How To Use LinkedIn For Business Development

LinkedIn for business development is currently one of the most effective ways to stand out in your industry. Here’s why business owners should pay attention to using LinkedIn for business development and learn how to use LinkedIn to get clients.

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing and most trusted social media platforms for the global business community. Between 2019 and 2021 alone, the number of business organizations on LinkedIn almost doubled, growing from 30 million to 57 million. Here are some other compelling statistics for business owners to consider:

  • LinkedIn accounts for over 50% of all social media traffic to B2B websites. Keep in mind that the platform has over 822 million registered members across more than 200 countries worldwide – helping to expand your reach and visibility. 
  • 6 out of 10 users seek industry insights on LinkedIn – allowing you to stand out amongst other business owners by posting relevant and educational content. Doing this will help drive user engagement, increase lead generation, and build trust in your brand.
  • 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members help drive business decisions, including 65 million decision-makers and 61 million senior-level influencers on the platform. Engaging with LinkedIn decision-makers and influencers will help you establish your online presence. 

Establishing and maintaining an online presence is one of the most effective marketing strategies in today’s global business market. These statistics also suggest LinkedIn’s considerable growth is not losing momentum anytime soon. Now that we’ve established why LinkedIn for business development is so important - how do you get started? 

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HOw to Use LinkedIn for Business Development

Getting started on LinkedIn can seem overwhelming, especially if you are not social media savvy. It is not as intuitive as Facebook Business Pages, for example. Fortunately, the platform is very user-friendly and allows you to develop your business’s online presence in a way that works best for you. 

Let’s start by looking at how you can use LinkedIn for business development. 

  • Company Pages - A company page will help increase visibility, generate leads, and provide a home base to advertise your products and services. Before officially making your page live on the platform, check out HubSpot’s free guide to help maximize your results.  
  • LinkedIn Pulse - This allows you to create original content on LinkedIn and is helpful for people who are inexperienced with blogging. As with any aspect of content marketing, there are best practices you should follow to help you reach your target audience. 
  • Showcase Pages - These are extensions of your main business page and can be used to highlight promotions, initiatives, and achievements. Not sure what aspects you should be showcasing? Hootsuite offers examples and advice to help you use this feature effectively.    

Now that you have created your Company Page and have become familiar with posting content on the platform, the next step is creating your LinkedIn marketing strategy. As with any social media platform, self-proclaimed gurus will often try to promote a “guaranteed formula,” so be sure to do what makes sense for your business.

LinkedIn advertising can provide an extra edge to your marketing strategy and help you achieve your goals, although this platform feature is fee-based. To create LinkedIn ads, you must set up a Campaign Manager account. Creating this account will allow you to choose your campaign objectives and help you manage your advertising budget. 

Getting The Most Out of LinkedIn 

Like any other social media network or website, your LinkedIn Company Page will have a search engine result page – or SERP – ranking. Incorporating SEO best practices such as posting original content, engaging with followers, and using keywords will help you to rank higher for online inquiries. 

LinkedIn analytics is another powerful feature for monitoring the results of your business marketing strategy. Hootsuite offers a free, comprehensive guide to LinkedIn analytics for marketers. In a nutshell, LinkedIn analytics allows you to track and monitor data metrics, including:

  • Follower analytics - Who is interacting with your content and updates. 
  • Visitor analytics - Who is coming to your page but hasn’t started engaging yet. 
  • Update analytics - How much user engagement your posts are receiving. 

Data insights such as these help you gauge your marketing strategy's effectiveness and identify areas that need improvement. Seven Oaks Consulting offers even more digital content strategy hacks to help you critique or create your marketing plan. 

Besides providing a platform to engage with others, LinkedIn for business owners offers multiple services and tools to generate more leads by helping you connect with your target audience. Some helpful LinkedIn resources include The Business Owner’s Guide To LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s own Big Thinking digital magazine.   

LinkedIn continues to evolve, and some may assert that it is becoming synonymous with social media marketing. How to use LinkedIn for business development may evolve over time.

With various free LinkedIn marketing and automation tools available, it is now easier and more cost-effective than ever to reap the platform's benefits. Don’t wait to jump on the proverbial bandwagon as millions of business organizations around the globe are discovering the power of LinkedIn marketing. How to use LinkedIn for business development should be part of your skillset.

