This post was contributed by guest blogger, Jim Lillig, President & Chief Revenue Strategist at Synergy Intermedia LLC. It is the second post which deals with How to Promote Your Offline Business using LinkedIn. Although it deals specifically with realtors, think about how you can apply these strategies to almost any offline business.
My first post dealt with setting up your LinkedIn profile. Once you've done the work of getting your localized and areas of specialties keywords into your profile, it is time to start building your business through networking.
Once you've done the work of getting your localized and areas of specialties keywords into your profile, it is time to start building your business through networking.
LinkedIn describes Groups as:
Many professionals advance their careers and business goals by counting on industry and professional groups, alumni organizations, industry conferences and corporate alumni groups to help them make vital new business contacts. LinkedIn Groups offers extra features to group-based organizations to help their members stay in touch with one another and discover powerful new business contacts within their groups and beyond. LinkedIn Groups allows event organizers and group organizations to extend their brand's reach and strengthen the brand with existing users by providing additional value through LinkedIn's features.
LinkedIn Groups allows you to network with other professionals, but it also allows you to network with local business owners, and even homeowners if you position your group(s) right.
You can broadcast messages to the group. As the administrator, you can send out messages to the group as a whole and you approve new members into the group. Members of the group have a few options regarding their participation, such as whether or not to display the Groups Logo next to the LinkedIn listing or if other group members can contact you directly (instead of going through your LinkedIn mailbox).
Searching for “real estate” in the LinkedIn Groups returns 1,034 groups dedicated to real estate issues. If the search is refined to “real estate” Chicago, only 11 groups are returned. Most of the local groups are dominated by existing trade associations and groups started to get professionals in the industry to network with one another or post time-sensitive information to the group.
How to Start a LinkedIn Group
To start a group, go to: http://www.linkedin.com/createGroup?
You will have to provide a name, description, type of group, website URL, email address (kept private except to those you allow to contact you directly) and a logo. Your primary concern is to use a short name that describes the groups purpose precisely. The description also must be accurate to attract the right people to your group.
HINT: Load your group's description with relevant keywords and keyword phrases, so your Group will be found more easily within LinkedIn. Use city names, zip codes and a description of your group's goals and benefits.
Types of LinkedIn Groups
Three types of groups will help real estate professionals get their business promoted.
The first is for buyers and sellers that you have previously worked with to join. This will allow you to connect in a meaningful way to your past clients and allow them to promote your group's logo in their profiles. The thinking here is that if friends and associates of your past clients see the group on their friends profile and they may want to joint. It also allows your past clients to be connected to you. So in creating this type of group you can give out real estate investing tips, house staging tips, advice on how to get the most out of the market, etc. The key take away here is to give past clients a reason to promote you and a fast easy way for them to connect with you and you with them even if they are not in the midst of a real estate transaction.
The second type of group you may want to create is a group that is focused on specific market segments in a geographical region. If you are a commercial broker, you may want to start a geographically based group that is dedicated to keeping local business owners abreast of the latest buildings up for sale/lease in their area. You would want to name the group appropriately, such as “Current Chicago Commercial Real Estate Listings”, then weekly blast out a group message on the hottest properties and link them back to your commercial properties page on your site.
Lastly, you can create a geographically-based LinkedIn Group concerning itself with real estate investors in the market you serve.
HINT: There are currently very few groups specifically named Real Estate Investors for specific geographic areas, so the field is wide open.
Contact Group Members Weekly
Since investors are rabid information hounds, you can tap into their network by producing weekly blasts that gives them good advice on how to take advantage of the market in your area, what the latest trends and reports are and generally try to drive them to an “Investors” information page on your site to get them to call or connect through email with you. The goal here is to provide information to the group so that when they need your services they know you are the expert.
Your information must be relevant. LinkedIn will not allow you to search homeowners in your area and connect with them. It does allow you though, another avenue for the people you meet at open houses or other client attracting events to get a better sense of who you are and what you can offer them. So when you are going through your contacts, make sure to search for them on LinkedIn and then request that they join your LinkedIn network. The “I told 2 people and they told 2 people and they told 2 people, and so on” principle is at play here, and can increase the prospect pool you have to call on. Create a group so you can easily connect in a relevant way to those in your prospect pool and over time your network will grow organically.