Are you still waiting for better times – or do you already use LinkedIn for your personal branding?
If you have spent any time online this past year – and let’s be honest, who hasn’t! – you must have come across the term “personal branding”. I’ve written about it in the past (Personal Branding sucks) everybody seems to write about it, BUT there are still people questioning if it is overused business jargon or the key to safety in your current career or your future career?
Here, I’d like to think of it as the latter.
Personal branding may not be your cure-all end-all, but it is an indispensable asset in today’s crowded marketplace – especially during times of crisis such as these.
Employers are more likely than ever to scourge the internet – and LinkedIn – for new talent, and more and more exciting job opportunities are now posted on this platform, especially in (but not limited to) industries such as Tech. That means that you have to leverage the power of LinkedIn by creating a strong personal brand.
I hear you thinking – ok but why should I create a personal brand if I am currently employed? Here is where I’d like to stop you. Many have unexpectedly lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the current situation. If the last year has taught us anything, it is that nobody (not even your seasoned industry veteran!) can afford not to have a thought-out online presence. Indeed, being proactive and securing the future you want these days includes developing a – personal brand. There simply is no better way to position yourself in the marketplace.
So, what is personal branding?
A brand is something you craft – think of it as your next creative endeavour. Or if you do not think of creativity as your strong point, like a business plan. Engage in some self-reflection if you haven’t already and ask yourself:
1. What are my core values, beliefs, purpose and goals? Genuineness is key. I somehow started to dislike the term “authenticity”, maybe because it’s been overuse on LinkedIn during the last year? Who knows. Coming back to being genuine when building or sharpening your personal brand. As the old adage goes: know thyself (and conquer your prospective employer’s or client’s hearts in the process)! Sometimes, having a little help from a qualified coaching professional at this stage can go a long way. I often help my clients discovering themselves and then embark on the fun ride of building a personal brand. In December it was also part of my HRM teaching at the Marketing and Business School Zurich, and the students loved it.
2. Since you are creating a brand, you must know your audience. Who is it whose attention you want to attract, and how do you best communicate your unique value to them? Will they engage more with video content (e.g. if you are looking to engage Gen Z or young millennials), or long-form content in which you showcase your knowledge and interests (such content is much more likely to be consumed by c-level executives). Based on your target, you can custom-tailor your messaging to be as relevant and relatable as possible.
Think of LinkedIn profile as your virtual business card
Whereas in the dinosaur years of LinkedIn, it was enough to merely have a professional looking photo gracing the top bar of your profile, today asks a little more of you. In most industries, buttoned-up stoicism is a thing of the past.
3. It is much more important today to highlight your diverse set of skills, experiences and personality. Ideally, you’d want to become a source of information to others, a reference, a bible. The key word here being information (aka content). If you excel at this, people will automatically think of you first when they have a problem, or are looking for specific knowledge. To achieve this, maintaining consistency is crucial. Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of personality – in fact, let your dazzling personality shine through!
…and networking platform
Networking has been re-invented for the social media age, and current events have, for obvious reasons, only accelerated this trend. It has moved online, which means that the real-life, career-advancing conversations that used to take place at the coffee counter or networking drinks have as well.
With caffeine and wine-induced courage off the table, new tactics need to be devised. Needless to say, to secure audience engagement, you will need to remember to engage with your followers: social media is a two-way-street.
Tell a – I mean your – story
Leverage the unique power of storytelling. Now it should go without saying that we are not all blessed with Shakespeare’s talent for prose nor do we necessarily have the world’s finest video-editing skills. That alone should not stop you. Absolutely not.
Thankfully, we live in a world where much is available online, often for free. If you just found yourself with a little extra time on your hands due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, or even if you are a busy parent of a young child, the key is to carve out a little amount of time but make it a consistent practice. Learn how to make short, engaging video content by using a simple (because intuitive!) tool like iMovie or start creating simple but attention-grabbing graphics with the help of Canva – and you will score massive bonus points.
…but what if time is the issue?
If you are not a natural-born content producer, or simply find it difficult to find the time to invest in personal branding – fear not. LinkedIn is awash with user content, and you can benefit from their expertise to elevate your own standing within the personal brand hierarchy. Like, click and share and leverage! Automating posts also helps save time. Lastly, if you’d like to get going with little time and effort (and a little human touch) feel free to get in touch with me. I offer tailored personal branding advice and am more than happy to share a few video editing tricks and presentation tips with you! Also, I can recommend some really super copy writers and content creators, too.
We all know life gets busy sometimes – but I promise you, the time you carve out today is tomorrow’s celebrated success. As for 2021, personal branding is indeed here to stay.