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Many underestimate LinkedIn, a powerful networking tool that opens the doorway to a robust business community. Connecting with colleagues, sharing status updates and following companies you do business with (or would like to do business with) are all significant ways to build and maintain relationships on LinkedIn.

The first step is to create and optimize your profile – be sure to include relevant keywords in your headline, summary and interests sections. Use a professional headshot so people will recognize you.

Next, connect with professionals you know, LinkedIn enables you to effectively track contacts (remember the Rolodex?) as they change positions or develop new skills and services that may be useful to your business. Learn how your contacts are connected to others you know. LinkedIn shows you just how small the world can be and allows you to uncover hidden connections.

Spend time posting about relevant issues affecting the business community you serve and follow your client’s company pages. Did you write, speak or attend an industry event? Share your knowledge by posting an update about it on LinkedIn with a link to the event or article. Own a company? Create a company page and use the new “showcase pages” feature to engage your audience and highlight your products and services.

Lastly, get active in groups, as there are more than 1,865,532 on LinkedIn. Identify groups your clients, prospects (and competition) are active in and contribute to the discussion with valuable content (avoid shameless self promotion). Being active on LinkedIn can spotlight you as a visible thought leader.

Remember, don’t just “set it and forget it,” continually update your profile and remain active on LinkedIn.