For those who want to build their business or expand their professional network, LinkedIn remains one of the best platforms to make connections. When used to its full potential, it can help raise your profile among those who are in a position to support your business or efforts. The problem is, most people aren't maximizing their profiles, resulting in wasted opportunities.

Like many mindful activities like clearing out the clutter in our offices, users needn't spend hours a day on LinkedIn to see positive results. Being mindful of how you use it could mean the difference between generating solid leads and securing business or simply taking up space with nothing compelling to offer. Here are seven ways to maximize your LinkedIn profile and start seeing the types of results you want to grow your business.

1. Schedule regular updates.

Just like many of us change the batteries in our smoke alarms every fall and winter, make it a habit to update your profile every month, quarter, or, at a minimum, at the end of each calendar year. By scheduling it during a specific time period, you're more likely to do it.

2. Showcase your work.

Rebecca Renner, a self-employed writer and editor, applied her marketing acumen to her LinkedIn approach. "Business owners want to hire writers who write well," she says, so she started sharing her writing on her LinkedIn page. Rather than just copy and paste her articles, though, she would include a catchy description and some relevant hashtags.

3. Use keywords in profile and descriptions.

When clients started asking me to ghostwrite for them, it hadn't occurred to me to include it in my LinkedIn profile until a friend suggested it. Sure enough, shortly after I added it, I began getting inquiries from entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations asking if I'd consider ghostwriting articles or books for them. Simply adding that skill set opened an entirely new group of prospects.

Renner has found similar success. In addition to using relevant hashtags, she makes it a point to update her profile with relevant keywords, "especially words related to the jobs and clients you want," she adds. Since potential clients search LinkedIn using keywords, she makes sure to use plenty of relevant keywords to describe her work experience. "The more closely your profile matches that of a job description, the more likely it is that you'll catch the attention of potential clients and recruiters."

4. Update your professional-looking headshot.

It's not necessary to schedule a professional photo shoot to get a great headshot but your headshot shouldn't look like a mug shot. This is your professional face, after all, and the image you're presenting to people who may not ever meet you in real life. According to LinkedIn, a great profile photo increases views by 21 times and produces nine times more connection requests.

5. Ask for recommendations.

I use the end of a big project or calendar year to ask a handful of clients if they'd share a recommendation via LinkedIn. It's great social proof, and I've been able to direct prospects to those recommendations when I'm pitching new business.

6. Recognize good work.

See a good story that you want to share? Include the author's name. Have a great experience with a particular business? Share props in your post. It not only provides them with recognition, it shows your connections that you care about your community and want to share good information with them.

7. Post regularly.

As with most social-media platforms, LinkedIn's algorithm rewards those who post frequently. If daily feels too much, aim to at least get a post or two up every week. Choose a designated day of the week to check in, so it becomes routine.

Having a LinkedIn presence on its own isn't enough to generate interest in you or your work, just like simply having a website isn't enough to draw people in. It needs to be an active part of your marketing arsenal for you to see results. Renner admits that more editors and business owners began reaching out after she began posting more regularly on LinkedIn and sharing her work.

"Building up your LinkedIn presence takes time," she adds. "Keep at it even if you don't see results instantly. The effectiveness of this strategy will grow with every connection you make and every post you share."

Published on: Jan 18, 2019