linkedin-logoI’ve had a profile on LinkedIn for a while now, but just as with my MySpace account, I let  it languish for a long time.  I wasn’t seeing LinkedIn as a place to make connections and find others in my target market.  It also seemed heavily corporate, with people looking for employment more so than small business products or services.

Serving that more corporate-type population was why LinkedIn was originally established.  However, over the past 6 months or so, I have noticed more activity among small business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs.  While Facebook offers a more personal overview of someone, LinkedIn has really become a great place to create beneficial professional relationships as well as be found by potential customers and clients.

If you are interested in discovering how to use LinkedIn to help boost your visibility and grow your business, here are a few ways to use it to do just that:

Perform a search for people in targeted fields and positions. Send them a request to join your network and make sure to personalize your message.

Create a thorough profile with your photo, title and websites.  It is a good idea to include past experience, education and positions as well—the more information that you supply, the more ways you allow others to find you and connect.

Answer questions posed by other members in your community which relate to your area of expertise. “LinkedIn Answers” provides a place for you to view open questions that you can respond to.  This is a great way to promote your specific knowledge.

Ask for recommendations of your work as well as offer to provide them for others.  The glowing testimonials you receive can be posted right to your profile.

Develop a targeted group of contacts in your niche and start connecting each other. Make it a point to help others expand their own networks.

Look through your contacts’ networks and regularly select a couple of people you think would be good to know. Request that your contacts introduce them to you.

Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn offers a way to feed your blog posts into your profile. Add the BlogLink application—this supports blogging platforms such as WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Typepad, Blogger and more.

Invite people in your network to join a discussion group or a virtual networking event.

A helpful tip for increasing your search engine ranking with your website listing: when you type in your blog or website address for your profile, you will have several choices available in the drop down menu.  If you choose “other” you have the option to choose the anchor text which will then link to your site.  Choose keywords that you think would best get you found when someone searches in the search engines—it’s instant search engine optimization. (LinkedIn is ranked very high in Google.)

Get some publicity. Many members of the media as well as some top bloggers have a presence on LinkedIn.  Try reaching out to them to connect.  You never know where the relationship will lead.  It goes without saying that you don’t want to spam them.  Send a polite, personalized message and you will have a spot on their radar.

Finally, be sure to add a link to your profile in your email signature. LinkedIn lets you customize the link to your public profile to include your name. It’s a good idea to include a link to your social networking profiles in your signature so that every time you send an email, others have a way to connect with you there.

And as you know by now, connection is the name of the game.

Photo Credit: Weaverluke

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