As a specialist in personal branding, I'm continually amazed that many people don't take full advantage of their LinkedIn account. While your LinkedIn profile is only one tool in your personal branding arsenal, it is a key component. From a personal branding standpoint, your online profile should provide a clear brand-value proposition, helping readers to quickly understand what you specialise in, and how you can assist them.
Content that sells you
Too many people post a basic skeleton of their career history, then claim that "LinkedIn doesn't work". However, its important to think about your profile in terms of the reader. What are they wanting to see, and what problems can you solve?
Having a solid summary is key to a strong profile. Think about your values, your expertise and your areas of speciality, then craft this section to provide a "solution" to the reader's problem. In terms of your job history, rather than detailing your responsibilities in each job, highlight your achievements. This transforms how the reader perceives you.
Besides the content of your profile, developing a strong pool of contacts is vital. Each contact becomes another opportunity to allow you to assist them, as well as for them to help you.
A word of warning, however, against just stocking your profile with people for the sake of it. Better 200 quality contacts, than 2000 "friends".
The power of groups
LinkedIn has a great "group" function that allows people to set up special interest groups, focusing on a specific area of business. Like industry associations, these groups are full of industry influencers who want to support and learn from each other.
"Closed" groups provide an even more select environment, as you have to apply to join, ensuring conversations within the group are more 'on task' with their speciality, and don't get hijacked by people with strong personal agendas.
There are a number of great ways to develop a strong personal brand within a specialised group. Firstly, comment on other member's posts, getting your name out there.
Then create and post your own material, highlighting your authority in your space and developing a sense of trust with other members. Other options include sourcing interesting facts or articles online, then posting these in the group. This demonstrates you are interested in helping the group as a whole to be better equipped and highlights you as an industry influencer.
Recommendations and Endorsements
The ability to highlight the competencies of others in LinkedIn should never be overrated. Writing recommendations and selecting endorsements for colleagues is a great way to "pay it forward", and you will probably receive these in return, adding value to your personal brand.
I like to say that "dogs smell fear, however humans smell insincerity". Always be the authentic you in terms of your LinkedIn profile.
Ensure all your conversations, posts, endorsements and recommendations are genuine. Doing this will ensure your brand engages others, and develops positively over the long term.
Get a copy of Tom O'Neil's Personal Branding Continuum by emailing him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.