While the LinkedIn.com networking website is hardly a “best kept secret” anymore, with 75 million members (almost 700,000 in the Seattle area alone) having joined the system to date, the vast majority of folks I come across still seem to underestimate the site’s true potential — and the number of useful things you can do with it!

So in today’s post, I thought I’d provide a “top 25” list of LinkedIn uses that I threw together for a recent networking workshop.  While you may have discovered many of these features already, on your own, I still have a hunch you’ll see a few fresh ones you can tuck away in your pocket for future reference, should the need arise!

Used properly, LinkedIn is a terrific way to:

1.     Research companies prior to an interview or sales call
2.     Generate “warm” referrals to employers or sales prospects
3.     Be “found” for appropriate jobs by employers and recruiters
4.     Source/recruit new employees (especially for specialized roles)
5.     Check references (formally or informally) on potential employees
6.     Build referral partnerships with complementary entrepreneurs
7.     Identify the vendors most highly recommended by trusted peers
8.     Access cutting-edge topical discussions via LinkedIn Groups
9.     Subscribe to Q&A threads for free professional development
10.   Solidify your personal brand/expertise around a given subject
11.   Post job leads or search for job leads, yourself
12.   Monitor new developments at companies of interest
13.   Identify and make contacts with top headhunters in your field
14.   Brainstorm and research a brand-new set of career options
15.   Reconnect in a “safe” way with people you’ve lost touch with
16.   Keep your network apprised of your latest needs/developments
17.   Promote upcoming events you’re planning to host
18.   Build an extremely comprehensive list of target companies
19.   Collect a great record of testimonials regarding your performance
20.   Build favors and good will by submitting testimonials for others
21.   Make useful, relevant introductions between other people
22.   Showcase an online portfolio of work samples/presentations
23.   Increase your “findability” in Google and other search engines
24.   Drive more traffic to your blog, if you have one
25.   Create a vibrant community of industry peers/thought partners

And quite frankly, this list is just the tip of the iceberg…

The bottom line?  When you have a searchable database of 75 million human beings, spanning every industry sector and containing hyper-accurate data that is updated constantly by the members, themselves, you’ve got one powerful tool on your hands!   Are you sure you’re using this amazing system to full capacity?