All the important CEO’s use it, and you should too. LinkedIn is an essential resource for small businesses that seek to grow relationships and new business. Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn begins with your profile: make it strong. Once establishing your profile, you can search for connections, add to group discussions, and keep abreast the latest news from your contacts. LinkedIn also offers ways to showcase your business and your business skills in a tasteful, professional style.

Your LinkedIn profile picture needs to be a top-quality, professional headshot. The file name should include your own name (i.e., JaneDoe.jpg) so that it can be found more easily in search engines. Complete every field using strong keywords pertinent to your industry and community. This helps optimize your profile and thus helps you rank above your competition on the search engines. Your LinkedIn profile is a personal expression, so be certain the text is correct grammatically and the look is professional and tasteful. Edit regularly; be sure your education, certifications, designations, and awards are updated. Make your headline dynamic, interesting, and distinctive; your personality and energy should leap off the page.

Don’t connect with random people you don’t know; this could make you look like a spammer. Instead, connect with real-life friends, family, acquaintances, customers, and others who can testify for you. You can usually find these connections by using LinkedIn’s search bar (at the top of any LinkedIn page after you log in). You gain connections on LinkedIn through referrals and recommendations, and you can gain more connections by taking advantage of all that LinkedIn offers. Join LinkedIn’s groups and communities, share, ask and answer questions, and become the person others rely on for right answers, the “go-to” expert in your industry.

Regularly add fresh content: events, links, press releases, recommendations, and more. Ask and answer questions frequently, and participate in discussions; you’ll build trust and credibility among other LinkedIn members, and you’ll keep your name and business in front of their eyes. Contributing just the right content can help you be perceived as an expert in your field. Don’t forget to rewrite a full profile update two or three times a year, just to make sure everything is fresh and up-to-date.