Maybe you thought the popular business-related social networking site LinkedIn was only for job hunting and professional networking, but your marketing experts at 101 Management, Inc., want to show you how to use the site to effectively promote your small business.

Unlike the more generalized Facebook or Twitter platforms which are open to everyone, the fact that LinkedIn is so closely aligned with professional people and businesses offers you a ready-made place to showcase your own business. It provides a narrowly focused audience who might be more disposed to be receptive to your message. In addition, it’s free (unless you want to upgrade to a paid membership later on). So you really can’t afford to ignore this valuable resource.

Here’s how to promote your business on LinkedIn.

Set Up a Company Page

This may seem elementary, but it’s something many people don’t think to do. Even if you have your own personal LinkedIn page, you need a separate one for your business. Include as much information as you can think of, and keep it as professional-looking and polished as your website. You’ll have your company’s logo on it, of course, as well as a close-up profile picture, a summary of your business, and your most popular keywords. When setting up a company page, you will automatically connect with your own personal profile and vice versa. And be sure all your employees’ pages also link to your company’s page.

Keep LinkedIn’s Purpose In Mind

Think of this resource as a meeting of like-minded professionals. You’re there to get something, but also to offer something to the other participants. In other words, every LinkedIn contact should be approached as a win-win opportunity. Of course you want to market your services or products, but if you approach your contacts in a spirit of mutual help, this can keep people from figuratively “ducking” when they see you coming. (Some LinkedIn users have unfortunately gained a reputation as spammers by making it all about them and their business.) And be sure to follow other companies—again, your participation in LinkedIn needs to be a two-way street.

Post Content Frequently

There’s nothing that can make a LinkedIn page—or website or Twitter account or whatever you do online—seem so stale as content that hasn’t been updated in days, or even weeks. Besides impacting your search engine optimization (SEO) prospects, old content will not just make visitors drift away, but drive them away.

Post news about your business, about your industry, tips about what you sell, current clients . . . anything that might be of interest to or provide help and advice to current or potential clients. And request recommendations from current or past clients, which helps increase your credibility and build your reputation.

Join or Start a Group

If you’re a member of one or more groups on LinkedIn, be sure to participate in the discussions. Answer questions about your business or field of expertise, and provide meaningful and useful comments. This gives your business additional visibility and helps mark you as an expert in your field, as well as attracting visitors to your profile page. In addition, you can start your own group centered around your clients and employees.

Consider LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn’s Direct Ads can narrow your potential market even further. They target a wide variety of criteria, including location, age, gender, fields of study, etc. You can also expand beyond LinkedIn by using LinkedIn’s network of partner audiences. You can also set your own budget for these ads.

Finally, talk to the media and branding experts at 101 Management to find out how to incorporate promotion on LinkedIn into your overall social media marketing strategy, and to learn even more ways to optimize your participation in LinkedIn to expand your business.