How to Strengthen Your Personal Brand


A LinkedIn member—let's call her Julie—wrote me, "I’m trying to build my personal brand and network so that by this time next year, I have the reach to secure my first consulting contract. How can I use social media to create momentum and excitement around my work?"

 

After years of such questions, it's time to gather my advice in one place. I'm going to use LinkedIn as my social media example, but depending on your profession, the same techniques can work well on Instagram, Facebook, or industry sites:


If you are like Julie, you should have two goals on LinkedIn:


1.) Help other people


2.) Get hired by other people


Number one always comes first. If you don't help others, people will have nothing good to say about you. Plus, you will get a great deal of satisfaction from going to sleep at night knowing that you made even a small difference in the lives of other people.


But number two pays the bills.

 



Kindness first means start your day by being kind to others. Be provocative, but also intelligent. Be memorable, which requires knowing exactly what you want people to remember. And always, always take time to interact with people who respond to your posts.

 

1.) To be successful, pick a narrow audience rather than a broad one. Focus on building a core following of loyal readers. Pick a narrow topic that you know well and produce a steady stream of useful posts based on that topic. Don't be repetitive, but go into depth. Provide readers with actionable insights.

 

2.) Only share content that helps others. Social media is NOT for blatant self-promotion. It is for helping others, enriching their lives, and sometimes entertaining them. The way you build trust and credibility is to consistently share useful content. This is how you demonstrate the value you add.

 

3.) When people comment or share, respond. You wouldn't ignore people if they knocked on your door, so don't ignore them when they respond to what you say online.

 

Your mission isn't to talk at people; it's to talk WITH them.

 

4.) Know what value you add, and say it clearly in your profile. Your posts should help others, but your profile is what people check out after you attract their attention. Tell people exactly how you can help them. This is why I love a Summary that begins something like, "Clients call me when _____." Here's a fictional example, so you understand how effective this can be:

 

Clients call me when they need a new e-commerce website built for less than $2,500; my sites typically double or triple their sales.

 

5.) Start each share with a great hook. Whether you are sharing a link, post, or article, your first few words really matter. You are competing with thousands of other folks to get a reader's attention. If you are too cute or confusing—or boring—no one will read what you share. Make it catchy, and remember that your potential readers are overwhelmed with distractions (more on this below). Generic and confusing headlines don't attract readers, at all.

 

6.) If you use a picture, make it compelling. Avoid generic clip art photos, because they don't work. It is far better to use one of your own photos, or to find a really creative image on Flickr. You can only use photos with a Creative Commons license, and always credit the owner. Do it like this... Image: John Doe/Flickr.

 

7.) Proof your post three times. Typos and poor grammar are the fastest ways to scare readers away. They prove you don't care. They suggest you can't think clearly. They hurt you, rather than help you. If you don't have time to proof your articles, don't bother posting them. ( I really hope I catch all the typos in this article.)

 

8.) Be restrained about self-promotion. Check out the bottom of this article, and you will see how I promote myself in most pieces. I try to offer enough information so that people know what I do, but not so much that I sound like a slimy used car salesman. It is a delicate balance. Some people have started to dump three or four paragraphs of sales pitches at the end of their LinkedIn pieces; that is too much for my liking.

 

9.) Help others and they will help you. Before you ask others to share your posts, try sharing theirs. There are thousands of ways to help others; try as many as you can.

 

10.) Turn virtual relationships into real ones. Your ultimate mission is not to get more followers, likes, or shares; it is to expand your network of meaningful human relationships. Social media is simply a highly efficient mechanism to start doing this.

 



While you are at it, beware these common traps:

 

The Lack of Context Trap: You have to give people context. You are becoming more active on social media to attract people who don't yet know you. Assume they know nothing about you, because that is the reality. They don't know whether you are a spaced-out loser or the second most brilliant person on Earth. They don't know whether "marketing expert" means that you sold bagels on Sundays in your college dorm or that you managed a $1 billion budget at IBM.

 

You have to tell them everything, but use your profile to do this, not your shares.

The Eager-to-Reject-You Trap: People are looking for a reason to ignore you. LinkedIn has close to half a billion members. No one spends his or her time giving every member the benefit of the doubt. No one says, "Sure, her profile is confusing and riddled with errors, but I'm sure that Kkathy Simth is a wonderful person who I should hire immediately."

 

If others don't find a compelling reason to contact you, they will ignore you. If you don't provide that reason, no one else will.

 

The Busy = Confused Trap: It is easy to confuse busy people, and we are all busy.

 

·      If you fail to include verbs in your Summary, you will confuse people.

 

·      If you begin your Summary with a history of your early years, you will confuse people.

 

·      Unless you are extremely talented and self-aware, being overly cute will backfire on you.

 

The Too-Complex Trap: Keep everything simple. When I write an article, I have one intention or message. The same is true when I post an update. 

 

But many people include two, three or even four subjects in one post. Some people don't even know what their point was; they just posted something.

 

Do you think this is effective?

 

Nope.

 

My articles are shorter than many others. Is this because I have less to say? No, I've written more LinkedIn articles than 99.99999% of the human population. But once I make my point, I stop.


(This blog was first published on LinkedIn. It has been re-posted here with prior permission from Bruce Kasanoff.)


(Image Courtesy: Pixabay.com)

Categories: Leadership

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Bruce Kasanoff

Bruce Kasanoff helps companies empower and inspire their employees. He brings relentlessly positive messages of personal empowerment, flexibility and clarity. ...

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