Think LinkedIn is just for connections? Think again. The popular social network has many opportunities for monetization, especially for people who already have an established business or brand.
If you haven’t tried any of these LinkedIn techniques, you may actually be leaving money on the table. It’s time to update your profile, flesh out your brand story, and start making connections.
LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform to its 332 million users. Everyone can blog on LinkedIn. Everyone can make money through LinkedIn. Here's exactly how.
Preparing for Monetization
Build up your LinkedIn profile
You can’t go straight from “basic LinkedIn profile” to “money-making machine.” Baby steps. First, you need to make your LinkedIn profile as complete as possible, including adding a recent, good-looking picture and filling out the all-important professional portfolio section. A resume tells people what you’ve done; a portfolio proves it. Once you have this done, remember to:
- Post every morning…at least. If you need to, use HootSuite to schedule an entire week’s worth of posts in advance.
Tell a Brand Story
Your LinkedIn profile can’t look like you’d be willing to accept any old job or opportunity. You need to clearly create a brand story — a mission for yourself or your business. You aren’t waiting for your career to happen; you’re already off and running, halfway to achieving a specific goal.
- Add your LinkedIn badge to your company website, wherever you describe your core mission. Also be sure to feature any LinkedIn customer reviews you get.
You’ve probably ignored a lot of those “Invitation to connect on LinkedIn” emails. You’ve probably also ignored the “So and so’s new job” emails. Time to dig into your email archives and start responding. The more connections you have, and the more you interact with those connections, the stronger your LinkedIn network becomes. It’s also important to write and solicit recommendations — not just the “endorsed skills” type, but the actual written recommendations that appear on your profile. These help prove that you are trustworthy and that you have strong relationships with former and current colleagues.
- Create LinkedIn groups where your target market engages, study and participate in their interactions to see what kinds of topics are drawing engagement. Address these topics in your company stream.
- Upload many relevant files on a regular basis (not just pictures from time to time–pdfs, videos, and infographics everyday) and keep it organized.
- Ask questions and hold contests using Targeted posts for select audiences.
Join 50 Groups
If you’re not using groups, you’re not using the biggest resource on LinkedIn. That’s where the gold is—people looking for help.
Finds groups to join by searching for keywords in the Groups Search function, seeing what groups your connections are in and receiving group recommendations from your connections.
Although the explosion in the number of LinkedIn groups means there is also a lot of spam and self-promotion, separating the wheat from the chaff is time well spent. It takes time and a good eye.
To gauge the health of a group before joining, look at the Activity tab in Group Statistics, which is available on the Group Profile page even for private groups. Look at the ratio of comments to discussions. More comments than discussions indicates highly engaged members, whereas many discussions and few comments indicate a group with little real activity and lots of self-promotion.
Engage in Discussions
It’s not enough to simply join groups and look through the digests. When you find a discussion that looks interesting, chime in and become part of the conversation.
“Make [your comment] attractive to people and something that offers them a lot of value. If somebody likes what you say, they’ll go to your profile and they’ll connect with you.”
By initiating discussions that generate comments, you can also be recognized as a top influencer in the group’s sidebar.
Move the Conversation Offline
Once you have engaged in discussion with someone from your groups and connected with you, evaluate whether you would like to take the conversation offline.
Just say: "I would like to talk to you about how I’m able to help you—do you use Skype?:" [They reply,] "Sure, here’s my Skype ID." Boom, you’re talking in the next couple of days.
Using LinkedIn to Earn Money
Leverage your salable product or service
There are many ways to make money on LinkedIn, but the first and easiest way is often to create a salable product. Many people choose to monetize information products, such as motivational guides to success in their chosen fields or how-to technical manuals for their areas of expertise. Information products are great money generators because they are nearly always digital (ebooks, PDFs, etc.), meaning that they do not cost much money to manufacture or ship. Other salable products include hard copy books as well as products related directly to your business — if you sell bespoke shoes, for example, make sure people can buy your product by clicking to your store from your LinkedIn profile.
- Use targeted Recommendation ads to promote specific products and services.
Offer consulting services
If you have expertise in a specific area, make sure your LinkedIn connections know that you offer consulting services. Many people make plenty of extra money every month by talking to other businesses or entrepreneurs about what they’ve learned. If you go the consultant route, make sure it is fully integrated into your brand — you don’t want anyone to think you’re hustling for consultant jobs simply because you need a little extra cash.
- Again, targeting specific audiences with Recommendation Ads are the best way to increase engagement.
Promote Affiliate Products
Affiliate marketing is a stable way of generating money online in general. Essentially, it consists of advertising or promoting another company’s product or service in exchange for a percentage of the sales that result from your recommendation.
- Go into your groups and answer some of the questions there with relevant affiliate marketing review posts.
- Post your affiliate posts in your Publications section too, as well as sending it to your email list.
How to Make Money by Blogging
Great headline is 60% of success
A clear, powerful headline that promises to deliver value to the reader counts for as much as 60% of the overall success of your blog post on LinkedIn, as headlines grab readers' attention in an increasingly crowded landscape. Use the headline to guide your content, and deliver what you would tell your best customer.
For example, if you're an accountant, you could try "5 Essential Tax Saving Tips This Year." If you're a small-business growth consultant, you could try "The Secret to Growing Your Business." If you're a recruiter, try "How to Find the Best Talent." Don't worry about giving away your secrets!
Compelling photo is 30% of success (find or take it)
The "hero image" directly beneath the headline counts for about 30% of the overall success of your post on LinkedIn, as people notice images much more than they notice text. A photo of you, or you with one other person that the post will reference, is perfect. Choosing and licensing a photo from a site such as iStock is another option. Don't ever skip the photo.
Write a concise post
It depends on what you want to deliver, but typically, about 500 words is good. Use bold, italics, number and block quotes to add variety to your post. Consider embedding Slideshare presentations and or videos through LinkedIn's easy-to-use toolbar.
Include two strong "calls to action" at the bottom of your post
Conclude your post with two calls to action for readers: The first should ask readers to comment and give them specific questions to answer related to your post. As comments are a huge driver of virality on LinkedIn, you'll want to solicit comments from your connections and readers. The second call to action is an offer—this is where you'll drive leads, sell books, or solicit app downloads. Drive people to a landing page on your website with a call to action such as "To learn more, click here." Consider a clickable picture here too.
Share the post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
LinkedIn is most obvious network to share your post on, for obvious reasons. Consider sharing it both publicly (with all of your connections) and privately (through messages to key connections). Consider sharing it with LinkedIn groups you're in, and your company page if you have one. Don't be afraid to share it up to four times, as your friends and colleagues are logged in at different times through the day and week. Ask your network to share your post with their network.
To obtain the best results, blog consistently, at least once per week, on LinkedIn. Remember, you don't need to reach a million people on LinkedIn in order to make money, you just need to reach a few of the right people. And chances are, no matter what you do, the right people are in your LinkedIn network and your network's network. To reverse-paraphrase the movie The Social Network:
You know what's cooler than reaching 332 million people on LinkedIn? Reaching the right 332 people, with the right message.
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1. How to Use Your LinkedIn Account to Bring In Extra Money December 24, 2014.
2. 7 Steps to Building a Business Using LinkedIn December 24, 2014.
3. How to Make Money by Blogging on LinkedIn December 24, 2014.
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