When we worked for the same company our entire careers, the idea of a personal brand wasn’t important. These days, with shorter job stints and a “free agent” economy where it’s common for professionals to bounce from project to project, having a strong brand is more critical than ever. But how do you manage your personal brand and get everything done on your to-do list?
Here comes social media to the rescue – and on a professional level, LinkedIn. Your brand is based on how you are viewed by your network, the people that you know and the people that know you, i.e, your LinkedIn connections. There are two main pieces that make up your personal brand, and LinkedIn can have a huge impact on both of them.
The first is visibility. As our networks get bigger, and as more information fights for our connections’ attention, it can be harder to be seen. We don’t always have the time to meet for a business lunch, and we might not have a strong enough relationship to give them a call just to catch up. But by connecting with our network, we’ve been given permission to talk to them through LinkedIn. Every time you show up on the homepage of your 1st-level connections, you get a visibility bump.
It’s “top of mind” advertising. Coca-cola spends millions of dollars a year advertising a product that everyone already knows about. When you get thirsty, the first thing they want coming to your mind is “I want a Coke.” When your network thinks about your field, specialty, or niche, the first thing you want them to think about is you! And with LinkedIn, you don’t have to spend any money.
And how they view you is based on your reputation, which multiplies the power of visibility. It’s not just how many times they see your name, but the ideas and emotions that get attached to it. Do they think you are competent, experienced, and connected (or the opposites)? This is why thinking about the content of your online activities is a valuable use of your time.
It’s important to post status updates, participate in group discussions, and update the LinkedIn applications, and it’s equally important to have the right content. Talk about your areas of expertise and interest, share tips and information, and every once in a while, throw something personal that allows your network to see you as human. Be consistent with the themes of your activity, and you’ll create a strong identification in the minds of your connections.
By reinforcing visibility and reputation on LinkedIn, you’ll find benefits that reach well beyond your online activities. In the real world, your network will have a clearer idea about the problems you solve, and more and better opportunities will come your way. And that’s when you’ll know that your brand has value!