LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. It is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities with a broad network of professionals.

LinkedIn allows you to control your online professional identity. LinkedIn profiles are search engine friendly and can often be found at the top of the search results. This allows you to control the first impression people get when they search for you online.

LinkedIn is also a valuable tool to exchange ideas and interact with experts. Tools such as Answers and Groups allow you to locate experts through trusted introductions to find the knowledge you are looking for.

Your LinkedIn Profile

Create your LinkedIn profile and list your current and past positions, and education. You can add a profile photo. This is a great tool as it gives people the opportunity to recognize you by face. You also can add a summary profile that you can use to pitch yourself, business or service.

Your Connections

LinkedIn represents your ‘real world’ network. You can use webmail import to see all the people you know who are already on LinkedIn. You can then select those you wish to invite to join your trusted network. In addition, you can view a list of your colleagues and classmates that are already using LinkedIn. You can also use the search bar to locate others you may wish to connect with. Be sure to look at the connections of your LinkedIn contacts to see if there are others you can add to your network.

What To Do With LinkedIn

Post a question on Answers and leverage the knowledge of experts you are connected to and the entire LinkedIn network. Look up someone’s profile before you meet with them and learn their background information. Search for businesses and service providers based on trusted recommendations from people in your network. Search for your next job or post a job opening at your business.

LinkedIn can be a very valuable online social networking tool; however, you have to use it regularly to completely leverage its power.