Stop what you’re doing!
Seriously, stop reading this article and Google yourself. Just don’t forget to come back.
Welcome back, we were worried we had lost you there.
Chances are, if you have a LinkedIn account, your LinkedIn profile was at the top of your search results.
And if you don’t have a LinkedIn account you should, keep reading to discover why.
When you apply for a job, or even send a potential client an email, employers and clients may Google your name. With LinkedIn consistently at the top of Google searches, it is worth it to go to the trouble of making sure you know what others are seeing and how it influences their perception of you and your brand, brand YOU.
Let’s face it, we live in a digital age and require digital solutions. What used to be your reputation is now your brand.
Think you don’t have a brand?
Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame put it best when he said “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” Simply put, brand YOU is the unique set of skills, experience and personality people see when they view you online. We are not talking about a constructed persona, but a humble, genuine presentation of your true identity. Simply put, it’s what makes you YOU.
So, how do you ensure brand YOU is on point and providing new opportunities? Here are five easy ways to get started on making sure brand YOU is working for you:
Step 1: Create YOUR personal brand statement.
Forget your job description and title and get clear about your purpose. After all, you are a person, not a product.
Branding is all about sharing your uniqueness with the world. What makes you, you? How do you add value? What is your message to the world? Create a list of words and phrases that represent you, then create a personal brand statement that sums it all up in one sentence.
Try to avoid cliche phrases such as expert, passionate or skilled and focus instead on a single succinct statement of value. Less can be more and being different is better than being best temporarily. The key is to be genuine and humble, letting your true colours shine through.
Step 2: Be true to your brand across your various social media channels.
Become the brand you want to be. The easiest way to do this is to create and share content that represents your brand.
Start writing about it, start sharing it and start showing others your brand. Don’t make the mistake of only focusing on LinkedIn, remember brand YOU is everything people view about you online.
Is the information you are sharing consistent with the image you want to create?
Step 3: Optimize your LinkedIn Profile to optimize your brand.
Many of us still think of LinkedIn as primarily a job search app, when it is in fact so much more. LinkedIn is THE Professional Social Networking Site and the most used social platform among Fortune 500 companies. We are talking about a global resource with almost 600 million registered users and 260 million active monthly users. This online resource allows you to see and be seen in the business world (according to studies 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn regularly). Simply put, not having LinkedIn in today’s professional world is akin to not having a business card or showing up to an interview without a resume in the 1980’s, inconceivable!
Even as a recruiter, you need a strong personal brand. Jennifer McClure, founder and CEO of Unbridled Talent and Disrupt HR offers a free Personal Brand Workbook on her website, where she also discusses the importance of recruiters developing their brand. “I hear recruiters or HR people tell me, ‘me having a complete LinkedIn profile is not important because it’s about my company, not me,’” she says. “[Candidates] may never get to learn about your company if you aren’t representing yourself well.”
The first two things visitors look at are your profile picture and your headline. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make yours count in your favour!
Step 4: Network, Network, Network.
Networking is the key to getting your brand out there. You can’t put your brand to work for you without an audience. Think of LinkedIn as your personal rolodex (remember those?!), but instead of collecting a handful of business cards you may never look at or use again, all the information you need is right at your fingertips. Met someone at a recent meet and greet? Add them to LinkedIn and send a welcome note. Boom!
LinkedIn offers a number of tools built to help you connect with like-minded professionals. Check out groups, and the connections of your connections. This is the true beauty of LinkedIn and brand YOU, it is easy to connect and grow your network. Where we used to be limited to those we could meet face to face, now the world is (literally) at your fingertips.
Kevin Carmichael, Founder of The Coachhouse Leadership Solutions and Adjunct Professor at Trinity Western University notes “I think the biggest takeaway for me is the networking that goes on with like-minded people. I find most everyone is professional, helpful and eager to connect.”
Start simply by sharing someone else’s content or commenting on a post you like, before you know it your network will grow!
Step 5: Brand YOU should be as ever-changing as you are and grow along with you.
Ever changing, ever growing, ever learning. As you evolve, your brand should evolve along with you. It is important to reevaluate your profile, your goals and where you are regularly…and make sure your brand is representing not only where you are, but where you want to be.
Your personal brand should be revised at least once a year, after all it can only be effective if it represents you currently. Don’t be afraid to make changes, big or small, try new things and find what works for you.
Cultivating a personal brand is more important than ever. Your personal brand is just that, personal. Brand YOU should be an authentic representation of the best you have to offer. It is worth it to take the time to follow these steps and make sure your personal brand game is on target.
Be vulnerable, be authentic and be fearless! Be Brand YOU.