You need to rethink the way you use LinkedIn. Without some of us even noticing, it has developed into a useful lead-generation tool for marketers and salespeople who are looking to build relationships with prospects.

But if you're looking for an easy lead source, you won't find it here. After using LinkedIn to build my own discussion groups, I've discovered that using it as a lead generator can be a simple process—if you're willing to invest a little time sharing your expertise and thought leadership.

Here are some ways to make the most of LinkedIn for lead generation.

1. Create a polished and personally branded profile on LinkedIn

If you haven't already, spend some time perfecting your profile to clarify what you do and what your strengths are.

Your profile should be compelling. The headline will automatically be displayed as the last job you've had, unless you change it manually.

Personal branding expert Dan Schawbel suggests that you brand yourself for the job you want, not the job you have. For instance, if you are a marketing specialist for Toyota, reword it to say "Internet-marketing expert for Fortune 500 companies."

Schawbel also suggests that your profile include keywords that recruiters or anyone else who uses LinkedIn as a talent search engine will be looking for. Ask for recommendations from clients and colleagues. What others say about you is important for helping to set yourself up as an expert in your field. Write recommendations often for folks you can honestly and fully recommend.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Brian Carroll
Brian Carroll is CEO of InTouch (startwithalead.com) and author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill). Reach him via bcarroll@startwithalead.com or his blog (blog.startwithalead.com).