Social media is more than just being social. Social networking sites are excellent resources to achieving business success. Once looked upon as a place for job seekers, LinkedIn has gained a positive reputation for helping businesses gain clients.

The popular social media marketing site is an excellent tool as it is business focused, provides the opportunity to connect with millions of people and allows its users to join groups and take part in conversations that interest them. The networking site is beneficial to companies big and small; however in order to garner all of the benefits offered, one should know the correct way and the incorrect way to use it.

What are some strategies you should be taking to use LinkedIn to your full benefit? And what should you avoid doing, in order to ultimately gain clients and reach business success?

Easily View Networks

You should be asking yourself who you wish to network with; what is your niche market and how do you find them? Once you answer this question you will know what types of contacts would be beneficial to connect with. You can also search for contacts through other people's networks.

Know why you are participating

Know what your LinkedIn objectives are. Are you participating to gain business recognition? Are you participating to grow your network and create clients? Having a clear understanding as to why you have signed up for an account in the first place will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

Create Positive Relationships

Once you decide to take part in social media marketing and sign up for LinkedIn, it is important to nurture the connections you make and create relationships out of them. People want to buy from people they like and trust. You should be getting people to like and trust you.

Be genuine and don't pitch your business. Be a real person and let people know the real you. Too much corporate talk won't draw in connections. Being genuine helps people see the real you and therefore helps create trust.

Add only Connections that are Relevant

How relevant are your connections? Add people who are going to be the perfect prospect for you and will be able to provide you with something, whether it is another connection or new business.

A Profile that Stands Out

Your profile gives you credibility. A poor synopsis of who you are won't bring in relevant contacts. Ensure there is enough information on your profile to help you get noticed and establish yourself and your business as professional. Be sure to enhance your professional summary with SEO strategies, using key words people would search for in Google.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn Answers

Ask questions regularly to let other users know who you are and what you and your business is all about. Asking and answering questions will get you in front of potential clients as well as establish you as a professional.

Take Advantage of Polls

Polls allow you to ask a question and rate the answers. Your poll questions will go out to your immediate networks. You will be making contact and letting your connections know you are still available without being intrusive.

Take Advantage of Group Discussions

On the left hand side of your profile, you will see Groups. When you are a part of a group, you can take part in discussions. When you contribute to discussions and add your professional opinion, just like the answers section, you establish yourself as a professional and put yourself in front of potential clients.

Know how to Invite People

LinkedIn has its own introduction line, but if you hope to establish a meaningful connection with someone, you should be using your own personal opening line. Be personable and let the person know where you two met. Say something like "Hey (insert name), we met at (insert event) and I would like to get to know you further. Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?" Sometimes you have to remind people why and how you know one another. If people don't know who you are, they most likely won't accept your invitation.

Export your Contacts

Once you start making connections, keep track of them by exporting your contacts to an Excel spreadsheet. You can do this by clicking on contacts, scroll down to the bottom and click on the link "export connections". This is a great way to keep track of birthdays, phone numbers, and how strong the contact is for you.

Social media marketing, such as LinkedIn, can be very rewarding for you and your business, as long as you know how to use the tool to your full benefit.

Author's Bio: 

Serena Carcasole is a business consultant and the President of Virtual Business Solutions ON DEMAND, a premier virtual assistance firm helping entrepreneurs around the world to succeed and grow their businesses, providing a host of specialized technical & marketing outsourcing options to meet business owners' unique needs for even the most complicated projects. For more info: / Tel: 905-915-1203 Email: