By Kate Paine, for Edwardsturm.com.
What is personal branding? Your reputation is your personal brand.
Determine how you want to be perceived by your clients, prospects, and your network. Be yourself but reflect on your values – what’s important to you – and whether you exemplify them not only online, but in-person. People make a judgment about you in the first few seconds they meet you. Clients want to see you in a consistent way that reflects your talent, skills, and reliability.
Let’s focus on your online image management. Reflect on how you present yourself through social media, blogging, updates, your values and ethics, etc. to…
- Demonstrate your industry expertise.
- Develop yourself as a thought leader.
- Create top-of-mind awareness.
How to Use LinkedIn
Many still perceive LinkedIn as a job search tool only, but it’s actually one of the, if not the, most effective personal branding tools out there. If you don’t know what to do with your LinkedIn, read on.
Within the last year and a half or so, LinkedIn massively changed its search algorithm to be more searchable. Instead of using job titles in your headline, use skill titles. Do some keyword research for your industry to see what skill titles you have that are popular (check out my profile for an example). It’s worth your time and is much more effective in ranking you higher in LinkedIn search.1
Nonetheless, having a solid, searchable profile is only a part of how you can effectively brand yourself on LinkedIn. Like other social media, you must engage with your audience to build your brand and thought leadership. A few ways to do that:
- Share industry articles. Note what you agree or disagree with and post your insight in the “Share an update” box. Include the link to the article. Like Twitter, always include a link or image when possible.
Repurpose your blog on the platform’s “long-form publishing” feature. This is listed under “Interests” on your profile page. Select “Pulse” and you’ll be taken to various articles written by others as this feature is open to EVERYONE on LinkedIn; not just your network. You can share your post here and, again, include an image.
- I can’t stress enough how successful this feature has become for people. It’s very “sticky” and has generated interest and leads for many of my clients and others. This is a place to build your brand and simultaneously complement your industry knowledge. It’s a slow dance to build interest, but if your content is compelling and you’re consistent in posting, it will payoff.
Join and follow groups of interest. But don’t just join and “lurk”; actually participate. Make comments to others’ posts. This reinforces your brand and your expertise. It takes time but the invitations you receive will be solid and you can generate leads.
Use a professional-looking photo. Sounds obvious but many people have Facebook-like photos. This isn’t the place for the cropped headshot from a party you attended nor a blurry or less than quality shot. Invest in the headshot, have it reflect who you are, or ask a friend who’s good at photography to take your picture. (Whatever you do, don’t stand in front of a wall – you’re not going for a passport-like photo here.)
- Send personal invitations to connect with others. This is simple- send a note and ask to connect and explain why. “I enjoyed your article about X and wanted to connect.” Or “I heard you speak at X conference the other day and would like to connect.” You get the idea. To do this, connect with a person from their profile page directly not within the “People You May Know” suggestions as that will send the generic message to connect. It looks lazy.
Whether you work for a large firm, a small business or are a solo entrepreneur, having a solid LinkedIn profile should reinforce who you are as a person. It’s one of the few places on the Internet where you can control your message with more than 140 characters. Explain who you are and why you’re an expert, the pain point you help someone solve, and how you resolve that pain point.
Be consistent. Participate and engage. Give and not just take. Use the media options to your advantage and think of your profile page as a mini-website.
LinkedIn as a marketing and personal branding tool is fairly new. Get out ahead of your competition and show how your online image can stand out among the chaos of social media.