“Personal branding is not about being something you’re not, it’s about being the best version of who you already are… Get this clear in your mind, and then reproduce it consistently on your LinkedIn profile.”Jennifer Holloway, Author of ‘Personal Branding for Brits’
So we’re going to be doing a bit of soul-searching with this article. Bear with me now, because when it comes to personal branding, integrity is everything. Correction – integrity and consistency are everything. If you ever told a little white lie as a kid that’s spiralled into a big mess then you’ll have learned pretty early on that it’s difficult to be consistent when you’re having to remember something you’ve made up. That’s why honesty is vital in this exercise. First and foremost: be honest with yourself.
Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn Rule 1: Integrity – Be Yourself
Who are ‘You’?
Take some time to sit down with a pen and paper, no screens – that’s right, we’re going old school – and have a good think about what makes you, you. Now, we don’t have to go too deep with this, we’re building a professional profile here not a psychiatric profile, but try to be really honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. This should range from personal attributes like how you cope in a crisis, to skills such as what softwares you can use, what experience you have working or managing teams. Anything that helps you, or holds you back, in your career.
Depending on how far into your career you are, you may have a strong understanding of yourself already, but try to take a second to maybe unlearn some ingrained notions you have of yourself. Maybe you’ve improved on something without realising? Or maybe there’s an area you’ve been neglecting of late. Grading yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 – honestly, remember – is a good way to compare and contrast skill areas against each other.
Right, soul search over. Now you have a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, start to build a picture of what you’re personal brand might look like. This will include playing to your strengths, coupled with what drives you to do the work you do. Or perhaps, what it is that’s motivating you to go in the new direction you’re now seeking.
Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn Rule 2: Commit to It
Complete Your LinkedIn Profile
So first of all, commit to completing your LinkedIn profile. So simple. Make sure your profile photo is up to date. It helps to set the tone, so makes sure it’s professional but don’t forget to smile! You want to look like you mean business, not that you’re mean. If a full-on, cheesy grin isn’t your thing, don’t worry. If your face looks approachable and has a hint of a smile in there it’ll look far more genuine than a big, fake grimace.
Complete your LinkedIn profile to 100%. It helps with rankings and shows that you’re committed and meticulous. It doesn’t take long to do and is a really easy first step to building your personal brand on LinkedIn.
Write a Killer Summary Bio
Easier said than done. It’s difficult to condense your whole person into 300 characters, or 50ish words. This should be your elevator pitch. Think back on our soul search from earlier – what are the top key points you want to get across. This may vary depending on your current goals. For example, if you’re applying for jobs this should focus on skills needed for a particular role your gunning for. If a company you have your heart set on has a certain company culture, make sure the tone is set to that vibe and shows you as someone who would fit in there. If you’ve been honest with yourself about who you are and what company or role would best suit you, it should be easy to align yourself whilst being genuine and keeping your integrity.
Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn Rule 3: Consistency is Key
Is Your Content On-Brand?
Now that you know who you are and your profile is complete and up to date, we need to talk about content. Now, not everyone is a soapbox-standing, content-producing whizz. Some people prefer to comment and pitch in their expertise that way. But if you are thinking about putting out content it’s a great way to gain exposure and draw attention to yourself on LinkedIn.
But make sure it’s consistent and relevant. For example, if you’re passionate about the environment but then post about how much you love single-use plastic (extreme example) then that doesn’t make sense. People will see right through this and think you a hypocrite. This is why Integrity and Consistency go hand in hand. If you’ve taken the first, soul-searching step seriously and been honest with yourself it’ll be pretty easy to spot what isn’t consistent because your gut will tell you it doesn’t feel right.
Types of Content: Mix It Up
It’s important to try and mix up the types of content you’re posting to your LinkedIn profile. Sharing third party links – or even articles you’ve written yourself – is great, but try and mix it up with rich media content such as images and video. These can be more attention-grabbing and make your updates less monotonous.
It’s key to keep the tone consistent, but giving people different methods of taking in the information – reading, infographics, watching a video, listening to audio – will make your content production well-rounded and more appealing. Just remember – when people are scrolling down their feeds you only have a fraction of a second to catch their attention. Images and videos are more visually appealing than a block of text and will draw people in to read more and engage.
Maybe you’re passionate about supporting local start-ups. You can make this known by saying so in your profile, but you can also back this up by posting about the activity of local start-ups with a positive, motivational message from yourself. More importantly, go along to fairs and showcases, take lots of photos with the people themselves. Which brings us on to the next point…
LinkedIn Brand Rule 4: Make it Human
Make it Personable
Not personal – this is a professional profile after all – but personable. If you’re at an event, don’t just post a photo of the event space. Make sure to post photos with you in them. Preferably smiling or looking like a total boss. Making sure you’re presentable is a given in real life, so this should translate to your LinkedIn profile. A photo of you looking scruffy isn’t going to help much, but a photo of you looking shiny and groomed, arm in arm and smiling with other professionals or even clients shows that you’re friendly and sociable. Say cheese.
It’s important to be sociable on LinkedIn as well as networking in real life. Comment and engage with posts that align with your personal brand – remember, if it doesn’t feel like a good fit then go with your gut. Engaging with people, and being seen to be engaging with them, that align with your goals and values allows you to meet other, like-minded individuals and get involved in group discussion. A chance to network and a chance to flex that expert brain of yours. This can lead to real-world opportunities if you do your due diligence and follow-up with anyone you connect with and talk to regularly, even if it’s just a quick direct message to say ‘hi’.
LinkedIn Brand Rule 5: Make it Easy for People to Find You
Get Found Easily
Everyone knows that networking is key. A LinkedIn profile is no substitute for you in the flesh but it needs to be somewhere to point people to, or even a taster for those that haven’t met you yet. For handing out your LinkedIn profile in real life, make sure to personalise your LinkedIn URL for ease. For example: linked.in/3287rui43fy8g is hard to remember and dole out, but linked.in/johnpjohson is far easier.
Vitally, you want people to be able to find you via LinkedIn. Make sure that your profile is set to public and that you’ve updated your contact settings so that people can get in touch with you. It would be a waste to build your brand and go to the effort of posting great content if no one can actually see you or it.
Phew, so we’ve done it. We’ve soul-searched, we’ve written a topnotch summary, we’ve networked and we’ve posted some great content… not quite. Building your personal brand on LinkedIn is an ongoing process. Make sure to keep posting consistent and relevant content to your profile, engage in group discussions and, very importantly, take time to review your profile and your brand.
People change and grow over time, so to keep up the integrity side of things, make sure to check in with yourself every few months to make sure you’re still portraying yourself accurately and genuinely. Be honest with yourself and make sure to live and show your values and skills through what you do in real life and how that translates online through LinkedIn. Keep it up, you’ve got this.