Many people think of LinkedIn as a business community, but it can also be helpful for promoting your online store. It can help build your network, conduct research, demonstrate your expertise, and market your products.
LinkedIn For Your Online Resume
One of the best uses of LinkedIn is as an online resume of your experience and expertise, as the proprietor of your store. Your company can have a LinkedIn profile, similar to Facebook, and a photo to put a face to your brand. In that respect, it’s another opportunity to get your store’s information on a popular social network.
To enhance your reputation, LinkedIn allows you to show recommendations from previous customers and colleagues. A good way to get recommendations is by reciprocating, but you can also request recommendations from anyone you’ve done business with.
Networking and Connecting
The key to any social network is the ability to connect with others. LinkedIn connections are the people with whom you have mutually agreed to have a relationship, and you can specify the type of relationship (i.e., colleague, co-worker, friend).
By searching for people you know by name or email address, you can connect with more people on LinkedIn and keep in contact, perhaps also asking for a recommendation. Any time you search or find a new person, LinkedIn will tell you whether you or anyone in your network knows him or her, and how closely connected you are.
Building a Community
You can begin a group on LinkedIn to start discussions, promote events and share information directly with your customers, colleagues and/or suppliers. The key to building a strong community on any social network is to provide useful information, so make sure you balance promotional content with other information. A balance of 20 percent promotion and 80 percent other content is probably safe.
Many organizations also have groups on LinkedIn to expand networks and provide support. Look for, and connect with, groups and other online merchants in your industry.
Research and Expertise
LinkedIn’s Answers section provides opportunities to demonstrate your expertise, build your reputation and conduct market and product research. Simply search for questions in your area of expertise and provide well-worded, thoughtful answers. If it is chosen as the best answer, it will be highlighted on that particular question and on your profile. You can also ask your own questions and search previous answers to research ecommerce strategies and ideas.
Like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn has a short status update where you can share what you’re doing with your network, including news, special promotions, and product information. Promotion of products should be done sparingly, but providing helpful information and news about your products is OK as long as you give more than you receive. There are also widgets and applications that can display RSS feeds from your site or blog on your profile.
Amazon and Moo.com Use LinkedIn
Amazon also has several different groups for connecting with its audience and colleagues. There’s the Amazon.com group for current and previous employees used for internal networking; the Amazon Alumni group is for previous employees; business and social networking is promoted through the Amazon Global Network group; and there is a support group for the Amazon Web Services Community Network.
Moo.com is a printing and graphics company. Its CEO has a LinkedIn professional profile that lists his professional affiliations, which demonstrate his expertise in printing and graphics. There’s also an “I Love Moo.com” profile at LinkedIn (accessible to LinkedIn account holders) for customers of Moo.com.