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LinkedIn is the top professional social platform with over 300 million active users and two people joining every second. It’s expected that LinkedIn will reach 500 million unique monthly visitors by 2020 with total global user goal exceeding 3 billion. What differentiates LinkedIn from other social platforms is its ability to connect with decision makers of large, successful companies. In fact, all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies have a LinkedIn presence along with 3 million other companies. It should come as no surprise then that most people use LinkedIn to network in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. However many do not fully utilize all the different aspects of Linkedin to improve their brand visibility.

Grow Your Brand by being Useful

Like all social platforms, the goal of LinkedIn is to start conversations. Whether through your personal or company profile, the most effective way to increase your visibility is to provide compelling and interesting updates about your industry or business. This requires ongoing maintenance and the LinkedIn beginner should aim for a minimum of 20 relevant updates per month. Once you have gotten used to maintaining your profile, increase your updates to three per day.

Your updates should always provide value to your network and should take advantage of the visual medium. LinkedIn allows you to share a wide-breadth of visual content including: conference slides, case studies, white papers, videos, infographics and more.  But don’t just push your content on your visitors, make sure that you pull content from influencers in your field as well and always @mention the original creator. This will connect you to this influencer and get you on their radar.

Your profile isn’t the only place you can interact with your audience though. There are numerous LinkedIn groups in all different fields. If you want to expand your reach even further, you should join at least 50 groups that relate to your business. As with your profile, you need to constantly maintain your presence in these groups by engaging in 2-3 posts per day. These posts should add to the discussion not be a blatant promotion for your product or service. The better value you offer, the more likely people will be to check out your profiles. Once you have created a rapport with several group members, you can create your own group or subgroup to show industry leadership.

Create a Robust LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is the first thing that potential customers, investors and employers will see. In order to maximize the amount of people who will view it, you should fill it out as fully as possible. A well-formatted, complete profile will increase your likelihood of getting in front of the right people. When setting it up always include:

  • A professional photo – A photo makes your profile 11 times more likely to be viewed.
  • Industry keywords – Think about the visitors you want to attract and use these keywords in your headline, experience and skills. Avoid overused buzzwords and above all, don’t lie.
  • Customized URL – Instead of a standard LinkedIn URL, choose one that uses your actual name, making it easier for people to find you.

Most of all, showcase your expertise. LinkedIn has an excellent feature where your co-workers, clients and employers can verify the various credentials you listed in your skills section. You can also include additional information such as projects and white papers to the Projects section and list any honors or awards you have earned. Here are some additional ideas on how you can better leverage your profile by adhering to best practices for professional profiles.

Why LinkedIn

Building your network is a long and involved process, but there is no better place to establish your and your brand’s credibility than through LinkedIn. Companies that can successfully market their brand on Linkedin see a 64 percent social referral rate versus Facebook’s 17 percent and Twitter’s 14 percent. If you want to take full advantage of LinkedIn, make sure you have outlined a comprehensive approach to maximize the business benefits.

So, without further ado, lets take a look at some LinkedIn facts and best practices, so that you can become a LinkedIn Jedi:

By Guest Contributor Ivan Serrano

Ivan Serrano is a web journalist and infographic wizard from California. He has covered a large variety of topics, but is especially adept at writing about social media, technology and business. Ivan is a worshiper of the sports god, and will begin his annual, four month prayer session now the football season has begun. As soon as hockey starts up again, Ivan may not be seen for several months.