LinkedIn is the most important social platform for professionals. According to LinkedIn, four out of five LinkedIn members impact business decisions within their organizations. It’s clear that businesses and professionals should want to tap into this audience.

Despite this, most people consider LinkedIn nothing more than a job search tool, or an online resume platform. We’ll show you how wrong they are.

LinkedIn as a business development tool

LinkedIn can be a powerful business development tool if you incorporate key features and tools on LinkedIn into your sales and marketing strategy. Here are the 5 best ways you can leverage LinkedIn to generate more leads, establish thought leadership, and build, grow, and nurture relationships.

1.          Make a Good First Impression with a Strong Profile

The best way to start is by shifting the focus of your profile away from a resume format and provide you with customer-focused content. You’ll stop drawing recruiters to your profile and will start to attract potential customers. Your profile should be at the core of any Linkedin strategy-you need to optimize it to leverage the business development tools that Linkedin provides. Your Linkedin profile should be customer centric, focused on the value you offer to potential prospects and buyers.

2.          Show your Value to Prospects

Your summary should be a digital business card which allows potential clients to learn more about your company and the services you provide. This messaging should talk to your buyer and reinforce your company’s brand and value.

3.         Connect with Others

Leverage tools such as groups and advanced search to identify, qualify and connect with key partners and prospects. Advanced Search can send three sets of searches to your inbox every week, allowing you to better qualify leads, so use keywords and search filters such as location and industry to illustrate the type of contact you’re trying to find. .

4.          Build and Maintain Relationships with Contacts

Solidify your relationship with customers by spreading awareness about their company and following up with them as needed. Like, comment or share updates from your network, and use the Keep in Touch tab to congratulate your contacts on events such as job changes and work anniversaries.

5.         Establish Industry Expertise within your Network

Every time you share insight about an industry article, respond to a question posted within a LinkedIn group, or tag a company in your comment on a discussion thread surrounding industry issues, you validate your knowledge and establish thought leadership among peers and prospects.

By applying these tips, you’ll be well on your way to leveraging Linkedin for business development. These are a few ways you can start generating leads, establishing industry expertise, and nurturing relationships, however, they are only effective if your brand is aligned on LinkedIn. To learn more about how to align your brand or if you’re ready to take your Linkedin game to the next level and find out even more ways to leverage this powerful business tool, connect with Katie and learn more about her LinkedIn content strategy for companies.