Building a Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Building a personal brand on LinkedIn - #TwitterSmarter chat with Wendi Weiner - April 16, 2020

Most people set up their LinkedIn profile when looking for a job, or just after landing a job, hoping to build a reputation for themselves. Sadly though, not everyone does. So how exactly do you get the most out of LinkedIn? We asked branding and LinkedIn expert Wendi to share some tips about building a personal brand on LinkedIn.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Wendi Weiner
Topic: Building a Personal Brand on LinkedIn
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to answer.

Q1: Why is it important to have a personal brand on LinkedIn?

It’s no news that LinkedIn is the most professional social channel. That’s why it’s important to have a presence on the platform—to show people who you are and what you can offer them in a professional context. As with all things online, your LinkedIn profile is the key to your brand discovery—it brings people to you. As our guest said, it’s one of the most important digital assets, aside from a website.

Remember, though, your LinkedIn profile isn’t all about what you do for a living. Sure, you can include your job specifications and even showcase other skills and volunteering experience. But your profile should essentially reflect who you are as a person and what matters most to you. Talk about what makes you you, why you’re a valuable member for your team, and what makes you want to continue to do what you do.

Anita made a great point distinguishing having a brand and projecting your brand. As she said, all us inherently have a brand. What matters more is how we showcase our brand. And so, to have a brand on LinkedIn refers to how you plan and present your brand on that platform.

Q2: How can job seekers use LinkedIn?

LinkedIn rose to fame as the job seekers’ platform. Though that’s rapidly changing now, finding new jobs is still a large part of LinkedIn. If you’re looking for a new job, make sure your profile is thorough and you have consistent activity—other than just commenting on hiring posts. A majority of recruiters rely on LinkedIn to reach out to candidates and evaluate them.

Of course, you don’t just wait for recruiters to come to you. You can also apply for jobs through LinkedIn, follow and interact with brands and companies you’re interested in, connect with others in your industry or the business you’re keen to join, and initiate conversations.

All that said, the most important thing to remember, is to never upload your resume on the summary section of your LinkedIn profile. It’s hard to keep updated, and it just doesn’t look professional. After all, your resume is personal and it should always be directly handed over to a potential recruiter. Here’s our guest’s post on why you shouldn’t flaunt your resume on LinkedIn.

Kofi made an interesting point about storytelling. When you’re on LinkedIn, you’re not just a passive profile that recruiters will analyze. Take the initiative to share opinions, lessons, and thoughts related to your industry. When recruiters arrive on your profile, give them a full picture of who you are and what you care about; paint them a picture, tell them a story—albeit not a fake.

Q3: Can business owners and non-job seekers benefit from LinkedIn?

Certainly. Though most people only use LinkedIn as a job search medium, there’s a lot for everyone else too. Just like Twitter, LinkedIn is also a great way to build professional relationships.

For instance, like our guest said, if you’re a business owner, you can list your services on your profile.

This is a dedicated feature that lets you showcase your business better to potential customers. What’s more, it even gives you some extra visibility. Who doesn’t like free publicity, huh?

Oh, and if you’re a business owner, it doesn’t hurt to say a little more than the name of your business. Most people enjoy getting to know the person behind the brand, and just by specifying who you are and what you do, you’ll increase your chances of making good connections.

LinkedIn has so much more to offer than job advertisements. As our friend Ganesh pointed out, the platform is also a major source of news, industry opinions, editorials, research papers, and survey analyses. Depending on what you’re after, you’ll have so much to consume.

Q4: What are the essential elements on a LinkedIn profile?

Obviously, make sure you properly fill out the top questions in your profile. Important sections include headline, summary, location, skills, and endorsements.

Include keywords (don’t stuff, though) to make sure your profile is search engine friendly. If you’re a business owner or a recruiter, look through tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to understand your keywords. If you’re a job seeker, you can also tweak your details based on common terms you come across on job postings.

Nerissa shared some other elements you should keep in mind, such as your work experiences, samples from your portfolio if you have one, and a professional photograph that captures your face properly. This isn’t a place for you to upload photos emphasizing your latest hairstyle or a flattering side-pose.

Wendi also shared a simple template to help job seekers optimize their profiles. Here’s how it goes:

Job Title/Target Role | Industry | Additional skills

Here’s a LinkedIn post where Wendi explains the template more.

Q5: What key elements should you include in your LinkedIn summary?

