LinkedIn is a valuable tool that many people aren’t utilizing to the fullest extent. I understand it can seem daunting to learn the ins-and-outs of another social network – especially one with a much different focus than the others. On LinkedIn, you are speaking to not only friends, family, and potential clients but also influencers, clients, competition, and potential business partners.

Putting your best face forward on LinkedIn is just as important as the other social networks, and if used correctly, can help you grow your business! The first step, which should go without saying, is to fill out your profile completely. Each section should have a significant amount of information, and if possible it’s helpful to ask for endorsements or reviews from past clients and coworkers. Beyond the basics – there are so many ways to use the platform!

1. Answer questions in Questions and Answers. This is a section of LinkedIn where people can ask for help from their community by asking questions in a forum. An excellent way to position yourself as an expert is to go through these and answer questions you know the answer to. Make sure this information is helpful, correct, and insightful. This way you are marketing yourself, without blatantly self-promoting.

2. Research your prospects before meeting or contacting them. Going to have lunch with a prospect? Look them up on LinkedIn first! It’s a great way to see exactly what they do, whom they know, and what makes them tick. Have a mutual contact in common? Great! Is there some way you can provide value to their business? Even better! Researching your prospects should go without saying, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do it.

3. Share useful articles and resources that will be of interest to customers and prospects. You may not know it, but LinkedIn has a news feed, much like the other social networking sites. However, the content you share on LinkedIn should be different than what you share on other social networks. It should be tailored for your audience, and helpful in a business sense. People get on LinkedIn to connect professionally, so the content you share should be useful in a professional sense as well. This is an excellent way to position yourself as an influencer among your sphere.

4. Use LinkedIn’s blogging feature. Taking content posting to another level, LinkedIn has a feature where you can post long form blog posts to your profile. This feature was previously only available to 500 top-level influencers, CEO’s, and celebrities but is now open to everyone. It gives its users a chance to provide great value to other users by creating engaging, original content. These blogs don’t have to be long, but they do have to be useful. Once your potential clients and contacts see that you are an expert in your field through the free information you are giving them, they are more likely to work with you. For more information about LinkedIn’s blogging platform CLICK HERE.

5. Use your LinkedIn to stay top of mind with contacts. Did you know you can export your LinkedIn contacts to an Excel document? Yup. Once you’ve built up your professional network to your liking, export your contacts first name, last name, E-mail address, company & job title for use in email marketing, or simply for your own personal contact list. This is super easy to do and it can help you grow your contact list exponentially. You can also sync your contacts and calendars, send congratulations on anniversaries and promotions, map your connections, set reminders to stay connected, and so much more.

LinkedIn has endless resources for managing your professional contacts and relationships… use them!