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11 Strong Signs That You've Mastered LinkedIn LinkedIn is powerful. If you're selling to businesses, it's the place to be.

By Tony Messer Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Social media is a double-edged sword for many business owners and entrepreneurs. On the one hand, it promises so much, but on the other hand, it can take up a lot of your valuable time -- especially if you don't have a proven social media plan. But if you're mainly selling to other businesses, then there's one place you definitely need to be -- LinkedIn.

With more than 400 million users and the ability to connect with new leads, new partners or influencers who can help you spread the word about your brand, it's the obvious choice for B2B.

But are you getting the most out of it or are you just tinkering around at the edges? Here are 11 giveaway signs that you've mastered LinkedIn.

1. You know your objectives.

So many people go round and round in circles in LinkedIn. Not you. You know exactly the outcomes you desire, and you go after them.

You understand that you need to do less to get more, so your focus is on three main areas -- getting more media exposure, creating partnerships and generating leads for your business. Your effort is focused on these three areas, and anything outside of this does not attract your attention.

Related: LinkedIn Your Way to Your Next Deal

2. You know who you're targeting.

Because you know your objectives, you know exactly who you want to connect with. You don't connect with people willy nilly hoping that somewhere, sometime, someone will get back to you. You know who you want to connect with, what they do and where they're based. You're not interested in spending time on building a network of people with half-hearted profiles. You're after the movers and shakers, the "A" Graders. Guesswork is not part of your approach.

3. You have a structured approach.

Because you know what you want, and because you know who can help you, your approach can be much more structured. But not only one approach. Each approach is dictated by your needs (e.g. increase exposure, identify partners, generate leads). Each approach is clearly structured and is tailored towards a successful outcome.

Ultimately, you know exactly where you want to get your connections. Whether that's on a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, it's a structured approach that isn't left to chance.

4. You're focused on relationships.

Selling yourself, your expertise or your products and services is your ultimate goal. But there's a time and place for that. People rarely buy on first contact. That's why your approach is built on creating trust and building a relationship from the start.

Related: 4 Strategies for Generating High-Quality Leads Through Social Media

5. You're committed to content.

You understand the value of world class content, and you offer this to your networks. Because you know your expected outcomes, you understand the challenges and the problems that your target audience face. You create content that addresses these issues.

Whether that's regular LinkedIn Updates or longer LinkedIn Posts, you create world class content to make sure that you stay front of mind with your target audience.

6. A solution-focused profile.

Your profile isn't a dry read that looks like an online CV. Instead it reads more like a set of solutions that you can offer. When your connections come to check you out, they see that you are a solution provider. They see that you understand their needs and that you are a credible partner for them.

Your profile pops with your own media, whether that's articles, photos, videos or presentations.

7. You segment your contacts.

You've got several objectives, and that means several audiences. Not all of them will be interested in the same content. That's why you segment your contacts to make sure that they only get the content that's relevant to them.

8. You don't preach to groups. You ask questions.

Whether you're running a group or you're a member of a group, you understand that asking questions is more powerful than promoting your own content. You understand that asking questions elicits responses in ways that posting content to a group doesn't, and it allows you to direct them to useful resources.

Sure, you know there's a time and place to make a pitch. It just isn't here.

9. It's your comfort zone for cold calling.

One of the reasons you use LinkedIn is because you hate cold calling. You hate the way that it's unpredictable, intrusive and annoying. That's why you prefer a structured approach based on known objectives, targeted outreach and high value content.

Related: These Are the Best Times to Post on Social Media

10. You're patient.

It would be great if you could just hit it out of the park at the first attempt. But you know that's not going to happen. Building relationships and creating trust takes time. That's why you're patient and methodical. You know that things need to occur in a certain order, and that if you're in too much of a hurry, your prospects will notice.

11. You enjoy it.

Finally, above all else, you enjoy developing meaningful relationships based on mutual benefit. As much as you enjoy growing your own business, you enjoy sharing your knowledge and helping others solve their problems and grow their businesses. For you, this is where LinkedIn really comes into it's own.

LinkedIn is powerful. If you're selling to businesses, it's the place to be. But just going in all guns a-blazing isn't going to work. Whether you're looking for more media exposure, partnerships or new leads, you need to know your desired outcomes and have a structured plan in place to achieve your objectives.

LinkedIn works best for people who understand their outcomes, and people who understand who they want to work with and they have a structured plan to engage with them.

Tony Messer

Co-founder and CEO of Pickaweb

Tony Messer is the co-founder and CEO of UK web hosting company Pickaweb. Having worked with thousands of small businesses, ecommerce retailers and startups, Tony knows what it takes to grow an online business. He is the author of two books on online marketing.

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