To build your personal brand, you need your digital presence to leave the right impression. How do you want to represent yourself? Make sure your LinkedIn profile and activity depicts that.LinkedIn is a great way to build and maintain professional connections throughout your career. But you need to think about what your LinkedIn profile says about you, and if it’s consistent with how you want to portray yourself. It’s important to stay active on LinkedIn through engagement and sharing content, but first, you need to make sure you have the basics in place so you can build a personal brand the right way.
There are many aspects of your LinkedIn profile that you can build out and that you should continuously update, but there are some areas that are easy to overlook. Let’s begin with the basics.
You need to have a professional photo of yourself on LinkedIn!
This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. Your headshot is your first impression, so make sure you have a professional headshot of yourself that’s in focus with good lighting.
If you want your picture to convey that you’re all business, then dress that way in your photo. At the same time, if you would like to be a little less formal and more casual, that’s ok too.
There are pictures you should avoid: pictures that are blurry, have poor lighting, group photos, pictures that don’t show your face, wedding photos, pictures of your pet, and more. Those don’t fly.
As for your banner image, you can use a simple graphic or picture that fits the measurements allotted. Feel free to be creative. But neither your headshot nor your banner image should tell people where you work. This is about building your personal brand and maintaining it. If you want the images to portray the industry you work in or your personality, that works great.
Just remember, building your personal brand is about making yourself known for what you do, not being known as a person who works for a specific company.
Title and Summary
Too many people leave the summary section blank when it’s one of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn bio.
It’s your chance to let your visitors know who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and what your aspirations are for the future. It’s important to fill this out, but don’t write a timeline of your experience as your summary. That’s already listed in the experience section. And don’t just use your job title for your LinkedIn title.
For the title, write a concise phrase that captures your passions and what you do. For both the title and your summary, it’s always a good idea to keep keyword phrases and search terms in mind.
A good way to attack your title is to use this equation:
What does that mean?
In this equation, x is the service you provide, while y is your target audience, and z is the results you leave them with.
For example, a social media specialist could write, “I create great social media experiences for brands so we can hit our goals.”
This is not a hard set equation that you have to abide by exactly how it’s written, but it is a great guideline for someone who doesn’t know what to put for their title.
When writing your summary, consider your target audience. Talk about why you got into doing what you do, and explain what you love about it. It’s also important to describe what makes you unique and what you bring to the table.
Highlight your victories and include metrics if you can on specific areas you’ve helped improve. For example, a social media marketer might describe the brand accounts they oversaw, what kind of reach and engagement they helped these accounts grow to, and what methods they like to use. This isn’t required, but it helps the reader get a better understanding of how you’re credible.
The summary isn’t a cover letter, so don’t treat it as such. You want to be authentic. Write the way you speak and feel free to share some interests you have outside of work.
LinkedIn summaries can be tricky, and even some of the best writers can find it hard to write about themselves. Just remember that you can adjust and edit your summary whenever you’d like. The best writing is rewriting, and none of this is set in stone.
As you progress in your career, you should continuously update your summary along with the rest of your LinkedIn page. This will help you adjust how you want to portray yourself as you’re building a personal brand.
Experience, Skills, and Education
Add only relevant work experience to your LinkedIn profile that backs up your personal brand.
If you want people to view you as an industry expert, for example, then you should include experience that's relevant to your industry. Include positions you’ve held, certificates you’ve earned, and awards you’ve received, and accomplishments you think would be relevant to your target audience.
But feel free to leave out your side hustles. Your target audience might not be interested in that summer you spent as a golf caddy, or the fantasy football championships you’ve won.
When building a personal brand, you want to portray a specific reputation. Anything you can add to your profile that can help with this reputation should be added, but anything extra that doesn’t serve a purpose needs to go.
Explain what you do at your job and the most important tasks you carry out. These need to be relevant to the area of expertise you want to be credible in and speak to the audience you want to attract. Try to be detailed but also be concise.
When highlighting your skills, add anything you think applies, but have friends and colleagues give you endorsements and write recommendations for your work. This part is important because it lets people know other people like working with you and trust your abilities.
Make sure to highlight your education, and highlight any awards and accomplishments you had. If you were part of a group or club at your school, that’s important to put in there.
Be Active! Share, and Engage With Others
After you’ve worked hard on building out your LinkedIn profile, don’t just rely on search for people to find you.
You should consistently post on LinkedIn. Share content that’s relevant to your target audience, but don’t overwhelm anybody’s feed. If you have a blog, that’s great! Promote it on LinkedIn and people in your field will respect you for it. If you were recently on a podcast episode, or if you have a webinar or speaking opportunity coming up, promote it! But don’t just promote yourself all the time.
It’s important to share content from other outlets as well. This lets people know that you’re knowledgeable and you make an effort to stay aware of what’s going on in your industry. Post about what you’re seeing in the industry, trends, and challenges you’ve faced, and how to overcome them. Other people in your industry will relate to your stories.
Starting a conversation by sharing is great, but don’t forget to participate in conversations as well. Commenting on other people’s posts is a great way to connect with someone for the first time and can lead to more interactions in the future. Simple things like “Great read! Thanks for sharing.” can go a long way. If you have the time, typing a thoughtful response that touches on the topic shared is an even better way to build and strengthen relationships on LinkedIn.
This should not be overwhelming. You might be thinking, “How do I find all this content all the time, and how do I know who to connect with and engage with?”
An employee advocacy program is a huge help in presenting not only yourself but other people in your organization as thought leaders. Using an employee advocacy platform like GaggleAMP, employees can share posts and content internally, and the program manager can decide if a post is interesting enough for the external target audience.
The manager will curate content for people in the program and suggest important people to connect with, such as analysts, industry influencers, and more. Connecting and engaging with the right people is important for building a personal brand, but so is consistency.
Being part of a program that consistently suggests actions for you to carry out on social media, content for you to share, and people to connect with, makes being active online much easier.
Make sure you share quality posts, be consistent in how often you post, but always stay on brand. You don’t want your followers to be surprised about anything you shared. Of course, you can be creative, but you want to always speak to your audience.
LinkedIn is a great way to portray yourself, your abilities, and your accomplishments to others in your industry. It’s also very easy to connect and engage with others. Many people grew an incredibly large presence on LinkedIn by taking these steps, leading to all kinds of opportunities. If you build out your personal brand correctly, you can do the same.