--David Eads, founder of the Atlanta-based strategy consultancy Mobile Strategy Partners
I primarily use LinkedIn as a credential network rather than a peer communication network. I've found on many occasions, LinkedIn is the primary social network for individuals who are less comfortable using other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, it does give an option to contact others and it's useful to see past experience and other connections. I personally use Twitter far more effectively for professionally communicating with people but I have gotten into contact with individuals via LinkedIn I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise.
--Coty Beasley, co-founder and chief design officer with Kansas City, Missouri-based CandyCam Mulitmedia Robotics
"I track blog posts, notes, musings from colleagues, and trends of where everyone is working or looking to work. [There's a] big shift to mobile, cloud, social, as opposed to other jobs that are not hot."
--Carlos Icaza, co-founder and CEO at Mountain View, California-based game engine startup Lanica
"In the sales business case, I use Linkedin to discover the internal organigram, without having to directly contact the organization in the presales process. I try to understand who is the boss of who, who has connection with whom so that then I can try to reach out people who are not directly on the deal at hand but can give me info on the people who are."
--Denis Harscoat, Switzerland-based co-founder and CEO of the action-tracking app DidThis
How to make better use of LinkedIn
To get the most benefit from LinkedIn, invest some time building out your profile. It's important to include specific, significant results. For entrepreneurs this means communicating traction--things like funding dollars from big shot VCs, incredible user numbers or the unique value you deliver to customers.
And if you're not familiar with all of LinkedIn's deeper features, spend some time playing around with them. For example, you can keep tabs on a particular company by following it (think competitors), claim a vanity profile URL you could include in your email signature to draw people to your profile, as well as join more than 1 million groups--a great way to expand your network, contribute thoughtful commentary and demonstrate expertise in your given field.
Speaking of expanding your network, you want to have as many connections on LinkedIn as possible. Even though LinkedIn itself says it only wants to bring together people who actually know each other, I accept connection requests all the time from people I don't know. Unlike Facebook where I might be sharing personal or location information I wouldn't want strangers to have, on LinkedIn it's all about business, and the more people you have access to, the better.
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