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The Way We Think About Customer Relationships Is Broken

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) dates back to the 1980s when the business and marketing industries shifted their focus from being "product empathetic" to "customer empathetic." The technological age has made CRM more comprehensive by introducing data-driven, automated software systems, but are we taking the right approach? 

Understanding the pros and cons of using software-based CRM can help identify and fill the gaps in understanding consumer demands and strengthening customer relationships. 

The Pros of Software-based CRM 

Technology has proven to be an indispensable tool for improving customer relationships. Data is now considered the globe's most valuable resource as technology evolves. The aim of software-based CRM is to collect and analyze consumer-based data to gain better insight and implement better business practices. This approach has proven to be quite successful for businesses in various ways, including:

  • Streamlined communication and engagement with customers
  • Better knowledge of demographics and target-audiences 
  • Higher customer acquisition and retention 
  • Automation of essential, everyday tasks

Having access to real-time data allows companies to anticipate shifting trends in consumer demand, such as the increasing demand for socially-conscious and sustainable business practices. To meet your customers' needs and expectations, you first have to know what they are, both short-term and long-term.

The Cons of Software-based CRM  

As data mining becomes more pervasive, the sheer amount collected can be overwhelming and rendered useless from a customer relationship and marketing standpoint. It is essential to remember that effective customer relationship management is not only based on software and data-driven approaches.

Although data-driven software may be an integral aspect of modern-day CRM, much more is involved. When implementing a software-based strategy, it is vital to be aware of common pitfalls: 

  • Over collection of data leading to a lack of focus or a defined set of goals 
  • Break down in company leadership due to overreliance on software automation 
  • Loss of the "human element" when it comes to marketing and customer relations 
  • Overhead costs and the risk of working with the wrong vendor for your company 

As any futuristic, dystopian novel would tell us - it is critical never to lose touch with the human aspect of our existence. Automation is no match for critical analysis and human insight to meet customer needs and surpass expectations. 

A More Human Approach to Customer Relationships  

As with any useful tool, the key lies in understanding how and when to use software-based CRM effectively. Before implementing any business strategy, including customer relationship management, you need to have a clear and well-defined set of goals. To begin, ask yourself some basic questions: 

  • Who is your target audience, and what are their needs as consumers?
  • Where do you fit-in in the business sector, and what kind of impact do you wish to have? 
  • What is the best way to deliver your message and expand your customer base? 
  • How do you intend to ensure transparency and respond to customers' concerns? 

Numbers and statistics can be helpful tools for developing marketing strategies. Remember, data is merely a reflection of consumer trends, and human behavior is dictated by more than numbers on a spreadsheet. When it comes to customer relationships, you should take a more human-based approach than relying on software systems alone. 

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The Big Reason Why Marketing Campaigns Fail

What is the single biggest reason why marketing campaigns fail? There is no guaranteed equation for producing the most effective and longest-lasting results. Marketing campaigns are multi-faceted and require a high degree of effective collaboration from all marketing team members.

Creativity is another essential aspect - considering that no two marketing campaigns are the same. We will explore why lack of focus, which can lead to other problems, is often the single biggest reason marketing campaigns fail.  

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The Need for a Well-defined Set of Goals

A lack of focus can result in a poorly developed marketing campaign. It can also lead to other problems in marketing strategies, such as poorly executed research and misinterpretation of data analytics. Here are some insights to determine if you are on the right track:    

  • Effective collaboration is key to crafting a successful marketing campaign, as with any team-based project. Although working with a team can help to foster creativity and generate new ideas, it can also lead to a lack of focus. Establishing a well-defined set of goals is critical to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 
  • Marketing campaigns help establish a brand image and raise consumer awareness. A vital aspect of establishing a brand image is to provide valuable information, not just eye-catching advertisements. The desire to produce immediate results may negatively impact the marketing campaign's effectiveness due to lack of substance.

The Importance of Continuity   

Once you have defined your goals and established your brand, it is important not to lose sight of your long-term marketing strategy - and this is where continuity comes in. Continuity helps establish trust with your target audience and stand out among competitors. 

Remember, the first step to any successful marketing campaign is to create a well-defined set of short-term and long-term goals. Some helpful questions to ask include:

  • How will your marketing campaign evolve based on your target audience and changing market trends?
  • What is your brand's message, and how can you keep it consistent as your marketing campaign adapts to consumer demands?

