LinkedIn for Retailers: 4 Ways to Grow Your Retail Business through LinkedIn

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As the world’s largest network of professionals, LinkedIn now has more than 610 million members from 200 countries and territories worldwide. In the Philippines, there are more than 6 million LinkedIn members.

In spite of the huge growth in the number of LinkedIn members from the country in the past few years, the majority of Filipino professionals and business owners still seem unaware of the power of LinkedIn in career and in business.

So let me first share with you what LinkedIn is and what it is not:

LinkedIn is NOT only for job-seekers. It’s a one-stop platform that can help build your career or grow your business.

Gone are the days when LinkedIn was used only to find jobs. LinkedIn has evolved a lot since its launch in 2003, and it’s now used for career building, industry learning and business growth.

LinkedIn can help you gain visibility, build your personal brand, learn from influencers, engage with your prospective, current and past customers, join industry conversations, build professional relationships, establish thought leadership and generate leads for your business.

LinkedIn is no longer just for B2B marketers. LinkedIn is an effective way for brands to reach their consumers.

With around 40 million decision-makers on LinkedIn, it is considered the No. 1 business-to-business (B2B) lead generation platform. HubSpot’s 2012 study revealed that LinkedIn is 277% more effective in lead generation compared with Facebook and Twitter combined.

But aside from being a top B2B lead generation site, LinkedIn now gives businesses the power to reach their consumers through the platform. The truth is, all LinkedIn members are consumers — and they have the disposable income to use for shopping! So gaining visibility on LinkedIn is a great way to stay top of mind both with your prospective and loyal customers.

LinkedIn is not a sales tool. It is a relationship-building tool that empowers you to sell without selling.

While you can post ads on LinkedIn to reach a highly targeted audience, you can also find and get found by prospective customers and potential business partners or suppliers organically, i.e., without paying for ads.

And you can do this by first gaining visibility and then building relationships with your target market. After all, relationship building is a part of and is key to a successful business. And remember that people do business with those they know, like and trust.
So why and how should retailers leverage LinkedIn to grow their businesses?
Digital technology including social media has revolutionized the way consumers buy. Now, consumers who want to buy a new mobile phone tend to first do their research online instead of going directly to stores.

They do Google search to learn more about brands and models, read user-generated reviews or ask for recommendations from their friends through social media. Because modern buyers have changed, retailers should adopt and meet the customers in whichever stage they are in the buyer’s journey.

Here are 4 ways you can leverage LinkedIn to grow your retail business:

#1: Get found and gain consumer trust by building a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an effective personal branding tool that can help you stand out in the retail industry. And building your personal brand starts with optimizing your LinkedIn profile, or making your profile complete and targeted towards your ideal market.

To get found, include in your profile the keywords that your target customers use when they’re researching about products or services they want or when they’re searching for solutions to their problems. With a strong personal brand, you can gain consumer trust that helps grow your retail business.
#2: Grow your retail business by building professional relationships

One of the keys to becoming more visible on LinkedIn is by growing your network. The bigger your network, the more likely that you’ll appear in search results for the keywords that you include in your profile.

And building relationships with your connections is critical to attracting the right opportunities — could be partnerships, speaking engagements, leads, referrals, sales, etc. — that can help grow your business.
#3: Influence purchase decisions by establishing thought leadership
Thought leadership is a marketing strategy in which you position yourself as an authority or expert within your industry through content including articles, videos, podcasts or infographics.

When seen as an expert or a go-to resource person in your industry, you have the power to influence the way your network think and feel about issues relevant to your products or services. This can ultimately influence the way they spend their disposable income as consumers.

#4: Reach new customers by leveraging lead generation
LinkedIn has advanced search functions that enable its members to search through the platform using useful filters including location, industry, company, school, keyword, function, etc. These filters make prospecting and reaching out to your target market much easier.

Once you’ve found your target audience through search, you could connect with them and build relationship so they become aware of your brand and ultimately become customers or refer you to their own network.
Why LinkedIn should be part of your overall marketing and branding strategy

Reach a B2B audience. Target new customers. Build a powerful personal brand. Become a thought leader in your industry. Stay top of mind with prospective and loyal customers.

All of these can ultimately generate qualified leads that can turn into sales and referrals. So adding LinkedIn marketing strategies to your current marketing mix this year can definitely take your business to a new level.

About the Author:

Virginia Bautista is the first independent LinkedIn trainer, speaker and consultant based in the Philippines and one of the top LinkedIn evangelists in Asia. Through her LinkedIn presence, Virginia was featured twice in Forbes and twice in Entrepreneur Media, among others. Follow or connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/virginiabautista/ or email: info@virginiabautista.com