This is the second of three blog posts on using LinkedIn as a new business tool. Here’s how I’ve divided them up.

Now, on to part 2: monitoring your industry.

Observe competitor activity

The idea of monitoring, observing and researching your industry is a missed opportunity by many – not just on LinkedIn – but across social media and web marketingConnections at competing companies channels in general. There is now so much information in the public space.

At the very least, locate your competitors on LinkedIn and see what they’re doing. What kind of content are they posting to their company page? Who is following this company? With whom do you share connections to this company? Look also at their list of employees and take a peek at their profiles. After all, LinkedIn is more focused on individuals than companies. See who their project managers are communicating with and connecting to recently. This may lead to insights on new opportunities.

Join and participate in industry groups

LinkedIn discussion groups are like public forums where articles and industry topics of conversation are shared and discussed. Here’s a short overview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5CF1FEm_oA&feature=player_embedded

Try searching for relevant industry groups using keywords.

Search for relevant LinkedIn industry groups

Consider groups that your target market will be a part of. If you’re a subcontractor that seeks business among general contractors, join groups where general contractors are likely to be. Once you’re viewing a group page, you can:

  • See who in your network is part of this group
  • Identify who the most influential group members are and follow them
  • Identify the most popular discussion topics and consider joining the conversation. Remember not to over-promote yourself. This is a place to make connections and nurture relationships.

Insights from LinkedIn groups

Customize your news feed to follow industry chatter

LinkedIn Today is a news feed that displays the most read and shared articles about topics in your industry. You can check in periodically right there on LinkedIn to see what’s new in the news, or opt in to receive daily/weekly email feeds of the most popular articles.

LinkedIn Today news feed

The news feed can also be customized, allowing you to follow a variety of industries that interest you.

Customize your LinkedIn news feed

Part 3 of 3

The next post in this series will focus on marketing your business with LinkedIn. I’ll touch on:

  • Setting up your company profile
  • Connecting with industry organizations, trade journals and writers
  • Sharing articles and press releases
  • Driving traffic to your website

Related articles

LinkedIn for new business part 1: lead prospecting

How to market with patience in a tough economy

From the archives: A print ad campaign for a pre-construction company

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