Having an active LinkedIn profile is a must for businesses today – both large and small. LinkedIn has become the number one online portal where professionals and colleagues connect to share a number of valuable resources.At first glance, LinkedIn may appear to be a bit overwhelming as there are many different features tied to this robust social media platform. However, with some dedication and consistency, your business can gain a lot of attention by using LinkedIn to its full potential. Here are some tips to help get you started on your way to a powerful LinkedIn profile: 1. Completely Fill Out Your Profile – Take the time to fill out each and every field; put some thought into to make it complete. Always have a picture or at the very least a company logo. People love to see who they are dealing with so putting a face to your company will help. When filling out your profile, be sure to use keywords where possible as this will also help people who are looking to connect with other in your industry find you. 2. Set up a Company Page on LinkedIn – Even if your company is just you, take the few minutes to create a company page for your business. This is free so there is no barrier stopping you from taking advantage of it. A company page will help give you ultimate credibility as well as help you connect with other like-minded individuals on LinkedIn. There is a new company page layout launched on LinkedIn in October 2012. 3. Get All of Your Employees on LinkedIn As Well – Ask your employees to set up Linked In accounts under their names, with your company listed as their place of employment. Then, ask them to follow each other’s pages, as well as your company page to help create a strong network related to your brand. 4. Join Groups and Participate – One of the best features about LinkedIn is the amount of groups that they have for you to join. Whatever you particular field may be, there is bound to be a group for you. You can join by industry or specific locations. What better way to network with other local business owners than to join a local group? Set aside some time to communicate and engage with locals in your area. This could be as simple as answering questions or providing advice; just be active, professional, and friendly. Doing so will help you establish local credibility as the authority in your industry. However, do not spend most of your time promoting your business as this is a huge turnoff. It is okay to mention who you are and what you but, try to keep it at that. 5. Make Sure Your Profile is Set to Public – If you are attempting to generate leads for your business then it is very critical to make sure that your profile is set to public. A private profile will make it much harder for people to find you and this is the last thing that you want. 6. Give and Receive Recommendations – One way to showcase your talents and abilities is by having others recommend you. Simply send a request to people who may have worked with you in the past or current and ask them to fill out the recommendation form. You will get a chance to approve it prior to making it part of your public profile. Return the favor as well. Recommendations are important because people often feel more comfortable working with someone if they can see a history of positive reviews. 7. Use LinkedIn Events – LinkedIn has a great feature called “Events.” With this feature, you have the ability to create an event or attend one that you may have been invited to. Hosting an event is a wonderful way to meet potential clients, and an even better way to showcase your business and your particular areas of expertise. 8. Share Your Content on LinkedIn – If you have a blog and are looking for a better way to get more readers, LinkedIn is your answer. LinkedIn allows you to share the content you created with your circle of followers, as well as any groups or forums that you may be belong to. Always make sure the content you are sharing is your own. This process is as simple as providing a link back to your blog. 9. Ask and Answers Questions – There is a section on LinkedIn called “Answers.” This is found under the ‘More’ tab. This is one of the best kept secrets on LinkedIn. This section alone is a great way to build credibility, create authority status, and trust. There are always a lot of questions that need to be answered and they are all asked by other LinkedIn members; members who could potentially be looking for your product or services. Just try to answer one question per day and you will be well on your way to achieving more and more potential leads. 10. Be Consistent in Your Efforts – As with all social media platforms, stay active and involved with your LinkedIn account; simply posting once a month will not cut it. Set time aside to make sure that all your social media platforms are being properly managed and have fresh, unique content being posted on a consistent basis. LinkedIn is an extremely valuable online resource for local businesses that are looking to generate more exposure and more customers online. Maintaining a proper image online is key and LinkedIn is one of many ways that can help you spread the word about your business. However, understanding how to really use this platform as a marketing tool can be confusing for most business owners.