Five ways to boost your business with LinkedIn

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With more than 300 million registered members, LinkedIn has the potential to be a powerful business development and marketing tool – provided you have a strategy for using it.

LinkedIn can be a “professional network” that has great potential for business-to-business focused companies. The majority of LinkedIn members are decision makers and company leaders. It’s great for prospecting, developing strategic alliances, networking and recruiting.

Here are five things that will help you get the most out of LinkedIn and, more importantly, stand out from the crowd and establish meaningful long-term relationships.

Make a lasting impression on existing and potential LinkedIn connections with LinkedIn’s images-centric Professional Gallery feature. Display your best blog articles, webinars, videos, presentations, projects and more on your profile in the Summary, Job Experience or Education sections.

Just click the “Add Media” icon and either upload a file or add a link to a Web address where it is already saved. This feature allows you to get that extra edge over the competition. It’s OK (and encouraged) to be creative.

Before you send out your next LinkedIn invitation to connect, take time to personalize the message instead of using the stock LinkedIn message that is automatically included.

Why? When you personalize a message, you’re creating a more memorable connection between yourself and the professional you’re trying to add as a contact. A few seconds can make a huge impact.

Why make a cold call when you can use your LinkedIn network to meet potential clients, referral partners and strategic alliances?

LinkedIn’s Get Introduced feature allows you to send an introduction request to one of your existing contacts that is connected with the person you want to meet. To ensure success, make sure you know that mutual connection well and clearly state sound reasons why you’d like your contact to put his reputation at stake to introduce you to one of their connections.

No more rejections. But keep in mind that if you have a basic account, you’re limited to five of these introductions.

Let LinkedIn do the prospecting for you with the Saved Searches feature. Discover new people and companies to connect with by searching for specific criteria and then saving that search to your profile.

You’ll get automated alerts whenever something new pops up in your saved search criteria. Great for saving time.

Own your LinkedIn connections with a simple but effective Contact Export feature. With the click of a button, you can export all your contacts to MS Excel (including all their details such as company, job title, email address etc.).

When you have your contacts in Excel, you can do all the regular things such as sorting and filtering. From there you can easily add people to your customer relationship management, create prospecting lists and more. A word of caution – use this feature responsibly.

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