LinkedIn can be a powerful networking and sales generation tool if used properly.

As of 1 January 2011, LinkedIn reports more than 90 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Here are my tips about ‘How LinkedIn can help you out in starting your own business?

1. Join Groups

Groups are great! They give you a chance to discuss topics with people sharing the shame interests. One LinkedIn group in the UK near Smartdog’s HQ ‘The Yorkshire Mafia‘ has grown so successfully that it has now turned into it’s own networking business.

With groups you can quickly find similar like minded individuals around your topic, products or niche. Share knowledge and swap expertise with your peers, ask for help and advice a lot of people will be willing to share specific advice to your industry or business.

You can also test the waters and ask how is business for your competitors. This will help you to make a decision on whether your business might be viable.

Groups can be a great way to find new connections on LinkedIn, just start a conversation or if your not the conversation starting type, then join one!

2. Build a Network

Building a network on LinkedIn can be done by a number of ways. Add new people you meet at offline networking events to LinkedIn account to grow your connections. There’s a good article about HOW TO: Get the Most of Out of Offline Networking Events.

Make sure you add colleagues and friends.

Look at the people your connected with, who do they have in their connections that you could connect with, is there a potential client or partner they’re connected to?

You could also find potential suppliers or partners for your business just by looking for connections that you can be introduced through.

3. Ask Questions. Answer Questions

If fact this very blog post came about by answering a question. I can also find topics that people need answers to and find new ideas to blog about. All in one place!

Ask questions to improve your knowledge and learn from other people’s experience. This will help you avoid mistakes in your early months of starting up.

You can also reduce your startup costs by getting some very good free advice from experts across the globe.

Through LinkedIn answers you could find experts and the right people to help your business setup e.g. accountant, financial advisor, web designer, branding expert etc. etc.

You can also use it to prove your own expertise and prove your knowledge of your business.

Don’t exploit LinkedIn answers, make sure you help others out as well don’t be greedy!

4. Find Prospects on LinkedIn

You can use LinkedIn’s advanced search features to find your ideal clients for your business and connect with them on LinkedIn.

You can also use LinkedIns Premium Service – InMails to contact people directly as an alternative to cold calling, telemarketing or direct selling.

5. Find Events and Networking Opportunities.

The events section can help startups find relevant networking opportunities offline in their local area. This can be very helpful to point startups to the right kind of events for their business that are worth attending.

You can also see what Events your connections are already attending to find like minded places to meet people and which events are popular with your contacts.

Need Help with LinkedIn

If your struggling to get to grips with LinkedIn, Smartdog digital offers specific 1 to 1 training on LinkedIn for businesses and individuals. I’ve personally been recommended 31 times for my work by colleagues, clients & business partners. So feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

If you have any great tips, leave a comment below and I’ll publish the bests ones with a link on this post.

LinkedIn image: Flickr photo credit by By mariosundar Mario Sundar

Published by Illiya Vjestica

Illiya Vjestica is MD at Smartdog Digital, who specialise in Web Analytics, Social Media & Search Marketing. Illiya is passionate about helping his clients to understand the value of digital marketing, helping them to measure and improve the performance of their website traffic and digital marketing campaigns.