While many small business owners have mastered some social media sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, for marketing their company, many still seem intimidated by LinkedIn. Often small businesses do not see this as a place where their customers are, or they are not sure how to engage, so they do not add it into their social media marketing mix. However, there are ways to leverage LinkedIn, even for small businesses, which owners should consider. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections, maintain connections you have already made, gather business leads, and to tap followers who may be interested in their products and services.LinkedIn has a different feel to it than many other social media networks as there is more of a professional focus. Typically people use the site for educating themselves and for furthering their careers and professional lives. LinkedIn users are more interested in making connections and learning about business opportunities, therefore, it makes sense to focus on both your personal LinkedIn presence as a small business owner as well as on your company’s page.Below are some tips you can use to get started using LinkedIn for both:For Your Business:Build a Company page: Even if you will eventually use LinkedIn more often from your personal account, creating a company page is essential. This page will be your company’s information hub where potential customers and partners, as well as future employees, can learn more about your company. Since job seekers are often using LinkedIn in their job search, potential employees will use your page to research the company. Be thorough and make use of all sections that allow content, such as company description, address, website URL, and more. Use a logo for your profile picture and a high quality background image that shows off your business. Company Pages are also important because they rank high with search engines. This will be one more property that will appear at the top of search results for your company.Use Sponsored Updates: In order to start getting followers to your page, consider using sponsored updates to extend your reach and build more build more followers. These sponsored updates are paid content that help you target the types of people with whom you want to interact. These updates can be customer lead generators, making those interested in your types of services and products aware of your company. Also post regular, non-sponsored posts about your business, your industry and other relevant news at least once daily.For You, the Small Business Owner:Connect: Connecting with those you meet on LinkedIn is like today’s exchange of business cards. Search for people you know and meet in your industry and send requests to connect with them to start your network. Pay attention to the people that LinkedIn suggests for you each time you log in as well. The more connections you have, the more potential networking you can do and the more people will learn about your business.Find Relevant Local Groups: Your customers and potential referral partners are using LinkedIn groups to network, find referrals, and learn. You need to be in those groups and regularly participate so that you can make connections that will further your business. Seek groups that are that are most likely to have the connections you want to make. You can search the site for groups or seek out the profile page of competitors or other business persons in your field and check out the groups to which that person belongs and join one or two of those to get started. Answer others’ questions and share your expertise – it is a great “soft” way to sell yourself and your business knowledge.Share Your Company Posts: You should not solelypost about your own business, but do share noteworthy posts that are sent on your Company Page in order to gently promote your company.Help Others: Share news from your connections’ posts, answer questions, offer to connect others through referrals and give recommendations. Your network will be much more likely to reciprocate when they see you helping them.Write an Article: LinkedIn gives businesses an easy way to create and share content right on the site. You can write posts about industry topics that are important to your business. This will help build your credibility with others and help your message reach beyond your followers when others share it to their network. Simply click on “write an article” on your home page and get started.Rally Your Troops: Encourage your employees to follow your company page and share content and posts to extend your reach even further. It is a powerful statement when your employees are champions for your company.Ask for Recommendations: Ask past customers, partners and others to write a recommendation for you and your company. These recommendations are like reviews that can help customers and partners see what you and your company have to offer.LinkedIn, when used correctly, can help your business build credibility through content and can help small businesses with recruiting, new business leads, market research, referrals and more.