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5 Tips for Maximizing LinkedIn for Your Business LinkedIn isn't only good for hiring employees. Here's how you can use the social network to connect with customers, identify new leads and more.

By Gabrielle Karol

This story originally appeared on FOX BUSINESS

LinkedIn

While LinkedIn is often used by job-seekers or employers looking to fill open spots, hiring isn't LinkedIn's only function.

The social network, which reports more than 259 million members in more than 200 countries, also provides a great opportunity to connect with customers and identify new leads, says DJ Muller, president of WebLink International.

"What LinkedIn is, is an awesome tool that is underleveraged by businesses in general. It's a great tool to build more relationships with existing customers and it's an awesome tool to use your customers to connect with prospects," says Muller. LinkedIn research suggests that members are nearly 50% more likely to purchase from a company they've interacted with on LinkedIn, and 80% say they want to connect with companies on the platform.

Here are Muller's five tips to make the most of your time on LinkedIn:

Related: 5 Tips for Small Businesses to Master Pinterest

No. 1: Create a personal and a company page.

Muller says it's important to have LinkedIn accounts for both your company and yourself as an executive. LinkedIn has special "Company Pages," which allow LinkedIn users to "follow" your company, and you can create a profile that clearly details your company's expertise.

On your personal page, Muller says you can still share company news, but you should also use it as a springboard for leveraging personal relationships with LinkedIn members who know you personally.

No. 2: Ask for recommendations.

"Recommendations are awesome for instilling confidence," says Muller. He says business owners shouldn't be shy about asking loyal customers for recommendations about services or products. However, you want to make sure your requests don't backfire by leading you to lose customers.

"Use common sense," says Muller, who suggests you ask yourself whether a request or a follow-up might be viewed as annoying.

Related: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From 'No'

No. 3: Give a behind-the-scenes look at your company.

Many companies maintain blogs, which produce articles tailor-made for sharing on LinkedIn. In the event that blogging isn't a major priority for your business, don't despair.

"Post about company events or fundraising drives," says Muller. "It adds more color to your page." While these posts may not be filled with useful tips, they will still help establish a more personal relationship with clients and potential employees.

No. 4: Post frequently.

Muller says business owners should try to post updates as often as possible. "Google likes things that are updated frequently," says Muller, so posting more often may help your company's page rank higher when searched.

No. 5: Reach out for introductions.

Use LinkedIn as a resource for identifying leads by combing through the contacts of current customers and employees. Once you've found potential clients, Muller says you should politely ask your customer for introductions, or directly contact the person.

"You don't want to abuse your customers, though. Do it in a way that's respectful and not overly self-serving," says Muller.

Related: 3 Money Mistakes Business Owners Make

Gabrielle Karol is Web reporter @FOXBusiness covering technology, startups and more.

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