When it comes to LinkedIn, customization is what will help you stand out from the pack. LinkedIn rolled out a profile redesign in October that gives you a range of new options for customizing your personal profile. Some of these custom options include individual skill listings, network visualization, section listings, projects, publications, test scores, patents, courses and volunteering. This post will explain how to make the most of these new profile opportunities.

Network Visualization

LinkedIn made all kinds of changes in 2012 as it strove to exert its presence amidst the competitive landscape of social networks. One of these changes was a new look for company pages that allows companies to stand out much as the profile changes allow individuals to stand out.

Personal customization options on the new look LinkedIn can help you unleash new opportunities by showing off your unique skill set. On the right column of your profile (right below the Profile Strength indicator) is what you might call network visualization: a set of circles that shows your digital influence, with each circle representing one company where you have a high number of connections (the circle in the center is likely where you currently work).

See small circles that should be larger? This can give you a sense of where you might want to seek additional connections. Click “See More People You May Know at These Companies” for a list of other people you might know. You can also filter your visualization circles by Company, School, Location or Industry to get a sense at a glance of the composition of your existing connections.

LinkedIn Who To FollowFollow the Leaders (and then become one)

Another cool aspect of the LinkedIn redesign is the ability to follow thought leaders like Richard Branson, Pete Cashmore and T. Boone Pickens in a manner similar to how you can follow thought leaders in Twitter. Thought leader posts have been a big hit with LinkedIn’s 187 million global users in recent months.

But following thought leaders is just the start. Find relevant thought leaders in your industry, follow their posts, learn from their example and then start exploring how their insights apply to your own work. Don’t be afraid to share your own insights with LinkedIn updates, engage in group discussions and discuss interesting posts that you see in LinkedIn or other social networks.

Edit your Heart Out

You’ll find the biggest customization gains when you click “Edit Profile” and start customizing with areas like Certifications, Projects, Languages, Publications, Test Scores, Courses, Patents and Volunteering. Adding information about your volunteering efforts, for instance, gives viewers a deeper sense of what makes you tick. Or perhaps you’re fluent in Spanish and a recruiter is searching for someone with your background who can communicate in other languages.

Dedicate some time in particular to customizing your Summary at the top of your profile. Use your existing job description, if available, to help you describe the various aspects of the work you perform. In many cases, you’ll find that you perform valuable tasks on a regular basis that you don’t even give much thought because you’re so used to doing them.

As you customize your summary, add some individual skills that people can come along and endorse with a single click. This new spin on crowdsourcing can reassure your profile viewers that you’re truly competent and experienced in your designated skills.

The big idea here is that most people (unless they’re actively searching for a new job) aren’t going to take the time to customize their LinkedIn profile. But you will – and that will help you stand out.

How have you used LinkedIn customization options to your advantage? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more information about how to use social media in your marketing efforts, download our Increasing Conversions with Social Media guide.