LinkedIn is a great professional networking tool that can be used for a variety of reasons:

1. Be Found.  Fill in the details of your profile so that when people search on LinkedIn for what you do, you appear.  Make sure your company also has a profile so it will be included in search results. 

2. Be Visible.  At least once a week, fill in your network update (found on your LinkedIn home page).  All your contacts can see your network updates – not only will you look busy, but it is a great way of telling people the range of services or products that you can offer.  Make sure that you use a good quality photo in your profile, this reminds people what you look like.  Some people are better at remembering and recognising faces than names – give these people the opportunity to remember you.

3. Connect with people.  Think about who you want to connect with on LinkedIn.  Yes, connect with the people you see regularly, but what about the people you used to work with, but have now lost contact with?  It is a great excuse to make contact with people you used to know well but haven’t seen for a while.

4. Extended Contacts.  You can see contacts who are three degrees away from you.  For Example,

                Mary is connected to Paul

                Paul is connected to Jack

                Jack is connected to Susan

Mary and Susan can see each other. 

I would probably only actually make use of two levels of contacts.  How valuable could it be if Jack is a manager in a company that I have targeted?  I could contact Paul and ask for an introduction / recommendation?

5. Groups – get involved in group discussions.  LinkedIn groups exist for many face to face networking events as well as your market sector and your target market sector.  By getting involved in the discussions, you are raising your profile amongst others in the group.

6. Answers – Anybody in LinkedIn can ask a question about anything.  Anybody else can answer any of the questions.  The person who originally asked the question, gets to nominate the best answer.  If you are nominated as best answer, then you become known as an expert.  Imagine being known as an expert in your area of knowledge by everybody who uses LinkedIn?

7. Jobs – About 10% of jobs are found on LinkedIn – a great tool to find and post jobs.

There are other uses of LinkedIn, including events, polls and other applications.  What do you use?  What would you recommend to others?