AUTHOR: Scott McCarthy

With over 500 million users in 2018, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd on LinkedIn.

Being found is one thing, but standing out in amongst that amount of people is rather like the classic needle in the haystack analogy.

 

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn lets your build a personal brand by digitally marketing yourself. It allows you to connect with other professionals, put your CV into the public domain and highlight your talents and achievements to potential employers. As a result, it is an extremely beneficial tool when it comes to advancing your career.

Yet, it is an extremely underused one as well. How many of us use LinkedIn regularly or at times other than when we are on the search for jobs? When was the last time you updated your profile on there, changed a picture or made a connection? Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Instagram which we use almost daily, LinkedIn can feel kind of forgotten about at times.

But it doesn't have to be that way. To make the most out of LinkedIn, you need to know how to fully utilise your profile in a way that will make you stand out above the competition.

Here are five LinkedIn hacks to give you the edge in digital marketing:

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 1. Use the right kind of profile picture

LinkedIn allows you to make connections with people and create an impression before you meet, but you can't do that without pictures. Research suggests that it only takes one tenth of a second for people to make judgements on what kind of person you are. You wouldn't pick to hang out with a headless torso over a body with a head, and without a profile photo you are effectively making yourself headless.

Select a photo that is professional but not sterile. It should have a plain background that isn't distracting and you should be dressed appropriately. Formal dress is best– no photos of that time you went to a fancy dress party as a character from Little Britain.

It also needs to be up-to-date. If you turn up to a meeting looking nothing like you do on LinkedIn, then those you are meeting who have looked you up beforehand might wonder about your credibility and whether you are trying to portray an image of something you are not.

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2. A cover photo can speak a thousand words

Your cover photo is your opportunity to showcase what sort of person you are. It's a great opportunity to use an interest from your personal life to highlight a skill or mind-set that you bring to your professional life.

If you've just completed a half marathon for example, using a picture of you crossing the finishing line shows the reader you are driven, disciplined and have the ability to meet a challenging goal you've set for yourself. You don't give up.

 

3. Write a headline, not a job title 

Most people use the job title and summary section immediately below their name to simply list their job title. Potential connections aren't going to feel inspired when they are reading about their 200th coding expert of the day, are they?

Use the job title to write a headline that is going to catch the reader's eye – describe what you do, where you do it and try and make it sound fun and interesting.

You don't need to worry about the technical details of your role as that is covered plenty enough in the experience section, so create a headline that is really going to catch the eye.

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4. Showcase your talents away from work 

LinkedIn has a far greater scope for allowing you to show what a well-rounded individual you are than a basic CV. This is particularly true when it comes to achievements outside of work.

We've already mentioned how your cover photo can help with this, but there is no harm in boldly listing your achievements away from the office.

Being successful at sports shows you are a team player while any volunteer work you do is a big yes. It shows you are considerate, organised in your spare time and have leadership skills which are all traits any prospective employer will be looking for. 

See also: 6 non-technical skills to help you progress into a career in tech

5. Take full advantage of the recommendations feature

It's all very well and good blowing your own trumpet, but what can really impress on LinkedIn is recommendations from others. Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations as some glowing testimonies on your profile from other professionals can really give your page a boost.

This of course works both ways as well. If you can give a recommendation to a contact, then make sure you do. It demonstrates leadership and shines a light on the sort of conscientious professional you are. If you're willing who is always willing to take the time to support colleagues. The sort of person you would definitely want to work alongside.

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