7 WAYS LinkedIn WILL HELP YOUR BUSINESSLinkedIn may not be as prevalent as Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites; nevertheless, it has established its niche as a business tool for small to midrange companies who want to network and reach their intended market.

So, exactly how do you effectively use this tool to promote your business? We’re going to break down seven strategies to show you.

Make Valuable Connections

Like any social networking site, the ultimate goal of LinkedIn is to connect you to people and allow you to network your brand with new leads or new business associates to collaborate with. While you may only find a few friends and associates based on email searching, you can take advantage of LinkedIn Groups and connect to people in your industry or in local and regional locations. You can also use the Advanced Search option to target a specific market and find people, companies and industries of interest by keyword.

According to findings from Breitbarth, 41% of the site’s users have over 500+ connections, which is an increase of 30% since 2013. About 15% now have over 1,000 connections. Simply put, the most successful companies using LinkedIn have gone out of their way to create a following and to network with other people.

Showcasing Knowledge Builds Authority

Not long ago, posting articles to online directories was a decent way to prove yourself as an authority in your field. However, it wasn’t long before VIPs in the search engine industry realized there was a lack of interaction between writers and readers. This is due to the fact that people feel less inclined to believe people who give speeches than someone who has the ability to answer unscripted questions.

Answering simple questions shows your potential leads and associates that you know your industry well enough to interact with the public in an objective and neutral way. This is not only a great way to expose your name and generate brand awareness, but also to get a keen insight into the minds of your potential customers publicly without link spamming. For best results, quote dependable sources and incorporate your business knowledge instead of just promoting your opinions. Replying with and open-ended answer will encourage more discussion and maybe even build more connections.

Get Linkedin Endorsements

Dimensional Research performed a study that confirmed that positive endorsements on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Amazon influence a buyer’s decision nearly 90% of the time.

These endorsements are like reviews that build a reputation for your small business, leading to recommendations that we’ll discuss next.

Recommendations Build Authority

Unbiased testimonials and recommendations by other people proves to your audience that your product or service is worthy of reviews. These recommendations are equivalent to referrals. On LinkedIn, these recommendations appear on your page and cannot be forged. Endorsements are easier for a connection on LinkedIn to put in a positive word for you without going to the trouble of writing a recommendation.

Host an Event and Keep People Up to Date

Hosting a LinkedIn event builds awareness for your brand while also generating additional leads, because the event is publicized to your network. The Event Platform is easy to work with, so use it to ask questions about the subject of your event to help you “promote the event”. Use Online RSVP to stay in touch with your most important targets.  The announcement will also show up on their pages.

People can find your event in the LinkedIn Events Tool based on mutual interest, as well as geographic location and industry. The flexibility of this online tool has resulted in many more links and connections being made since you are no longer limited to traditional face-to-face events because it organizes virtual webinars and workshops, telephone conferences, group discussions and more.

Currently, an effective strategy is the organization of a regular monthly event, online or otherwise, in order to build prominence with your regular audience as well as develop new memberships with those who hear about the meeting from friends of friends through LinkedIn announcements.

Other tips you can try incorporating include:

Create a logo, using simple and probably free software, that will make it stand out. Come up with a creative title so that it will capture attention and hopefully be shared (and shared on more social media sites than just LinkedIn). Always finish with a call to action. We remember this in articles and yet we seem to forget this golden rule in social media. If you don’t tell your audience what to do at the end, they won’t do anything. Always include a strong call to action after advertising a meeting. Include keywords that describe your industry and reason for the event. Promote the theme of your event in the most relevant groups. It’s not obvious promotion if you’re posting a valuable announcement about your meeting in your status messages. An active page, after all, characterizes a busy company. By tying in recent company events with your status messages, you will generate excitement for the event.

Exercise opportunities to deal with issues and provide support to potential customers as you would on any other social networking sites. Use LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates to reach targeted users as a way to generate a paid lead generation that sounds less aggressive than several other social media approaches. Recently, HubSpot worked with LinkedIn and reported a 400% lead increase with their targeted audience.

Reach Out and Make the Personal Connection

The best approach to writing these messages is to look for areas of interest that you might have in common and, then, write to them on a more personal level, not as a formal business communication. Introduce yourself and keep it sincere. A little flattery in this situation can go a long way too, but don’t over-do it. Get to the point and tell them why you are reaching out to them.

While using LinkedIn for better emotional engagement with its social media audience, Hewlett Packard reported a gain of 300,000 followers in two months, an increased engagement rate as well as more than a 200% increase in customers who referred the company’s products to other people.

The “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature is another great tool, and one that no other professional social networking site has, as it can reveal who has been searching for you, and now provides you with a presentation on how to introduce yourself. Chances are, if someone was searching for you, a targeted lead would not likely dismiss a personal message from you. The Who’s Viewed Your Profile option has been voted as the best feature on LinkedIn by 76% of respondents.

Therefore, consistently using LinkedIn’s tools and features is more beneficial than once-a-month visits or blind posts that have no purpose. But this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice hours of your time day after day.

Spread out the time you spend on LinkedIn by checking in a few times each week. This will help you keep your presence consistent and your brand promoted.