LinkedIn LogoLinkedIn may be the most untapped resource on the Internet. Many people and corporations have a presence on LinkedIn, but very few maximize the connections that they have made through this medium. While most people are content to simply set up their LinkedIn page and leave it to collect dust, it’s those who constantly work at promoting themselves that reap the rewards.

What are those rewards? Direct connections with people. People who can help you and who will buy from you. People who will spread the word about your business, what you’ve accomplished and what you’re trying to accomplish in the future. The idea behind inbound marketing is to create value for people so that they’ll support you, and there’s no better forum for this type of promotion than LinkedIn. By marketing on LinkedIn using a personal profile, you’ll be able to make an impression on your peers and potential customers without being perceived as too aggressive.

Your Resume

The social media communications of most companies speak only about the company itself. You may find out tidbits about the company’s history and learn about its values, but you’ll never learn much about the people who make the decisions.

This is one area where LinkedIn can help you to break the ice. When people view your profile, they’ll get to know you. They’ll understand why you’re qualified to be a leader in your industry and why you’re so passionate about your business. Furthermore, you’ll subconsciously extend a friendly message to those who view your profile. The companies that have the most success in social media are those that let their personalities come out, giving the customer a little something extra. An informative, well-maintained LinkedIn profile can do just that.

Sharing Information

LinkedIn has a section of its site dedicated to “thought leaders”, people who are well-respected and provide business advice to their readers. As a result, these thought leaders have attained massive quantities of followers on LinkedIn. Additionally, their work is frequently shared, thereby generating new followers and exposing the personal and professional brands of these thought leaders.

Now, nobody is expecting you to become the next Richard Branson. But that doesn’t have to stop you from sharing things that you think are relevant to your industry and your audience. Show people why you’re an expert, and they’ll do all the work for you. Better yet, some of those people will become your customers. Note that you don’t even have to share your own thoughts. Simply linking to stories that your followers care about will have a similar effect; however, writing your own material will help you to endear yourself more to your followers, and by extension their followers.

Make Connections

The best part about LinkedIn is how easy it makes connecting with people you otherwise wouldn’t know. You can introduce yourself to key individuals in your industry, such as the owners of larger businesses and companies you may consider affiliating yourself with. You can also strike up friendships with influencers, such as people in charge of consumer groups or activist organizations.

LinkedIn has a “People You May Know” tool that changes based on all of the connections you make, often times opening doors that you didn’t even know existed. Still, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye out for who’s important. Remember, you’re not trying to sell goods to these people. But, if you put up the right content and these connections share that content with their followers, you’ll benefit twofold. Not only did you increase sales, but you increased the value of your personal brand, making these new connections more likely to go bat for you in the future.

Marketing on LinkedIn is surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it. As you develop the habit of providing valuable content, you’ll see your followers and connections grow. Again, this might not lead to a direct and immediate increase in sales, but you’ll build a tremendous amount of brand equity. Consumers who would otherwise ignore you will want to know more about your company and the people behind it. And that’s when you’ll see the real value of LinkedIn.