The world seems to love the social web these days. It’s not just individuals who are spending more time online and on the social media platforms. 

Organisations of all sizes, and from all sections of the economy, are using the social web to build relationships with their extended communities and to become recognised more widely for what they do.

There are lots of reasons why colleges and training providers need to consider making more extensive use of LinkedIn’s capabilities.  Here are four.

1. You can build your reputation online

With more people, including employers and students, searching more often for information and solutions to problems online, you need a strong online presence and a sound reputation online, if you’re going to take advantage of the situation created by these changing habits.

One way of making more of your online presence is to use LinkedIn Answers to showcase your organisation’s expertise to the world.  If you focus on answering questions posed on LinkedIn about the subjects around which you want to build your reputation, people working in your organisation will quickly become recognised by the LinkedIn community as experts in that niche.

2. You can promote your organisation on LinkedIn

Most people know about creating individual profiles on LinkedIn, but you can also create a company page for your organisation.  With a company page you can promote your messages across LinkedIn.  You can gather followers for your organisation.  You can write about your news, post updates and even upload information about jobs you have available.

With a company page you’ll reach a different audience from the one you engage with via your other marketing activities, so a company page will be a valuable addition to your promotional mix.

3. You can build a large professional community on LinkedIn

Your staff, especially your most senior staff members, can help to extend the reach of your organisation by building their professional networks on LinkedIn.

As representatives of your organisation they can post information about your events and projects.  They can invite participation in your employer community.  They can also contact, and connect with, people with whom you would like your organisation to be associated.

A proactive connections policy benefits individuals.  It can also bring benefits to organisations.

4. You can use LinkedIn to prove that you’re successful

Most people have heard of LinkedIn recommendations and LinkedIn endorsements for individuals.  You can also obtain recommendations for companies and organisations.

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When you post information about your products and services, make a point of asking for recommendations for them, too.  Recommendations are votes of confidence in you and what you do.  They are online testimonials which demonstrate that you’re delivering good service to your students and employers.

Getting recommendations is straightforward. When you ask employers and others for testimonials, ask those who are writing the testimonials to recommend you via your LinkedIn company page at the same time.

LinkedIn matters

Some people in FE are still a bit sceptical about the value of this type of online activity and ask if it’s worth the effort – and the cost – in terms of time.

Of course, the answer is related to how you plan to use your marketing resources. However, it’s worth remembering that LinkedIn is the largest online professional network in the world.   It has 175 million members worldwide, 8 million of whom are in the UK. In terms of online networking, LinkedIn is too big to ignore.  It’s also a place where colleges and training providers can do their reputations a lot of good.

Margaret Adams MA Chartered FCIPD helps real world businesses make more and better use of the online world to build their reputations and their success.

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