How to use LinkedIn to promote your business

LinkedIn is fast turning into a great place to meet exactly the right kind of people that can benefit your business most. Be they prospective new clients or staff, suppliers or respected industry leaders. For purveyors or information, LinkedIn can also be the venue to share what you write about.

LinkedIn, the professional business network

Earlier this evening (which, by the time you read this will be the day before), I found a question on LinkedIn’s Q&A, asking: How do you promote your business / services / blog using LinkedIn?

Posting your blog articles and services web pages on LinkedIn

I thought this was an excellent question, so I decided to reply, and offer that reply here for all to read, but expanded with more detail.

Posting to related groups

It’s tempting to join a related group and just post your stuff there. While that is a legitimate avenue for promoting your articles, I would suggest you do so only when your article offers something, like advice, help, tips etc. Something people will find useful.

Some people can — and will — interpret the posting of your articles to groups as being “spammy” and overly self promotional. Often, the people that are being spammy don’t follow up any of the comments.

That’s the problem with pushing articles about your services — they’re out-and-out self-promotional. The focus needs to be on adding value to the members of the group. Give them something to remember you by.

Of course, there are exceptions, but you need to be totally sure you’re offering something that will really help people out and not come over as being just another sales pitch.

Posting to the Q&A

I personally answer questions on LinkedIn’s Q&A and reference some of my own articles, if (again) that article offers specific and related advice, particular to the question.

So by all means, post links to your own articles and web pages, so long as they’re relevant to the question and likely to help in answering it.

The goal is to be useful — I also post links to articles, written by other people, which helps demonstrate impartiality on my part.

Trust is a quality of relationships that doesn’t come quickly or cheaply, and isn’t bought, sold, nor is it transferrable. So ultimately, this is an exercise is acquiring trust.

Posting to your status

The status update is a good, simple method to promote your articles, but you really need to be already engaging with people for them to want to engage with you — it’s essentially like Twitter, so the same rules apply.

I use Twitter, and use HootSuite in particular, which is a web application that enhances Twitter by offering a lot more features, such as options to schedule messages (otherwise known as “Tweets”) and a option to shorten URLs so that they fit into the 140 character allowance.

HootSuite also allows you to connect to your LinkedIn account, so you can post messages straight to your LinkedIn profile’s status. I personally use this sparingly, instead only posting messages / updates that are specifically related to Octane and my business activities in general, or articles that people will find useful.

A recent example being an article on how to stop eleven hidden security threats, which came on the back of my own article offering seven security tips for your computer and the web.

My recommendations for posting articles and web pages to LinkedIn are:

  1. Try to avoid posting general and off-topic status updates and instead focus on updates that a particular to you and your business activities.
  2. If you post to groups, follow up any comments. Sounds obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people just “fire and forget”.
  3. When answering questions in the Q&A, why not suggest an expert? You’ll be helping to build trust with the person you’re suggesting, while demonstrating that you’re a good source for referrals.
  4. Also, whatever you do, if you see a odd or apparently naive questions (of which there can be many), don’t be tempted fire off a glib or dismissive comment. LinkedIn is, after all, a network for professionals — so leave the stupid remarks to the amateurs.
  5. Use something like Clicky web analytics to monitor the click activity of your articles in real time, in addition to using Google Analytics. Why? When you see clicks come in from a group, for example, follow the link back to see If there have been any comments and reply.
  6. If you’re using a link shortening tool (like or, which is part of HootSuite) ensure you have an account with them, so you can view their own click traffic statistics.

Above all, make yourself a resource to other people, so that they value your contributions, and in turn value you.

Questionable Antics on LinkedIn’s Q&A?

LinkedIn’s Q&A is a great way to get answers from some of the smartest business people in the world. It’s also an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise to those very same people. Sadly, not everyone is going to give you a straight, or even a polite, answer.

LinkedIn, the professional business network

In life, we live and we learn. The wise share what they know and help others avoid their own hard mistakes. And then there are those who choose to be unhelpful, egotistical and just plain ignorant. What was it I was saying about professionalism again?

“A huge salary is not a sign of professionalism. Nor is a insulting the competition, getting blind drunk in public, beating up your girlfriend, illicit affairs, gambling addictions, abusive behaviour or questionable TV appearances.”

Being openly hostile, ignorant, rude, stupid and generally annoying don’t count towards professionalism either. Case in point: the Q&A section on LinkedIn, sometimes littered with some very unpleasant replies.

So what is LinkedIn?

“LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.”

Goals. Remember that word.

A few days ago, I answered the question: “What are the key criteria for making a business decision?“, posed by Gary Lennon, co-founder of Ideas2Reality.

Yes, the question is a little broad, but I was reminded of what my dad once said when asked: “How long is a piece of string?” To which he replied: “Half its length multiplied by two”. There’s usually an answer to even the most ambiguous question, which his actually wasn’t, it was just broad.

Gary replied to me personally, and thanked me for taking the time out to answer his question sensibly. I was just glad to help. However, he’d posted the question in several different areas on LinkedIn and the replies he got weren’t all as helpful as my own.

I wasn’t in the least surprised. I recently made my thoughts very clear, concerning the total lack of professionalism exhibited by some on the LinkedIn Q&A:

“If you don’t like a question in the LinkedIn Q&A, don’t answer. Smart arse replies show a lack of professionalism, plus you look stupid.”

As a professional, the Q&A on LinkedIn is a perfect venue to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, not only to the people asking questions, but to everyone else besides. The good news is, idiocy, rudeness and belligerence are usually self-regulating; why should anyone consider you as an expert if you’re acting so unprofessionally?

Gary called me on Skype a couple of days later, to discuss a great idea he’s working on, directly related to the question. Fortunately, he was fine about some of the replies he got, and laughed them off.

But it was towards the end of our hour-long conversation when he said something that really struck a chord and conjured up a very clear image in my mind, and sort of put the LinkedIn Q&A into its proper perspective.

“We’re all just trying to move the ball along. We might not be there to see the end product, but at least we try!”

Or words to that effect. And in an instant, I could see the business playing field before me. Immediately, I began to see business as a game of football / soccer.

Our loved ones are collectively the goal keeper, there to keep the other side from taking the advantage, to control the pace of the game and to get the ball in play again, back up the field.

Our financial backers, business support organizations and the many, many support groups and business forums like LinkedIn are the defenders, each taking a turn at moving the ball forward.

Our business partners, senior management and directors are the mid-field, linking the play from the back and holding the attacking line.

We, the innovators, the doers, the creators and the people with the ideas are the strikers, stepping in and out of the wild tackles, dodging the attempts to bring us down and take possession of the ball. We press our advantage, aiming to make a Net gain.

Fans go wild…