When I recently passed my first year anniversary at LinkedIn, I thought it was high time that I wrote my first blog post.  It’s been an incredible experience to work at LinkedIn over the past year.  Our membership has more than doubled to over 30 million professionals around the world.

Most importantly though, people are accomplishing great things on LinkedIn, and in every case that we’ve learned about, it has been because of one thing – the strength of the trusted relationship, and how LinkedIn can put that to work for you.

So why can connecting to anyone and everyone be counter productive?

As we’ve talked about before, growing your LinkedIn ecosystem to reflect your real world business connections is critical since it defines the people you’d recommend and support, even if it means putting your professional reputation on the line.

The great thing about only connecting to people you know, trust, and have experience working with, is that when you need to find that expert, get that answer, reference check a potentially great hire, get that introduction, then the trusted network of people you’ve proactively created on LinkedIn can help you out. I find that a simple but useful analogy is a tapestry.  The stronger and tighter the individual threads, the stronger the overall piece of cloth becomes.

Now, here’s an example that really brought home the importance of trusted connections. Sasha Strauss, Managing Director, Brand Strategy at Innovation Protocol | Adjunct Professor of Brand Strategy at USC , whose entire business was created this way using LinkedIn.

How can LinkedIn help you develop a network that lasts?

1. Upload your address book and invite your trusted contacts to connect to you and join you for the future

2. Focus on nurturing your network by seeing what questions they’re asking and helping them when you can. You’ll build greater trust and rapport, and your support of your network will come back tenfold when it’s time to ask a favor!

3. Check your network updates frequently to see what your network is doing, where they’re traveling, what they’d appreciate some advice on.  Roll over their name and send them some quick suggestions, thoughts, or just a hello

4. When you’ve found the person you want to work with, pick the strongest connection you have to introduce you.  Try advanced search now.

5. Write recommendations for the people you trust and respect the most.  A small amount of effort from you could have tremendous impact for them

For more tips on how to use LinkedIn, check out our Learning Center