Have you ever heard of the saying,
Social is new front door?
Today, your potential customers and prospects are Googling for you; and if they don’t like what they see, they will say NO – even before you get the chance to speak with them. It has never been more crucial to build a strong and trustworthy personal brand that opens doors and builds bridges, rather than shutting them out.
A strong personal brand can help you advance in your career by making you more visible in your industry, and improve your reputation among recruiters and managers. Even if you were not exploring new career opportunities, online platforms help you to stay connected with people you’ve met; as well as discover new professional connections to network with.
When it comes to personal branding for professionals, LinkedIn no doubt emerges as the Number One platform worldwide.
Here are 3 solid reasons why even non-job seekers, and especially for business development professionals, should invest in branding themselves LinkedIn:
- Prospects will have an easier time determining if they want to work with you. You don’t want a prospect leaving your LinkedIn profile with more questions than answers – Can they trust you? Do your values align? Will you, really, understand what keeps them up at night? A sparse or generic LinkedIn creates more doubts than trustworthiness. Don’t be afraid to showcase your past projects on your LinkedIn profile, and encourage your past clients to leave recommendations for your work. This will help others to easily decide if they can envision themselves working with you or not.
- Prospects will have an easier time differentiating you from competitors. Half your customers buy from you because they love your product/service. The other half buys from you because they love you! The world of commerce is part product/service excellence and part relationships. If your product/service were highly-commoditised, what makes you, YOU? A strong online persona may be just what makes you stand out against competitors with a similar offering By defining and reinforcing your personal brand, you make yourself competitive vis-à-vis other people in your industry who may not maintain such a strong persona.
- You’re all set to be an entrepreneur! As Simon Sinek so famously said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” What’s your startup story? If you can convey your values and beliefs clearly, you will create tribes of following and attract customers on this basis. (Read Dragon Law’s story)
Also read: LinkedIn Alternatives: 10 Lesser-Known Platforms for Professionals to Network Online
Here are 5 quick tips for how you can build an effective LinkedIn profile that will help you improve your personal brand:
1) Optimise your profile
Many professional relationships begin with a connection request on LinkedIn. You’d want to be 1) Discoverable, 2) Legit, and 3) Impressionable! Completing and optimising your profile will make it more likely to be found in searches. Keep your target audience in mind as you do so, and don’t be afraid to show some personality – what makes you different from others in your industry, profession, or role?
Here are some important elements of a LinkedIn profile:
- Profile Picture. We all like to be able to put a face to a name, and with LinkedIn it is important to keep it professional. Unless you’re a vet, you’d perhaps not want to be posing with your pet dog…! One way to make your profile picture stand out is to stand against a backdrop of your company branding or logo.
- Professional Headline. Include essential keywords about what you do and your company name. Try being more inventive than just listing your job title as you want people to find out as much about you as possible through your headline. Use words and phrases your friends and colleagues use to uniquely describe you – think: Legal Technology Evangelist at Dragon Law – we help business save up to 70% if their legal costs!
- Profile Summary. Use this section to write about 1) What you do, 2) What your company does, and last but not least 3) Why you do what what you do! Convey that you understand your sector, have good track record, and that you exute passion for your job. Use natural language, keep it conversational, and include a way that people can reach out to you.
Does your LinkedIn profile include a call-to-action for people to reach out to you?
- Experience. When adding your work experience, select your company name from the drop-down list you get when you start typing. This will enable you to link to your company logo and a particular company page. When describing your experience, refer to concrete projects and achievements with real facts and figures.
- Education. Same as the Experience section, ensure that you select your school from the drop-down list.
- Skills. Add at least 5 skills that are relevant to your industry or personal achievements. For instance, if you are listing ‘Recruiting’ as a skill, you can also list ‘Talent Acquisition’, ‘Executive Search’, ‘Sourcing’ and ‘Internet Recruiting’.
- Images & Multimedia. Add a bit of colour to your LinkedIn profile! Include a background image, and add presentations, images, YouTube videos and PDFs.
- Recommendations. Having concrete information and positive endorsements from your past and current colleagues will help to boost your profile.
- Vanity URL. It is preferable that you claim your vanity URL for your first name and surname. This will keep the URL short and snappy, and you can add your personalised link to all other social streams, such as your blog, email signature, online resume, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn SlideShare. This will enable people to check our your profile in the easiest way possible.
