I recently did a Twitter Chat for #smbiz on tips for utilizing LinkedIn for small business. You can find out more about what we discussed here, but since then I have been contacted by small businesses looking for advice on how to utilize LinkedIn. I decided to answer this particular question on my blog because it did not come up on the chat. Furthermore, I have even had a member of my So Cal Sushi LinkedIn Group recently add a similar tip of this blog post to the Discussion Board there (which you can access if you are a member), so I think there is a lot of buzz around small companies on how to utilize social media and LinkedIn that should be addressed.
Up until now, the preferred way of finding company information was and still is Hoovers. Hoovers provides a huge database of company information, but also adds lots of information and services around this to provide a truly comprehensive treasure chest of information and tips for any company that you might want to research. Where does LinkedIn fit in, you ask? Professionals are inputting their personal profiles, including companies they work for, into LinkedIn’s huge database. By organizing all of this company information into their own proprietary database, and in conjunction with Business Week, LinkedIn is able to provide its users a database of information that someday may rival that of Hoovers.
But LinkedIn has their own angle on the company database. In their words, “Company Profiles is a research tool that helps users explore and find the right companies to work for and do business with. Company Profiles leverage our unique network data and surfaces the people you need to get business done. They can be used to view job opportunities in your field and better understand the types of roles companies hire for and the latest news on people that have recently joined the company.” In other words, where LinkedIn differentiates themselves is in providing targeted people information and job information. And if you are researching a company, this is more than likely the reason that you are looking at them, right?
So, if you are a small business owner, entering your Company Profile will put your company on the map and searchable. In essence, as with your personal profile, your company can now be found, so you may start getting some passive marketing power. You will also be given a URL (www.linkedin.com/companies/companyname) and thus will also start showing up if someone Googles your company name. So, because it is a free service, the service can only be recommended to any business owner.
Adding a Company Profile is easy. You simply go to the “Companies” tab at the top of your LinkedIn home page and then select “Add a Company”. You then need to enter your company name and email address, and you need to make sure that the email address matches the domain name of your company. In other words, if you are using a gmail account, I don’t think you will be able to add your company to the database here. The other reason why you are asked to enter your email address is that it will check to see if somehow someone else didn’t already create that profile.
Once you confirm reception of the link, you will then be forwarded to where you enter the company profile. Note that this email address that you provide will also be added to your personal profile, and although I am not experienced in it, it would not surprise me if you are prompted to update your own personal profile with this company information if you have not done so already.
The company profile will, first of all, be defined by the Company Name and domain that you first entered. Then you will need to fill out the information in the “Basic Information” section as follows:
- Description. This is the main body of text that will describe what your company does, so you should make sure you are branded properly. Because LinkedIn provides the ability to search for companies using a keyword, make sure that this Description is properly search engine optimized.
- Specialties. Any keywords that you couldn’t enter in your Description can be entered here.
- Website URL
- Industry. This uses the same database as in your personal profile.
- Type (privately held, non-profit, etc.)
- Status (operating, out of business, etc.)
- # of Employees (this is a mandatory item that you must input even if you are the only employee)
- Year Founded
- News Module (this will bring the Business Week news on your company into your profile)
Next you will be able to upload your Company Logo, enter Locations, input your Financials (Annual Revenue, Year, Currency), link your company blog (if you have one), and finally enter information for any related companies and what the relationship is. Not all of these are mandatory to enter, and what you enter really depends on how much you want people to know about your company. For the majority of you, in addition to the Basic Information, I only recommend that you minimally upload your logo and link your company blog to the page.
The entire process shouldn’t take very long, and it will definitely give your small business a bigger presence on LinkedIn. Just be careful to only include the information that you feel comfortable with and make your company profile searchable by the same keywords as with your personal profile.
Hope you enjoyed the tips…and hope to see your company on LinkedIn soon!