‘Tis the season of giving right now, both personally and professionally. For job seekers who may be nervous about networking during the holidays, remember that giving to your network is one of the best ways to maintain relationships, establish trust and stay top of mind as the year comes to an end. Giving could just be the secret to getting ahead, and there is no better place to do so than on LinkedIn. Here is my 2013 LinkedIn Holiday Giving Guide:

Give a thank you to valuable Groups

Have you learned something new this year from your involvement in a LinkedIn Group? Perhaps a specific member answered one of your questions or the Group Managers always make sure to spark interesting discussion? Post a Discussion in the Group to say thank you to everyone who fueled your passion this year. LinkedIn’s research shows that members who participate in groups receive four times the number of average profile views. You can also now see your group contribution level on the right-hand side of your screen inside every group.

group contribution level

If you’re not comfortable posting publicly, you can send a private message to the Group’s Managers to say thank you for creating and maintaining the community. You can find out who the managers are by clicking on the “i” in the header bar at the top of any Group’s page.

group manager

Here’s an example of what to say:

Hi Natasha,

I am a member of the Graphic Artists of Texas group on LinkedIn. This group is one of my favorites, and I have learned so much from you and our fellow members by reading and contributing to the discussions. Thank you for starting and actively caring for this community. If I can do anything to help you with the group, please let me know.

Thank you,

Lindsey

Give a shout-out to a contact

I strongly recommend you follow Companies, channels on Pulse and Showcase Pages relevant to you and your search. This will keep you informed about all of the latest updates from potential employers and your overall industry. You should also be following the news of the people in your network; it’s just as important.

During December—and throughout the rest of the year—challenge yourself to comment on a few contacts’ status updates every time you log onto LinkedIn. For example, if one of your connections uploaded a new file or link to demonstrate a recently completed project, take the time to view that content and then post a comment mentioning what you liked about the work. Or, if you notice that a former classmate or colleague received a promotion or started a new course of study, congratulate the person on taking new steps to advance his career and offer your support.

Give Endorsements and Recommendations

Another way to spread the cheer on LinkedIn is through LinkedIn’s top “giving” features: Endorsements and Recommendations. Both of these allow you to directly help someone else, vouching for that person’s skills and abilities.

This month, honestly endorse the Skills & Expertise of a few of your connections each day. While many people do tend to return the favor, it’s best to give endorsements or recommendations with no goal other than to help someone else. If people do endorse you in return, then a thank you is warranted and always appreciated.

When it comes to Recommendations, recruiters tell me that they are most impressed by specific praise. For example, rather than writing a generic “Gerald was a great team player” note, try to mention something specific this person did to make your team successful or a moment the person truly went above and beyond. This only takes a few extra minutes on your part, but could make a world of difference to the recipient, particularly if he or she is a fellow job seeker.

Give support to your favorite causes

Millions of people volunteer their time, especially during the holiday season, to support causes that matter to them. For a job seeker, these activities can be doubly meaningful: you can advance the goals of your favorite non-profit organization and also build skills that matter to your career. Often-cited research by LinkedIn has shown that 20 percent of hiring managers agree that they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer experience, so don’t forget to mention your volunteer efforts on your LinkedIn profile by adding the Volunteer Experience and Causes section. As a bonus, when you update your profile with this information, your network will see that you’ve been working with your chosen nonprofit and may take the opportunity to learn more about that organization’s good works.

During this holiday season, build and strengthen your network in the most feel-good way possible: in the spirit of giving. Happy holidays and see you on LinkedIn in 2014!