With over 500 million users and a more business-centered approach than other social media platforms, LinkedIn can be a great tool to generate sales.

Whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C business, it’s definitely worth putting in some time and effort to develop your presence and personal brand on the network – but how, exactly, should you go about doing this?

Here are some key tips to help you get started:

1. Make sure all your information is correct and up-to-date

In your LinkedIn profile, include as much detail as possible about what you do and what you can offer potential customers or clients. Fill in as much detail as you can about your previous experiences, but remember, you don’t need to list everything, especially if it’s not relevant to the work you’re currently doing or looking to do.

2. Use a good profile picture

This is not Facebook. Your profile picture should be clear and professional, and of just you, not a group shot.

Spend some time getting a good quality head shot which will show potential clients who you are – holiday snaps, pets or partners are a definite no-no. Think about the sort of photo you would add to your CV if you were applying for a job.

On this, LinkedIn recently added some new photo editing tools within the app to help you take a better profile image.

3. Include publications

LinkedIn allows you to include links to your published work, and you should use these, wherever relevant, to show what you’re capable of.

You can also upload presentations and videos, and it really is worth making the most of this capacity. Also consider publishing your own articles direct to LinkedIn, as this will help to demonstrate to your potential clients that you’re an expert in your field and know what you’re talking about.

4. Ask for testimonials and endorsements

It’s fairly easy for your connections to endorse you for the work you do. There’s a section on your profile, and they can simply click to say they endorse you for a particular skill.

What can make a much bigger impact though, is a testimonial from a happy client – this is where they write a testimonial to go against a particular job role on your profile.

This can be especially useful if you have any big-name clients or people who really rave about what excellent service you’ve provided.

5. Engage with people

It’s not enough to just create a brilliant profile and then sit back and wait for the leads to come. Spend a little time on LinkedIn each day to interact with the people you want to become your clients.

This doesn’t mean unsolicited selling though, it’s more about being sociable and helpful.

Think of it as attending a networking event – you wouldn’t just walk in, put your business card into everyone’s hand and then leave. Spend some time in conversation with potential clients, be genuinely interested in what they are doing and what their pain points are, then look for opportunities to highlight how you’re able to help when the time is right.

6. Research your potential clients

Again, you only need to spend a little time on the site each day, looking at the people you’d like to work with. LinkedIn will also suggest new connections, and this can be a great place to start.

Research your target contacts and pay attention to what they’re doing, where their interests lie. Even if they don’t ever become a client, you may learn something from their behavior that can help.

7. Invest in quality content

In order to get the full benefit of the platform, you need to share and create consistent, good quality content that addresses the pain points of your target audience.

Good content, on any platform, can help to generate leads for you and can show up in search engine results, and LinkedIn is no exception. This can then give you exposure to an even wider audience.

8. Set up a LinkedIn Company Page

Aside from your personal profile, you could consider creating a LinkedIn Company Page. Encourage your employees to follow the page too, as they’ll appear the side of your page with their profile picture and job title.

This can help to personalize your brand and turn it from a faceless entity into an actual place of work with real people.

9. Join relevant groups

Find a selection of active groups that have engaged members. Once you’ve joined them, it’s important to regularly participate in them. It’s not enough to just sit back and watch the activities.

Start by answering some questions, or share some relevant content, without being too promotional. Providing value in this way can be one of the best ways to generate sales for your business.

Using LinkedIn to generate sales does require some effort but it needn’t be a big job. Spending a few minutes each day interacting and engaging can pay significant dividends in the long term.

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