Social media platforms fluctuate in popularity, with Instagram and Facebook consistently showing up as top choices for independent retailers. But recently LinkedIn is getting a lot of buzz, which is perhaps a bit surprising for a program that is now almost 20 years old. During the past two decades it has primarily served as a place for job seekers and employers to find one another.  The company, which is now owned by Microsoft, offers networking opportunities much beyond that now that it has over 774 million members (not all paid, of course) in 200 countries.

How can you use this platform to keep in touch with customers and business colleagues?  Keep in mind that everyone can become a connection, whether a member or not, and some of those connections are bound to be potential shoppers. In addition, you can reach out to your peers, vendors and to leaders in your industry to gain professional insights and information.

I am not a premium member of LinkedIn, a program that costs $28 a month and allows you to contact other members via email, and to take LinkedIn learning courses.  But even at the free level, I can post to my profile and see what others in my network have posted.  I’ve managed to accumulate 1,120 connections just by saying yes to invitations that come from people with some relevance to my work, which is a fairly wide sphere of influence at no cost.  I’m sure that many of these people, especially those who are local, are customers of ours.

Stores that offer a blog can share it on LinkedIn to reach a wider audience. (I’m going to start posting this one each week, so feel free to invite me to join your network!)  You can also post events, videos and photos – or write an article directly in your LinkedIn feed.

If you decide to become a paid member, you’ll be able to create a company page where you can post updates about your shop. This is yet another place for consumers to find out more about what you sell and where they can find you.

According to Inc., “members looking for help [are] able to filter their general LinkedIn searches for service providers. When you add services to your profile, you’ll show up in these search results.”  This makes it easier to find local professionals such as accountants, but it also means that if your store offers any special services – classes, repairs, or gift baskets – you may find new customers for them through your LinkedIn profile.  

For more ideas about using LinkedIn as one more way to promote your business, check out their help page with digital marketing expert Rekha Satidasani.

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder