LinkedIn recently revealed a spate of new products and features, from a brand new desktop redesign to online training offerings to how its news feed will become more relevant and responsive to users.

But the one nugget that caught my eye (and should catch yours as well, especially if you are a business coach, consultant or anyone else who builds a business around talking with prospects) had to do with LinkedIn Messages.

Messaging Goes Mainstream

LinkedIn revealed that it's seen a 240 percent spike in the number of messages sent on the network since it redesigned them to feel more like text messaging exchanges as opposed to emails.

The network is also going to make messages more prominent on the desktop version of the site, and increase the relevance of messaging as well.

For example, if you are looking for a job at a particular company and are viewing a listing on LinkedIn, the network will automatically search your existing connections. If anyone in your network works at that company, LinkedIn will immediately pop those people up at the top of your messages box, so you can send them a note in real time and find out more about the job opening.

Why Messaging Matters on LinkedIn

What I love about LinkedIn Messages is the immediate speed and relevance that you can deliver to an ideal prospect or a potential client.

You can now, in essence, chat up a prospect in real time, similar to a texting exchange. LinkedIn even allows you to include GIFs, attach files or images, include links to Web pages, and more.

Here's a real-time example of how it can work: Say you publish a post or share a piece of content on LinkedIn. You immediately get a notification on your mobile device or desktop when someone likes, shares, or comments on your content.

Now, if you're connected to that person, you can immediately send him or her a one-on-one message to ignite a conversation around that piece of content.

In fact, LinkedIn makes it super easy with the incredible analytics you receive anytime you publish on the site.

Relevance + Real Time

The ability to strike up a conversation with a "warmed up" prospect who has already consumed your content and engaged with it is key.

Think about it: He or she is already impressed enough with your expertise to share, like, or comment on your content, and now, in the heat of the moment, you are reaching out to talk one-on-one with him or her in real time.

This is how business gets done--when someone is interested and intrigued and feeling emotional about a piece of content you just created, talking one-on-one with the person behind it is the perfect way to move the relationship forward.

LinkedIn says it will be rolling out all its new features very soon, but you don't have to wait to start utilizing LinkedIn Messages more effectively!