I have discussed LinkedIn in the past, mentioning it as just one of the many social media platforms that you can integrate into your marketing mix. But the professional networking website can serve as much more than a digital business card. When properly designed, utilized and leveraged, it can open up entirely new groups of clientele and expand your presence beyond the people who have your name in their contact list or Rolodex.

The good news is that financial advisors are starting to treat social media as a mainstream channel of communication, with LinkedIn being the most popular – 90 percent of FAs who are tapping social networks use the site, according to a study from LinkedIn and FTI Consulting. Researchers investigated how FAs use social as a business tool while navigating “obstacles like securities regulations and company compliance policies.” The report shows that LinkedIn is a good fit with the regular business cycle in financial services, since it facilitates broader and more efficient networking.

The site can be a great research tool for sales, giving you insight into clients’ and prospects’ work histories and their connections. Indeed, the FTI Consulting study found that more than 60 percent of FAs who added LinkedIn to their prospecting efforts were able to secure new clients. And the numbers don’t lie – out of these additional clients, almost one-third generated at least $1 million in assets under management.

So how can you maximize the benefit of being on LinkedIn? Use it as an extension of a professional blog or of the articles you contribute to print and online publications. Join in the discussion forums or start your own conversation about issues in personal and professional finance. Even by experimenting with the advanced search feature to identify new prospects and expand your network of collateral professionals.

Beyond networking with others, take some time with your own profile to ensure it is presenting the best image of you and your business. This is the point where you can integrate some of the wording or message of your company’s values and mission statement, creating a more compelling bio that will demonstrate why your ideal clients and target audience should work with you. Rather than listing a few adjectives to describe you, make it actionable and distinctive. Make yourself easy to find by incorporating keywords into your profile, and include tie-ins to any other online profiles or websites.

Mixing up the kinds of media included on your profile can also make it more engaging – try adding video or a link to a podcast. Provide information for how people can get in touch with you or learn more about your services, and encourage people to follow up every time you make a new connection.

If you are looking to improve your LinkedIn profile, check out our LinkedIn Review to identify areas where you can improve your profile.