LinkedIn is an absolutely essential part of any professional's online presence, whether you're the CEO of a multinational corporation or a freelance mommy blogger working in your PJs while keeping one eye on your toddler. That's not the main point of this post, but I'd thought I'd start there just in case you haven't fully committed to the idea yet.

The idea I do want to drill into your head today is that in addition to being an active member of the LinkedIn community (and notice the word active there), you also have a tool at your disposal through the site that can increase your exposure and influence perhaps more than any other available to you. Since it's free, choosing not to use it would be a major business mistake, obviously.

Last year, LinkedIn rolled out their long-form posting feature to every single member of the network, and those who immediately saw the advantages of this medium have been reaping the benefits ever since. In a coming post I will give you some tips on some best practices when using it, but today I want to give you three ways that jumping on the opportunity can help you in your business.

1. It can help you grow your influence
Before the mass roll out, this tool was available only to those who were already considered influencers. Let's dispel a myth here and now: influencers are not born, nor are they anointed by some secret society. Influence comes through hard work, experience, innovation, and great communication.

People like Robert Scoble and Gary Vaynerchuk didn't convert an existing offline reputation to an instant online position of high influence. They earned their current reputations almost purely online through becoming experts in their respective fields. There's no reason that you can't do the same if you work at it, and LinkedIn's long-form posts are possibly the best way to do that.

A great example is seen in Marko Saric of In a recent post on his blog he explains how his second long-form article on the LinkedIn platform was featured right next to an article by Richard Branson, was tagged in three channels with a combined follower count of more than 5 million readers, and received 20,000+ views, over 950 likes, more than 75 comments, andover 2,000 shares on social networks. Not bad for a second post.

As the disclaimers go, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and your results may vary. Still, this highlights what is possible. Are you willing to pass up that kind of possible exposure when there's no cost involved?

Becoming "an influencer" means more exposure, which almost always means more clout, business, and ultimately revenue in the long run.

2. It can attract employers and/or clients
Whether you are chasing after a dream job or looking to gain more clients for your business, being considered an expert in your field is key. People who are considered influencers get that "title" because they are known to be experts at what they do. That expertise, combined with a willingness to share best practices, new ideas, and forward thinking, is what gains them the respect of others.

Using the long-form tool to share thoughts and ideas with others can help you gain that kind of respect and be considered a thought leader. When employers are looking for new talent, thought leaders and influencers get preference. Not only could this exposure lead to a dream job, it can also give you leverage in negotiating terms and pay scale. Companies pay well for expertise, particularly when it's widely acknowledged.

By the same token, potential clients are going to be more likely to hire someone that is respected in their field. When your name starts popping up around the web because of the popularity of your posts, it gets attention. That attention gains more clients because there's less of a question as to whether you'll get the job done for them.

3. It can increase traffic to your site or blog
Maybe you aren't offering a service or looking for a job. You might just be selling a product you've developed. Setting up a blog with your website and spending time on optimization, Facebook ads, and other standard operating procedures will help, but influence trumps them all. Influencers have people following them if they move to a different site or company or offer a new product, while the average Joe has to go back through the motions with any new developments to try and build traffic again.

Someone like Chris Pirillo has had several homes online over the years, but people don't search for a site and then find him there - they search for him and find the site. That's the difference, and it's a huge difference. Posting on LinkedIn doesn't have to be exclusive from your posts elsewhere - your blog, Youtube, social sites, or publications. In fact, you should post the same article in all of these places for maximum exposure, even if you alter them slightly here and there.

Start posting relevant, helpful information on LinkedIn asap, and pay attention to what others post to get ideas. Getting a single post featured by the LinkedIn algorithm could lead to massive increases in the traffic to your site or blog almost overnight. Stay tuned, and I'll give you some tips and best practices on how to make the most of these posts.

Socialty is a full-service social media marketing and social recruiting agency in Chicago.  We create content, websites, blog posts, email marketing and strategic marketing plans for small and medium size businesses. Our social recruiting team helps you attract talented candidates via social media outlets.  Socialty connects you to your audience and potential employees.  We'll keep you social while you carry on with your business.  Keep Social and Carry On!