linkedin-400850_1280Whilst many social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. are broad and can be used by anybody for any number of things, LinkedIn has a very clear vision and purpose. For those of you who may have never heard of it or have not heard much, LinkedIn is essentially the 21st century's take on 20th century networking events, and it allows you to develop professional business connections and relationships with others in your geographical area and industry.

LinkedIn allows you to see the professional experience of others as well as what others consider themselves to particularly excel at, which is why if you utilise it properly you can turn LinkedIn into your very own online database of professional individuals whose expertise and knowledge you can call on as and when you need it. This also works the other way around, and if you keep your LinkedIn profile up to date you may well start receiving messages from others who are interested in yourself and what your business has to offer.

Unlike most other social media sites where a business profile is independent, LinkedIn's company profiles are unequivocally tied to the individual profiles of those who work for it. This is one of the many wonderful things about LinkedIn, as it reinforces the point that all businesses are the sum of their parts, and that as an individual your personal skills can be seen, recognised and acknowledged by others.

This makes using LinkedIn for business matters very effective, as even though it is a social networking website and both parties could be sat at computers hundreds of miles apart, there is still a very real sense that a one-on-one conversation is happening, and usually a very productive one at that. It is becoming more and more common these days for professional relationships to have been initially cultivated on LinkedIn's social networking site, because much like an internet dating site, it allows you to see exactly what other individuals and businesses have to offer, and whether or not their expertise will complement your own.

What's more, with regards to marketing, LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool. There are communities present on the site that are made up of real people who are very much interested in their fields, and want to learn all they can about it. It's a great thing to be part of if you're interested in sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge for one another's mutual benefit, and once you have learned the importance of creating original, fresh content, it's also an amazing platform on which to share your articles and have them read.

Having said that, it is important that your interactions on LinkedIn are not purely one sided, and if you're only using it to push your business and market your products or services, you will quickly find yourself ostracised form the community. There is a very real etiquette that ought to be observed when using LinkedIn and should you follow it and dedicate the time to the communities you will find yourself enriched by the other members; if you do not follow it then you will simply be ignored and all your energies will be wasted.

Whether you are representing yourself as a business person or as a member of a larger company, it is essential that you are always transparent when interacting with others on LinkedIn. Of course, it is important to impress others with your expertise, especially if you hope to foster meaningful relationships with other business people, but trying to come across as more knowledgeable as you are or making out like you are familiar with some thing that you are not will not get you anywhere. What you have to bear in mind is that whilst LinkedIn gives you access to a multitude of individuals it also gives that same access to everyone else, so it is definitely better to stay quiet and listen until you have something of note to contribute to the conversation.

Using LinkedIn for business and marketing is simple and incredibly effective so long as you are able to dedicate the time to it and are willing to follow the rules. It may take time at first, but once you start the ball rolling you will quickly see the benefits that using LinkedIn can potentially bestow upon yourself as an individual and the company you represent. If you're on LinkedIn and would like to connect with us, we'd love it if you visited and followed our LinkedIn page.