Linkedin has been a big deal for quite sometime now but when Microsoft announced their 26 billion dollar acquisition, the social media site jumped to an entirely new level.

For Microsoft, the deal is very logical. Commenting on the acquisition, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told WSJ "It's really the coming together of the professional cloud and the professional network." Simply stated, by combining Microsoft cloud products and services with the global Linkedin user base, they see a lot of potential.

With over 400 million people in that newly purchased professional network, it's obvious why Microsoft is excited and that excitement is something that every entrepreneur, founder and executive should consider as they finalize plans their 2017 marketing plans.

While It can be assumed that most entrepreneurs and founders are already at least on Linkedin, just having a profile there and not integrating the site into your marketing strategy means there's potentially a lot of money being left on the table.

If leaving money on the table doesn't sound appealing, here are 3 ways Linkedin can be used to grow a business in 2017.

Connection Based Content Creation When it comes to content marketing, it's hard to find something with as much potential as Linkedin Pulse. Linkedin Pulse is Linkedin's blogging platform but the real value of the platform comes from the notifications that go out to all your connections every time content gets posted. This means that every piece of carefully crafted content can potentially end up in front of anyone that you are connected with on Linkedin.

Action Plan: Spend the time to build a list of every single person that you may want to do business with in the future. This list could include investors, clients and other potential partners. Once the list is done, go through one by one and add them to your network. Include a custom and highly personalize note for each person and begin to send requests. Your entire goal here is to expand your network with people you want to know you exist. As your network grows, you now have a highly focused and targeted list of people that will receive a notification every time you post content.

Outbound Recruiting Finding the right talent is one of the biggest challenges that founders can face. While in the past, options were limited to job boards, word of mouth referrals and expensive recruiters, Linkedin has opened the door to connect job seekers directly with employers like never before. According to a recent SHRM study, they found that 84 percent of organizations are now recruiting on social media while only 56 percent of companies were hiring on in 2011. This means that every year that goes by, competitors will probably be using Linkedin to recruit and if you aren't, you could be falling behind.

Action Plan: Using the advanced search tools available on Linkedin, begin searching through job titles for the positions you are looking to fill. While many founders are hesitant, one of the best places to start with is by looking at the staff of companies that you compete with or are relevant to your industry. Going through one by one, you can initiate conversions and open up dialogue with dozens of target prospects and drastically improve the quantity and quality of your talent pipeline.

Advanced Ad Targeting Facebook has changed the game when it comes to targeted online advertising but Linkedin provides features that make targeting even more relevant to business owners. Their custom add settings make it possible to target extremely specific details such as exact job title at an exact company or an exact industry in an exact area. This means it's easier than ever before to directly target those that you want to do business with.

Action Plan: Map out a list of the top companies that you want to be doing business with and identify who all the decision makers are at each company. With that information, you can then create targeted banner ads and content to make sure you are getting directly in front of anyone that you want to work with.

Published on: Nov 30, 2016
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