With Thanksgiving right around the corner, why not set aside a half hour each week between now and Turkey Day to show some gratitude to your network by paying it forward on LinkedIn? Here are 5 ways you can:

1. Write an unexpected Recommendation for a connection.

If you worked with or hired someone that turned out to be a rock star go ahead and write a recommendation for them. It’s also a great way to reconnect with a connection that’s drifted off your regular touch base list. Just keep it brief and specific and avoid writing a generic reco because they’re almost always useless to your contact.

Most folks don’t even display recos that sound similar to this, “Bob is a stand-up guy and someone I’d be happy to work with again in the future. Most people think they know sales, but Bob really does!” This might have some posting value if it instead said, “Bob is a reliable, proactive and positive team player, and if I were asked to name a few sales leaders to be on a speaker panel, Bob’s name would be at the top of my list. He exceeded our team goals quarter after quarter and made it to our President’s list 5 years in a row.”

2. Endorse a connection’s skills when you’re reminded of them (maybe via a tweet, status update, blog post or prompt from LinkedIn).Pay It Forward on LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn added this new “To Do” to our lists, I’ve heard both groaning about as well as praise for it, but why not try to endorse at least 1 connection’s skills during your regular visits to LinkedIn?

3. Invite new or old contacts to connect on LinkedIn.

Just be sure to send a PERSONAL message expressing what you noted, respect or appreciate about them, and if you only “met” them via Twitter or somewhere random like that, just be honest about why you want to be connected on LinkedIn (“let’s not lose touch”). Whatever you do, don’t use the default Invitation to Connect unless you’re using your smart phone right in front of them at an event or on the subway (or whatever) and have opened the LinkedIn mobile app.

4. Make mutually beneficial unsolicited introductions.

When you absolutely, positively know that 2 of your connections would benefit by knowing each other, use LinkedIn to make an introduction. Just be sure that in the message you explain your motivation and then let the 2 parties take it from there. When you make intros within LinkedIn your connections can usually see a bit more about the other party (via their profile) and can then decide for themselves whether they want to take the conversation further and/or outside of LinkedIn.

5. Share your knowledge and insights on LinkedIn Answers.

Unlike the Discussions section within LinkedIn Groups, promoting your personal/professional brand by way of sharing your knowledge, advice and insights is an accepted way to pay it forward, and possibly be recognized (maybe you’ll win a Best Answers green star?) when you’re within Answers. I also think that for folks that live in smaller metros where the in-person networking opportunities are limited, Answers is a great way to broaden your reach and grow your network online.

Please share any other ways you’ve found, or seen others, pay it forward on LinkedIn. Do you have any success stories you can share from participating in LinkedIn Answers?