In a world often obsessed with the latest trending topics and hashtags of the day, don't underestimate the power of continuity. A strong, clear, and consistent message can help establish the foundation for a successful, long-term marketing campaign. 

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5 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started

Ever since I can remember, it has always been my dream to become a writer. I knew I wanted to be a writer with a purpose, but I was unsure how to make that dream a reality. My lack of experience as a professional writer made becoming a freelance copywriter seem out of reach at first. 

Although I was hesitant, I finally built up the courage to dip my toes into the proverbial waters. Surprisingly, the initial experience was warm and inviting, and I quickly gained self-confidence and began to acquire real-world experience as a writer with a purpose. 

Here I will share with you five things I wish I had known when I first started on my journey as a freelance copywriter. I hope it will inspire others to find the courage to take that first leap.  

Networking Isn't Only For Established Professionals 

For an introvert like myself, the idea of networking is intimidating, and it can feel like being the new kid at school all over again. The good news is that it isn't all that bad once you decide to put yourself out there. 

Fortunately, social media platforms help facilitate the seemingly painful process. For me, LinkedIn has been indispensable for establishing contacts within the world of copywriting and developing my portfolio. 

Social media platforms geared towards professional development can help you discover other writers in your particular field of interest - giving you access to mentorship to help you along your journey and find your niche as a copywriter. 

Be Aware of Imposter Syndrome - Don't Let It Hold You Back

What exactly is imposter syndrome? I was unfamiliar with the term until recently. Imposter syndrome is experiencing perpetual self-doubt despite personal qualifications such as education, work experience, or other accomplishments and can lead to an unhealthy degree of perfectionism. 

While you should never stop striving for self-improvement, the idea of perfection can also be detrimental to your creativity. From my personal experience, imposter syndrome is real, and anyone can fall victim. Being aware of the warning signs can help you avoid this harmful thought process. Don't be afraid to celebrate your achievements and demonstrate your talents!

Copywriting Isn't Only About Marketing Trends

To be honest, I first thought copywriting was a rigid field that revolved around trends in marketing to boost profits by creating generic content based solely on numerical data. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find out otherwise. 

I discovered that I could combine my copywriting skills with my desire to serve a greater purpose by creating socially-conscious and purpose-driven content. As a freelance copywriter, you can select to work with clients and companies aligned with your values, allowing you to make a tangible difference by reaching your desired target audiences. My work at Seven Oaks Consulting has proven to be an excellent outlet for crafting genuine content that allows me to combine the art of marketing with my passion for writing with a purpose. 

Don't Be Afraid to Explore Different Markets 

Copywriting can range from developing easily understood technical manuals to compelling content that inspires a particular call to action. Some popular markets include small business development, health & wellness, travel & leisure, and the financial sector, to name only a few. Finding your true passion is key to being a successful and effective copywriter, no matter your chosen niche. Copywriting is a creative art form, and having a genuine passion for your work will make a tremendous difference in your quality of writing and your ability to connect with your readers. The world of copywriting is vast and exciting, so don't be afraid to explore and try new things! 

Copywriting Isn't as Competitive as You May Think

While a certain level of competition is healthy and can push you to improve yourself, no one wants to work in a cut-throat environment. I feared that the world of copywriting would be overly competitive and that you had to know the right people to be successful, particularly in a specialized niche. 

Based on my recent experience, the professional writing community is welcoming and supportive. Once I started to practice my networking skills, I quickly established my presence as a novice yet ambitious copywriter who was eager to gain real-world experience. Finding a mentor was instrumental in developing my "voice" as a writer and building my self-confidence. 

For me, the world of copywriting has opened doors that I didn't even know existed. Although this realization can seem overwhelming at first, it can be empowering as well. As a freelance copywriter, you have the power to evoke strong emotion in your readers and inspire real-world action in your community. 

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Non-Traditional Office Christmas Party Ideas

Who said that all holiday traditions apply when it comes to office Christmas party ideas?

With the holiday season approaching, it may be time to start planning your annual office Christmas party. Incorporating some non-traditional themes or activities can help bring people together and provide an opportunity to do good for the local community. 

Fresh Office Christmas Party Ideas

Host a Potluck and Celebrate Diversity

Potlucks are popular for communal gatherings such as holiday parties. Have your attendees bring a dish representing their heritage to put a fun spin on a traditional Christmas potluck. A heritage-inspired potluck celebrates diversity and allows everyone to try new, delicious foods while bringing everyone closer together. 

