6 Tips for Cultivating Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn
Updated: Nov 9, 2021
To be frank, I wasn’t always a fan of LinkedIn (LI). At the start, I mostly used it to keep track of my professional network. Over time I came to realize that beyond it being a highlight reel of my network’s achievements, it was also a place to connect, explore and learn. By actively developing my brand, I also got a lot more out of the platform—and there’s more to be had: an entrepreneur friend of mine gets 70% of his quality leads through LI.
In addition, if a brand is what you are in the eyes of your audience, why not try and give some context & flavour to that, especially as more & more people go online to connect, influence, and engage?
Whether you’re at the start of crafting your personal brand or have been working on this for some time, here are tried and tested tips I’ve found helpful. Hopefully, they are for you too.
1. Define your brand
This includes, in addition to your professional title, what you care about professionally, what professional interests you have, what values you hold, what purpose or mission you have (if you do), and how you want to be positioned in the eyes of your audience.
Though these statements aren't explicitly stated online, they form the foundation for how you engage on LI and what messages you share. For example, while I’m a Communications & Branding Lead by LI title, I’m also passionate about Psychology, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Leadership. By sharing & engaging with posts associated with my values and other interests, people get a richer understanding of who I am beyond my professional title.
Furthermore, through what I've shared in the past, people in my network have tagged me in posts they believe are relevant to my interests, further reinforcing what I’m about and growing my reach.
2. Be conscious of the window dressing*
I got this expert tip from Sandra Quelle, Career Consultant and Chief Happiness Officer at The Happy Monday’s Co. The professional title you have on LinkedIn at the top of your profile is like the window dressing at a store; it’s an indication of what’s inside and will help people decide whether they want to step in. It doesn’t have to be your current, exact professional title. Companies have many different naming systems for roles, and these differ across industries and firms.
In addition, what makes sense internally may not mean the same outside your company. For example, my first sales role was as a Sales Executive, yet in another company, “Executive” connoted a Senior Leadership position. Instead, write what makes sense for where you are headed if you can back it up with experience or transferable skills. In your current company you may be a Sales Manager, but are you keen to focus on Inside Sales, B2B Sales, or Leading a Sales team going forward? Try on a few different titles and if you wear many different hats in your work that you enjoy, feel free to list a few. E.g., “FMCG Sales Manager | Project Management | Trade Marketing”.
It’s also a great way to figure out if the title resonates with where you are headed. Do take note, though, in the Experience section, you need to mention the exact title you currently hold so that it matches your CV and can be confirmed by people recommending you or working with you.
3. (Be conscious of) *All the window dressing
This includes your pics, the language you use, your tone and online personality. If you’re always professional & serious on LinkedIn and post a cute puppy video, that could feel incongruous. Nevertheless, if you’re re-branding to the Puppy Whisperer or introducing more levity into your posts, a puppy video with a solid message could be relevant.
In the same vein, if your photos are five years out of date, it’s time to update those as well. In many instances, LinkedIn will be where people get their first professional impression of you, therefore, it needs to be the current version of you. There are many talented photographers out there that can make sure the images resonate with who you are and what you want to project, Silke Dietz from Zebra Jojo being a fantastic example of a personal branding-focused photographer here in Singapore.
I call it the social media karma circle: you will only get out of it what you put in. If you’re all about being positive, supporting others, writing earnest & thoughtful comments, and liking and sharing posts, you will likely also get those things out of LinkedIn. If your connections don’t engage, find additional new connections that share your professional interests and are more active. If you’re there to quietly observe from the corner, the experience will likely be muted as well. On top of that, your presence will be one-dimensional. If you don’t engage, it’s like going to work and sending emails without ever replying to any – you need to do both for the relationship to move forward and for people to better understand you.
5. Make it Personal
No one wants to know every detail and personal update from your life, however, through genuinely sharing personal stories or small tidbits that relate to your core message (whether in a post, video, or article), people will connect better and get some more insight into who you are. We are all social creatures and whether we like it or not, we connect through emotion. A personal anecdote is also an excellent way to make it more authentic. Leadership lessons can come from a trip to the grocery store or from your toddler. Think about what you want to say and make it you.
6. Take a Break
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your personal brand be. There’s no convention on engagement or how many times you need to do something (don’t listen if someone says you must post daily!); the key is consistency and being present. If you don’t have the head space or bandwidth for it, don’t force yourself to do it. You want to be present and authentic and sometimes the best way to do that is to not be there for some time & take a digital detox.
Conversely, if you can’t bring yourself to start but want to, take the plunge! There is no other way to learn and to grow your brand than by actively working on it. There may be some vulnerable moments where you are worried about something you’ve shared or said, but I assure you, you are your harshest critic.
If I can help you establish or grow your personal brand, don’t hesitate to reach out!