40 per cent of UK professionals use LinkedIn

Which means if you're not already on LinkedIn, now might be a good time to join. It only takes a couple of minutes to create a profile. But those few minutes suddenly open you up to a new range of business groups, contacts, professional networks, recommendations, a pool of potential recruits.

Add people you know and have done business with as contacts, and, when you need it, they'll typically be more than happy to recommend you a supplier or PR agency when you need it. Which is handy.

Of course, the same is true for any business network you build up through social media. The Twitter community are always happy to point a fellow business owner in the right direction. You Facebook friends won't shy from replying to your status update about whether anyone knows any desk spaces going in local offices, either. And the Smarta community are always on hand to answer questions about everything from filling out your VAT return to identifying a reliable supplier of enamel buttons in South East Asia.

That's the thing with social media - it makes trying to find what you need really easy. Most social media users tend to be helpful whenever they can - it's kind of the whole ethos of social.

Which means for a few minutes worth of creating yourself a profile quickly on different channels, such as the Smarta community, and LinkedIn, and Twitter, you can suddenly expand your business network and communicate and learn from them in much quicker, friendlier and more frequent ways than, say, sporadically sifting through that huge pile of business cards and racking your brains for who you met at that event who said they knew someone who maybe was a good SEO consultant.

And when you start helping people back - well, that's when you'll start realising the real value of being on social media. Because that's when people will start coming to you for work.

For more advice, check out our advice on social media, the Smarta community, our guide on using LinkedIn for business, our free Twitter ebook, and our guide on using Facebook for business.

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