What better way to get your new year off to a great start than to finally maximize your presence on the “world’s largest professional network.” Yep, I’m talking about LinkedIn. And I’m confident that the tips and tricks below will top your list of resolutions for 2012.

LinkedIn boasts over 135-million members. In the third quarter alone, 15-million people joined to upload their résumés, find and keep up with colleagues, search for jobs, connect with qualified leads, and demonstrate their thought leadership.

There are one million different groups on LinkedIn where users share news articles and common interests, start discussions, and answer some tough questions.

More and more, people are using LinkedIn on their mobile device – they’ve seen 400% mobile growth compared to 2010.

So there’s a lot of people and a lot of activity. But, how do you stand out from the crowd and begin truly leveraging the online tool to your advantage? Start checking off these items, one by one.

Aim for “profile completeness.” As in any relationship, the more you’re willing to share, the more value you’ll get out of it. Value in this sense often equates to being found and trusted. In order to get to 100%, you must add all of the following to your profile: your current position, two past positions, your education, a profile summary, your photo, your specialties, and at least three recommendations. Just upload your résumé, and you’re at least halfway there. And LinkedIn’s profile completion tips (next to your score) will get you the rest of the way.

Claim your vanity URL. This is more of a nice-to-have, but it just makes it easier to promote your presence on LinkedIn. So, instead of linkedin.com/in/87y12uhibendec897yhb, mine is linkedin.com/in/matthewrdooley. How do you want to be known? Claim yours here.

Make worthwhile connections. I can’t be the only one that receives random requests from people I don’t know. I usually send a polite message asking them to remind me how we know each other, and it’s the people who don’t respond that I’ve prevented from diluting my network. You wouldn’t walk up to a random person at a networking event and abruptly say, “I’d like to add you to my professional network,” so don’t do it on LinkedIn. And don’t put up with it from others. Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, even goes as far as to explicitly state it in his LinkedIn headline.

Set a weekly goal. At the start of this year, I committed to adding 10 new, quality connections each week. After some time, my network reached a critical mass that made it easy for people to find me instead – thanks to LinkedIn’s recommendation engine.

Join and participate in groups. According to a study by Lab42, 81% of LinkedIn members belong to at least one group. LinkedIn recently made it even easier to pick and choose which groups we want to join. The new stats feature displays the demographics, growth and activity of any group, public or private. The numbers aren’t enough, though – you’ll have to confirm that the content and people are actually valuable to you.

Check out who’s viewed your profile. This is something I’ve looked at just because it’s interesting. But, I plan to start using it to send a portfolio of my work to people who view my profile so that it lands on their desk the next day. Then, I’ll follow up with a phone call, email or InMail.

Quickly turn your LinkedIn profile into a résumé. In addition to uploading your résumé to complete your profile, you can do the reverse by turning your profile into a résumé-friendly format in seconds with the Résumé Builder tool. Just choose a résumé template, edit it, and export it as a PDF that you can print, email, and share.

Rearrange your profile. In case you don’t like the layout of your LinkedIn profile, you’re able to reorder the major sections in any way you prefer. In edit mode, just hover over the title of the section, click, and drag and drop to another position on your profile.

Avoid syndication. I know it makes your life easier but, in social media, it’s not about you. You lose credibility and relevance when you stop providing valuable content. It’s OK to automatically send your LinkedIn updates to Twitter, but not the other way around. People can sniff out anything that’s not genuine, specific and personal.

Download the new CardMunch iPhone app. LinkedIn relaunched this app just a few weeks ago. Like before, you can capture and digitize business cards. But now, you can see “the person behind the card” – their photo, common connections, and profile information – and add notes to provide more context.

Download Rapportive. When sending and receiving messages in Gmail, I can immediately see a photo of the other person as well as the social media sites they’re on. Without leaving the email message, I can even send a request to connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. Really cool.

There are more LinkedIn Tips out there than any of us really know what to do with, like signing up for a premium account, following and interacting with companies, using LinkedIn Today, discovering the newly-relaunched events, finding classmates, going to the next level with advanced search, or adding volunteer experience and causes. Maybe a bit overwhelming, but look at this as an opportunity to keep getting better at it every day!