How To Build Your Personal Brand
First Step - Make the Most of Your Linkedin Profile
Reading Time: 4-5 Minutes
What is Your Personal Brand?
A unique voice and place in your market
It is not a new concept to create a personal brand but many people don’t bother with it, which is surprising. Quite possibly, you will be known for something within your organisation (good or bad). Taking it one step further, you become known for something ‘outside’ your organisation. Rather than just playing a part in growing the business brand it is now time to start thinking about yourself – your own brand. You can do both!
Put simply, it is your professional voice. Your ‘unique’ professional voice. It is you standing up amongst your peers and competitors and throwing down a marker in the market. And the ultimate aim? So, you can be distinctively identified amongst those aforementioned peers and competitors.
Identifying Your Areas of Expertise
It’s all very well wanting to build a personal brand but ultimately you will need to have something to offer and ideally something different. So, to start, you need to identify your area of expertise. Consider areas that you have lots of experience in or have a deep interest in. If a problem arises in the office, do your colleagues turn to you to resolve it? That might be your area.
Once identified, you need to map out how you plan to go about establishing your brand. A good place to start is social media. It’s easy and mostly free. Platforms like Linkedin and Twitter can give you access to a huge audience that have similar interests.
Next, consider writing articles and blogs. Make sure you post them on as many different (but relevant) platforms as possible. Speaking at seminars and conventions will give you a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and engage with your growing audience.
Don’t forget to keep growing your network. There are two main aspects to this. You can grow your network on social platforms like Linkedin. But, if you never engage with any of them, it becomes a ‘potential’ network. Step two is to build a ‘face to face’ network. Whether it is people you meet via social platforms or through professional bodies and organisations, it is important to meet as many like-minded people as possible. It cements the ‘potential’ platform.
How to Enhance Your Brand Through Linkedin
With Linkedin being the professional network of choice these days, it still surprises me when I see a half-edited profile. If you are on Linkedin, then you should be getting the most out of it. If you don't use it or don't want to, it begs the question, why are you on it in the first place?
As you are concentrating on your personal brand, this is an easy (and free) way of letting others see what your credentials are. If you visited the website of a company like Apple, you would find it surprising if there were half edited paragraphs, info gaps, missing pictures and spelling errors. So, why should you do it with your own profile? Potential employers aren't going to take any interest. Potential clients aren't going to employ your services and will probably think you are an amateur in a social media age (and it is here to stay).
As such, here are a number of things you can do to avoid making mistakes in your profile.
1. State the company you currently work for in your headline.
Not mentioning the company you work for is just lazy. You should treat the profile exactly like a CV and therefore, make sure that you outline your current firm or company and organisations that you have worked for in the past.
2. Give dates of employment.
As above, as you map out your current and previous employers, it is really essential that you state the dates that you worked for each. Just months and years are sufficient. If you don't use months, it suggests that you are trying to hide something and that is never good.
3. Describe your roles and experience.
Whilst points 1 and 2 above are essential, they don't really amount to anything unless you put it into context. Anyone who is viewing your profile will want to understand what you actually do. So, write out a paragraph of the type of work you get involved in and go into as much detail as you are allowed (clients, sectors and day-to-day activities). Do this for each job you have had.
4. Include a (professional) picture.
Without a picture, your profile just looks unfinished. It's like wearing a suit to an interview but forgetting your tie or a pair of socks. It is essential. Of course, don't use any old picture. This is a professional platform, so your current company photo should do (or something similar). Avoid pictures of you in the pub with your arms around your best mate or partner!
5. Include key info (skills & education).
This is a chance for you to enhance your profile by highlighting everything that you are good at. Don't be afraid to highlight as many skills as possible. With education, it is a good idea to provide full details of all your achievements. State the schools, colleges and universities attended, grades and any awards won.
Note: Whenever you see the 'Add Media' bar, you can upload various files to your profile.
6. Follow any groups or companies that interest you.
Linkedin makes no secret of the fact that joining groups is a great (and easy) way to grow your network. It allows you to build your network with people with similar interests, whether that is a sector focus, professional focus or more extra-curricular slant.
7. Full contact details.
If you hide behind the wall of privacy, you are making it harder for a prospect to reach out to you. In such an instance, you may well find a competitor (who is openly advertising that they are keen to be directly contacted) may benefit from the opportunity because they are easier to get hold of. It is worth considering putting your phone number and email in the contact details section.
8. Make sure it mirrors your CV.
In an interview context, make sure that your profile matches what is on your CV. There is nothing worse than getting your dates mixed up and having to explain yourself to a potential employer.
9. Additional Points.
There is plenty of space on the profile page to add skills like languages, examples of work and areas of interest. You'll note a 'Profile Strength' chart on the right-hand side of your profile. This is a good way to judge whether your profile is strong enough.
If you get your Linkedin ‘Profile Strength’ as high as possible, you are all set to start building your network and to enhance your personal brand.
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