LinkedIn is the social network for the professional crowd. It can be a fantastic resource for networking, hiring or finding a job, gathering sales leads, staying up-to-date on industry news and participating in the conversation.
But for entrepreneurs who are just starting up, or perhaps less social-media savvy than others, making the most of LinkedIn can seem kind of daunting.
It doesn't have to be. Below are some proven tips to help you use LinkedIn to its fullest potential for your business.
1. Fill out your page completely with all the important details of your business.
First off, an incomplete profile simply doesn't look good on LinkedIn. So make sure you fill out all the sections that apply to your business.
Be sure to put the most critical details about yourself or your business on top, so people won't miss them. Explain exactly what your company is, who your clients are and how you help them. Also showcase your products by filling out the "Products and Services" section of your company page.
2. Highlight your expertise.
One great way to connect with people is by positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. Others may come to you seeking professional advice and insight. Real relationships can be born.
One way to do this is to post articles you've written about your business and industry. Also be sure to share work samples or white papers to the "Pages" section. On your profile, note any honors or awards you have received. Also get endorsements and recommendations.
3. Create a call to action.
In the summary section, write a concise call to action that explains to people who land on your page exactly what it is you'd like them to do. Maybe you want them to call or email you or visit your site to sign up to your mailing list. Whatever it is, make it clear. (You can't expect people to read your mind.)
Read more: 3 Simple Ways to Use LinkedIn to Boost Sales
4. Include a photo.
A LinkedIn profile with a photo is 11 times more likely to be viewed and updates with a photograph get five times more shares. So, yes, you want to have photos on your page.
Businesses can share photos of their office, products or examples of their team’s work. Add photos of interesting people you meet (get their permission before snapping pictures, of course) or of yourself delivering presentations at industry events. Above all, make sure to keep it professional. Save your personal photos for Facebook or Instagram.
5. Optimize your profile for search.
You want to stand out on LinkedIn, right? There are hundreds of millions of people searching LinkedIn and your profile should be easily found by the people who are searching for the types of services you provide.
To help improve the chances of your name appearing in LinkedIn's internal search results, include keywords in your profile that are related to your business and industry. Think of these keywords as the words a potential client would type when searching LinkedIn.
6. Post consistently.
Whether posting blogs you've written or sharing news from around the web, do so often and consistently. The point is to post often enough to keep people coming back to your page. Posting regularly can also help your page's SEO.
7. Create and participate in LinkedIn groups.
Networking and gaining credibility are two goals many people have when joining LinkedIn. Luckily, both can be achieved by creating and participating in LinkedIn groups. You can use the top two or three biggest topics of interest within your industry as the basis for your group or groups.
8. Be savvy about who you connect with (and who you don't).
Sometimes it's OK to ignore connection requests. Remember, this isn't Facebook or Twitter. The point of being on LinkedIn is to connect with real professionals. You don't need to have more connections than someone else. This isn't a popularity contest.
Some people choose not to connect with anyone they haven't met or done business with in real life. LinkedIn, after all, says you should only “connect with those you know and trust.” Others may opt to decline requests from people who seem like spammers or someone who simply didn’t take the time to customize his or her connection request.
9. Make your messages personal.
Just as you might turn down a generic connection request, make sure the messages you send to others are personalized. Let the person you’re connecting with know you have an interest in his or her business and you're not just trying to sell something.
People like connecting with people. Be human, not a robot.
10. Dive deep with trending content tools.
There's a ton of content on LinkedIn. If you don't have the time or patience to sift through it all (who does?) you can use the site's trending content and content score tools.
Use the trending content tools to weed through the posts and updates to find information relevant to you and your connections. Use the content score tool to find out how you’re doing and what you can do to strengthen your reach.
Read more: 5 Tricks to Stand Out on LinkedIn
More From Entrepreneur