There are enough seminars, summits, workshops, consortiums, convergences and after-hours soirees to drive home the point to businesspeople that they should be on LinkedIn. There’s really no play on both sides of the fence here; either you’re on it and leveraging it, or you’re watching from the sidelines. To get at the heart of what drives social business — that is, how professionals use LinkedIn advantageously — you need to break it down to its simplest components.

To gain traction on LinkedIn, you must first:

Survey the Social Landscape

As with any meaningful undertaking, you have to do your homework on social and determine your appropriate level of engagement. Not everything will have relevance for you. Not every conversation will fall into your sweet spot. Not every session will produce results. But study your options, see where you fit in (and where you don’t) and when you’re ready, opt in with purpose.

Define Your Social Business Persona

Does your social personality mirror your real world personality? The degree to which you want to represent online will allow a glimpse into your abilities, experience and qualifications. But how you express yourself in a professional setting, and to what extent, will determine your standing in the online business community. If you have clearly established a real world role for yourself in business, the social component will follow.

Develop Your Social Voice

Whereas so many were so resistant or so skeptical for so long, there is now a collective awareness that there may be something to this LinkedIn thing after all. In order to realize your full potential on LinkedIn, you must convert activity into habit. Free yourself of any inhibitions, allow your natural instincts to come to the fore and contribute to the conversation. We are encouraged to be authentic on social media.