We all know that a great CV alone isn't enough to secure you a job – these days, your social media presence can play a part too. And while we might be confident shouting our views on Twitter or picking the perfect filter on Instagram, a lot of us are at a loss when it comes to getting our profiles noticed on LinkedIn.
To help you boost your connections and visibility, and generally supercharge your influence on the professional network, we asked career experts Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management and Kathryn Foot of Careercake for their top tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.
1. Choose the right picture
Most experts would discourage you from putting a photo on your CV, but when it comes to your LinkedIn profile it's a necessity. Stats from the professional network show that your profile is 76% more likely to be viewed if you have a picture than if you don't. Your photo is the first thing a potential employer or business associate will see, so it needs to leave an impression for all the right reasons. Avoid any photos with busy backgrounds and stick to head shots that show your professional side. Mills recommends choosing a photo that shows you looking "business-like and dressed in the way that you would normally be at work."
2. Optimise your profile
Simply inputting your career history isn't enough to make you stand out from the crowd. You have a 120-character professional headline directly underneath your name. By default it appears as your job title, but many users don't realise that you can and should edit this. Use it sell yourself with a statement that is succinct, readable and full of industry keywords. "This will make it easy for recruiters searching for suitable candidates to find you when they use the LinkedIn candidate search function," explains Mills.
Your summary is the place to outline what makes you stand out from the crowd. "You want to be giving a concise and impactful summary that outlines who you are, why you do what you do and highlights your strengths, skills and accomplishments here," advises Foot. Don't forget to invest time in your individual job profiles too; the site gives you 1,000 characters each to describe them, so make the most of it.
3. Shout about your achievements
LinkedIn is so much more than just an online home for your CV. Use it to show off your achievements and what makes you unique. Foot advises making your summary as three-dimensional as possible. "Add rich media, create an infographic CV, create a Prezi or SlideShare presentation about you. Link to blogs, articles, websites or published papers, anything that shows people your capabilities and accomplishments," she says.
4. Make clever connections
To get the most out of LinkedIn it's important to make connections based on quality not quantity. Foot says to remember that in order to forge lasting connections it's important to "lay the foundations" first. Show your admiration by following them, sharing and commenting on their content and updates, though be sure to keep things professional. "Make sure your comments and posts are courteous and are to the point," she warns. Also, remember that the more value you add, the more people will want to connect with you in return. Try sharing material that is relevant to those you want to gain a connection to, or join a group and get involved with discussions to make your voice heard.
5. Recommendations are key
Don't underestimate the power of a written recommendation. Recruiters and potential associates who've never met you will view a testimonial from another user as instant credibility. When choosing who to ask for a referral and who to give them to Foot advises, "Be courteous and considered. Think about what you want to remembered for and obtain appropriate referrals." To ensure they carry the most weight with those who view your profile, try to encourage your contacts to stick to specifics and to quantify your achievements.
6. Make yourself easy to reach
Most of the people you want to form connections with via LinkedIn aren't existing contacts, so be sure to make your personal contact details available so people can reach you as easily as possible. Consider putting your phone number and email in your profile summary so they're clearly visible.