To Generate Business, Tell Your Story on LinkedIn
by Harvey Chipkin

LinkedIn is more than a place to post a resume. It’s an important tool that travel agents can use to build revenue, says an expert in maximizing the social networking site for business generation.

Travel Market Report spoke with Nathan Egan, CEO of PeopleLinx, and a former LinkedIn employee, to learn how travel sellers can maximize the business potential of LinkedIn.

Why do you think users are not tapping the potential of LinkedIn as a business tool?
Egan: LinkedIn is a great place to tell your story. Many users don’t tell their story, but rather use LinkedIn as a Rolodex. They put up their resume and then don’t update it. Your resume could help you find a job, but won’t help you get travel agent business.

Why do you think LinkedIn has so much business potential?
Egan: Whatever your individual professional goals, there is always a story there to tell. If that’s available on the web in a 24/7 capacity, it’s a powerful tool because you’re able to magnify your story. And once you tell your story, the business will come.

What’s interesting about LinkedIn is all of its other dimensions. All your activity on LinkedIn revolves around status updates, which can be leveraged in positive ways. People really do build business on LinkedIn; nobody questions that anymore.

What are ways to tell your story on LinkedIn?
Egan: You can tell your story through a combination of methods. You can tell people, ‘I’m a travel agent and I specialize in these areas. My clients come back to me because I do X, Y and Z well.’

At the same time, you might be using key words associated with travel agents. There are apps like Slideshare, where you can take people on a photographic tour. You can definitely bring visual elements to LinkedIn.

Is there a monetary cost to using LinkedIn?
Egan: While there is a premium version of LinkedIn, 90% of the power of LinkedIn is available with the free version. The value of LinkedIn is building a network of people you know, then leveraging their connections. And you don’t have to pay for that.

How does leveraging these connections work?
Egan: You can leverage all these connections, even though those secondary connections have not necessarily offered up their contact information.

LinkedIn, which is adding 3 million new members each month, allows you to build a community around your success as a travel agent. If you can get your connections to endorse you, their connections are more likely to reach out to you.

What are important things to consider when communicating on LinkedIn?
Egan: What’s important is that you’re not only trying to create this storyline, but that you have search engines that are looking at your profile as well. As a travel agent, you have to think about what kind of customer you’re looking for. You have to think about what kind of fish are in the pond you’ve cast your line into.

You definitely have to be careful – that’s the art of leveraging the tool correctly. If you want to communicate with somebody, the platform, time and language you choose are all important. You need to look at each opportunity individually.

One of the things that really trips people up is that they don’t think about their audience and might not put out sufficient or appropriate information. Or if the information is there, it might be presented in a jumbled and non-cohesive form.

What else should you consider?
Egan: All of your updates should be relevant and appropriate for your target market. There’s probably a lot more traffic out there than you realize. For better or worse, people are judging you on your LinkedIn content.

Traffic to LinkedIn is on the rise, and you should take LinkedIn as seriously as your website. People don’t go to LinkedIn to waste time, as is commonly the case with other social media platforms. People are looking for something.

Can agents maximize LinkedIn to show up on Google searches?
Egan: If you handle LinkedIn appropriately, you will show up in Google search. When I search ‘travel agent-Europe,’ if you’ve included the right keywords in your LinkedIn profile, you will show up higher in search results. And if your employees link to your company’s webpage, it will benefit even more from Google search.
 
Is there a big time commitment involved?
Egan: For a travel agent, using a single social media channel should not be a big commitment. Most of the time is taken educating yourself about what opportunities are available. What are best practices? Who is doing it well? Who is doing it poorly?

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