Imagine a network with over 396 million captive professional readers, including the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson: that’s LinkedIn. Increasingly, the ability to effectively leverage LinkedIn connections in advance of your next job interview can make a big difference, both in terms of your own interview preparation and your capacity to positively impact your interviewer’s opinion of you before you even meet.

As a Senior Partner focused on Human Resource recruitment, I’m a firm believer in the power of a strong handshake, cordial smile and face-to-face communication for successful networking. But I also know that effectual LinkedIn networking is equally important for building strong business connections that can ultimately help you land your next job.

Do you know how to leverage LinkedIn for interview success? Consider the following four tips:

Land the interview. Are you struggling to get your resume in front of the right people at your dream company? LinkedIn is ground zero for arranging informational interviews through mutual industry contacts and college alumni who are either working for your dream company or in the same industry.

Get the inside scoop with mutual connections. In preparation for a big interview, you’ve likely scoured the company website, researched the interview team and reached out to any shared connections. But what if you don’t know any mutual connections? Check LinkedIn; there’s a good chance you share someone in common – either from a past job or through your alumni network – who could be a great resource prior to your interview.

Do your research. Join industry-specific LinkedIn groups to stay on top of the latest news; this way you will be able to ask intelligent questions during your interview and demonstrate your in-depth industry knowledge. LinkedIn is also useful for discovering interests or experiences you have in common with your interview team that might not be in their company bios; these tidbits are great for breaking the ice and making a more personal connection during your interview.

Build your personal brand. LinkedIn is not just a one-way resource for connecting with potential business contacts; it’s also a powerful network for building your personal brand. Savvy LinkedIn users leverage the social network for more than connections. Make a big impression on new connections by establishing yourself as an industry thought leader. Don’t just re-share industry news; add value by including your own thoughts and personal insights. As connections share your content, your reputation will naturally spread to an even wider audience and precede your interview.

While LinkedIn does not replace the power of in-person networking, it is a valuable resource for preparing for your next interview. How do you use LinkedIn networking prior to job interviews? I welcome your comments below.