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. This post will share some of the ways you can use social networking tools like LinkedIn to cultivate, polish and reinforce your personal brand.
Image: Nan Palmero via Flickr
Define Your Brand
So how do you define yourself? 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. (Like I said, it was the 80s.) I happily gave those plates (and my car) up when I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in the late 90s, but that part of my personal brand identity definitely stuck.
If you haven't identified your own personal brand yet, I recommend you spend at least a half hour this week thinking about it. A good way to begin is filling out this list:
- What are you known for?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What do you say when asked, "What qualities differentiate you from your peers (or competitors)?"
Once you know how you want to present yourself, tackle your LinkedIn profile. For instance, look at your headline. Does your headline reflect what you are or offer versus what your job title or role is? (There's a place for title by your company's listing in your job history.) You have 120 characters to work with, and I recommend using them all.
On mine, for example, I currently have: LinkedIn Trainer + Strategist, Champion of SMBs, Social Selling Maven, International Speaker, AuthorCreate 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. For example, mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/sandyjkImprove the Summary Section
Use your "Summary" as an informal elevator pitch, brief cover letter, or biography. Make sure that your personality comes through. Whatever you do, do not write it in the third person! I tell my clients to pretend that their summary is the script for a video of themselves speaking directly to a friend of a friend visiting their profile.
An old school belief that LinkedIn is your resume online is just that -- old school. Your LinkedIn profile is an important part of your digital footprint and an invaluable marketing tool for your personal brand.
And your summary is actually a less formal way to present your best possible self to the professional world, and when would you ever want to sound like a resume to another human? Leave the robotic resume speak for the specific job listing within your profile, but even there, write in the first person and let SEO (search engine optimization) tactics guide your descriptions.
Focus on words you think a prospective client, 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:
executive, managed, global, delivered, sold, produced, developed, wrote, author, speaker, marketing, built, start-upMake Smarter Status Updates
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, promotions or accomplishments 20 percent of the time.Share Your Expertise
Last, but certainly not least, peruse the discussions taking place in the groups you are a member of within LinkedIn for relevant 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 people refer to as "link bait" to get people to visit your website or Facebook page.
Hope this motivates you to jump on the personal brand wagon, and if you're willing to share, maybe you'll offer some of your own personal branding tips in the comments section below. I look forward to reading them!
Want more tips, hacks and ideas for boosting your personal brand, generating leads or growing your network on LinkedIn? Subscribe to get my newsletter and get a free download of my LinkedIn Profile Makeover tool. Visit belladomainmedia.com to learn more about how I can help you build your business or amplify your brand today!
More from living