Once nothing more than a digital business card and somewhere to flex your muscle by showing everyone how many connections you have, LinkedIn is finally coming of age.

The Microsoft-owned social networking site now boasts over 500 million users and has grown into a platform on which you can make connections that are far more meaningful than simply notches on the ‘look how important I am’ scale.

Despite this, if you’re a busy social entrepreneur who has enough trouble getting through a daily to-do list, let alone finding the time to master an online profile, how do you make the most of something as colossal as LinkedIn?

And it really is colossal. Beyond the process of setting up a great profile, there are groups in which to get involved, recommendations to be made, articles to be written and daily statuses to be posted.

But make the most of it you must, because there are countless opportunities on LinkedIn to help you realise your social enterprise’s goals and build relationships that will provide genuine value to your business.

In this post, we’re going to break down LinkedIn and provide the constituent elements you’ll need to focus on. Follow them, and you’ll avoid wasting time on the site, and find that it gradually becomes a natural component of your working week.

The good news? There’s only three you need to worry about!

1. Create a brilliant profile

Xero has written a brilliant, simple guide to creating a great LinkedIn profile. They demonstrate the importance of the title and headline, how to do the fiddly stuff such as customising your URL and how to make the most of the experience, endorsements and recommendations sections.

Your story on LinkedIn starts with a great profile. Without one, you simply won’t get noticed.

2. Turn on email notifications

It’s not often we’ll recommend this – our email inboxes are already overflowing with notifications and spam, after all. But, when it comes to LinkedIn, the email notifications you receive give you an invaluable insight into what your connections are up to and when it will be most convenient to interact with them.

In the Settings & Privacy area, click ‘Communications’ and explore the settings in ‘Basics’ and ‘Groups’. The important notifications are those pertaining to your connections and network updates.

You can be notified when people change roles, about activity within the groups to which you subscribe and when someone sends you a message or adds an endorsement to your profile. Turn on as many as possible.

A promotion for one of your connections, for instance, might represent a new opportunity for you, and a particular post in a group to which you subscribed may answer a burning question you’ve had for some time.

LinkedIn network updates and connection interaction emails are vital to helping you get the most out of the platform.

3. Use LinkedIn as a blogging platform

LinkedIn features a readymade audience for your thoughts on the industry within which your social enterprise operates. And, beyond the usual status updates you can post, it has a built-in blogging platform that enables you to expand on your thoughts and write more in-depth articles.

It’s worth investing some time in LinkedIn’s publishing option, because you’ll quickly find that your connections are far easier to reach than the massive audience on Google to which traditional content marketing campaigns are aimed.

You don’t need the literary skills of Shakespeare, nor do you need to pen thousands of words – just a few hundred on a company update or an opinion piece will raise your profile on LinkedIn and begin to position you as a thought leader.

That’s all, folks!

Sure, we could go into the importance of giving out recommendations, how to add rich content such as video to your profile and delve into LinkedIn’s SEO value, but your eyes are probably already rolling.

Being a social entrepreneur is tough and demands oodles of your time. Focus on the three LinkedIn strategies above, however, and you’ll only have to devote a portion of that time to the world’s most important business network.

It’ll be worth it – trust us.

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