Have you jumped on the personal brand wagon yet?
Personal branding is always a hot topic, so I thought I’d use my first post here to share some of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to cultivate and reinforce your personal brand. First off, let’s agree that your personal brand represents how you market yourself to the world. It’s what comes to mind when people you know think of you, and it tells folks you don’t know what you represent, offer or are a go-to person for.
As an example, my personal brand is that of a connector, networking maven and person that can almost always find a way to make things happen. It’s funny to think that back in the late 80s I unwittingly started cultivating my personal brand when I ordered custom license plates for my car that said, “HAS A WAY” on them. I happily gave those plates (and my car) up when I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in the 90s, but that part of my personal brand identity definitely stuck.
Define Your Brand
If you haven’t identified your own personal brand yet, I recommend you spend at least a half hour this week thinking about and then listing the things:
- for which you are known
- for which you want to be known
- you are most likely to say when asked, “What qualities differentiate you from your peers (or competitors)?”
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Rethink your title: Distill what you’ve come up with and use it to inform the edits you should make to your LinkedIn profile. Does you headline reflect what you are versus what your job title or role is? (There’s a place for title by your company’s listing in your job history.) On mine, for example, I currently have:
Professional Networking Expert, Author & Keynote Speaker, Training & Professional Development Consultant
Create a public URL: Additionally, if you haven’t set up your Personal LinkedIn URL yet, it is time. Look under “Profile” then “Edit Profile” to find “Public Profile” and carefully consider whether you want to use your name, business name or a nickname in the URL. This is a great link to share in your email signatures or on your personal business cards if you don’t yet have a website you’re proud of or a job or a personal Tumblr or similar page. If you’re curious, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/sandyjk
Improve your summary: Use your “Summary” as you would an elevator pitch, brief cover letter or biography, and write in first person making sure that your personality comes through.
A much-challenged belief that LinkedIn is your resume online is inaccurate. Your LinkedIn profile summary is actually a less formal way to present your best possible self to the professional world and do you ever want to sound like a robot to another human? Leave the robotic resume speak for the specific job listings within your profile, but even there, let SEO (search engine optimization) tactics guide your descriptions.
Focus on words you think a prospect looking for someone like you or your company would use to search the vast LinkedIn database. Here are a few I’ve seen in the “Specialties” section and/or within the listings in the “Experience” section:
-executive, managed, global, delivered, sold, produced, developed, wrote, author, speaker, marketing, built, start-up, etc.
Make smarter status updates: Make sure your status updates reflect the things/topics for which you want to be known and keep your self-promotion in line by using the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) and share insights or “on brand” content 80 percent of the time and only share your company’s press or your own accomplishments 20 percent of the time.
Share your expertise: Last, but certainly not least, peruse the “Discussions” and “Answers” sections of LinkedIn for relevant to you or your industry conversations where you can showcase your personal brand by contributing meaningful insights, knowledge or ideas. This is a great way to build your reputation and awareness with people who don’t already know you or what you represent. But, a word of caution, it’s also a great way to tarnish your personal brand if you use your comments to solely promote yourself or business or as what’s called “link bait” to get people to visit your site or Facebook page.
Hope this motivates you to jump on the personal brand wagon! :-)