One of the best ways to use LinkedIn connections is to secure recommendations -- testimonials from people who know you professionally and can speak to the caliber of your work.
"Employers want to get a full picture of you as a professional, and recommendations are a great way to round out your profile," says Kat Krull, associate marketing manager at Resunate, a Pittsburgh company that builds resume-evaluation software. "Ask former supervisors or colleagues to write a short blurb about you by sending recommendation requests."
According to Krull, a good tactic for securing recommendations is to offer one in return. Doing so is also considered good form.
Brie Reynolds, a Dallas-based manager of content and social media at FlexJobs, says it's critical to stay in touch with contacts so that those recommendations don't stay static.
"Set a goal for yourself that every month or week, you'll send a quick message to five to 10 of your LinkedIn connections just saying hello and wishing them well," says Reynolds. "In your note, inquire about their careers and lives, and mention that you'd like to stay in touch. By staying fresh in people's minds, they're more likely to think of you the next time they hear of a job opportunity that fits you."