This post was published on Memeburn and titled “6 tips for making meaningful business connections on LinkedIn“.

You most likely already have a LinkedIn profile, connected with a couple of people that you know, and joined a few groups – now what? Did you know that you can use LinkedIn as a source of leads for your business? LinkedIn is not the same as Facebook, Twitter or any of the other popular social media channels.

Even though there are more than 175-million members on LinkedIn and two new members joining every second, many people are still unsure how to really use this professional network for lead generation. Like all the other social media channels, LinkedIn does require an investment in effort, interaction, and time to get the best results. How can you use this professional social media channel for lead generation?

To begin with, if you are not part of any LinkedIn groups related to your market, join one. With 175 million members and counting, it’s impossible to engage with the entire LinkedIn community. There are mid-level and high level professionals on this network. The best option to connect with these professionals will therefore be to join relevant groups that are complementary to what you do and who you are.

There are thousands of groups and request/join the groups that are active with a user base of 500 to 3500 members. You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, but it will be good practice if you only focus your attention in the begging on a couple of groups. Once you have joined a couple of groups, what’s next?

6 LinkedIn lead generation tips

1. Update your profile
Spend some time on updating your profile so that it’s 100% complete. Who do you want to reach on LinkedIn? Always keep your target audience in mind. LinkedIn is a professional network of high level and mid-level professionals. How do you fit in?

2. Never use LinkedIn to push out messages
Never start promoting only yourself, services or products when starting out with LinkedIn. Network and become part of the community by participating in discussions. Start by offering insights and replying to existing comments.

3. Start new discussions
Ask questions and take some time to research and observe the dynamics of the group you are part of. The last thing you want is to be unwelcomed by the community. After you have participated on the discussions taking place in the group, ask your own questions. By doing this, you are attracting people to you. Take note of the people interacting with you and try to connect with them outside the group.

4. Be active on LinkedIn
Generating leads on LinkedIn is not a quick process and will most likely not have an immediate return. Take some time to be active on this network. Schedule a couple of minutes every day that you can dedicate to LinkedIn and try to participate regularly in the discussions taking place. Offer feedback to the participants and answer questions. The more visible you are the better it will be.

5. Build credibility
Don’t post random content that’s not focused on the groups you are part of. Make sure that you only publish magnetic/quality content that others will find interesting. You will be judged if you are only publishing poor content. Take some time and only share quality content within your groups.

6. Network offline
Never only focus on LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is a professional social media channel, you don’t want the relationships that you build to only stay on LinkedIn. After you have done all the above, joined groups, engaged, been active, and built relationships, take these relationships offline.

Interact with professionals

LinkedIn is a powerful web 2.0 channel you should use in your social media marketing campaign to interact with professionals. It is especially useful for new people where you can start build genuine, real, and professional business relationships. Attract people on LinkedIn by participating on relevant groups and add value to the network. Always be mindful of the simple fact that LinkedIn is a professional network. Your leads can then naturally move towards you in the form of people that you are interested to build relationships with.

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