Branding: it’s not just for big companies or organizations. Today’s professionals need to think about their personal brand. Your brand is who you are to employers, customers and anyone in your professional sphere. It’s your skills, your values, your viewpoint, your experience and more. LinkedIn is one the best vehicles to showcase your personal brand – but too many people still view LinkedIn as a repository for dry resumes instead of a marquis sign for what you have to offer.
LinkedIn is one of the most dynamic and developing of all the social media platforms. It seems like every few months the interface changes a bit. Most people know by now that they should be keeping their profile up to date, even if not currently in job search mode. Besides updating your profile in skills and experiences, people need to stay current on LinkedIn’s features and keeping their personal brand at the forefront.
Here are some avenues to make your personal brand shine on LinkedIn:
Profile photo: A picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your photo is reflective of your best, professional self. This is not the place for a photo of you and your dog, your spouse, or kids. Same for the photos of you on the slopes or lounging on your sailboat. Get a professional headshot or at least one with a close up of your face looking into the camera. Less wooden, more approachable.
Personal invites: Don’t use the canned connection words. Add a few personal sentences. Rather than getting an auto generated “Accept or Ignore” message, potential connections would much rather see, “John – it was great seeing you at the conference. I might want to chat in the future about marketing. I’d love to connect.” You’ve got 300 characters to get some personal branding in; uses them. You’re trying to take conversations from the digital world to the real world. This requires a personal touch.
Summary: This is really your chance to tell your story. You’ve got to get your value proposition across in a 2000 characters – but really less, as you want to get it in the first few sentences, so people see it before they have to expand the summary. Don’t be intimidated by “storytelling”. What would you say in person to someone about what you do? What would differentiate you from someone else with similar experience? What are you passionate about? It’s the difference between: “I am a human resources professional with 20 year of experience” and “I’m a corporate recruiter who is passionate about building teams, and finding the candidates who will bring value to the company from day one. I have particular expertise in sourcing top level candidates from diverse backgrounds.”
Attachments/Portfolio Items: Another underutilized tool is attachments. LinkedIn allows you to attach videos, documents, and presentations to your profile and your experience. It’s not just for people with traditional portfolio items like graphic designers. Think of presentations you’ve done or given, articles you’re mentioned in and the like. LinkedIn owns Slideshare – make an account and show off some expertise that people can view. The ultimate is video – we think having a short bio video is going to be the wave of the future. It’s how we consume info today.
Regular Activity: The best thing you can do for your personal brand on Linkedin is to show up and share. Regularly. Share relevant content with short commentary: “This is a great article on the changes occuring in our industry. I believe that we need less, not more regulation on…” The short commentary will show people you have a point of view and can highlight expertise on a subject. The best type of content is original – use LinkedIn’s publishing tool to publish a relevant blog post on a topic that highlights who you are and what you do. And don’t forget to “like” and comment on other people’s content. The LinkedIn algorithm is looking to raise frequently contributors to the top. Personal branding requires a regular, if not daily commitment.
At TalentReach, we look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles every week as we source the best fit candidates for our customers. We know how important personal branding on LinkedIn can be. We’re happy to be hosting a workshop on branding for LinkedIn with personal branding expert JD Gershbein on 11/14. This event is full; however, send us a message if you’re interested in attending our next one.