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How do I build my personal brand using LinkedIn?

The world we live in is more connected than ever. Through social media platforms like LinkedIn we are able to reach almost anyone in the business world. With so many people there is always a challenge ‘standing out’ among the crowd. To become more ‘visible’ in the crowd it may be beneficial to build and promote your own personal brand (distinct from the brand of the company you work for).

There will be a number of different reasons why you would want to do this. It could be that you want to be more visible to recruiters in future, perhaps you want to be more connected to make job-hopping easier, or perhaps you want to be seen as a thought leader in your particular area. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips to get you going:

Build your profile

When it comes to recruiting the chances are recruiters will look at your LinkedIn profile as a first port of call to get more an understanding about you, how you present yourself to others and what you talk about. Not only recruiters will view your profile though. From experience if I’m going into a meeting where I don’t one of the people invited I’ll probably look at their profile to understand their role, career journey, etc. Also, anyone you decide to connect with is going to look at it too. Therefore it is hugely beneficial to always make a good impression to whoever visits.

Your LinkedIn profile is the modern day CV or Resume – it should contain everything you would ordinarily have put in those documents. So feel free to utilise the “About” section to explain (in summary!) your experience to date and where your career direction lies (especially if you’re at the junior end or breaking into a particular sector). Your career journey should be easy to read – easily explaining in summary what you did in each role and what your responsibilities were. Education should also be filled in too.

Everything else on the page isn’t so important. Skills endorsements will undoubtedly come in time if you’re connected with people you work or have worked with, same with publications if you write articles and interests just gives people a flavour of what you follow. Filling it out though just gives a more rounded profile but you can remove sections if you don’t want them to be shown.

Lastly, have a good professional picture as your profile picture.

Minimise the number of threads

So you now have your profile but now you want to engage with the market. The best social media influencers have a very clear narrow focus on a particular subject – people follow them because they are the go-to person for one particular thing. You will want to think about what you want to talk about and how that reflects on you and your personal brand. For example, talking about the impact of technology on knowledge management is the sort of subject that you’d be able to find a niche in where not all that many other people will talking about it. You can become the lightning conductor that draws people to this particular subject of interest.

On the flipside, if you pick a topic that is too broad e.g. AI in the workplace you may find that it is more difficult to attract followers as the things you’ll be discussing are probably not at a sufficient depth be relevant to say legal KM managers. The things you would talk about would only be relevant from time to time, and not all the time.

To understand your focus you really need to understand who you want to be respected by. From which segment of people do you want to be seen as a thought leader? In the examples above, if the focus was KM managers then the niche topic example above would be spot on. In the latter example, KM managers wouldn’t know the content being discussed was about them specifically and so would miss the target.

All in all though, whatever you decide that your thought leadership ‘topic’ should be I would minimise the other things you talk about that aren’t about that particular topic. Your thought leadership ‘thread’ is what people will follow you for and by following you they are determining that you are useful to them because you talk about something they want to know more about. If you start talking about lots of other things you’re diluting that so keep it as focused as possible!

Engage and connect

Now that you have your chosen topic you can start posting. How you post is really to be determined by trial and error based on your own target market. It totally depends on who you want to engage and what their particular interests are. It may be that there is a particular issue in the market that you’re taking it upon yourself to rally people to solve (e.g. ESG, diversity and inclusion, increased wellbeing, etc) which may resonate well with the people you want to read your posts.

There are a few pointers though on posting. Get your readers’ attention quickly with a punchy first line that will mean the reader will stop scrolling and read your post. Also, don’t make your posts too long. If it is really long – consider whether the better medium is an article. The same applies to shortness too – don’t make your posts too short or post links to things with no explanation of what it is. I suppose you should think that a person reading your post should take value from it. The more value it contains the more chance those people will like and share it to others.

If thought leadership isn’t your primary aim then your own posts might not be so relevant. However, even if you don’t actively post yourself with your own views then you can always engage in discussion on other people’s posts to bring greater visibility to your own profile. Connecting with people you meet will also build up your network over time and should open doors in the long run (e.g. can see job openings quicker). Having a strong network is also a bit of a safety blanket in an unexpected work event like redundancy.

Persevere

Anything that you do on LinkedIn, and for marketing more broadly, isn’t likely to happen overnight. It will take some consistent effort and perseverance to really see the results of what you’re doing. It could take time before you see tangible results but the key here is that while you might not get many engagements to start with – there will still be a number of ‘silent’ readers. People that will see your posts enough to follow what you post about but they won’t necessarily like or comment on it. So while you might not get many likes to start with – keep on going as people will definitely be reading what you post!

Some Words of Caution

While there are good aspects to social media there are also some more negative aspects too. What you post about will be seen by hundreds if not thousands of people. This is great when you’re talking about your particular area of expertise making progress in that space. Clearly though, if you post about things that are negative it has the potential to tarnish your own personal brand – and probably that of your employer as well, which will have repercussions. I’ve seen someone let go in the past because of social media posts.

As a business-focused platform I’d probably steer clear of topics like politics. Your view could be perfectly legitimate but you will risk polarising your following into people that agree with you and people that don’t. One other thing that you should avoid is having public disputes with other people. Take it offline!

All in all, if you put in the hard yards you’ll be rewarded in time but this is certainly a task that takes some time. When the time comes though having a good network will be hugely beneficial to you. If you haven’t already started building your own personal brand – today is the day to start!

Any questions or queries feel free to reach out to me.

Marc May
Founder, The Legal Technologist

Picture by Andrea Piacquadio

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