According to Wikipedia, LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site used primarily for professional networking. Many business opportunities have become available to me and my business via LinkedIn and I wanted to share with readers why LinkedIn is good for tea businesses.
LinkedIn is a way to build your professional network by connecting users with trusted contacts, known as “connections.” For tea business owners new to LinkedIn, the first step is to create a profile and ensure all details are filled out completely so that other connections can find you. Start building your professional network by adding connections. If you have a bricks-and-mortar tearoom, one tip is to add business connections local to your area. If you have an online store (as I have), add businesses locally, nationally, and internationally. I encourage my tea clients to look for ways to collaborate with other businesses as I have done on occasion. By connecting with other businesses in the local / national area, you may find those collaborative opportunities that will also help to raise brand awareness about your business to other businesses. Connecting with local journalists, bloggers, magazine editors, and radio DJs is also useful for PR, as the media are always looking for new stories. Tea is a very interesting story for journalists to write about.
As I’ve written in a previous post, it would take three lifetimes to learn everything about tea. LinkedIn is a great resource to increase tea knowledge. Join tea discussion groups and raise your business profile by adding comments to questions that have been posted. Do not be tempted to promote your business if your business is not relevant to the question asked, as this will reduce credibility among your connections. If, however, you are in a retail or wholesale tea business and a question has been asked about retailing / wholesaling, self-promotion is perfectly acceptable. LinkedIn could be a way for you to find business opportunities.
Another way to build your profile is to keep the LinkedIn community informed of recent work by updating your status. Increase your visibility in the social media space by linking your LinkedIn profile to your Twitter profile, too.
Don’t forget to ask clients for testimonials (known as “recommendations”). Testimonials can help people viewing your LinkedIn profile decide whether to choose your business over others.
There are many ways to use LinkedIn effectively for growing your business. This last link gives 33 ways to use LinkedIn for business, which covers a few of the points I have mentioned above. LinkedIn has helped raise my brand profile, has given me business opportunities, and has enabled me to further my tea education. I am confident LinkedIn can help your tea business too (but if you’re not sure, do feel free to ask).