When you run a business, it is important to stay on top of your inventory. This obviously includes whatever products you provide to your customers, but inventory can also include your business contacts and the relationships you form with them. While you don”t “sell” customers and business contacts. Social networking can be an effective way to achieve this, and while some connections can be made with mainstream networks such as Facebook and Twitter, when it comes to business relationships, it is LinkedIn that has an edge.

Compared to the other networks, LinkedIn is more focused on quality versus quantity. You might want all your customers to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter to hear about your latest promotion or sale. Here, your business is best off getting all the “friends” and “connections” it can.

LinkedIn is more personal, largely because it”s not. While a business or individual may have several hundred, or even thousands of Facebook and Twitter connections, the average number of connections on LinkedIn is 60, perhaps because more people see it as a serious place. Many look at the site as a job board, but you can develop real business relationships.

Begin your networking with those you really know, people who you would call and actually talk to. By finding groups, or creating your own, you can begin to form relationships through these groups, and may eventually feel comfortable making an official connection. You can also make connections through the people that you know — LinkedIn will actually tell you this. On more personal sites, such as Facebook, connecting with friends of your friends isn”t something you necessarily want to do. You don”t need to connect with everyone on LinkedIn either, but with the right recommendation, you and the new connection can see how a business relationship might be mutually beneficial.

It”s also important to make use of recommendations and endorsements from your connections. If your connections don”t think to recommend you, go ahead and ask them for a recommendation. You can also actively seek out people and businesses to promote yourself, which gets your name out there that much more.

If you”re on LinkedIn, feel free to join our group – Rapid Inventory Users and Affiliates.