I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, it’s a business focused social media network that everyone in business should be an active participant of. It’s important to take LinkedIn serious, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to get started even if your business isn’t as popular as some of the others you will find on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has over 322 million users, with forty percent of these users logging in daily. Most of the users of LinkedIn have an advanced level of education and either work in a job or have their own business.

These are some of the things I have learned that will give you a head start on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Profiles Rule

The very first thing you need to do when you join LinkedIn is not rush out and try and connect with everyone you know, your first task is to complete your profile. The profiles on LinkedIn are extremely extensive and LinkedIn will guide you through the entire process until you end up with what you can consider to be a super powerful resume. You will have the information you will find on your typical resume but you can also add in video, slideshows, links to websites and portfolio items as well as showcasing any recommendations you might gain as well as endorsements.

Work hard on your portfolio until it is completed, which will give you have an “all-star” rated profile and don’t forget to use a good quality picture of yourself, show your eyes and let people see your face. Profiles that include pictures are viewed eleven times more than profiles without a picture.

Connect Carefully on LinkedIn

LinkedIn gives you the ability to ask for connections the moment you sign on, with people you know using your email or other networks as the starting point. Before you do this, go through and manually click on and off people that you don’t want to connect with. It’s also an extremely good idea to connect with people you know using a personalized message rather than the standard LinkedIn one, you chances of gaining a connection are greatly improved by doing so. Remember to think carefully about each connection, they need to be professional, relevant, and have the ability to connect you to someone important or vice versa.

Once you’ve experienced LinkedIn for some time you will no doubt run across people that are considered as Open Networkers or LIONS… these are people who are interested in growing their network of connections and will generally accept anyone.

I use LinkedIn in this way, everyone that follows me on Twitter I automatically send them an invite to connect with me on LinkedIn, by doing so I am considered an open networker however my own reasoning is simple, I am trying to touch my audience on numerous social media platforms, as that aids my own marketing efforts.

Back to LinkedIn, recommendations and endorsements are serious on LinkedIn; your name is forever associated with anyone you recommend or endorse so only provide those when you really do think the person is awesome.

Join the Most Relevant Groups

LinkedIn has many groups where people connect with one another and have discussions, answer questions for each other and more. Do a search for groups that will either help you connect with customers, or help you connect with people who can connect you to customers. Start with just a few because you need to join the groups, and then participate in the groups and get known. Be cognizant of the time commitment a busy group takes, you can most likely join and manage 10 to 12 groups in an hour a day. There is no point joining a group if you are not going to interact; this is after all how you’re going to network and get to know the right people.

Be a Resource to Others

Once you’ve got a few connections, and you are communicating in groups, start sharing important and relevant information, start with the mindset of being a resource to others. If you find a great article that would resonate with people in a particular group, share it and ask for comments to start a discussion. If you write something, create a video, design an infographic, or anything you feel is valuable to your audience, share it and ask for feedback.

LinkedIn Long Form Posting

LinkedIn now allows you to publish full articles within its long form publishing platform, you can think of this as a self-contained blogging type platform with an audience drawn from your connections. Except it gets a lot more exciting than this, as likes and comments on posts, extent the potential audience and LinkedIn Pulse the internal news service has numerous news channels are your article has the potential to be featured within this system, attracting potentially many thousands of readers and potential new connections.

The secret to networking is to create goals that make sense for your business, for instance you might make a goal to meet at least one new person local to you each month, or to connect with five new relevant people each week on LinkedIn, and make at least one introduction each month. If you carve out the time in your day to use LinkedIn, it can be a very powerful business networking tool that can’t be matched.

How to Start Networking on LinkedIn
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