Secret Santa - Bring Joy to Children in Need

Secret Santa is another popular Christmas office tradition. This year, in the spirit of the season of giving, have everyone from the office donate an unopened, unwrapped toy to an organization such as Toys 4 Tots. Charity organizations such as these help to bring joy to children in need during the holiday season.

The Gift of Your Time - Helping Those Less Fortunate

The holiday season can be difficult for those in need, both financially and emotionally. Set up a time for everyone to contribute to a local homeless shelter or children's home. Ways you can help include: 

  • Helping to prepare warm, wholesome meals for the holidays.
  • Decorating to make the environment more festive and cheery.
  •  Say "hello" and strike up a conversation with someone who may be going through a hard time.

Organize a Raffle for Charity

Raffles can be a fun, exciting way to contribute to one of your favorite charities. Popular raffle prizes can vary from gift baskets, electronic devices, baked goods, and seasonal items. To do some good with this year's holiday raffle, specify that the proceeds are to be donated to the charity of the winner's choosing. 

For a list of top-rated charities for inspiration, visit Charity Navigator

Spread Holiday Cheer - Christmas Caroling

Among these office Christmas party ideas, this one is especially fun. If your office is near a nursing home or a children's hospital, consider Christmas caroling.

The holiday season is all about traditions, and one staple that seems to have faded is the art of Christmas caroling. In place of a traditional office Christmas party, organize an evening to go caroling in your local community to help boost morale and spread holiday cheer. To spread even more holiday cheer, make it a point to visit any local children's homes, retirement centers,  rehabilitation clinics, or homeless shelters. 

The holiday season is the time of the year that we understand it is sometimes better to give than to receive, although this sentiment holds true year-round. This year, especially in the aftermath of the recent pandemic, structuring your holiday office party and festivities around doing good for others is a way to help make the season brighter for everyone. These fresh office Christmas party ideas are sure to help you have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Written by Seven Oaks Consulting contributor Laura LaFrenier.

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Sustainable Business Practices

A Purpose-Driven Approach 

As society becomes more socially and environmentally conscious, consumer trends are beginning to shift. In a fast-paced, digital world obsessed with hashtags and causes of the month, finding your purpose can seem overwhelming. By incorporating a purpose-driven approach into your business strategy, you can attract more customers and expand your clientele. 

Beyond Profits - The Importance of Having a Purpose  

A purpose-driven business approach focuses on a specific social or environmental cause that resonates with potential customers who care about making a difference in the world. Understanding your target audience is vital to this type of business approach. 

Another critical aspect of creating a purpose-driven business approach is to look beyond your profit margin. The key is understanding the impact your business has on society and the environment. This will allow you to find your niche in a purpose-driven market and refocus your brand. 

One successful example of a purpose-driven business approach is the Green Circle Salons program. This award-winning initiative emphasizes sustainability and seeks to reduce the environmental impact of beauty salons by recycling up to 95% of all waste. 

Sustainable Business Practices: Statistics 

Recent surveys show that the majority of consumers care more about corporate responsibility, and, by extension, sustainable business practices, than ever before. According to statistics retrieved from a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study

  • 63% of Americans are hopeful businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward, in the absence of government regulation
  • 78% want companies to address important social justice issues
  • 87% will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about 
  • 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs

Boost Your sustainable Business practices - Finding Your Purpose 

With many social and environmental causes currently being addressed, any business model can find sustainable business practices to align itself with in a meaningful and effective way. 

  • Be sincere - Find a purpose that is important to you and your target audience rather than jumping on the latest social or environmental cause currently trending on social media. The Container Store focuses on what they refer to as conscious capitalism. Ranked under Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for, they promote creating a positive and inclusive work environment and business approach. 
  • Aligns with your brand - Your brand needs to reflect your core business values. Your core values should reinforce how your business is making a difference in the world. Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company, is very passionate about environmental impact and community activism.

It’s important to remember that a purpose-driven business approach is not the same as running a charity or non-profit organization. Instead, you are focusing more on social responsibility and how your business impacts the community. Sustainable business practices can help you make your mark on the world in a positive way.

Text by Laura LaFrenier, a freelance writer who works with Seven Oaks Consulting. Photo by Roshan Dhimal on Unsplash