How to make LinkedIn work for your business

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With 300 million users worldwide and two new members joining every second, LinkedIn is the prime online portal for businesses to connect, develop and market their services. Unlike other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is solely focused on providing a platform for businesses and professionals to showcase their expertise and experience.

Easy to setup and relatively inexpensive, companies can list contacts, see who they know and who their contacts are linked to in turn, creating a chain of industry-relevant people, organisations and businesses. If that’s not enough to convince you of the value of LinkedIn, research shows LinkedIn sends nearly four times more people to your homepage than Twitter and Facebook.

Here are our five top tips on how to make LinkedIn work for your business:

1.     Looks matter
On social networks, we judge books by their covers. There will be a great pay off for spending time carefully filling out your profile page. Potential investors, clients and customers are likely to research the credentials of your business before getting in contact. And with 89% of recruiters reporting they have hired through LinkedIn, it is clear how important it is that key information and messages are easy to find and up to date.

2.     Keep in contact
Whether it is a colleague you see daily or an interesting character you met at an industry conference, invite that person to your LinkedIn network. The service is ideal for keeping in touch with people in your industry and you never known when these contacts might come to use. Staying on other people’s radars also helps ensure you don’t miss important business opportunities. Besides, sending someone you have had a great discussion with, for the first time, an invitation to your LinkedIn network is an ideal way to show your intention to reconnect in the future.

3.     Finding the right people
Quality is more important than quantity, particularly when it comes to industry contacts. When adding new contacts, assign them into categories to work out how they can fit into your business strategy. Who could be potential colleagues, mentors or clients.

4.     Find customers via group activity
Customers and prospects are most likely to be found in LinkedIn groups. By either creating new or joining existing groups, you can position your business as an authority in a particular area. Share and create interesting content such as articles, how-to guides, and blog posts, to increase your presence. This will help you establish a reputation as an industry leader and in promoting products or services.

5.     Post regularly
How often and when to post is a complicated science. LinkedIn’s own guidelines suggest 20 posts per month allow you to reach 60% of your audience. But be careful not to post merely for the sake of it. Focus on relevant and eye-catching content that is consistent with your professional brand. Select a number of news and industry sources related to your business’ work, sector or activity, and link your network community to its information through sharing their content. The general rule of thumb is only 25% of updates need to include content created by yourself. By posting status updates regularly, your business remains visible and help you effectively showcase your professional interests and expertise online.

On Twitter? Try these top tips for getting the most out of Twitter for your business.

Jermaine Haughton is a journalist and digital media professional.

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