Step 1: Complete your LinkedIn profile 100%

The key to using LinkedIn, and the one thing that is often missed by your competitors, is setting up a good profile. It is important to set up a good profile that acts as a strong foundation for your presence on LinkedIn. Your profile needs to set you apart from other professionals in your field. Differentiate you from the other millions of users and encourage visitors to interact and connect with you

LinkedIn says that having a completed profile gives you a 40% greater chance of networking success.

Step 2: Build Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn provides varying degrees of connectedness. The site keeps track of people you know personally: 1st degree. Those who are friends with them: 2nd degree and taking this out further: 3rd degree. are those connected to your 2nd degree contacts. Business opportunity lies mainly within your second degree network but you need a first degree network to be able to reach those second degree connections.

a) Connect with your direct, first degree network by sending out invitations to all your contacts who themselves are on LinkedIn

b) Add previous colleagues and classmates to your network by using the LinkedIn resources

c) Browse the networks of your immediate network and invite those you find interesting to join your network

d) Use the advanced search option to search for people and see if you have any mutual contact in your network who can make an introduction for you.

e) Join groups to increase your visibility and people will ask to connect with you

It is vital that you build up a relationship with your network before attempting to market your business. Otherwise you will be considered unprofessional and a spammer.

Step 3: Market Your Business to your network

Start by helping others. Recommend others in your network. The more you recommend others the more favourable they will be to recommending you in return. Make your interactions personal. Create a call to action. One way to do this is to add a contact me link or a download to a free report on your profile: use your weblinks section to do this. In addition, use your summary to tell people who you are, who you help and how you can help them. Let them know how they can get in contact with you and provide a next step, a call to action if they want to find out more.

If you're a business professional and don't have a LinkedIn presence, you are missing valuable opportunities to attract more customers to your business