As far as business goes, LinkedIn is THE place to be. It is the virtual rolodex you never knew you were missing and should embrace like a life raft. But if you are like many others who have ‘tried’ LinkedIn, you might not immediately ‘get’ it. What’s so great about it? Why does everyone say to use it? And more importantly, how do you use it?

What’s so great about LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a virtual network of millions of business professionals that makes searching for the perfect lead or candidate simple. Once you find them, you can read about their career, visit their website, connect with them on other social media networks, and build a relationship with them. It literally takes a few minutes and the opportunities are enormous.

Think about it this way: You want more leads for sales. You simply type in the ideal position that would be looking for your product and you get dozens of names in results. In just a few minutes time you could be connecting with several of them.

It is that easy, but as with every great tool there are some rules and considerations you must follow to keep LinkedIn happy, and to get the best results. Here are the most important rules to consider:

1. You can’t connect with everyone – Only 4% of LinkedIn requests to connect are actually accepted. Not everyone you find on LinkedIn will immediately want to connect; some professionals are very picky about who becomes part of their network, and you have to respect that. LinkedIn has specific rules about interactions as well. If too many turn down, or ignore, your invite, you get warnings, suspensions, and possibly banned for spam.

Expert Tip: When you find someone you’d like to connect with, learn about them — read their profile, visit their website, and connect with them on Twitter or Facebook. Build a dialog that way, or use what you’ve learned to send a personalized connection invite only to those who, after review, seem like they would be a strategic business connection.

2. Your profile needs to be complete – When you begin reaching out, people will visit  your profile to see who you are, what you do, and to decide if making that connection is something they should consider. Your profile should have your picture (this is not up for debate) and should be generously filled out with work experience, a summary of what you do, who you help and how to connect with you. The more fleshed-out your profile is, the more professional you look and the more likely you are to get connections.

3. No Group Spamming – The traffic from LinkedIn is equivalent to gold; everyone wants it. But spamming groups is NOT the answer. When you join groups you need to participate, visit, comment and share relevant posts.

Expert Tip: When you join a group, note their sharing preferences, so that when you have a new post to share, you know where you can post it. Look for open groups that you can easily share to as well. Be sure to add some commentary to every blog post you want to share, so that it is a discussion not simply a link.

4. Stay Active – To get the most from LinkedIn, you should make it part of your daily/business routine. Login daily to look at your newsfeed and comment on what others have posted. Check out each group once a week and leave comments there as well.

Remembering isn’t always easy when you first start using LinkedIn, so set up a daily alarm that reminds you to login. Once it is part of your regular routine, you’ll build relationships and increase business opportunities.

More About LinkedIn

Ready to learn more about using LinkedIn to gain business for your company? Call today and ask for your copy of our free Social Media Handbook. And stay tuned to our future posts, as we will discuss more in-depth usage of LinkedIn and exactly how to use it to grow your business network.