A recent study showed that small business owners find LinkedIn to be the most beneficial social media platform--with 41% of respondents singling it out. So if you're not on LinkedIn most likely you are missing a huge opportunity to promote your business, especially if your customers are other businesses or have specific industry interests.

Where to begin? Once you've set up an account, follow these five steps to get the most out of your LinkedIn page and spread the word about your business:

1. Highlight Your Content

Your cover photo is the first thing people will see, so be sure to have one! While you're at it, you can now upload photos and files to share with your followers.

Next, fill out your company profile as completely as possible, especially the "Products & Services" section. This section also is a great place to promote any presentations, webinars or guides you've produced. Include a call-to-action, like "view now" or "download for free" and have a link to the page on your website where the content lives.

2. Start Sharing Updates

Post relevant business articles that you come across and share all your corporate blog posts. You want people who are visiting your page to see lots of activity! Your updates also will show up in the activity feeds of your connections = more exposure for your business and more chances they will get liked, commented on, or shared = even more exposure! You'll also be able to get analytics on which posts get the most engagement.

3. Invite Your Personal Connections

This is a no brainer! Ask everyone on your personal Facebook, Twitter, and other networks to check out your company on LinkedIn and connect. Don't forget to send an email campaign to your company's email subscriber list, too.

4. Use LinkedIn Social Plugins

These plugins are simply buttons that tell people you're active on LinkedIn. There are "follow" buttons (clicking it prompts a visitor to follow your LinkedIn page) and "share" buttons (clicking it prompts a visitor to share that piece of content with their LinkedIn connections). Add these plugins to your website, blog posts, and in your email newsletter campaigns to get people following you and sharing your content.

5. Join a LinkedIn Group

There are LinkedIn groups for almost every industry profession and skillset. Why join a group? It's an opportunity to make new connections, flaunt your expertise (e.g., if you answer a question posed to the group), keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on in your industry, and share your content!

Tip: You might find an overwhelming number of groups out there, so you might need to spend a little bit of time researching which ones are active and have a large membership base.

Like any social network, people aren't going to flock to you on LinkedIn overnight. But give it a few months, and track your engagement levels so you know whether or not it's accomplishing what you want. You just might be surprised at the activity--and exposure--you get!

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