Are you ‘LinkedIn’ to your marketplace?

If you’re in business and have decided to forego using LinkedIn, you might want to consider retirement soon. Bold statement? No, it’s quite practical.
This article is not meant to delve too deeply into all of the benefits and features of LinkedIn but rather to provide an overview of its real online power. Hopefully it will nudge non-users and casual users to start using this free and intuitive tool to help advance their individual careers and grow their businesses.As social media networks like Facebook reconnect long-lost classmates and old friends, as well as introduce people to literally hundreds of “friends they haven’t met yet,” so too does LinkedIn exponentially increase your business contacts and sphere of influence. With a little effort each week, you can position yourself and your company as a major player and influencer in your market space.LinkedIn has slowly and steadily added wonderful tools and functionality that can make networking and publishing online easy and even pleasurable. During the past few years the network has grown to well over 100 million active users – professional people who are serious about working with each other to advance their businesses and careers. These people are eager to share their wealth of knowledge – with you.Learn, teach and reach outSince none of us, no matter how experienced, has all the answers to business issues, we should be willing and eager to learn from others. In turn, this demands that we answer questions the unknowing in our circles are asking if we’re fortunate to have the right information. By so doing, we position ourselves as experts and gain the appreciation of our colleagues, customers and vendor partners. That’s just good business.LinkedIn allows you to be an active player in professional groups whose purpose is networking and providing new opportunities for all who participate.You as an individual need to have your own LinkedIn profile and populate it with complete information about your education, skills, experience and accomplishments. You also need to participate in groups and provide fresh, dynamic content in your updates, discussions and promotions.Additionally, there are many free apps available on LinkedIn such as Tweets by LinkedIn, SlideShare, WordPress, Blog Link and many others.A free account allows you to have two fully integrated apps. These offer better connectivity with other networks and the sharing of rich content within your LinkedIn profile.LinkedIn vs. FacebookThere is a big distinction between Facebook Business Pages and LinkedIn Company Pages. Facebook is all about being social and allows consumers to interact with brands in a light and fun way. Interacting with a business can make the consumer or B2B customer feel connected and appreciated. Brand loyalists love to advocate for their favorite products and services. Facebook can offer a rewarding experience for customers and build loyalty for your brand. Also, Facebook advertising can effectively increase awareness and sales when well targeted.LinkedIn Company Pages do have a social component, but they’re more buttoned up and focused.A company can show off its category leadership by highlighting products and services, key executives, staff, new hires, growth statistics, current stock information and much more. An individual can research prospect companies on LinkedIn, gleaning insight and business intelligence prior to selling or marketing to the organization.Some recommendations for companies and individuals to capitalize on when developing or looking at Company Pages include:• Reinforcing your corporate brand• Highlighting capabilities, products and services• Showcasing key employees and new hires• Posting and finding career opportunities• Providing key statistics such as revenue growth and expansions• Monitoring followers with easy-to-use analytics• Gaining corporate intelligence• Finding sales leads• Find out whom you’re already connected with in the company.Chuck Sink is an independent writer and marketing consultant. He can be reached at