We love LinkedIn! In fact, we wrote an entire blog post about why LinkedIn is the best social media platform for building relationships. If we had just one word of advice for all businesses who are using LinkedIn, it’s to stop thinking of this robust platform as just a place to host your resume. Although it certainly performs this task well, there’s so much more you can do!

Start with the four steps below to exponentially grow your business on LinkedIn.

Step 1: Optimize Your Pages

If your company is large, you should consider creating both a personal and a company page. Otherwise, you can probably get away with just focusing on your personal page. But make sure to complete your company profile, even if you don’t plan to engage with it. Doing so allows you to connect to your employees via the company, and also provides another link you can include in your personal LinkedIn profile.

When setting up your personal profile, be sure to include your job title and other relevant keywords. Think of the summary section as your 30 second elevator pitch, and don’t forget your call to action! Decide why you want people to contact you, whether it’s for business referrals or a new job offer, and include that request into your summary.

Next up, your profile picture! The image you choose for your profile speaks volumes about you. Pick one that’s professional and where you are posing alone (i.e. no group photos or shots with your pet snake). Although it’s important to be professional on LinkedIn, there’s no crime against thinking outside the box! Try sharing your career as a story instead of bullet points. Experiment with the layout of profile. Make it your own!

Google is a fan of LinkedIn’s Showcase Page so if you use it, you will be rewarded. A Showcase Page is essentially a landing page. Use it to promote a product, event or other special initiative. Consider it an avenue to share very specific content with a very targeted audience.

Step 2: Build Your Network

If you already have a contact database, you can upload it into LinkedIn. If not, take a scroll through LinkedIn’s “people you may know” suggestions!

Of course, LinkedIn also has its own search function with filters like: location, school and industry. When choosing a level of connection, pick “2nd connection” instead of “1st connection”. This allows you to target someone who knows the person you’re already connected to, and also be able to add them as a connection.

LinkedIn’s automatic connection message offers a good starting point, but always find a way to personalize it.It’s up to each and every one of us to decide whose invitation to accept, and whose to decline. Make your message count!

If you have no contacts to speak of, start by making a list of places you’ve worked and professionals you’ve known. Attending local seminars and other networking events is another option! Just make sure to dedicate time after the event to go online and connect with everyone.

Step 3: Publish Exceptional Content

PULSE is the name of LinkedIn’s publishing tool, and it’s extremely easy to use. For those who already have a blog, this is the perfect opportunity to recycle your high-quality content! Just make sure to wait at least 1 week after the blog posts to your own website before you publish it to PULSE. Otherwise, it will index for LinkedIn and improve their ranking, instead of yours.

Since everything is more business-centered on LinkedIn, it’s best to streamline your topics. Ideally, you’ll have a main topic with 5-10 sub-topics to speak to. Use common sense. If you’re a finance company, don’t post crockpot recipes!

There are many 3rd party sharing tools such as Sprout Social, Insightly and Hootsuite which work with LinkedIn. That being said, it may make sense to post directly to LinkedIn for better control over how your message is conveyed. Try it both ways, and see what works best for you!

Step 4: Be Social

We’ll say it time and again because the message always bears repeating; engage with others just like you would as an individual. Like, comment and share their content. Respond to their remarks on your posts! Just remember to always speak in your brand’s voice, and to use the appropriate tone.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Refer to this guide: 2 Essential Elements of a Superb Social Media Brand.

Another way to engage on LinkedIn is by answering questions on “LinkedIn Answers”. You can also join a relevant group discussion, or start your own! Above all, wait more than 5 minutes after you’ve added a new connection to send him or her a sales pitch. Use the golden rule (treat others as you would like to be treated) and you’ll do just fine!

When you step back and think about it, LinkedIn is just a simple tool to connect with other like-minded souls who share your passion for industry. At Venerate Media Group, we offer many social media services to fit your needs. Drop us a line, or comment below, we’d love to hear from you!