadership, frequently to people outside your industry. And just like within groups, your profile represents your company and what you do.

Share any other tips or successes you have had with LinkedIn from a company perspective in the comments below.

12 Networking Tips for B2B Conferences

In the B2B world, tradeshows and conferences are still a major part of our sales and marketing strategies. Once you have been to a few conferences, you know how similar they can all seem and oftentimes overwhelming. There is a lot of information to sort through, tradeshow booths to see and attendees to meet.

We all have read about the benefits of relationship building and taking online relationships offline, but we may not be ready to practice what we preach. Tradeshows are a great opportunity to meet your online connections in person and to meet people in person and then continue the relationship online.

Here are some simple tips to get the most out of your conference time and make sure you are spending your time well and connecting with the right people.

BEFORE THE CONFERENCE

1. Use LinkedIn to find people attending your conference – You can search for your conferences in the LinkedIn Events section and see who in your network is attending. LinkedIn Groups are also a great place to find people who are attending the same conference as you. Start a discussion in a group and make a plan to connect in person while you are there.

2. Find the Twitter Hashtag for the event – Many events now have a Twitter hashtag for their event so people can follow the stream of content being tweeted out about their event. If there isn’t a hastag, make one and alert your network about it.

3. Download mobile apps on your smartphone to collect contact information – Doing the ‘business card shuffle’ is stale. Most people I know have a whole drawer, cup, bowl, trashcan et al. of business cards from meetings and conferences. Find a better way to connect. Perhaps their business phone number isn’t what you need but you would connect better if you could get their Instant Messenger name, Twitter name or Google Buzz/Wave information.

I like to use Evernote for taking notes on the go (think: taking a photo of someone with an audio note of your conversation highlights). A fun way to exchange all of your contact information is with the Bump application. With a simple physical bump of your phone to the person you want to connect with, you can swap all of your contact information. Never underestimate the power of LinkedIn as they also have a great app to collect data on-the-go.

4. Tell your network you are going and find out what they want to know more about – Let your customers and network know you are attending this conference and ask them if there is anything they want you to make sure you bring back with you. Post a blog, a tweet or update your Facebook fans and you may get some great ideas from them on which sessions you should attend or who you should talk to.

DURING THE CONFERENCE

5. Try using Twitter DMs versus email – When we all leave for a conference, we set up a vacation email. Why? Because we don’t plan on (or want to be held accountable) for checking our email while we are on-the-go. If you want to send someone a message, try sending them a direct message on Twitter for a faster response.

6. Get content for later – Too many people are trying to “live document” events. Save your energy and make a plan to collect information for later. Use a sound or video recorder to capture an impromptu interview and save it for when you get back. Edit your content to make it have one quick point and share it with your network.

If you make a good connection with a thought leader in your industry get their contact information and make a plan to contact them later. Ask to interview them later, after the conference, via email or over the phone.

7. Be a part of the experience – We have probably all seen those people who are documenting every minute of an event either by live blogging, tweeting or recording it. You will get more out of your experience (and the dollars it took to get you there), if you spend your time being a part of the experience, meeting people and listening to speakers then you will documenting the whole process. Take home key points and relationships, not mountains of text, tweets, audio and video footage.

A FEW OTHER TIPS

8. Have a plan – There is so much content at conferences. Research speakers beforehand, if you can, and make a list of what you cannot miss and what you will fit in if you can. Set up meetings with business partners and potential clients before you go so you don’t get sidetracked.

9. Go with the flow – Yes you should have a plan, but you also need to leave some of your days up to chance and opportunity. You can’t do everything, so leave yourself some breaks in your days. Some of the best experiences I have had with conferences have been small groups meeting to the side of the conference or unplanned dinners with people I have met.

10. BYOP (Bring Your Own Power) – Bring your cell phone charger and computer power cord with you wherever you go. Want to make friends real fast? Bring a power strip with you and share the juice with your neighbors.

11. Make breakfast and dinner plans – Conferences keep you pretty busy all afternoon. Make plans with people you want some face time with before and after the sessions. I like to meet people for breakfast. Dinner can be tough after a long day.

12. Be friendly – This should go without saying but be friendly to everyone you meet or sit next to. You never know who is a professional blogger, your next sales lead, a Twitter celebrity or your next best friend.