donutI love Mr. Bob’s Do-Nuts. His tiny storefront in downtown Marion, NC is easy to miss except for the amazing smell of sugar that permeates the air 6 days a week. Bob Masiello and his family make a variety of donuts, one of which is the Apple Ugly (photo above) and I assure you its the best apple fritter you have ever tasted.  They are doing a pretty steady business considering they just opened their doors in October of 2014. Their Facebook page  has a growing following and they have a simple but effective website.

But Mr. Bob himself has only one connection on LinkedIn and doesn’t appear to use it regularly. Should he be concerned? Is LinkedIn relevant for Bob?

It could be.

According to : 107 million users in the United States are using LinkedIn and 90 % of LinkedIn users are the decision maker in the household. Impressive statistics.  However having more connections and a completed profile probably won’t sell any more donuts for Mr. Bob.

So why should a small business owner like Mr. Bob participate on LinkedIn if he isn’t prospecting for business clients or job seeking? Because LinkedIn is an easy way for Mr. Bob to network with other small businesses as well find as experts in business to learn from.

Mr. Bob is open 5 days a week making the donuts while most of us sleep and may not have much time to get out and network but if he wanted to get advice or network with other entrepreneurs LinkedIn has thousands of groups for that. Search Start-Up on LinkedIn groups and there are 2,881.

OK so I didn’t find any groups specific to donut shops. However if he wants to learn more about social media for small business I found 378 results for that. Since he may want to expand to more than just donuts I found 2,665 results in groups for restaurants. Perhaps he is concerned about hiring practices? 82 results for small business HR.

The point is LinkedIn could provide resources to Mr. Bob regarding how to run his business that he can utilize at his convenience and for free. There are useful articles being shared from other sources or original content published on LinkedIn by business experts so think of LinkedIn as a business “how-to” feed. He could also use LinkedIn to research local service providers when he decides to hire a CPA, attorney or marketing consultant.

I am Mr. Bob’s insurance agent so I hope he doesn’t go looking for another anytime soon.

If your small business does depend on selling to other businesses then LinkedIn is an obvious choice of social media outlet to spend time. However the advantages of utilizing LinkedIn as a place to network, learn and research for a small business owner who needs to do these things on their own time, free of charge are significant.

Even if you are selling donuts.