Since its creation, LinkedIn has served as a powerful networking tool that enables businesses and professionals alike to bolster their professional network. The debut of new features that help businesses to post updates and share content make it easier than ever to build your company brand on the social networking site.

Eleven entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the ways in which they leverage LinkedIn's tools to set themselves and their business apart from the competition, while garnering new sales prospects and company hires in the process.

1. Use LinkedIn's publishing platform.

So many companies are not utilizing LinkedIn's publishing platform to its fullest. Our team has seen incredible lead generation results from publishing content on the LinkedIn platform. It's an underutilized platform that I'd love to see more companies take advantage of.--Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.

2. Promote content.

LinkedIn allows you to get very targeted with their advertisement platform. I have clients who see an engagement and conversion rate using LinkedIn's sponsored content option that is two to three times higher than Twitter and Facebook. The cost-per-click can be high, but the engagement quality is very high. It's a great platform to use for brand awareness.--Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media

3. Join groups.

Most industries have active groups on LinkedIn. Sign up for them and be generous with your advice (not product pitches!). You'll make lots of new connections.--Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital

4. Optimize for Google.

LinkedIn is powerful in Google search engine results. Search for "executive headhunters In Phoenix" for instance, and LinkedIn has two search engine results in the top ten. To optimize for Google, take a look at the profiles that are appearing in Google's results. Edit your professional title to include your keyword (i.e. "Executive Recruiter"). Measure by evaluating the increase in views after implementing this change.--Brett Farmiloe, Marketing Auditors

5. Make connections proactively.

If you know what kind of staffing needs you might have in the future, the site can be a good way to headhunt years in advance. You can more effectively plan ahead for future positions by balancing your needs against the qualifications of the people in your area. You may also find that someone simply fits an exact niche you need.--Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

6. Conduct competitor research.

Although it's already well-known that you can find great talent on LinkedIn, one area in which it is underutilized is researching competitors. When your competition is tight-lipped, you'll often find employees on LinkedIn who inadvertently give insight into their respective company's practices. Use this data to prevent making the same mistakes as they have, or improve your own efforts.--Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

7. Hire.

You can post job openings on LinkedIn and have people apply directly through that gateway, so it's a great way to recruit talent. The whole system is about networking and finding connections with other people, like a giant career fair. People who are interested in your company can track your open positions, and as an employer, you can get more information about the candidate through the network.--Ty Morse, Songwhale

8. Highlight employees and work culture.

Highlight your employees and your work culture. Potential employees want to know what it's like to work for your company, and some customers really care about work culture and promoting companies that align with their values. Be as transparent as you can be. You're probably thanking and supporting your employees in the office. Highlight them in the virtual world, too.--Nicole Smartt, Star Staffing

9. Post frequently.

Post something several times a week. Whether your company writes weekly blogs or wants to share an interesting article they found, post it! Keeping the information flowing keeps your connections interested. If your company had an event that went well, share a picture and your excitement on LinkedIn. Your connections like to see what you are up to every now and then.--Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing

10. Create your own LinkedIn group.

Build and manage a LinkedIn group that is thematically relevant to your product or service. Do not use the group to promote your business but rather use it to build a community around thought leadership content, which will provide a trusted space for users to communicate. With the recent improvements to LinkedIn groups, make sure you are leveraging the new engagement features, such as tagging group members.--Matthew Capala, Search Decoder

11. Build a brand voice.

Today, everyone is on LinkedIn. Job candidates, possible clients, existing customers, competitors and so many others are active and able to see your company's every move. Use this platform to express your brand voice and image, and to show the world that you are a great company to work for and an even better company to work with. Don't just remain stale and professional -- get creative.--Miles Jennings,