If you’re looking to move beyond the social in social networking, then plug into LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading professional networking forum for people who mean business.

If you imagine the people you have to reach out to, it can be overwhelming to consider how you’ll engage with millions. Even if you target your key crowd, it’s still a hefty pile of personalities to sort through. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if there was a way you could spotlight the people that mattered?

LinkedIn allows you to do just that. With the average LinkedIn user income set at about 109k/year, with over 70 million users across 30 fields and subfields, and 45% of decision makers all wiring into LinkedIn, the question is why aren’t you on LinkedIn?

Start out simple. Get a profile. Add your info. Connect with your existing network and start sourcing recommendations and referrals. It’s kind of like the yelp of the professional world.

LinkedIn also has a lot of great features, like the ability to export your connections. Unlike Facebook, if you decide to ever leave LinkedIn or need to access your contacts, you have the convenience and freedom to access the data with no strings attached. LinkedIn’s also recently been busy with a massive relaunch. They’re now offering you the ability to opt in for greater access across Linkedin channels/profiles and adding more third party functionality to your account. With three tier plans starting at $25, you can do like other account holders and write off the fee as a business expense.

LinkedIn’s also taken a cue from Facebook’s mega successful advert campaigns and are now offering users the ability to create their own targeted ad campaigns. As someone who regularly advertises with Facebook, I have to say I prefer LinkedIn’s approach, which allows you to target your audience far more effectively than Facebook ad campaigns do. Just note that if you’re looking to brand, then Facebook is still your best bet. But if you’re looking to get clients, accounts and to market yourself as an industry leader among your colleagues, then go with LinkedIn.

Even if you don’t want to pay for advert campaigns, there are other ways you can be a top dog on LinkedIn and attract tons of attention your way. One of the leading tools is by being a thought leader and creating your own group/forum. Think about your business niche, do a bit of market research to see the competition and then create your own LinkedIn Group. You can even use this as a way to get conversations going and treat members like a focus group to get across ideas and crowd source opinions and information.

But aside from business professionals with their own company and message, there’s Average Joe just looking for a job. The problem with Average Joe is he’s average. His resume is in a slosh pile with hundreds of other resumes. If you’ve been hit by the ongoing recession or if you’re just in the job marketing casually, keep in mind that no one really does standard recruiting anymore. Job posts and job fairs are ancient human resources tools. The place to be is on Twitter, Facebook and (most importantly) LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the number one place for recruiters, and the best place to find a job via the old but golden rule, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

The same rule applies if you’re starting out or already established in your business. LinkedIn is a key online marketing tool that allows you to cast a spotlight on yourself and reach out to other major decision makers in your industry.