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How to use LinkedIn effectively in your dealership

By Forrest Flinn

Almost every dealership is on social media today. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, we are all posting and engaging with our customers actively to promote our dealership’s products and services — and that is great — but what about LinkedIn? Most dealerships are not using LinkedIn today as part of their social media strategy because they do not see how it can work for them socially. The purpose of this month’s blog is to help you understand what LinkedIn is and how it can help you in your dealership’s overall social media strategy.

First of all, using LinkedIn in your total social media strategy isn’t about selling powersports products on social media directly. It’s about engaging your dealership in the business of powersports.  Unlike Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn is professional networking site that connects you and your dealership to millions of people worldwide for very valid and important reasons such as networking, finding employees, engaging with other dealers in the powersports industry and finding industry experts — just to name a few.

  1. Finding employees using LinkedIn. Finding good employees is always a challenge for all dealerships. If you are looking to staff a hard-to-fill key position in your dealership, LinkedIn may be the answer. The best talent out there may not always be actively looking for a job but by using LinkedIn to promote your dealership’s open positions you are tapping into thousands of potential candidates. Today, most recruiting firms that specialize in the powersports industry are using LinkedIn exclusively to cultivate potential candidates and present them to their clients. You can leverage your network on LinkedIn and the networks of other people you know to find great talent for almost nothing other than the cost of your time.
  2. Using the power of the group. There are many individual groups on LinkedIn that a dealer can join to keep up with what is going on in the industry for free. I personally participate in many groups to share knowledge and information that is specific to the powersports community. In my opinion, knowledge is power, and LinkedIn groups give dealers access to literally thousands of people who work in the powersports space across verticals such as retail, OEMs, related industries and aftermarket suppliers. For example, Powersports Business has a LinkedIn group specifically set up for readers of the magazine. This particular group is a safe place for members to interact and exchange ideas and operating practices for free! The PSB group on LinkedIn is just one of many that you can join to gain and contribute knowledge. Some groups are open to anyone and some groups are closed but overall most closed groups will let you in if you just ask.
  3. Finding and connecting with industry experts quickly. LinkedIn is a vast resource of powersports industry experts that can help you and your dealership. If you are looking for a specific skillset, such as accounting or sales, help is out there and can be found using advanced search tools to find what you are looking for. When you find an expert who you think might be able to help you can reach out to them through LinkedIn’s InMail system or reach out to them via their contact information on their profile. Also, you can get reviews of industry experts by asking other dealers who have used specific experts in the past.
  4. Networking isn’t about computers. I know that LinkedIn isn’t as fun as Facebook or Instagram because it is about business. I personally love LinkedIn and check it every day for many reasons. I have been on LinkedIn for a long time and I have built a network of industry related contacts of over 8,000 people. If I don’t have the answer to a question I know that I can reach out to my community and find out what I am looking for. The key to building a strong network on LinkedIn is to only connect with other people in the powersports community. For example, if I get a connection request from someone, I look at their profile and see how many connections we have in common and if they work, or have worked, in the powersports space in some capacity. If they are not in the powersports community, then I do not accept. By connecting wisely, you will have a more powerful and robust database of people who are in the powersports community who completely understand the powersports industry.
  5. Don’t discriminate. What I mean by don’t discriminate is it is ok to look to other related industries such as automotive, RV, marine, trailer and farm implement when building your LinkedIn network/community. I have found a lot of good information and contacts from industries that don’t run on two wheels. I know that right now that the RV and marine industries are leading the pack these days in our challenging economy so therefore I follow those industries because they are related and I want to learn about what they are doing. Just because it has four wheels, or no wheels, doesn’t mean that we can't learn from our brothers and sisters in other related industries.

I hope that I have opened your eyes to the potential that LinkedIn has for your dealership. LinkedIn can be a wealth of information and in time become an asset for you to tap into for the reasons that I have just described. Because of the way that I have built my community over time I find the news feed on LinkedIn to be my first read of the day every day to keep me updated and on top of where our industry is right now and where it is going in the future.

So don’t forget about LinkedIn when you are defining your social media strategy for 2018. It is the one platform that every dealer in the country should be using. The information and contacts that you make via LinkedIn, in time, can have a measurable effect on your dealership’s bottom line!

After all, it’s just good business!

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.

Contact: forrest@powersportsmc.com

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