We generally think about LinkedIn as a hub for networking and sharing industry information. And while it certainly is that, it’s also a place that offers a ton of additional utility for the small business owner — including lots of opportunities for generating more leads.

When you’re running a small business, you need to be trying various new sales tactics and generating leads in as many places as possible. And with 675 million monthly users and 50 percent engagement growth year after year, LinkedIn has the potential to open a lot of doors for you when used wisely. So instead of just looking at LinkedIn as one of many basic social media tools, take advantage of all that it can do for you in other areas as well.

Here are some tried and true ways to generate more leads more consistently with LinkedIn.

1. Treat Your Profile Like a Marketing Landing Page — Because That’s What It Is

You optimize your website to appeal to potential leads, so why not your LinkedIn profile?

While you don’t want your profile page to appear like an ad (that might read a little too inauthentic to your prospects), you should be taking subtle steps to design it for lead appeal. This includes putting your value proposition front and center, and yes, even some light keyword optimization.

Make sure your company information is easily accessible so that when people check out your profile, they know exactly what it is you do and what company you represent. Transparency is key, and you want leads to get as much information as possible from your profile. 

Another essential profile feature: a call to action. Let people know that you’re open to connecting, and share your contact information so that it’s easy for them to get in touch.

2. Publish Original Content

Lots of small businesses use LinkedIn to share curated industry news, but in addition to that, you should also be creating and sharing original content. The former tells your prospects that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s important, and the latter tells them that you have enough authority to contribute to the dialogue.

By utilizing LinkedIn’s article publishing tool, you can reshare articles you’re writing for your company blog, or you can create new articles from scratch. This publishing tool helps you build your personal brand and enables you to tap into LinkedIn’s algorithm so your articles will distribute into the feeds of those who may find them most useful. 

Don’t forget to share your company’s blog content in your feed, too. Pairing traditional social sharing on LinkedIn for your company’s content while also taking advantage of the publishing tool for content you author is a great way to cover your brand awareness bases. 

Aim to keep up with a consistent posting schedule, alternating between self-created content and shared content from other sources, and be sure to use relevant hashtags so you can expand your reach.

3. Join Groups

Much like Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups serve to bring together individuals who are interested in similar things. Though in this case, groups are more aligned with industries, careers, and professional services than, say, gardening and slow cooker tips.

The big benefit of LinkedIn groups for lead generation is that it opens up your network to people who you might not have otherwise come into contact with –  who could have prospect potential.  

Don’t just message every member with a pitch. Instead, maintain regular engagement in the group, share insight, respond to other members, and “connect” with other members when it makes sense to do so. It may take time to generate leads this way, but those you do generate will likely be high quality — and already somewhat familiar with what you have to offer.

4. Narrow In On Your Search Targets

A common way to source leads on LinkedIn is through the search bar. However, suppose you’re just searching by one broad term (for example: “hospital administrators”). In that case, the ensuing list of names you get isn’t going to necessarily have a lot of value for you.

Fortunately, LinkedIn lets you use additional filters to narrow your search and target leads who are more qualified. Using the example above, you may choose to search hospital administrators who are first or second connections, who are located in your region, and who have a specialization or interest in a particular clinical area. Use your customer personas to highlight which search-related features your leads tend to possess, then use those as guidelines. 

The difference between these two approaches is that the more you narrow down your search, the higher the quality of your leads becomes. You’ll end up with fewer results overall, but you won’t waste quite so much time on prospects who aren’t the right fit for you.

5. Send a Personalized Message to Each New Connection

You only have one chance to make a strong first impression. So when you connect with a new lead, be sure you include a personalized note in the message that introduces you and your business – and that lays the groundwork for further engagement.

Just as crucial: follow up if your initial outreach fizzles out. People are busy, and it’s easy to get lost in the fold (especially if their LinkedIn messages aren’t forwarded to their standard email). Do learn to tell when someone just isn’t interested, but don’t take a bout of radio silence as proof that a lead is dead in the water.

Put LinkedIn’s lead generation functions to work when you’re trying to grow your small business. Even without investing in some of their heartier (and high-priced) tools, you can get a ton of utility — and new leads — out of the site.