LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s not Twitter, either. You don’t use LinkedIn to post 140-character statuses about your business or to officially like someone’s new online video. What you can do, however, is use LinkedIn to grow your small business and make it more profitable. And isn’t that your priority? As a business-oriented social networking site with more than 50 million registered users spanning 170 industries, LinkedIn is an online real estate for professionals big and small. It is truly a business networking site with the average user having $109K in income and 41 years old.

If you’re unsure how to use your LinkedIn profile to gain a business advantage, you can follow these tips below:

Brand your profile: As a small business professional, you want to be easily found by the people who matter – as well as by the most frequently used search engines. Make sure that you customize your LinkedIn profile by changing the default link into a URL that says something about your brand, something about who you are and what you do. Use a relevant keyword – especially if you’re starting up and your company isn’t (yet) all that recognizable. By doing this, it would be easier to Google your profile; you’re also putting yourself in a position where partners, prospects, and potential customers can easily find you.

Generate leads: Generate a list of target connections and chances are, you’ll generate more opportunities for revenue. Using LinkedIn, search possible connections by industry, titles, company names, and individuals who may be able to help you. There’s a reason why sites like this exist. Build and expand a professional network that is relevant to your business.
Use the Recommendations feature: LinkedIn allows you in many ways to establish yourself as a trusted industry expert and a client-delighting professional. It allows you to build a positive online reputation that’s easily visible to anyone who views your profile. Keep this in mind the next time you work with a client or do business with customers. Did they like your services and products? If so, ask them for a LinkedIn recommendation.

Establish yourself as an opinion leader: Answer business-related questions posed by other people, and answer them well. That way, you can position yourself as an opinion leader in your industry, someone whom potential customers and clients can approach and trust. This proactive tactic can also work alternately, as you can use LinkedIn to tap into the expertise of people who know a thing or two about your business. All you need to do is ask.

Keep updating your profile: Setting up a LinkedIn account is only part of the process. You don’t just leave it there like a resume or a brochure on someone’s desk and expect your small business to grow miraculously. Use the plethora of LinkedIn tools available to integrate and update your information. Spend a little time each day updating your LinkedIn profile page with new content, be it fresh information from your website or links to your new blog posts. Publicize your business by showing your products and services. You can even add branding elements to your profile, such as your company logo, your tag line, and your contact information.