When LinkedIn launched in 2003, it changed the status of building relationships and has continued to refine and define the importance of online business networking and branding.  LinkedIn gives individuals and businesses a professional online community to meet, socialize, interact, and learn from each other.

Unlike most social channels, time spent on LinkedIn is invested in professional development. What began as a site to post online resumes is now a vital, interactive, educational and networking center and a leading source for professionals to share their career highlights and connect with other professionals.

Below are some ways to use LinkedIn to help brand yourself and make your business stand out and be remembered.

Introductions

Introductions by trusted connections to other trusted professionals or companies are the lifeblood of growing our networks, prospecting and forming partnerships and collaborations.

LinkedIn also gives us the opportunity to qualify people. Keep your profile sections complete and make sure all the information is up to date.

Professional Branding

Ideally, you want your brand to be seen as a trusted and credible authority on categories or issues surrounding your industry. Your LinkedIn profile should not be a list of bullet points that don’t really flow or relate to each other. The most effective way to use LinkedIn is to tell your career story in a more personal manner using first-person content in the summary and include highlights of your skills and qualifications that you utilized in those accomplishments.

Networking

Keep on top of your industry, community and trends. Interact and engage as much as you can in groups, conversations and with people you are linked to. Post threads and make yourself available online so people can get to know you.

Also, be sensitive in remembering this is a professional platform so keep personal content relative to the subjects and topics of your brand expertise.

Content Development

Don’t worry if you’re not the best at writing – you should have access to a myriad of blogs, podcasts, whitepapers, online training, and industry-specific social media to inspire you and help share your thoughts about. Even just helping to educate others can promote yourself and your business.

Promotion

Use LinkedIn to promote your professional activities via status updates, linking to those activities, or creating a LinkedIn Event. Show that you’re into continuing education by posting a trade show or conference you’re attending. Promote the fact you are opening a new location, launching a new product, received an award, hired a valuable new employee – anything that is newsworthy and keeps your brand in front of people.

Referrals

Building connections is important but it is equally important to be able to use them. Select the right people you want to give you a referral, ask politely and professionally and extend the opportunity for a reciprocal referral. It also helps to be specific in terms of the referral content – you don’t want the same message from everyone you ask.

Highlights

You can highlight your ideas, business services or conveniences, but LinkedIn is a great place to feature your clients, customers, community and colleagues who you trust and admire and align with.

Education

Utilize LinkedIn Pulse to review daily content sources with fresh articles and resources on sales, marketing, networking, business, professionalism, career transition and more all in one place by top professionals. Set up alerts and customize the industries you are interested in and whenever possible contribute valuable content.

Groups

No matter what your business or professional interests may be, there is a LinkedIn group that you can join or start. Groups can be accessed under the “Interests” tab and are great for aligning yourself with people outside your typical circles. It is better to be in a few key groups and build a consistent involvement than being in too many groups.

Advanced Search

LinkedIn advanced search provides you with a very powerful way to connect with potential clients, key decision makers, referral partners and more.  It allows you to refine your search through several targeted means and enables you to connect with people more easily than ever before. The saved search feature is also a powerful tool to save you time and automate the relationship building process.

SlideShare

SlideShare has grown to become the world’s largest community for sharing presentations and other professional content. It allows users to easily upload and share presentations, infographics, documents, videos, PDFs, and webinars. SlideShare is among the top 120 most-visited websites in the world. Under the “Interests” tab, sign up for SlideShare to get and publish content on topics such as Leadership, Technology, Education, Marketing and more.

With one out of every three professionals on the planet being on LinkedIn, it makes sense to make this powerful resource your go-to place for promoting your brand, building and cultivating relationships and informing and engaging the audience you want to reach.

– Bonnie Nawara