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Why You Can't Ignore LinkedIn for Thought Leadership With over 400 million users, LinkedIn is becoming a bigger and better platform for business growth.

By Gene Hammett Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

LinkedIn launched into our world in 2003 to organize and simplify professional networking. Now with over 400 million current users, you can't ignore this platform for thought leadership.

The social network has become a place where you put your work history and many of the elements that you used to put on resumes. However, LinkedIn is so much more than just a container to hold your previous and current jobs. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals -- and the power of it continues to grow.

Related: LinkedIn May Have Two New Standalone Apps Up Its Sleeve

LinkedIn is a top platform if you want to be a thought leader in your field. When I say "thought leader," I want to be clear. Our world is crowded, noisy and readers are distracted. Yet there are still people who rise to the level of being thought leaders because of how they handle themselves and the value they share with the world.

If you want to shift your return on investment using LinkedIn, read on.

I reached out to Josh Turner with LinkedSelling. He is deep in wisdom in the usage of LinkedIn to generate leads and drive sales. Turner recently wrote the Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Connect, and is publishing his next book, Booked, in February. Turner is a powerhouse on this platform. Sitting down and talking to him was enlightening.

1. Why businesses should care about LinkedIn

It's the dominant online network where business professionals hang out, and they are in a business mode when on LinkedIn. The other platforms like Facebook and Twitter are often an escape for many people. LinkedIn is about business, people and catching up.

If you're interested in getting in front of more prospects, and your prospects are found on LinkedIn, you'd be well served to start putting in place a strategy to reach them.

That said, many business owners see this but still wonder -- is anybody paying attention to LinkedIn? In most cases, the answer is yes. Recent data released by LinkedIn revealed that approximately 40 percent of users check the site daily. And when you look at specific types of users, the numbers go up even higher.

A survey of business executives, for example, found that 76 percent of them check LinkedIn at least once per day. They're on LinkedIn, many of them every single day. Smart businesses are looking at ways to start tapping into this.

Related: How to Disconnect From Someone on LinkedIn in 4 Easy Steps

2. Improving your LinkedIn profile

It breaks my heart when people think that by simply having a nice, shiny profile that they are going to get results from LinkedIn. Unfortunately, there's a perpetual myth that you can plug a few keywords into your profile and leads will magically fall out of the sky. In talking with Turner about profiles, he said "that is simply not true." To consistently generate real results, you have to have a game plan for regularly making touch points with your existing connections as well as new prospects.

3. Making LinkedIn work for you

For starters, get clear about what you want to get out of LinkedIn.

  • To position your brand as a leader in your market
  • To bring new prospects into their pipeline
  • To generate qualified leads and appointments

Once you have your goals, you must have a crystal-clear picture of who your ideal prospect is. Don't underestimate this, as your ideal prospect is the driver to creating content that is valuable and relevant. Here are the mistakes that people make when considering their ideal client. When you have it right, you will have the right language and content posted on your profile and the updates too.

Then, you need to understand the ways that you can leverage LinkedIn to reach these people in a way that doesn't come off as spammy or pushy. And finally, you need to have a process for systematically moving prospects off of LinkedIn and into real world conversations. Josh said this is the part that most people miss.

4. New for 2016 on the LinkedIn platform

LinkedIn has been making a big push to become a content platform. More and more people are publishing on LinkedIn (often referred to as LinkedIn Pulse), and finding it to be a great platform for content marketing, thought leadership and lead generation. Turner believes this trend will grow significantly in 2016, as LinkedIn has made it clear that this is a big priority.

The other development that is exciting is LinkedIn's advertising tools. With some of their recent acquisitions, it's evident that LinkedIn's ad platform is going to be a big part of their growth in the coming year. There is some buzz that re-targeting may be coming soon to their self-serve ad manager as well as conversion tracking. These would be two major additions making LinkedIn ads even more effective for marketers.

LinkedIn continues to be a powerhouse social-media tool so don't write this off if you want to get that business-to-business lead generation.

Related: 5 Easy LinkedIn Tricks for Quick Sales

Gene Hammett

Strategic Business Coach and Mentor

Gene Hammett is an author, speaker and experienced entrepreneur who is the founder of multiple multi-million dollar businesses. Now as a strategic business mentor, Hammett works with other entrepreneurs to help them master themselves and their business so they can do work that matters. Join him as he interviews industry leaders on his podcast as they share their path to success at LeadersintheTrenches.com

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