Ten years ago, entrepreneur Reid Hoffman had a vision for a website that could help create and foster important business connections among professionals. He co-founded a site called LinkedIn with the tag line "Relationships matter."
The social media giant, with 225 million members in 200 countries, celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. "Our vision at LinkedIn is to create economic opportunity for every professional in the world," Hoffman wrote in a blog post noting the company's anniversary.
In honor of LinkedIn's milestone, we've compiled the following tips to help business owners get the most out of the professional online network :
1. Communicate the important details of your business right away.
When filling out your company's profile, be sure to say exactly what your company is, who your clients are and how you help them. The idea is to make it as quick and easy for customers to know -- right up front -- what you offer and why they should contact you. And be sure that your profile headline and photo reflect your company and project professionalism. More: 7 Tips For Building a 'Power Network' on LinkedIn
2. Share interesting, engaging information.
One way to boost engagement among your connections is to get them talking about relevant and timely news in your industry. You can do this by sharing links to interesting stories and asking questions about the posts you share. More: What You Can Learn From Disney, CNBC and Adobe About Creating a Great LinkedIn Page
3. Include a call to action.
An important goal with online networking is to convert connections into paying customers. One way to do this on LinkedIn is to create a unique "call to action." Instead of simply filling in LinkedIn's generic "my website" or "my blog" links on your profile page, take the extra step and tell visitors to click on your links. For instance, write: "Click here to (insert your product or service here)." More: 7 Ways LinkedIn Can Drive More Traffic to Your Website
4. Create and participate in groups.
Not only can creating and managing a group of your own provide you with a level of credibility, it can allow you to expand your network to reach targeted and influential individuals in your field. Research topics of interest within your industry and choose the top two or three as the basis for your group. More: Starting a LinkedIn Group to Grow Your Network
5. Showcase your products.
Be sure to fill out the "Products and Services" section of your company page. Not only is this your opportunity to explain what you offer in a compelling way, individuals can recommend and share the products you list, becoming ambassadors for your brand. More: What You Can Learn From Disney, CNBC and Adobe About Creating a Great LinkedIn Page
6. Send targeted messages.
Accessible from a LinkedIn Company Page, targeted status updates can be an effective way for business owners to tailor the content in their status updates to specific types of company followers. This helps ensure the right people are reading the most relevant messages from you at the right time. More: 5 Underutilized LinkedIn Marketing Tools
7. Encourage employees to be on LinkedIn, too.
One easy way to expand your company's networking base is to encourage your employees to create and actively use LinkedIn profiles of their own. By connecting with your employees, you open your own network to their pool of second-degree connections -- who can be valuable customers and clients you weren't connected with before. More: 10 Mistakes Your Business Might Be Making on LinkedIn
8. Optimize your profile for search.
With hundreds of millions of people searching LinkedIn, you want your company's profile to stand out. When crafting your profile language, be sure to include keywords that are related to your business and industry to help improve the chances of your name appearing in LinkedIn's internal search results. Think of these keywords as the words a potential client would type in when searching LinkedIn. More: LinkedIn SEO: How to Increase the Visibility of Your Business Profile
9. Avoid buzzwords.
If you've described your startup as "creative," "effective" or "innovative," you might want to consider using a different adjective. Clichés won't help your profile stand out and might not accurately convey your professional identity on the site. More: The 10 Most Overused Buzzwords on LinkedIn
10. Get endorsements and recommendations.
These are your customer testimonials on LinkedIn. You can ask customers to give you written recommendations or to simply endorse your company for its skills or expertise. It's important to endorse others first and avoid sending a mass email to everyone in your network asking for an endorsement, which can be a turn off. Instead, try segmenting your network into different lists and writing a more personal note to a specific group. More: 3 Tips for Using LinkedIn's New 'Endorsements'