LinkedIn is currently considered the largest online professional network in the world with over 200 million members as of 2012. Professionals are now signing up for membership to the website at the rate of two new members a second.

If you’re an independent insurance agent, a professional networking website like LinkedIn could provide the edge you’re looking for. Although LinkedIn is popularly used to connect with other colleagues in your industry, it offers the added benefit of building authority and improving reputation.

Become Active in the Community

If you already have a profile on LinkedIn, you’re only doing half the work. You can become active in the community by answering questions via LinkedIn Answers to build reputation and set yourself apart as an expert in your field.

Just like it sounds, LinkedIn Answers is a question and answer forum that allows members to share first-hand business information. When you answer questions as an expert, you’ll prove yourself as an independent insurance agent based on your knowledge and ability.

Other LinkedIn users have the opportunity to rate your answers. As a result, earning Best Answer for an expert response can stick with you to boost your reputation even further on the professional website.

Rub Elbows with Colleagues

One step beyond LinkedIn Answers is LinkedIn Groups, providing you the opportunity to virtually rub elbows with peers in your industry. LinkedIn Groups are available for almost any level of interest or area throughout the country.

You can join groups that pertain to the insurance industry or local business groups in your city or region. Once you have joined a group, it’s time to participate in a discussion, just like you would at a real-life networking party.

Within a professional website like LinkedIn, a group provides the occasion for niche networking. If you’re hoping to gain more clients as an insurance agent, a LinkedIn group is one indirect way to expand your connections. Since you are joining a group of like-minded people that you share common interests with, they will likely connect with you on LinkedIn after you have engaged in meaningful conversation.

In short, using the two methods above will help you to get the most out of LinkedIn as an insurance agent. Instead of merely setting up a profile and letting it go stagnant, you can become involved in the LinkedIn sphere to build your community even further. From there, it’s only natural that connections will inquire of your insurance services for themselves or for client referral.