Among the many social platforms available to marketers today, LinkedIn can often be overlooked as a marketing tool. Seen by many as simply a professional networking and employment seeking site, the social networking service is also a goldmine of strategic marketing opportunities to grow your business – if you know how to utilize it appropriately. Below are 10 simple LinkedIn marketing strategies for business owners.

  1. Organically build relationships starting with connections.

It may sound basic, but it’s important to remember that the best business relationships start with a simple introduction between two people with a common interest – or, in LinkedIn speak, as a connection. At its core, LinkedIn is a platform for connecting professionals. As a business owner, you should maximize your opportunity to connect with as many leads, partners, clients and fellow industry leaders as you can. Build time into your weekly schedule to scout out new connections via groups and criteria searches that align with your business goals. And then remember the important part is what you do after making those initial connections – through the sharing of useful information, relevant content and industry tips and tricks that help others, you can foster fruitful relationships that translate into growth for your business.

2. Establish yourself as a thought-leader.

LinkedIn provides marketers with a platform to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of professionals, offering cost-free opportunities to attract the right eyeballs and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By posting informative, useful content – ideally that helps others solve a problem or improve performance in their own role – you have the ability to simultaneously gain credibility as an expert in your field while organically growing a following.

3. Build out your business profile.

Your business profile should be as effective as your own website in communicating who you are and what you do. From your profile and cover photo to the “About” and “Overview” sections, your LinkedIn business profile should reflect your brand style and tone of voice. Your LinkedIn business profile should feel professional, thoroughly completed, and full of relevant, up-to-date information. This hub is also where you can find tools to utilize to take your profile to the next level; recruit your newest team member using the “Jobs” tab or keep your existing team connected and engaged using the “My Company” tab. All employees should be encouraged to “follow” along, so they can react and reshare content to broaden your audience in a highly targeted way.

4. Claim your custom URL.

By claiming your custom LinkedIn URL, you ensure that your name is included in your profile URL. Why does this matter? When new contacts and potential clients Google you to learn more about you before or after a meeting, having your name in your URL means it’s more likely your LinkedIn profile will appear at the top of their search results. Claiming your custom URL is a simple but effective tactic to create greater visibility and likelihood of connection with clients.

5. Start your own LinkedIn group.

Starting your own LinkedIn group that is specific to your industry or business is a great way to stay connected with like-minded individuals and current and potential clients. It gives you an opportunity to exchange ideas and share information, further establishing yourself as a leader in your professional field. You can invite other LinkedIn members whose criteria fit your target clientele and, as a bonus, members who join have essentially self-segmented themselves, making it easy for you to market to a core group of prospects in an organic way.

6. Engage frequently in LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups are a fantastic breeding ground for gaining new prospects, clients and connections who align with your target audience. Groups are essentially microcosms of individuals who have self-segmented based upon industry, job titles and so on, and they provide a great place to both share and receive relevant content. A unique perk to joining a group is that you have the capability to message its members, even if you aren’t yet connected – a “loophole” that allows you to communicate with potential prospects in a common space as opposed to blindly sending an invitation to connect with no previous interaction.

7. Use soft sell” methods of marketing.

You know the dreaded realization when you pick up the phone and realize it’s a telemarketer on the other end? Try to avoid imposing that feeling on others through your marketing efforts on LinkedIn (especially because it’s even easier for members to just keep scrolling on LinkedIn than it is for them to hang up on you, rendering this “hard sell” tactic even less effective). No one likes being on the receiving end of an in-your-face sales pitch, so, instead, employ as many content marketing and inbound marketing strategies as you can by utilizing the platform’s different features. Posting regularly to share useful content on your feed, taking advantage of targeted, sponsored posts and engaging frequently in relevant groups’ discussions are all more effective (and less intrusive) ways of reaching your target audience.

8. Target prospects using sponsored updates.

LinkedIn makes it easy to appeal to your target audience with sponsored updates, which are essentially posts that you pay to have placed on specific members’ feeds. You can select your target audience based upon demographics like age, location, job title, job function … and the list goes on. This “pay-per-click” method of advertising feels less overt and intrusive than traditional advertising and allows you to target an incredibly niche audience that aligns with your marketing goals.

9. Take advantage of LinkedIns impressive audience targeting capabilities for your ad campaigns.

It may be surprising to learn that LinkedIn offers advertisers the ability to target ad campaigns to audiences based on geographic location, industry, company size and even job role, making it an extremely effective way to reach those individuals who are most likely to buy your product or use your services. No more wasting ad dollars casting a wide net hoping to catch a few fish; LinkedIn’s superior targeting capabilities make advertising more cost-efficient and likely to yield results.

10. Build a marketing strategy – and then stay the course.

It may be the simplest tip of them all, but the key to LinkedIn marketing success is to build the strategy that makes the most sense for your business and then stick with it. It can be as simple as scheduling time in your calendar each week to login and check off your personalized action items. When used as a marketing tool with a solid strategy in place, LinkedIn can yield results greater than other forms of digital marketing. (In fact, according to Sprout Social, business marketing on LinkedIn generated 277% more leads on average than those using Facebook alone to market their brand!) Remember to keep an up-to-date profile, stay engaged in groups and discussions relevant to your business and carve out time to make connections and continually foster relationships. Ultimately, it’s a numbers game – the more contacts you make and relationships you nurture, the greater the payoff will be.