Defining and communicating our strengths and what makes us unique both professionally and personally can prove to be an important competitive advantage in the business world. To do this in the best possible way, it is important to create a Personal Brand that encompasses the qualities, skills and values that characterize us, communicating it adequately. In this article we delve deeper into how to build your own Personal Brand – analysing in detail the advantages it can bring – by exploiting one of the professional tools par excellence: LinkedIn.
A Personal Brand consists of all the qualities, skills, ideas, values and characteristics that make us unique and recognizable by our public. Through Personal Branding we build our image and decide what and how to communicate. Our personal brand represents how we see ourselves and how we want others to perceive us.
Truth be told, very often Personal Branding is an almost unconscious exercise: many of us use social profiles in a certain way, mainly posting a certain type of content (selfies, landscapes, architecture, memes…). In this way, by following our taste or showing our interests, we are in fact communicating ourselves.
When this exercise becomes conscious and goal-oriented, then we can say that we are building our Personal Brand. And it is possible to do this through multiple channels, from social networks to a website, to create different touchpoints, just like what we would do to promote a corporate brand. In fact, creating a Personal Brand means applying certain marketing dynamics to oneself, similarly to what we would do for a company.
In today’s article, I would like to focus in particular on how to build your Personal Brand on LinkedIn, a tool that is as immediate and simple to use as it is powerful and indispensable especially for your career. We could say the professional Personal Branding tool par excellence.
But before going into the specifics of how to build a Personal Brand on LinkedIn, let’s see exactly why it is so important.
Table of contents
Why Personal Branding is important
On the market, there are us and millions of others who have the most disparate skills and experiences. Standing out in such a competitive market has become increasingly difficult, especially when it comes to job opportunities.
It is in this context that our Personal Brand comes into play: knowing how to effectively communicate our identity and what distinguishes us from others can help us to attract the attention of our target, create new contacts and generate trust and a sense of familiarity in those who follow us.
A targeted Personal Branding strategy, in line with our skills and our sector, can also help us emerge as an expert in said sector and thus obtain recognition and opportunities that might otherwise escape us.
Clearly, the sine qua non of all this is to be transparent, honest, competent and to truly know what we are talking about: creating a Personal Brand does not mean building a fictitious image of ourselves, but rather bringing out our personality and skills in the best possible way.
Let’s see now how to create our Personal Brand.
How to build a Personal Brand on LinkedIn
Identify goals and target audience
As with any self-respecting marketing strategy, understanding who we want to reach is the first step to build our Personal Brand.
To identify the target, we must ask ourselves what we want to obtain from our profile: visibility among recruiters? A network of contacts of industry experts? Potential clients to whom we can offer our services and advice as professionals in our field?
Based on the objectives, and consequently on the target, we will have to decide how to set our tone of voice (therefore how to speak on the web) and what content to share.
Decide the content
Often, Personal Branding means doing content marketing. And doing content marketing means inspiring, informing and entertaining our audience.
There are many channels through which to do this: social media, website, newsletter. In the specific case of LinkedIn, it means producing a content (videos, images, infographics, carousels, texts …) that matches our goals but that also takes into account the type of social media that is LinkedIn: a professional network. Therefore, let’s try to create content in line not only with our tone of voice but also with that of the social network designed to host it. Taking a political stand, for example, could be counterproductive with respect to the objectives and target we are addressing.
Another thing to do is to plan the content in terms of focus and frequency, in order to post regularly and reaching the goal of inspiring, informing and entertaining our audience.
Create a complete profile
A complete profile on LinkedIn is equivalent to a nice business card that contains all the main information about us, and then some. LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to customize it extensively, through sections and attachments, spaces in which to write about us and photos: let’s not get lazy and take advantage of this opportunity, filling out each section properly.
Before seeing the available sections more closely, it is worth mentioning two rules to keep in mind when filling out our profile: let’s avoid using the usual buzzwords and remember to keep a professional but direct tone, without too many turns of words or abstract concepts.
Profile picture, cover photo and About
First, let’s choose a professional photo but not necessarily a stuffy one. To be clear, let’s avoid photos of us on the beach or wearing sunglasses, but also those made for our ID.
Then, let’s upload a cover photo that represents us. Many decide to dedicate this space to the company they are working for at that time; others use photos, quotes or images representative of their interests. Whatever we decide to do, let’s not leave this space empty: it is a further piece that says something more about us.
