We'll go over what's worked for me with LinkedIn in the past 18 months. I've been using LinkedIn longer than that, but it's only during the last 12 months that I experimented with a few ideas that I had for LinkedIn.
As of right now I'm using the free version, however I expect to upgrade the lowest level of the pay version very soon.
1) Use LinkedIn every darn day, whether it's at night, at the beginning of the day or check the site from your mobile phone while on the road. This does not mean to check LinkedIn while you're driving!!!
Here you'll become familiar with "your wall", the profile page, the contacts page and the follow page.
2). Six degrees of separation is a theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away! Believe it or not, originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929. I believe that with using LinkedIn you could only be 3 Degrees of Separation. Go through your contact list and take ten people that you are trying to connect with, search them on LinkedIn and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you know someone that is connected to them. You can then ask for an introduction from the person that is connected with them through LinkedIn or better yet, call your contact to see if she or he can help get and introduction.
3. Post your own Blog on LinkedIn. Start out with maybe one a month, and then increase to bi-monthly and then once a week. Write about something that is informative to your audience and don't come across like you are trying to sell something. You could do a short blog on "Why Do Checks That I Copy Come Out Black on the Copier", just and example but I hope you get the point. Write information that will help your customers and potential new customer garner knowledge about your solutions and or systems. Within a short period of time you can be the guru in your geo area, if not the world!!
4. Follow Companies on LinkedIn, take ten existing accounts that you are trying to get into. Search those ten accounts on LinkedIn to see if they have a LinkedIn page. I just searched on Print Audit, they do have a page. When you're on that page, you will see a "follow me" button. Click the button. Now whenever Print Audit posts anything on LinkedIn, you'll see it on your "wall" (home page). Now that you're seeing there threads, you will then "like" their threads and or drop a "comment" to their thread. A comment can be anything from congrats, or something that acknowledges that you are appreciative of the information.
In time, when you check your page for who is checking your profile, you will see that someone from that company checked to see who you are. You then have a warm contact, how you reach out to them after that is your choice.
5) Post links to newsworthy threads that you think your customers/connections can benefit from. They can be health related, business related. Try to post at least a few a week.
It's not about what you know, it's about who you know! Believe it or not your are connected to the people you are trying to connect with, you just don't know it.
Wait, wait one more, let's say you want to find all of the CEO's in Dover, Delaware. The in the advanced search bar of LinkedIn just type CEO, then the zip code and shorten the "within" to 10 miles and you'll see up to 10 pages of contacts with the free version of LinkedIn.