How to Get Your Business Started On LinkedInThough it may sometimes get third billing behind social networks Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is, in fact, the world’s largest online professional network with over 100 million members worldwide.

LinkedIn also touts itself as “the world’s largest audience of affluent, influential professionals” with its user base having an average household income of over $91,000.

With these type of numbers, it makes sense to include a business listing on LinkedIn as part of your integrated social media strategy. Follow the steps below to get your business started on LinkedIn.

Step 1: Create a Personal Account on LinkedIn

To create a Company Page on LinkedIn, you’ll first need to create a personal LinkedIn profile that meets the requirements to add or edit Company Pages.

When you have all your information prepared, go to www.LinkedIn.com, enter your First Name, Last Name, Email, and Password then click the green “Join Now” button.

Create LinkedIn ProfileYou’ll then be presented with some text entry fields where you’ll have to specify required information like your Employment Stats, Country, Zip Code, Company, and Job Title.

Enter the appropriate information in each field and them click the blue “Create my profile” button at the bottom.

Next, you’ll be provided the option to “See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn” or you can simply choose to “Skip this step” (recommended).

Assuming you skipped the option, above, you’ll get a notification that a confirmation email was sent to the email address you used to create your personal profile. Click the link in the confirmation email and you’ll be directed to a confirmation page on LinkedIn. Click the blue “Confirm” button to continue.

You’ll now be directed to a sign-in page where you’ll enter the email and password you used to create your personal profile. You’ll be presented with an option to “Connect with other people you know and trust” or you can skip this step (recommended).

You’ll have an option to choose a Premium (paid) account or a Basic (free) account. Choose the appropriate account type and you’ll be automatically signed in to your personal LinkedIn account.

To edit your personal profile, click the “Profile” tab, then “Edit Profile”. We recommend that you add as much information, as soon as possible, to your personal profile because all of the information contained in your profile is searchable on LinkedIn and the more information you have about you and your business, the better.

Step 2: Link Your Company to Personal Profiles

Now that you’ve created a personal LinkedIn profile, you can add and edit a listing for your company. For detailed instructions on how to do just that, please refer to our related article How to Edit Your LinkedIn Company Page.

Once your Company Page has been created and you’ve added a detailed description of your business, one of the most powerful tactics you can do now is to link your Company Page to your personal profile (and to all staff profiles) you created in Step 1, above.

To link your Company Page to your personal profile, from the main LinkedIn navigation menu, click the “Profile” tab, then “Edit Profile”. In the area labeled “Current”, you’ll see the current position you listed when you created your personal profile.

Click the small “Edit” Link.

Link Company Page to Personal Profile

Next, you’ll see a couple of very important fields — “Website” and “Industry”.

Add Company Website to LinkedIn Profile

Enter your company’s complete website address in this format: http://yourwebsite.com. It will become a hyperlink to your company on your personal profile and the personal profiles of all the staff at your company for whom you repeat this procedure.

Select your Industry from the pick list provided by LinkedIn. Choose wisely — this field is searchable within LinkedIn and when coupled with the website link in your profile, it becomes a very valuable and heavily used way for potential client, leads and customers to interact with your business on LinkedIn.

Step 3: Get Active on LinkedIn

Like all forms of social media, the best way to promote yourself is not to broadcast how great you are but rather to get involved in the community and make as many connections as you can. The goal is that your connections and contacts will sing your praises for you.

Below are a few suggestions to start building your network and exposing your business to a wider audience on LinkedIn.

 LinkedIn Networking Opportunities

1. Search — Use LinkedIn’s search field to find people in your industry, or to mine for sales leads. Search on “Answers” to see what questions are being asked (and answered) by LinkedIn members. All these activities will help build your brand and expose your business to a wider audience.

2. LinkedIn Ads — Click on some of the LinkedIn ads to get ideas and see how other companies are promoting themselves via paid advertising on LinkedIn.

3. Import Email Contacts — LinkedIn allows you to import your email contacts from a variety of third party email applications. This is a great way to start adding LinkedIn connections to your business based on the existing email contacts you already have.

4. Post an Update — Yes, even LinkedIn has a status update field like that of Twitter and Facebook. Post a link to one of your articles, or simply start up a conversation. You can even use third party applications like Sprout Social to post your status updates across multiple social media platforms.

5. Check Headlines — LinkedIn has a feature called “LinkedIn Today” which lists the most shared stories on LinkedIn on any given day. Follow some of the stories for industry information and more importantly, discover the type of business information that gets shared most often on LinkedIn.

6. Discover Groups — LinkedIn Groups are subsets of LinkedIn members who are brought together by common interest in a specific topic. Groups provide a great way for you and your business to take an active role in developing a community around your brand or a topic related to your business. For more ways to capitalize on LinkedIn Groups, refer to our related article “What Are LinkedIn Groups.

7. Check Updates — By default, you can see everyone who is posting updates to LinkedIn. This is great way to start up a conversation by replying to an update right within LinkedIn. You can also customize the updates to see messages only from your connections, or set your own criteria for the updates you receive.

Is your business on LinkedIn? Let’s have look! Feel free to drop a link to your personal profile and/or your business on LinkedIn in the comments below.

[Image Credit: nan palmero; Statistics: LinkedIn]