Personal branding is a hot topic, once again, so I thought I’d 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 think of you. It tells folks 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 listing:
– What you are known for.
– What you would like to be known for.
– What you are most likely to say when asked, “What qualities differentiate you from your peers (or competitors)?”
5 Must-Do’s for Your LinkedIn Profile
Rethink your title. Distill what you’ve come up with from your brainstorming and use it to inform edits to your headline. 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 have:
Professional Development Speaker, Author of “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???,” Trainer, Biz Coach
Create your public URL. Additionally, if you haven’t set up your personal LinkedIn URL yet, it’s 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. For example, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/sandyjk.
Optimize your summary. Use your “Summary” as you would an elevator pitch, cover letter or biography, but do make sure that your personality comes through.
A belief that LinkedIn is your resume online is incorrect. Your LinkedIn profile summary is a less formal way to present your best possible self to the professional world and when would you ever want to sound like a robot to another human? Leave the robotic resume speak for the specific job listing within your profile, but even there, let SEO (search engine optimization) tactics guide your descriptions. Focus on words you think a recruiter or hiring manager looking for someone like you 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:
Choose your status updates wisely. Make sure your status updates (and tweets if you’ve linked Twitter to your profile) 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 good news or accomplishments 20 percent of the time. And try not to use your year-end updates as your own personal holiday brag letter by waiting until the end of the year to go accomplishment share-crazy and spam others under the guise of an end of year recap or gratitude journal.
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.
Sandy Jones-Kaminski is a self-described networking enthusiast and the author of “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???” She’s been an executive in the HR industry and was recently the VP of Networking for one of the largest chapters of a national professional development and trade association. Sandy shares her professional insights on personal branding and effective networking via webinars, one-on-one coaching, workshops and by facilitating in-person networking events called Pay It Forward Parties. You can connect with her via her website at http://www.belladomain.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.613.8508.