Readers like visuals. USA Today taught us that last century, and Instagram reminded us in this one. So why not have more visuals on your LinkedIn profile?

You should. It's an easy way to build awareness of your brand and essentially be your own brand ambassador. It's about standing out from the half billion LinkedIn users out there, and being anything but generic. And here's how you do it.

1. Cover Photo

Give your profile a pop of art at the very top with a cover image. It could be a branded image from your firm's marketing department. Or, you could upload a photo that represents what you or your company do or where you do it. A photo of Wall Street or the New York Stock Exchange for an investment banker, a piggy bank for a financial planner, bookshelves for a librarian, a pile of newspapers for a journalist and so on. You could also consider a picture of your city skyline or region's mountains or beaches.

If you don't already have the perfect cover image, search for royalty free photos on sites like pexels.com, pixabay.com and unsplash.com. It's time to say bye-bye to the generic blue cover photo offered by LinkedIn.

2. Professional Headshot

Speaking of generic, it's time to ditch the faceless LinkedIn avatar in favor of your headshot. You want people to remember you, and if you are meeting a new connection in person, you'll want to be easy to spot in a crowded coffeehouse.

You might already have a professional photo courtesy of your firm. That's great. Or, you can hire a photographer for no more than a couple hundred bucks. If you don't have time or money (right now) for a pro shot, get a friend or colleague to take a picture of you, making sure your face fills most of the frame. You will also want to stand in front of a neutral background and outside in natural light, if possible. Lastly, dress how you do for work or how you would for the next job you want to land.

3. Logos

This is one of the biggest missed opportunities to add a splash of color to a LinkedIn profile. When you type in the name of your past and present employers, alma maters and volunteer organizations, pay attention to the drop down menu that lets you select that organization's corresponding LinkedIn profile page. This is how you get a nice pretty logo next to jobs you've had or the university where you earned your degree. If you just hit enter without selecting the LinkedIn page, you might get an ugly, generic gray box next to that entry.

I wager those who scan your page will remember seeing company logos more so than a sea of gray boxes. It's more memorable and more legit looking. Plus, if it's a company, school or organization that recruiters or would-be clients or managers haven't heard of, all they have to do is click that logo to learn more about where you have worked, studied or volunteered your time. 

4. Media

The first three items in this list are visual aids that anyone can add to their LinkedIn profiles, and everyone should. You might not have media to add to your profile, but if you do you should add it. By media I mean links to articles or videos that feature you or your company. Maybe you were featured in a news story; link to it in the corresponding job entry. Maybe you have web pages that you want to highlight, because they offer informational FAQs, product reviews or testimonials. Maybe you write a blog or have authored LinkedIn articles. Link away, link away.

There are two places to add media -- at the end of the "About" section and within job entries in the "Experience" section. Not only do media links jazz up a page but they provide important information about you and your work.

Remember, your aim is to engage your audience, especially future bosses, colleagues, customers, recruiters and more, as much with visuals as text.

Published on: Aug 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.