Recently LinkedIn exceeded 300 million users, with more than 100 million located in the U.S.

The major reasons people are turning to this professional network is it's a veritable powerhouse of hiring, selling and learning. People are able to build personal brands, establish themselves as thought leaders and even bring in new leads to a company.

Here's how to make LinkedIn work for you. 

1. Personalize your job title and summary. Don’t use the default job title as your headline, instead opt for one that is unique. It should be customized to include keywords that can help people find you. That means, no gimmicky titles that will ultimately render you unsearchable. For instance, my title is "Maren Hogan, Chief Marketing Brain at Red Branch Media.

Related: What Types of Photos Should You Share on LinkedIn?

I chose this title for a few reasons. Marketing is the keyword that will help people find the professional they are looking for. "Chief Marketing Brain" is my way of letting potential clients know working with me is fun. (That said, if you are just starting a new career or trying to find work, keep it as professional as possible and save the personality for the interview.) Then I include the unique name of my firm and a summary that highlights not only my activities, but HOW I achieved those things.

2. Become an instant influencer. If you’re using the right tools, creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, along with status updates, doesn’t require a ton of upkeep.

For instance, social-sharing software like Buffer or Sprout Social allows you to fill up a queue for the week or month and schedule publishing times and dates. You can hammer out shared LinkedIn content in just one cup of coffee over the weekend. Also if you select "Public + Twitter" from the shared with dropdown menu, you can automatically share updates.

The most popular LinkedIn pros also generate a mix of original content. This could be from posting blog-like posts on the LinkedIn Publishing Platform or from linking a SlideShare account to the network and posting content that way. Make sure to add a picture and a call-to-action like "please share" to every third or so post. Here are a few other ways to build up your credibility:

  • Share others' posts when you think they'll be relevant to your network's interests
  • Like posts from those who took time to craft them.
  • Join groups for your profession and also for your target market.

3. Throw away business cards. Well, throw them away after you make the connection. While I always recommend a personal email to important new contacts, I realize that sometimes that just isn’t feasible. Get through that stack quickly by connecting with them on LinkedIn with a short and simple note. You should also always customize your connection requests. 

Related: Stranger Danger: 3 Good Reasons to Reject a LinkedIn Connection Request

I would recommend writing why you want to connect with them. My most interesting interactions on LinkedIn have started with a genuine request or offer like: "I would like to buy you coffee and discuss working for your firm," or "Your blog post made marketing seem simple, can you show me how to do that?"

4. Make yourself accessible. Rule No. 1 of LinkedIn Club is make yourself so easy to find that users will virtually trip over you. A simple way to do this is to customize your profile URL. (Click here and the help center will assist you in claiming your vanity URL.) Other tips include: 

  • Put "Connect with me on LinkedIn" badges up on your site.
  • Use the Slideshare integration to show off your most recent PowerPoint presentation.
  • Once a week, take a look at who is looking at your profile and introduce yourself to the most promising folks.

5. Use LinkedIn trending content and content score tools. Don’t have time to sort through it all? No one does. Use the trending content tool to weed through the posts and updates to find information relevant to you and your connections. You can also use this tool to gauge what topics might be hot to create your own content around. Then, you can use the Content Score Tool to find out how you’re doing and what you can do to strengthen your reach.

The more you invest in building and maintaining your LinkedIn profile, the more useful and effective it will become. 

Related: To Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Groups, Follow These Guidelines

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business