Originally social media was engineered and used as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and share news, photo’s and information. It quickly grew in popularity, and new platforms were developed to enhance and expand user experiences as technology improved.

Business marketing guru’s were quick to realise the potential of social media to quickly and efficiently promote their company brand, products or services, so a whole new world of social media marketing evolved taking online marketing to a higher level.

Most new businesses, entrepreneurs and small business owners will already know the importance of building and establishing their brand online, and understand that social media marketing is the most swift and cost-effective way of doing this. The obvious first stop for most new start-ups would be Facebook and Twitter, being as they have the lions share of the market, but other social media platforms should not be overlooked on their race to the top.

LinkedIn for example is another great place to have an online presence, and being that it was engineered as a place for business professionals to network, it makes sense to be seen here. LinkedIn has become quite formidable, and has seen very strong growth in the past few years. Almost every career type you can think of will be represented here somewhere.

You can use LinkedIn for a variety of different purposes, but if you are just starting out and wanting to establish a credible image online, this is a great place to start. If you want to reach out to connect online with other business professionals in your own niche, or would like to seek out business or individuals that could complement or improve upon your own products or services, then this is a good place to find the right people.

If your long-term plans are to grow and expand your company, they LinkedIn will be an ideal place to find work, broker contracts, and hire employees. This site is all about business networking, so you can take your time to drill down and find the best person, firm, or company for your needs as and when you want to take the next step in your business expansion plans.

Entrepreneurs, freelancers, and sole-traders can also use LinkedIn to promote their services far and wide, and because it is business orientated, their message will be heard by the right people. Compare this to Facebook or Twitter where the majority of users are there for purely social reasons, so time and effort spent of crafting a Facebook or Twitter ad probably would be better spent focussed on promoting themselves on LinkedIn.

Never forget though that despite LinkedIn being more business centric, you should still adhere to polite social media etiquette when networking here. Strong, or almost aggressive posts that push your business message with little substance behind it will be frowned upon. It is all about value at the end of the day. You should use LinkedIn to build solid and friendly relationships that promote your business in a professional way, but with an open and approachable tone that shows you are open to communication and negotiation.

Here are some benefit of becoming LinkedIn:

To find work opportunities for freelancers or service providers.

To find a professional advisor or business consultant to help you grow your business.

To find potential employees or temporary staff.

To build professional networks within your own niche.

To build professional networks within complementary niches.

When you first set up you profile, ensure you fully complete every section and look at ways of optimising it. Any curious eyes will be immediately switched off to you if your profile is full of glaring gaps and a lack of information about how you business works.

Make connection with existing members that you already know or are familiar with. Do a local search to see who else is operating in your area that may be a useful contact for you, and are right on your own doorstep.

Endorse others – it takes time to establish yourself on any social media site, and LinkedIn is no exception, but one of the quickest ways to get noticed is through providing helpful information and recommendations about others. People will thank you for your input, and the company or business being endorsed will usually reciprocate.

Establish good ongoing relationships to build your credibility, and post regularly so you are seen as someone who provides useful content on a regular basis.

By cultivating relationships through LinkedIn in positive ways, you can then be introduced by association to those specific people or firms that you really want to connect with, but may have lacked any direct links to. People will be more than happy to give you an in-road when you have taken the time and effort to reach out to provide good value and support for others.