In the world of small business and entrepreneurship, the lines between personal and company branding are faint – sometimes nonexistent. Success is about constantly using your personal network to reach new partners, customers, and talent on behalf of your company. All the while, you’re managing your company’s online properties to create a coherent and trusted brand identity. When people research your company, they look at your LinkedIn profile, and those of your team. The concepts of brand and identity are intertwined.

Managing this dual identity is challenging, but when done well it can deliver breakout opportunities.

To understand how small businesses are succeeding in this area, we traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia for our first-ever LinkedIn Live event. We sat with local business leaders to hear first-hand how they’re using LinkedIn to grow their brands. Here are some highlights from their experience:

  1. Connect LinkedIn into your wider online presence. There are plenty of ways for potential customers to find you (company website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but they may not always know where to go. Connect these properties and give your brand more opportunities to be found by the right people. Mike Cox, Senior Strategic Planner at Modea, thinks broader than just online properties, integrating Modea communications as well: “Any time we have other forms of communication on other online properties, we really look to see how we’re linking to LinkedIn.”

  2. Engage your team on LinkedIn. Flex your company’s collective network by getting your employees (outside of the marketing team) involved in your Company Page. Not only will this increase your company’s visibility to new customers and potential hires, it will help establish a company culture where employees are engaged with the brand and contributing to a single mission. This can be as simple as having a colleague add his/her company to their profile, ensuring they have an updated and compelling profile (including picture) or share your Company Page’s updates to their network.

  3. Leverage existing content streams. Use successful posts on other social properties to create a high-quality stream of content on your Company Page and personal profile. Gary Schirr, Social Media Professor at Radford University, uses his Twitter history as a way to curate content for his LinkedIn presence: “I go through the tweets I did the day before and pick the best one, and the one that’s most germane to my LinkedIn identity.”

  4. Demonstrate value to followers and results will follow. Your Company Page should be built around providing value to your target audience through a constant stream of rich and insightful content.  In doing so, you’ll build engagement and develop a trusted relationship with your customers. Alex Shamy, Head of Growth Marketing at Heyo, suggests using the 80/20 rule as a guideline: “Post four status updates [that are] strictly value driven, then post one relating back to your company.”

  5. Engage in LinkedIn Groups. Gary Schirr had great advice on LinkedIn Groups: “Do a search and find the groups that are talking about things that matter to your organization. Join those groups and contribute…be seen as somebody who’s a member and who cares and provides good advice – the benefits will accrue.” Acting as a representative for your company, quickly build rapport for your personal and company brands by taking a thought leadership role in target groups.

Check out all 20 branding tactics here:

This blog post is the third of a series of three posts, which explore topics covered at LinkedIn Live – a gathering for small businesses and local professionals to share ways to grow their business using LinkedIn.

For more tips on how small businesses can amplify their brand on LinkedIn, visit us at smallbusiness.linkedin.com, or follow us on Twitter at @LinkedInSMB