LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for any business, whatever your size, whatever your sector, but are you making the most of it? Here are five simple steps that will immediately lift your company’s LinkedIn presence, engagement and authority with the minimum of fuss:

1. Follow your competitors

You can bet the more savvy of your competitors are following you, so make sure you keep pace. When you follow a company’s LinkedIn page you can find out what new employees they have taken on, who has left, as well as any postings they make such as job ads or sharing recent news. It’s the sort of market intelligence that would normally cost you thousands of pounds, but via Linked-In is free.

2. Let people know you are on LinkedIn

Just as the Facebook and Twitter logos should now appear on your website, letterheads, email footers, etc so should your LinkedIn button. Just letting people know you are there is a great way of building up your followers and moving you towards better engagement. Don’t just make it a single click through either. If you have product pages, blog posts, etc make them capable of being easily shared to LinkedIn. They are free to ad and are a great way of helping you reach new audiences beyond your existing customer base.

3. Encourage your employees

Too many who don’t understand LinkedIn see it as a risk for employees being poached by competitors or head-hunters. It would be wrong to say some don’t use it like that but in any case if you treat your employees well and look after them why would they want to leave? Your employees are a vital part of any LinkedIn strategy. Fuller profiles for them reflect well on you suggesting you are strong on social and employee development. Better still employees linking with each other, will identify a whole new network of second-degree connections which could open up new avenues for your business.

4. Create a private group

One way to encourage employees to get involved is to create a private members-only LinkedIn group just for current employees. That is probably the hardest part, keeping it current, so make sure HR include managing it as part of their new employee/exiting employee routine. It needn’t be a heavy traffic forum, nor too formal. Consider using it as you may a broadcast message system but with the aim of encouraging debate and employee interaction.

5. Create a group for your customers

If you want to identify your brand ambassadors quickly, give them a group to join about you. You may need to manage the forum topics, encourage engagement and patrol the odd comment – just as you would any other social network – but the benefits you will gain will outweigh that. Customer groups give you the opportunity to see how customers are thinking and how they see you. If they sign up to your group they are obviously interested in what you do, so pay heed to what they are saying; good and bad.

That’s five from me. Do you have any more?