Take some time to think about this one before you fill up that profile. Your summary should be the perfect culmination of who you are, what you have to offer, and what makes you great at what you do. You’re not directly addressing a potential employer, so it doesn’t have to sound like a cover letter. However, you’re still selling yourself and your skills to a large network of professionals.
Write your summary from the heart—write in the first person (using words like I, me, and mine) and tell your personal story.

Think about your values, life goals, professional targets, and your community and what it means to you. All of these will help you convey a heartfelt message. Include details about your current job, what you do there, and the value to bring to the table.

All the while, remember that people will be looking at your profile on various devices. Make your summary easy to read by adding bullet points and concise sentences, and by proofreading your copy.

And of course, as we mentioned earlier, keep an eye on keywords and make sure to hit them. Add your certifications and volunteer experiences—they have important phrases and can help present your passions.

Just be careful though, as Debi reminded us, even though your summary is an excellent place to advertise your skills and sell yourself as a professional, it’s also a good place to be a normal human. You’re not a robot, and you shouldn’t sound like one. Try and bring in your human tone and voice that people can relate to.

Q6: How can you create engaging content on LinkedIn?

The key to creating successful content anywhere is to be interesting and helpful. See that your content answers questions people have. Share opinions, resources, studies that help others learn and understand industry concepts. As a branding consultant, our guest writes about social media usage, strategies and tips, career advice, and more.

As always, what you say is more important than how much you say. Prioritize quality content. Include material that raises your audience to the next level. That doesn’t mean you can’t share personal stories and achievements. You can. Just make sure you have a well-balanced variety of posts.

And the most important of all is not to rush. Consistency matters in LinkedIn, but if you’re posting three or four posts a day, you might quickly run out of ideas and inspiration. It’s also mentally demanding to post multiple times a day. Don’t burn yourself out. Take it slow and steady.

One way to take it slow is to follow Doug’s suggestion. You don’t always have to be creating new content. Mix up your posts with media curated from other sources—and tag them. Aside from that, make sure you engage with your audience. Comment on posts, share, react, and participate in conversations to show that you’re involved in the community.

Q7: What are some ways to grow your network on LinkedIn?

The fundamental feature of LinkedIn is communication. To widen your network, as our guest suggested, follow industry experts, hashtags, and topics. Participate in conversations, share your learnings, and always have an open mind about learning new things. The more welcoming you are, the more chances you have of improving your feed.

Remember, LinkedIn’s algorithm promotes posts that get a lot of engagement. That means you need more than likes. Comment and share relevant people’s posts and they will do the same for you. Relationships are everything on social media.

When you’re starting out and looking to expand your network, think about people you know in real life. As Jeremy pointed out, your high school and university mates, former colleagues, and local community organizations are all great connections to add.

We’ve spoken a lot about customizing your social media copy to each platform. For instance, never post your Instagram copy word for word on LinkedIn or Twitter—having so many hashtags will only make you look like a spammer. However, you can—and should—still cross-promote your LinkedIn profile on other networks. Scott explained how he built his Instagram network by promoting it on Twitter. You can do the same—when you have conversations on other platforms, invite people to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Q8: Who should you connect with on LinkedIn?

As Jeremy answered in the previous question, start off by connecting with people you already know—friends, alumni, team mates, other work acquaintances, and people from companies you’re interested in. That last point doesn’t refer only to companies you’d like to work at, but more importantly, companies you admire and respect. It gives you a good opportunity to be part of that company’s culture.

Then connect with people of interest. For example, Wendi has connected with influential writers and journalists, and as a result of regular interactions, she’s been featured in their work.

As Jim said, it’s important that you don’t connect with everyone randomly. Though that’ll increase your numbers, it won’t do you any good. Instead, focus on those who matter most to you like people within your industry, people you can learn from, and people in other industries you care about.

Another good sect to connect with, like Deb pointed out, is people you meet in your business. That could be your clients, leads, or potential customers you chat with at events. That way, you can keep conversations going even after your meeting.

Oh, and for more great LinkedIn lessons, connect with Wendi.

Don’t forget to include a message with your invitation. Tell her how you found her and why you want to connect—not only is that a best practice, but also good manners.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insight from our conversation with Wendi, take a look at this Twitter Moment that our team member Joana put together. If you’ve got some time this Thursday, please join us for the next #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

I hope you’re all staying safe and sane. If you’re having trouble coping in these troubling times and feel like you need someone to talk to, hit me up anytime.

Cheers, folks.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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