Wayne Breitbath LinkedIn Training 09-29-2010

LinkedIn tips for small business owners

Wayne Breitbarth never wanted to be on LinkedIn.

As a small business owner in Milwaukee, Breitbarth was convinced by a friend to join the professional networking site a few years ago as a way to connect with customers. Breitbarth chronicles his journey from skeptic to LinkedIn expert in the introduction of his book, “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search.”

This how-to guide book for LinkedIn offers advice for beginners and experts in an easy-to-understand format. 

I recently interviewed him for our blog where he covered the basics for small business owners: 

  • Benefits of LinkedIn for BtoB and BtoC businesses 
  • Top 3 mistakes small business owners make on LinkedIn 
  • Answered the question: Do you want as many connections on LinkedIn as possible?  

Our conversation is below. Let me know in the comments section if you are going to implement any of the strategies here into your own social media strategy. 

Erin Ebert: What is the benefit of LinkedIn over other social media platforms? 

Wayne Breitbarth: The audience that Linkedin attracts are there for a purpose and the purpose is business. If you try to do other things there you’ll turn people off. So I think the benefit is if you want a social media platform where that’s the etiquette – we’re here to help people find jobs, grow our businesses, brand our companies, find new vendors and suppliers – it’s the right spot. 

That being said, for BtoC it’s probably not better than facebook. BtoB is really the spot for LinkedIn. 

EE: If you are BtoC, should you be on LinkedIn? 

WB: A lot of people ask me, “Should I be on Facebook or should I be on Linkedin?”

If they tell me they are a hairdresser, then I tell them Facebook. Most people can’t do all of them. If someone is BtoB, then I say if you have time for one platform then it should be LinkedIn. 

Because there are so many platforms, a lot of people are thinking out there, “I’ll just wait until it all settles down. And when it settles down I’ll be really good at the one that’s left.”

Well, it’s not going to be that way. They’re all different, they all have different audiences. I get 75 hits a month from my Pinterest page. So you want to be a lot of places, but you do have have to make sure you tend to all of the places. If you don’t, then you’re going to make people mad because you don’t respond. That’s the downside of spreading yourself thin is that you won’t do any of them well. 

EE: Convince small business owners to be on LinkedIn. 

The convincing stuff for BtoB people, at the simplest level, is people are searching. 

If you do a Google search for your name, guess what comes up first?  Your LinkedIn profile. Put a Google search in for your company name, on your first page will be your LinkedIn company page. If you do nothing more realize that’s going to happen – that LinkedIn gets a high priority in a Google search. 

Wayne Breitbarth Google Search

If you get a chance to control one of those 10 slots in a google search with stuff you like and your brand for free, you have to be there. 

If you don’t want to interact on LinkedIn,  use it as a research tool for the people you want to meet whether it’s finding employees or finding customers and everything in between.

When else in our history did we have a database of 187 million business people from all over the world that we can search for whatever we want – company names, went to this college, had this speciality, know how to run these pieces of software? We haven’t had that. 

And the third convincing point I always make is go look for your competitors. If you look out there you’ll find your competitors out there, and nothing gets a business person more fired up than looking and seeing competitors. If they start seeing their competitor’s company page looks nicer, their employees have nicer profiles, nicer pictures and better branding, that’ll get them fired up. This last point is more defensive but the offensive part is you can find whoever you want, reach out to them and start a conversation. 

EE: What are some of the mistakes you see small businesses make 

WB: 1) Jumping into the platform before you know how it works 

It starts out with a lack of strategy. Before strategy comes the knowledge of how the tool works. I see way too many business people that are Linkedin because a friend talked to them into it. And before you know it they have 150 connections and I say to them, “What’s it doing for you?” And they look at me and say, “Doing? It’s supposed to be doing something for me?” 

It’s a business site, it should be helping you achieve a business strategy that you have. They don’t have a strategy because they don’t understand how it works. The number one mistake is jumping into this platform before understanding how it works so you’re just sort of there. Having poor LinkedIN profiles are hurting you

2) Not developing a strategy for connections 

Most people when I ask, “Who are you connecting with and why?” They say, “My college friends, co-workers and a few clients.” 

And I ask them, “What about your potential clients? When you connect with them they become a first-degree connection, then you can direct message somebody, they get your status updates, they see your face, and your company.”

It’s like running an ad campaign for yourself. Not knowing why you are connecting with people is a big mistake because now you’re connecting with people that are the wrong people or they mean nothing to you.

3) Profiles are written in a historical way

Does your resume say where you want to go? Linkedin is about where you want to go. Yes, your resume sets you as a credible expert in whatever you do so I’m not downplaying the history of who you are. But equally important on your profile is being clear what you’re doing in business currently and if the person reading it might want to be involved with you. 

EE: Do you want as many connections as possible?

It depends on what you do. If you’re the president of a company, they tend to not want to have a lot of connections. And that’s understandable because they don’t want to be bothered. That’s one side of the scale, and the other side of the scale is if you’re a jobseeker. If you’re a jobseeker you should have more connections because it’s a different objective.

In general here’s what it is, once you define your strategy, and then you understand who you want to be connecting with, then bigger is better within that strategy. There is no prize for having the most connections. 

Some people I know have 50 connections but they are the very best 50 connections for what they’re trying to accomplish. in general, bigger is better within your strategy because of the way the search engine works.

 Head to powerformula.net for a list of speaking events and training sessions offered by Wayne Breitbarth

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