Facebook and Twitter are the platforms for personal social medial...

...but LinkedIn should be looked upon as your business/professional social media platforms. Using all three and let's not forget Google+ and profession-specific social media platforms should be part of a comprehensive marketing plan for both yourself and your business.

LinkedIn is a powerful platform for individuals involved in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands. LinkedIn provides the tool for you to build your following but you need to know exactly how to capture and monetize the time you spend there.

Here are five quick and easy steps you can take right now to gain control of your time spent on LinkedIn:

  1. Make certain your profile is complete and up to date. A perk of being on LinkedIn is that it provides you prompts letting you know how far away you are from completing your profile. To be fully complete you will want to add a professional photo, insert links to social media profiles, your website and other contact information. Put time into your headline as that is how you will be found. Prepare your summary, request recommendations and complete your work history.
  2. Be active and post status updates. You should post, at a minimum three times per week. Post an update that will spark conversation; ask a question, that involves those who follow you. Comment on the updates of others.
  3. Seek out groups which match your profession and the professions of those with whom you want to interact; for example, join an accountants or dog lovers or social media group. After you've joined a group, you will receive prompts for "groups that you may like" and you may want to consider joining them as well. Get involved in the groups, ask questions, answer questions, post updates.
  4. Populate your page with recommendations. Ask people you've worked with, or for, in the past. Ask clients with whom you're working now. Ask individuals who know you through your volunteer or community involvements. A recommendation is a way to brag without your having to do it yourself. Recommendations also tout your expertise and successes to all who have connected with you.
  5. Build your circle of connections. Connecting with business professionals is the purpose of LinkedIn but make certain you're doing it with a strategy. There are some individuals who will accept invitations from anyone and everyone and while that will certainly amp up their numbers, the chances that they are building quality contacts could be debated.

Again, LinkedIn is a way to build followers, get your name and brand more recognition and connect with potential clients, but it should be part of your whole marketing pie not simply one slice of it.