At the top of the profile, there is also a text section, called About: let’s use it as some kind of cover letter, to tell something more about ourselves and our experiences. However, it must not be a simple summary of what users can actually find below, that is, work experience and education. Let’s try to relate our essence: personal branding also means letting your ideas, values and interests shine through, because they are part of our identity and will help people to get a clearer idea about us.
The headline, as well, plays a fundamental role. Under our name, in fact, there is a textual part which is always visible and that we can fill in at will: there are those who use it to reaffirm their current job position; those who write their skills; and those who gives free rein to their imagination to describe who they are and what they do. Many recommend being original. I recommend to simply be yourself: sometimes, by wanting to sound original at all costs, we end up with ridiculous descriptions. It’s better to write our headline based on the tone of voice of our communication and our brand.
Below you will find three examples of headlines, starting with a more neutral one and ending with a more creative one.
Work experiences and education
After this first part, we can start filling out our work experiences and education. If we have several work experiences, it is good to write them all down, even if my advice (if you really have a twenty-year career behind you with several job changes) is to focus on the latest experiences, perhaps those most relevant to the role and sector of which we deal with now. Having said that, even past experiences at first sight irrelevant to what we do now, could prove useful in making people understand who we are and how we formed ourselves, both professionally and personally, especially in the eyes of those who know how to read between the lines and not stop at a mere list of skills. So, as always, let’s evaluate the course of action based on what we want to say about us: if we are honest and transparent, and able to highlight our essence, we will not incur any risk.
Skills and endorsements
Another important section is that of skills: LinkedIn allows us to enter a list of skills that distinguish us professionally. For some of them we can also take a mini test directly on LinkedIn and thus obtain a LinkedIn Skill Assessment badge. Skills can also be confirmed by our connections.
In addition to confirming skills, our connections can also write an endorsement on our profile. We can even request it from any of our connections through the appropriate form accessible by clicking on “Add a section”.
At a working level, we can decide to show if we are open to work and decide whether to add a special frame in this regard on our profile photo, which will thus be more visible to recruiters.
At the same time, if we are recruiters, we can show that we are hiring. To do this we will need to be super admin of a company page or be employed by that company. This time around as well, we can activate a special frame for our profile photo.
If we want to put our experience to good use, we can showcase the professional services we offer. LinkedIn will create a page dedicated to our services, which we can use to manage ongoing projects and that our customers can use to leave a review.
Other sections we can fill out
In addition to basic information relating to our work experience and education, LinkedIn also allows us to add other sections designed to host any information on patents, publications, languages spoken, social causes we have supported, projects we have worked on, organizations of which we are part. All potential information that can complete our profile from a more personal point of view.
Finally, a special mention goes to an important and somewhat hidden function: URL customization. LinkedIn allows us, in fact, to create a custom profile URL with a length between 3 and 100 characters. LinkedIn itself recommends customizing it with your own name or with a name that can be associated with your brand, in order to make the URL more recognizable and easily shareable. It will seem like a detail but having a URL like http://www.linkedin.com/in/yourname is certainly more effective, in terms of branding, than a randomly generated URL.
Build your network
At this point we should have built our personal brand based on objectives and targets, decided which content to publish and filled out an effective profile from which both our experience and our personality can shine through.
So, it’s now time to start networking, inviting people who fall within our target, potential investors but also colleagues or users with our same interests, to connect. Not only that, we can also join industry groups: another often underestimated tool that allows us to propose our content to a smaller circle of people interested in a specific topic, to engage in discussions and debates.
Interact and build relationships
It is not enough to connect with other people and simply tend to our profile and publishing content. One of the best ways to find new business opportunities and build lasting and fruitful relationships is to interact with our network through comments, likes, shares, and actively participate in discussions.
LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools through which promoting our Personal Brand and therefore ourselves, and it actually comes with a series of features created to allow us to do just that.
Being a social network, albeit professional, LinkedIn allows us to get out of the rigid frames of a CV to pair our work experience and education with more personal information, which makes our personality emerge.
All this is very important for anyone who wants to do business: after all, during an interview, you never evaluate a candidate only on the basis of what they have done but you also try to grasp their personality.
By leveraging LinkedIn as one of our Personal Branding tools, we will be able to reach our target and promote ourselves effectively.