Linked In is now a public company. If you somehow missed this bandwagon last year, it's not too late to jump on. In fact, you probably should - it's free! I like to think of it as my electronic business card file. It's with me wherever me and my "Blueberry" go.
Do not make the mistake of seeing this as an alternative Facebook account. This is business. The object of the game is not to have the most connections but it is about having quality connections. You don't need to say yes to everyone who asks for a connection.
For example, I belong to a networking group, and we meet once a week. Our relationships are built on mutual trust. I have the confidence that I can refer them to even my closest friends and they will not let me down, but also return compliments after services are performed. These are some of the people I have connection with on Linked In. Sure, some are friends and associates that I personally do little or no business with, but like business cards, someday the accessible connection may prove useful.
Some Linked In tips:
1 - Complete your profile. There are several benefits to this.
2 - Protect your information. Do you give prospects your business card file? Why would you then allow access to everyone? Select in the settings that only you can see your connections. Shared connections are visible.
3 - Join industry groups. This will help keep you up to date on what's going on around you.
4 - Participate in industry group discussions. Share your knowledge - this will set you apart as an expert.
5 - Search your industry for local events.
Here's a link to a Slideshare presentation some might find useful: