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LinkedIn 101| How to effectively use LinkedIn as a networking hub

In terms of social networks, many people often overlook LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn recently surpassed 100 million users and, with nearly 1 million new users each week, isn’t slowing down any time soon. So what makes LinkedIn so valuable for small business owners? Allow us to provide insight into LinkedIn and its effectiveness as a networking hub for small businesses. Follow these tips, and you’ll be connecting with like-minded individuals, potential future employees and new prospects in no time. 1. Be Searchable Users search LinkedIn by way of keywords. And much like a solid SEO campaign, you will want to choose keywords based on your company’s products, services, location, or solutions to the problems your company helps to resolve. It is wise to include these keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile. Include these keywords in the following areas: headline, job description and summary. 2. Direct Traffic LinkedIn allows for multiple links to other websites. In addition to the reserved location for your Twitter profile link, it is important to include links to your company’s website, blog and Facebook page. Of course, you can use the entire website URL, but a more effective method is to use a word or phrase that describes the site to which you are linking (known as “anchor text"), and let those words hyperlink to the site. 3. Give it 100% A LinkedIn page that is 100 percent complete is much more likely to rank well when being searched than one that falls short. If your page is not complete, be sure to fill in the vacant areas. 4. Expansion As with any social network, you should be thinking of expanding your reach. So how do you do this on LinkedIn? The best way is to proactively invite “like-minded” individuals to join your network. You can connect by sending invitations to:
  • Twitter followers
  • Business contacts
  • Contacts in your email address book
  • Friends and family
  • People found through LinkedIn’s search toolbar
5. Be Knowledgeable LinkedIn offers users the chance to be a go-to-resource in your business’ area of expertise. In the LinkedIn Answers section, you can find questions and conversations related to your business or industry. Once you locate a relevant question, you will want to do a bit of prep-work before composing your answer. First, conduct some basic research. Visit user profiles, search online, and understand the specifics of the problem referenced in the question. When you’re ready to answer, be sure to address the individual by name and include any possible links to solid resources (particularly your business blog, if you have written on the topic before). 6. Ask Questions Just as you can respond to questions asked by other LinkedIn users, you can also formulate your own questions. Be sure you ask questions that are compelling, thought–provoking, and related to your company’s industry or area of expertise. By asking these types of questions, you’ll be able to generate content for articles or even blog posts. 7. Get Connected through Groups Joining LinkedIn Groups is a great way to expand your network. Some groups are open to the public, while others require acceptance by an administrator. Choose groups that fit your company’s niche and have active participants who share common traits. Once you have joined or been accepted, introduce yourself and begin engaging with the other individuals. It is important to stay active by frequently sharing links, commenting, and asking questions. It is important to leverage LinkedIn as a networking hub for your small business by optimizing your profile, connecting with like-minded individuals and engaging in thought-provoking conversations through groups and questions. Remember, LinkedIn is a social network…so get in there and introduce yourself!