Adapted from Social Talent
Chris J Reed, Founder of B2B LinkedIn Marketing agency Black Marketing, is a terrific example of a profile that has made full use of LinkedIn’s provisions for a profile picture, header image, name, and headline to promote himself and his business.
2) Make meaningful connections on LinkedIn
Once you have optimised your profile, it is time to make meaningful connections and grow your network on LinkedIn. Beyond connecting with friends, colleagues, classmates, industry leaders and vendors, you should also use LinkedIn as a starting point to make new connections with people you don’t already know.
When connecting with someone new on LinkedIn,
- Do your homework. Before you click “Connect”, browse the person’s profile to better understand the person you’re reaching out to. Look out for their past and present work experience, their interests, who you know in common, and what LinkedIn groups they belong to.
- Find common ground. After researching the person you wish to connect with, list two to three things you have in common, such as an alma mater or a friend in common.
- Craft a personal note. Instead of sending out the standard message that accompanies LinkedIn invitations, combine the information you have gathered to craft a memorable introduction before you tell them why you want to connect.
3) Customise your feed
Did you know that you have the ability to customise what you see on your LinkedIn Home Feed? By default, your Home Feed will consist of:
- Likes and Shares from your connections,
- Shares from the companies you follow,
- Shares from the groups you follow, and
- Job recommendations if you have indicated in your Preferences that you are exploring opportunities.
If you are new to LinkedIn, you can choose to import your contacts via email to quickly build up your network. You then have the ability to customise what you want to see in your Home Feed by editing your interests:
Mouse over ‘Interests’ to customise who you want to follow
The first step would be to follow the news and insights that matter to you and your industry. Follow LinkedIn Influencers to stay updated on insights from top industry leaders. In addition, you can further streamline your feed by choosing to ‘unfollow’ connections whose updates you no longer wish to see.
Again, the more complete your profile and the more you interact on LinkedIn, the smarter it gets at recommending content, connections, and companies to you.
4) Interact on LinkedIn
Your daily professional activity on LinkedIn helps open the door to meaningful interactions. Spend just 15 minutes a day browsing through your Home Feed, thank others for their contributions, share insightful content, and most importantly, share your personal views.
- Sharing Other People’s Content. This will make you more visible to your LinkedIn network.
- Liking Posts. Liking a post has the same effect as sharing a post on Facebook – you will essentially be broadcasting to your entire network. Liking posts that are relevant to your industry will put you in the direct eye line of your network.
- Interacting in LinkedIn Groups. Become a member of a handful of LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industries and contribute to conversations, whether by asking an insightful question, giving an opinion on a subject that you’re an expert in, or simply by commenting on other people’s posts.
- Sharing Articles. Bookmark your favourite blogs and websites and share articles that are interesting as updates on your LinkedIn profile. This will demonstrate that you know your stuff.
Source: Social Talent
5) Publish on LinkedIn
If you are already interacting with content created by others, why not take it a step further by creating your own content and sharing them with your network? Long-form publishing on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your expertise in a particular field and demonstrate thought leadership.
Dragon Law’s CEO, Daniel Walker, uses LinkedIn’s long-form publishing tool to share content with his followers
Before you publish on LinkedIn, make sure you understand what your objectives are. For example, if your goal is to build brand awareness and back links to your company website, remember to include your company’s website within your LinkedIn article.
The general rule of thumb is that you should write about what you have expertise in, what you’re most passionate about, or trending topics. As you go about your work, jot down ideas for original LinkedIn posts, so that you’ll always have something in the works. Ensure that the posts you write are informative and provide insights for your readers by including practical tips and actionable advice.
How often should you publish? The priority is to be consistent, and that involves pacing yourself. Writing consistently will help you expand your network and establish your reputation as an expert with something valuable to say. Set a target (e.g. once a month) that you are able to hit, before increasing that target. Challenge your network in your posts by asking them questions and inviting them to share their perspective.
By consciously leveraging LinkedIn as a platform for personal brand building and embracing a giving mindset towards the online community, you will soon find that such efforts will be reciprocated in the form of better awareness, trust, and eventually revenue for yourself and your business.
What tips do you have harnessing LinkedIn for your professional life?
Share your thoughts with us below!