Originally published on Inc.
LinkedIn is bigger than ever as a business tool. Are you actually making the most of it? Eleven entrepreneurs offer their best advice.
LinkedIn is a powerful social network—not just for making connections, but for sharing content, recruiting talent, and keeping customers in the loop. We asked 11 successful founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council to divulge their favorite hacks to get more out of LinkedIn.
1. Join Key LinkedIn Groups
Join all the national groups that are related to your industry. Once you’re a member, post your best content articles in the group discussions and you’ll see a big spike in targeted traffic from your niche. Some of our best content has really taken off using this method—it really is a quick and easy LinkedIn hack.
— Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
2. Make Your Article “Trending in Your Network”
LinkedIn has a feature called “Trending in Your Network.” This feature is reserved for articles that are being shared by multiple people in your network around the same time. If you have an article that features your company, ask your team to share it around the same time. Since many clients will be connected to multiple members of your team, this increases the likelihood that they see your article.
— Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
3. Keep in Touch With ‘Five Hundred Plus’
Use a new tool called Five Hundred Plus that reminds you to keep in touch with your LinkedIn contacts–something that’s very important, but most people forget to do.
— Ben Lang, EpicLaunch
4. Use Rapportive
Rapportive is a free Gmail plugin that replaces the ads on the right side of your screen with details from the LinkedIn profile of the person emailing you—his or her picture, company, title and location. It’s an invaluable tool to help you determine the appropriate response to his or her message. It also helps you find the LinkedIn profiles of people who are hard to find.
— Emerson Spartz, Spartz
5. Make an Original Tagline
Want to stand out from the crowd? Don’t have your tagline read “Position, Company Name.” Rather, make it something like mine, which reads, “Matching you with the best fit for Merchant Services with no contracts and no shady business at Equitable Payments.” It gets me laughs, as well as business!
— Darrah Brustein, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments
6. Reconnect With Classmates
One of the best-kept secrets of LinkedIn is the Classmates tool. By visiting LinkedIn.com/classmates you can access your college alumni network and tap into those that you share an existing common bond. Sort, filter, and search your way through the database to find the professionals that can best help you using criteria like where they live, what industry they work in, and where they work.
— Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees
7. Use It as a Source of Warm Referrals
I am very active on LinkedIn. I use it to keep our partners and all of my connections in the loop on our activities via tweets and blog posts. It’s an especially effective tool for creating a point of commonality with potential clients. When I am introduced to a new potential client, I immediately reference LinkedIn to see how we’re connected and from what shared source I can get a warm referral.
— David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
8. Request Product Recommendations From Customers
We have two parts to our business, direct-to-consumer and custom products that we make for major organizations. LinkedIn allows you to highlight recommendations and reviews of your work product. Many prospective customers will Google “Modify,” and our LinkedIn profile stands out. Having recommendations provides instant credibility.
— Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
9. Use Job-Change Alerts
Use a resource like JobChangeAlerts.com to be notified when one of your LinkedIn contacts changes titles or positions. Having this in your inbox provides you with the opportunity to quickly reach out to that individual to congratulate her on the raise or move. These transition points are often when business decisions are made, so the timing couldn’t be more ideal to reconvene with her.
— Logan Lenz, Endagon
10. Export E-mail Addresses to Google+
If your LinkedIn network is truly compiled of people who know and trust you, you can export those e-mail addresses into an .xls format. Upload this document to your Gmail contacts, and you will quickly and easily be able to add these people on Google+. Both social networks are very important for different reasons, but overlapping the two creates better engagement and gives you two platforms to share your message.
— Matt Wilson, Under30Media
11. Utilize Free Entry-Level and Intern Positions
I’m not sure people realize this, but you can post jobs for free on LinkedIn if they’re designated as entry-level or internship positions and posted through their university platform. Jobs posted there collect just as many, if not more, eager and qualified applicants.
— Carlo Cisco, FoodFan
What’s your best tip for optimizing LinkedIn? Tell us about it in the comments section below or contact Early Growth Financial Services for a free 30-minute financial consultation.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invitation-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.