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ATB Entrepreneur & Small BusinessFeb 15, 2024 10:40:38 AM4 min read

How small business owners can use LinkedIn to build community

Networking is more than just showing up at events; it’s about building authentic connections in the digital age and capitalizing on platforms like LinkedIn to showcase your brand.

Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the standard platform for professional networking, offering you chances to connect with fellow small business owners, industry professionals, mentors, talent and community members for collaboration and potential partnerships.

It’s your online resume and portfolio, outlining your skills, accomplishments and value proposition while establishing your brand. A well-constructed profile can increase your visibility and bolster your reputation.

When you engage with connections and relevant groups, you can demonstrate what you know and learn what you don’t. LinkedIn lets you share industry insights and thought leadership content, staying informed on trends. Boost credibility by having people in your network endorse and recommend your skills.

Create a profile

First impressions matter—especially online. Create a LinkedIn account and upload a recent, clear, well-lit, professional headshot. For the cover photo, use an image that conveys what you do, with the option to use Canva to create a graphic with your business’ main keywords or mission statement. Use your name and your business’ name to customize your profile’s URL.


Using keywords, write a headline that defines what you (and your business) are about, namely:

  • your role, title or objective
  • your industry or audience
  • your foremost skill or how you can help others achieve their goals

Specific headlines make your profile appear in more searches.


In this section, write a keyword-rich summary that describes your background, passions, skills, achievements, goals and value proposition.

Your profile could sound like this:

  • I’m Betty Blacksmith, an entrepreneur with a burning passion for steel, anvils and chisels.
  • With five years’ experience in manufacturing and a welding background, I’ve honed my skills in turning raw materials into art.
  • After discovering my love of sculpture-making tinkering in my garage workshop, I founded decor company Forging Friendships and have since created over 500 art pieces, managed 10 welders and learned how to do more with less.
  • I want to share knowledge about Alberta’s craft market scene, uncommon ways to get grants and how to sell goods through community connection.
  • Let’s explore how we can make a positive impact by revitalizing an ancient art form!

This is your chance to concisely tell your story with targeted keywords and add a call to action.

Experience and the rest

For the rest of your profile, fill out sections relevant to your business.
Provide organizational context and mention specific, quantifiable responsibilities and accomplishments in your experience section, listing the role, company, location and time frame.

Other sections include education, skills, certifications, projects, courses, recommendations, volunteer experience and awards. For example, completing the Working Mind course and displaying it on LinkedIn could provide connection opportunities with people who are also passionate about mental health.

Find community on LinkedIn

Your objectives are explaining your business’ purpose, learning what’s happening in your market, exploring partnership opportunities, seeking mentorship and finding community.

After honing your profile, identify professionals you want to connect with based on shared values. Follow current peers, former colleagues, existing customers, mentors and market influencers. When networking online, avoid untargeted, vague invitations; instead, focus on quality over quantity.

To establish credibility and foster community, you can join groups with like-minded people—sparking conversations, offering assistance or resources and sharing expertise.

After making a connection with someone online, take initiative and schedule a phone call, video chat or in-person meeting. 

Sharing your insights

You can find your voice and establish authenticity by posting on LinkedIn. Write and share engaging, relevant content (like customer stories, how your company started, learnings as you’ve grown your business or top things people don’t know about your industry) to position yourself as a subject matter expert who adds value to readers’ feeds. Using multimedia content such as images, infographics and videos can enhance your visibility and impact.

To establish yourself as a thought leader, solidify your niche and drive engagement with genuine passion. Consistently sharing valuable insights builds credibility and your following. Responding to comments and participating in relevant discussions fosters community and signals you as a trusted authority.

Ultimately, being a thought leader on LinkedIn is about providing valuable content, fostering meaningful connections and consistently demonstrating your expertise. For example, Mark Parsons, ATB Financial’s chief economist, is an established voice in the economic space. He often uses infographics to illustrate insights, shares advice to help people understand how Alberta’s economy impacts their businesses, offers opportunities for the community to connect with him in person and regularly engages in thoughtful economic discussions.

Recap: Be strategic and engaged

Carve out your space on LinkedIn to build authentic, lasting relationships through meaningful conversations, a personalized approach and a niche of expertise. Use strong, specific keywords so people can easily find you. How can you engage in meaningful interactions to make your network work for you? Be aware of how you and your business come across on LinkedIn. Keep your profile updated. The more you put into your online network, the more you’ll get out of it.

LinkedIn benefits:

  • Build your network and strategic relationships
  • Access connection and growth opportunities
  • Establish your brand
  • Share and gain knowledge
  • Stay informed on trends

Best LinkedIn strategies:

  • Identify and connect with relevant professionals
  • Join groups and start discussions
  • Personalize messages
  • Offer help and valuable insight

Follow ATB Financial on LinkedIn and learn about upcoming events, financial literacy advice and economic insights from industry experts.