By Monica Karpinski, Curated Digital

Every marketer worth their weight in leads is savvy to the almighty, ever-reaching power of social media. And if you’re a budding, or established business owner, things shouldn’t be any different.

Whilst most of us have some idea how to use social giants Facebook and Twitter to promote our brand, there are plenty of other channels out there equally, if not more, deserving of our attention. For the prospective entrepreneur, this channel is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social media especially for professionals— where you can search for and build a network, try to find investors, and, of course, use as a key element of your own social strategy to market your brand. Sadly, the huge potential of LinkedIn remains largely untapped. Here’s how you can champion LinkedIn to get your business off the ground.

Crowdfunding and investment

Fundamentally, LinkedIn is a digital directory of professional people looking to network. This includes people with businesses, and people looking to fund businesses. Over 90% of high net worth investors are active on social media, with more than 5 million of them consulting social media to help with their financial decisions. The people you need to find are very much present on LinkedIn: you only need to figure out how to find them, and then, how to hook them.

LinkedIn lets you search not only by job title and name, but by company. You could start with something as basic as searching ‘investor’, which would bring up a list of people with that word in their job title. A number of active groups will also be brought up, where you can read conversations and get clued up on what people are looking for. Backed up with your own research, it’s easy to find decision makers and either let them know you’ve viewed their profile, or send them an ‘InMail’, which is the platform’s internal messaging function, to introduce yourself and your project.

If you don’t have specific people you want to target, you can use ‘LinkedIn Pulse’, the network’s content publishing platform, to publish original content. Like, say, your project proposal, that outlines why it’s of value to the people you’re asking for money from. Be creative: you’re able to include pictures and embed video, too, to give your content that extra bit of spice.

You can also pay to promote this content, and put it in front of influencers, investors, groups and individuals you’re trying to target.

Partners, affiliates, trends

In a similar vein, LinkedIn can be a great way to build up a network of contacts. Whether you’re looking for a potential partner, or like someone’s brand and want to keep abreast of what they’re doing, searching by company, interests, job title, or group can help you hone in on the right kind of decision makers.

Unless you turn the setting off, LinkedIn automatically notifies people when you have looked at their profile. Whilst scouting out talent, you might choose to turn this function off, only to turn it back on when trying to get someone’s attention. In turn, you’ll be notified when someone looks at your profile, and can also look through viewer insights such as where that person works or lives, how they found you, their industry, and job title. These sorts of analytics can help you get an idea of the types of people who are looking for people like you. From here, you can choose a narrowed group to keep an eye on, and identify trends (What sort of experience do they have? What sorts of content are they putting out and sharing?) within them.

Connecting with someone you don’t know on LinkedIn requires somewhat of a strategy. Treat your profile as an extension of your CV, and ensure every field that’s possible is filled in: no-one is going to connect with you if your profile can’t convince them that it’s worth it to do so. Things like recommendations and endorsements ratify how great you are, and what you can offer their brand and business.

One way to do it would be to go in via InMail first, asking for a connection. Another would be to use the ‘introduction’ function where you and the influencer have a connection in common, and you ask the mutual connection to introduce both of you. Or, turn the profile view setting on, to let them know you’re interested in them. Once they look at you back, shoot them an email.

Your integrated social strategy

Last, but certainly not least, LinkedIn is an invaluable asset in sorting out your own social strategy. Not only does it allow you to create and post your own individual content (which you can then promote and access analytics for), you can take advantage of the ‘3 free backlinks’ tool, which means that Google will index up to three links you include on your profile. Seeing as LinkedIn is quite highly ranked itself, adding a link to your company’s website, or blog, can give it a visibility boost where SEO is concerned.

When it comes to content, coming up with a strategy for LinkedIn is paramount in letting your network know you have something intelligent, valuable, and relevant to say about your industry. Your voice needs to be tailored to professionals: remember, you’re writing B2B, and so speak more in-depth about industry particulars.

You can also post SlideShare presentations on your LinkedIn profile, which actually in themselves receive about 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Including them on your LinkedIn profile will increase engagement, and convey more information in a digestible way. Which, as we all know, is a great way to generate leads.