A lot of businesses today are looking for helpful ways to use LinkedIn in their marketing. So I contacted Social Media Marketing Expert Spencer X Smith and asked if he could share some of his most effective LinkedIn marketing tips.

Spencer X Smith teaches white collar professionals like lawyers, accountants and bankers how to use social media for business development. Spencer is also the co-author of an excellent new marketing book called "ROTOMA: The ROI of Social Media Top of Mind".

Let me pass you over to Spencer for some of his thoughts on effectively using LinkedIn in your marketing...

The key to using LinkedIn for business is to set clear intentions, follow a strategy, and stick to strict time limits.

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Here are four tips to making sure you make the most of your efforts on LinkedIn.

1. Set a time limit and stick to it

The key to staying productive on LinkedIn is to set a timer, and try to accomplish as much as possible in that time.

Whether its 6 minutes, 20 minutes, or some other time allotment, it's important to associate this work as productive and meaningful

I recommend 10 minutes a day, because that should be long enough to do whatever you need, and it will motivate you to skip the news feed altogether.

Once you've made the connection you wanted to make, done the research you needed to do or posted the content you wanted to share, get off the platform.

Don't allow yourself to stay and browse.

2. Focus on your target market

Whether you're in sales, searching for a job, or just looking to expand your professional network, you should know what your target market is.

You should focus your activity on starting conversations with these targets, whether they're vice presidents at a company you want to earn as a client or they are thought leaders in your industry.

Before you log in, make a list of the people you want to engage with.

If you're not sure who should be in your target market, start with this strategy (it's specific to sales, but you can customize it for other needs).

Identify the top 20 per cent of your current clients who are active on LinkedIn.

Make sure you are connected with them.

Once you are connected, look for prospects among your client's first connections.

When you have found connections who look like strong prospects, ask your current client for a referral.

You should aim to spend your daily allotment of time looking for referral options from just one current client. That will keep the task manageable and keep you from wasting time.

3. Send personalised connection requests

Stop scrolling and start searching. I like to use a "reverse referral" strategy to look up the top 10 contacts that I'd like to be connected to - big names in my industry or my region - and look for mutual connections in their networks who could give me a referral.

But even if you can't get a referral for a potential client or a highly networked person, it's still worth trying to connect.

Many people are receptive to connection requests from strangers, as long as you explain why you want to connect.

And that reason had better not be, "I want to sell you something," or any variation of that phrase. Try something like this: "I was reading your latest blog post and I loved your insight on X." Or, "I saw this share on Twitter and I really liked it."

One strategy I love to use allows me to take advantage of the data LinkedIn gives you about who has viewed your profile.

With a non-premium account, you'll see the five most recent profile viewers, unless those viewers have heightened privacy settings.

If someone viewed my profile, but never asked to connect, I use LinkedIn InMail to send this message:

"I noticed you've checked out my profile here on LinkedIn. Typically, this happens for one of two reasons: (1) it's an accident; or (2) there's something I could possibly do for you. If it's the latter, please don't hesitate to let me know, okay?"

If you don't have InMail through a premium account, you could look up the person's email address on their website and email them directly, or try calling them directly, or send a personalised connection request.

If we're already connected, I send a slight variation of that message to acknowledge that we know each other but (probably) haven't spoken in a while.

By asking if they looked at my profile by accident, I give them an out (even if they looked at me on purpose) if they're not interested in my services.

But simply inviting them to start a conversation after they look at my profile has led to many mutually beneficial relationships.

4. Connect with your current customers

Too many people take their current customers for granted

But reactivating your current customers' loyalty for your brand is just as important as developing awareness in new targets, and it's so much easier.

Start by simply connecting with the people you've worked with at all current and former clients. Then find ways to highlight their successes and share content that they will find meaningful.

Graham's Comment: I enjoyed these tips on using LinkedIn from Spencer X Smith and hope you found something of value in his comments.

"A large social-media presence is important because it's one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears. Social media enables a small business to earn eyeballs and ears."- Guy Kawasaki

Action Exercise:

Spencer has a number of helpful free resources on his website that go into a lot more detail about how to use LinkedIn to get new clients.

Make sure you check them out. His website is here.