Linked In

The LinkedIn website launched in 2003 and currently counts executives from all Fortune 500 companies as members. You may have a profile, several connections and even a handful of peer recommendations. But are you really using LinkedIn to its full potential?

Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you improve your experience on the world’s largest professional network:

1. Complete Your Profile-COMPLETLY!

Make sure you fill out the summary and experience sections of your profile. People with at least one past position listed on their profile are 12 times more likely to be viewed for potential opportunities. Include keywords and phrases that clients might search in your profile description. Also add skills to your profile and don’t forget to upload a photo. Professionals with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed in general.

2. Update your status

Let your connections know what you’re up to and how your business is growing by updating your status regularly. Use status updates to announce new products, to post interesting articles, and even to get answers to business questions you’re pondering (like, “Does anyone know a great corporate realtor? I’m hunting for office space.”).  Another time-saving tip is to sync your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts so your updates get posted to both networks.

3. Create a company page

Create a LinkedIn Company Page so clients can “follow” your company. There are more than two million company pages on LinkedIn. Add a “Products & Services” tab so you can inform potential clients about your offerings. Make sure you follow competitors, clients and companies that you admire so you get the latest information from those companies.

4. Let customers vouch for you

Recommendations are one of the best ways to secure new clients, because they spread virally on LinkedIn. They also enhance your professional credibility and create a good impression when potential clients read your profile. Request recommendations from happy customers and don’t be afraid to hint at some of key things that you’d like them to mention in the recommendation. (For example, “Sarah, I’d love it if you could post a recommendation on my profile. If you could note that you’ve been using out product for X years and also discuss how we were able to customize it to fit your company’s needs, that would be fantastic.”)

5. Find other passionate small business owners

Search for “small business” or “entrepreneur” related LinkedIn Groups. Groups are a great way to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer SMB-specific questions. Also join groups that are related to your industry, city or province. Look for groups where you can get information about potential clients too. (If you usually sell to marketers, join marketing related groups to get a better feel for the topics and discussions your potential customers are concerned about.)

6. Find employees and experts

Whether you want to hire a rock star salesperson or if you’re looking for an expert to help you solve a problem, LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search is an easy way to search by title (vice president of advertising), company name (RIM) and even zip code to find exactly the person you’re looking for. Any member can search those facets for free by clicking the “Advanced” link in the top right hand corner of LinkedIn after they sign in.

7. Get info on the go

Use LinkedIn’s Android, BlackBerry or iPhone apps to get info when you’re on the move. Are you running late to a meeting and want to get more information about someone before a meeting? Use the app to look up their profile. You can also use the apps to find connections you have in common with people before you see them in person at a conference.

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