LinkedIn is not just a social network for keeping up-to-date with colleagues and clients, it's also a powerful business connection tool that gives you the ability to communicate directly with industry influencers, job candidates, and prospective clients. But it only works at its best if you invest a little time in optimizing your profile and learning the ins and outs of its powerful features.

We put together a slideshare to describe some of the not-too-obvious ways you can use LinkedIn to connect with anyone. Tips include:

  1. Did you know that if you are in a LinkedIn group with someone, you can message them directly even if they're not in your network? And no need to pay for InMails either. Simply join groups where your much of your target audience congregates and you have an easier way to contact prospects.
  2. Find a target's colleagues by checking out the "People Also Viewed" column on the right side of the profile. More often than not, the people listed there are coworkers or clients of the target.
  3. You can sometimes find a person's direct email address, even if it's not listed anywhere in their profile page. The secret is to click "Send InMail." Some people choose to show their email addresses in the "Contact Advice" area right next to the message box.

For the complete set of 10 tips for optimizing your profile and using LinkedIn to connect with people outside your direct network, check out the slideshare:

Unleash the Secret Power of LinkedIn

Do you have any LinkedIn tips to share with us? We'd love to learn more from you. Hit the comments!

Photo by Juliana Coutinho - Creative Commons Attribution License