Recently LinkedIn has been running a series of posts on its company blog in which guest bloggers (small business owners in some cases) share some ways that LinkedIn has helped them run their businesses.

Obviously they are hoping to get more folks to use Linked In through these posts but in fact they offer great infromation that can help show you how to utilize Linked  In to your advantage in your small business operations.

Linked In includes posts like:

The posts in this series talk about things like asking the LinkedIn community to comment on best practices in certain niches and regarding specific technologies, as well as marketing, and finding people of influence. They talk about generating leads and referrals, and even gaining some perspective on web design and navigation.

Some interesting tidbits about LinkedIn:

– It has over 43 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world.- A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and about half of the members are outside the U.S.

– Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.

These are just some things LinkedIn wants users to keep in mind. To benefit from LinkedIn, you’re going to have to “develop a network that lasts,” and a while back, LinkedIn VP of Marketing and Advertising, Patrick Crane shared the following tips on how to do just that:

1. Upload your address book.2. Focus on nurturing your network by seeing what questions their asking and helping them when you can. (participate and be rewarded)

3. Check your network updates frequently. (don’t log in once a month, try every other day)

4. When you find someone you want to work with, pick the strongest connection you have to introduce you. (try advanced search).

5. Write recommendations for the people you trust and respect. (I have 11 recommendations in my profile and it seems to work for me in terms of getting referrals)

6. Make sure you write a good detailed profile for yourself. Be personal and let folks know what kind of person you are as well as what skills you have in your bag.

The moral of the story is that you should read the LinkedIn blog on a regular basis to get a variety of helpful tips on how you can use the professional social network to benefit your business. It’s not just fluff. You can actually get some solid ideas and use them to improve your own experience. Oh and maybe even try submitting your own story as well.