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Tips For Small Business Owners to Leverage LinkedIn Raise your company's visibility online by utilizing LinkedIn to its potential.

By Ali Matar

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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As a small business owner, growing your business contacts and networking is central to your business success. With over 10 million MENA professionals on LinkedIn and more than 259 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is a convenient and cost-effective networking platform for SMEs. LinkedIn's network is a great place to build your professional identity, increase online visibility, grow your network, engage with like-minded individuals and recruit new employees from a pool of highly skilled candidates. Here are some tips on how LinkedIn can work for you.

1. Raise your profile

Having a profile on LinkedIn puts you amongst potential clients, employees and industry partners and gives them a way to contact you. The more details you have on your profile, the easier it will be for people to find you through search engines. Make sure your summary is complete and include a photo of yourself to increase your credibility. Customize your public profile URL and claim your piece of digital real estate.

Sharing content via status updates on LinkedIn is a quick way to showcase your knowledge and start conversations with your network.

2. Create a Company Page

Company pages give members an opportunity to view information about each company and builds your business' identity. Include details such as its description, number of employees and the industry it operates in. The Products and Services tab on the Company Page is a powerful way to showcase what your business has to offer. As an SME owner, recommendations from customers can serve as testimonials for your business. Using the Featured Update functionality, you can highlight important content by promoting it to the top of your Company Updates stream.

3. Get recommendations

Recommendations are one the best ways to secure new clients because this is the feature looked for most when viewing a new profile. They enhance your professional credibility and create a great impression on people reading your profile. Ensure you request LinkedIn recommendations from happy customers willing to provide testimonials. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers.

Add Skills to your profile to highlight your expertise and be found by others seeking those abilities. Build your skills reputation by getting Endorsements from your connections.

4. Engage with your connections and position yourself an expert in your industry

Join groups for small businesses or entrepreneurs to engage with like-minded people who can provide you support and answer your business-specific questions. Joining groups which are related to your industry or other small business matters is also a great way to make new connections. Potential clients can find you through groups, as the group members have the ability to directly message each other, even if they aren't directly connected.

5. Improve productivity through LinkedIn mobile

Accessing LinkedIn on the move through iPhone, Android, Windows or BlackBerry apps enables you to update your profile and connect with business acquaintances at events and conferences. You can use the LinkedIn mobile application to pull up background details of the person you are meeting on-the-go, putting you in good stead for a great introduction and conversation points.

6. Learn from Influencers and stay updated with LinkedIn Pulse

Many professionals visit multiple news sources each morning to stay ahead of news that will impact their day. LinkedIn Pulse saves you valuable time by efficiently aggregating the top articles being shared by your trusted connections and by professionals within the industries you care about, all in one place and across multiple sources. You can choose to "follow" specific industries, news sources, or even individuals like Barack Obama and Richard Branson to get credible insights and information from the original content shared by them on LinkedIn.

Ali Matar joined LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa in 2012 as Head of Talent Solutions. Based in Dubai, Ali is responsible for growing the in-house sales team and taking LinkedIn’s suite of Hiring Solutions to clients across the Middle East and North Africa. An experienced sales professional with close to a decade of experience, Ali has held senior regional roles at SAP where he last served as a Sales Director. Ali has proven expertise in identifying business leads, growing C-suite client relationships and talent acquisitions and development. Ali began his career in the construction industry before moving to Oracle as a regional sales consulting manager for the GCC countries. A native Arabic speaker and citizen of Lebanon, Ali is a qualified Civil Engineer, a certified supply chain consultant and holds an MBA in Strategic Management the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
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