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      LinkedIn has been growing exponentially ever since it was released in May 2003 and has gone from an initial 350 members to more than 200 members today. It is considered to be the top social networking site for professionals and businesses.

      If used correctly, LinkedIn can be a great way to boost your business brand and credibility. Here are some LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts to show you how to effectively use LinkedIn to promote your business, instead of ruining it.

      LinkedIn Dos:

      Do Make Sure Your Profile is Complete and Up-To-Date — Your LinkedIn profile is one of the very first things that people see when they go to your LinkedIn page whether it is your personal account or your Company Page. This means that it is vital to ensure that your profile has a good photo, as well as up-to-date contact information for your business. It should also list all of the relevant and current data for your products and services. Remember, your profile is a reflection or who you are and acts like a first impression for anyone who comes across your account.

      Do Be Proactive When Trying to Get Contacts — Once you have set up your LinkedIn account, you can’t just sit back and expect all contacts or followers to come to you. You must be proactive and reach out for yourself to look for followers and get connections on LinkedIn.

      Do Cross Promote Your LinkedIn postings – If you want to get the most out of your LinkedIn account so that it can help you to get more traffic to your business website, then you need to do things like put the URL for your website or blog in your signature, list your LinkedIn URL on your business cards, and put a LinkedIn button on your website.

      Be Active in Groups

      Once you a member or an owner of a LinkedIn group, you need to stay active in it. Be sure to post something at least once a week, join in the conversations, start a new thread, etc. Whatever you post, be sure that it is relevant and current and something that the group topic can relate to that will bring value to the group.

      LinkedIn Don’ts:

      Don’t use the same invitation for every contact

      When you are reaching out to someone that you wish to become a follower or that you may want an endorsement or recommendation for, be certain that each invitation you write is unique for that contact. Otherwise it will look canned and impersonal. However, you should keep these invites short and to the point, as well as try to help them join LinkedIn if they are not yet a member.

      Don’t Just Connect With Everyone – Don’t connect with just anyone just because they say yes. You should learn about the person or business first, and see if they can be valuable to have as a contact. In the same fashion, don’t just connect willy-nilly to dozens of Groups on LinkedIn. You should choose the ones that are relevant to your business niche.

      Don’t SPAM on LinkedIn — When using LinkedIn don’t be that annoying person who does things like sending connection requests to unknown people, or who keeps posting marketing messages about your products or services, or subscribing people to your newsletter without their permission.

      Don’t post worthless information – When making a post, be sure that everything you write is based on something that your potential customers or your business contacts need. It should always be up-to-date and relevant to your business niche. Using LinkedIn just to promote yourself is wrong, and it won’t help get your business the credibility and success you want. Don’t hog the conversations and interactions in your postings either or people will just learn to ignore you instead of seeing you as the business to go to for answers.

      Don’t lie or exaggerate your skills – Telling a lie is never a good thing and LinkedIn is no exception. When listing your skills and job experience on LinkedIn, be sure to tell the truth about your abilities or what your company is capable of doing for others with your products or services. Lies will always be found out in the end and that could ultimately ruin your business.

      The bottom line is that LinkedIn is an amazing tool that can be used to promote your business and grow your brand easily and more quickly than other venues. If you learn to use LinkedIn correctly, then it will be your best choice for getting ahead in today’s fast-paced Internet centric world.

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