It’s the holiday season. A time of reflection, planning, and thinking about what’s most important as we head into another year. I just hope it’s not as crazy as 2016. Please let that be the case!
Anyway, I’ve written loads on personal branding, social leadership, employee advocacy and content marketing, plus a few other things this year, so wanted to leave a list of easy actions you can take to make sure your LinkedIn profile looks awesome, as well as getting you ready to be a more engaged social professional in 2017. It’s time.
Who you are online is important. But more than that, the digital presence you build is how you make your dreams come true. It’s a massive opportunity. I’ve gained so many benefits from being committed to this for a decade and I want you to enjoy those benefits too. If you’re just starting out, I hope this helps.
1. Make sure you have a great LinkedIn photo – clean, professional, simple background and cropped close to your face. My advice is make sure it’s not a photo of you sitting in your mum’s kitchen or with some pals at a party. For all social media assets, a photo is absolutely compulsory today
2. Upload a banner image on LinkedIn. Yes you can do banners on LinkedIn, time to get one. The easiest image to fit into the LinkedIn template is a favourite colour/texture, or use a great photo you like (speaking on stage, city skyline, golf course, beach, etc). Remember, the banner gets cut off in the LinkedIn lay-out, so be prepared to test out different images to get the look you like. If you don’t know how to do this, go to the profile tab on LinkedIn and select edit profile. Above your individual profile photo there will appear an edit background image. Click on this to edit your banner or to add one. You can use the LinkedIn templates too, but why be like anyone else?
3. Spend time on your LinkedIn title which appears under your name. The first three things people see on LinkedIn are you photo, name and title. It can be your job title (which is automatically populated), but you can do so much more than that. It really is a chance to tell a story. I highly recommend using common search words for your field, which makes it easier for people to find you, or even better, get creative and tell a mini-story. Look at your existing network for inspiration
4. Spend time on your summary. I recommend you write it in first person and use this space to tell your whole story. We can read about your career below in the job section, so use the summary to help people get to know you, including personal details – charities you’re involved in, passions, where you’ve lived, your family, etc… If you struggle writing it in the first person (because you’re humble), write it in the 3rd person and then re-write it in the 1st person. This approach gives you permission to be bolder. Here’s some questions you can answer to get started:
I have been in…
Throughout my career I have valued/focused on
I care about…
…. is important to me
I have lived and worked in…
…. has taught me
5. Visual learners make up 63% of the world’s population, so include images under your summary, as well as with your job positions. You can include links, photos, interviews, blogs, Slideshare decks, etc… If you don’t know what I mean about images, check out my profile. It’s not perfect but it is visual. (Note: one quirk with LinkedIn is sometimes the link gets rejected. Try it a couple of times and you’ll eventually your link included)
6. Define your personal branding story – the most important thing you need to do with your personal brand is to define your story – what do you want to be known for? Remember to consult your head and heart as you think this through, because we bring the whole human to work today. Do you want to inspire the next generation? Do you want to be the Cybersecurity expert in the region? Do you want to be regarded as the greatest data scientist in the world? Do you want to empower women or minorities? Or do you want to be a global healthcare thought leader? It doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s critical to come up with the big theme on what you want to be known for and then focus all of your personal branding efforts around this theme
7. Then make a commitment to being active on LinkedIn – every day, once a week, other? But please, don’t over-do LinkedIn. Many do. Twice a day maximum or your audience will switch off from you, because all they see is you. I suggest morning and end of day, or lunch and end of day. It is up to you. If you set yourself up with an automation tool (I use Hootsuite) you can schedule your activities in advance. Sit down for coffee on a Sunday morning and schedule your posts for the week. Automation makes it more manageable, but you need to check in on LinkedIn to engage with your community, so it can’t be 100% automated
8. Find five sites you rely on for information today – bookmark these sites, subscribe to their email newsletters and get them to feed you great content that you then regularly share on LinkedIn and other social channels. Always always add an opinion when sharing links – why did you value it? What did you gain from the knowledge within? Why will your community appreciate what you are sharing?
9. Set a goal to share one piece of company content a week. Where can you find that content? LinkedIn company pages are a good place to start, so make sure you are following your company LinkedIn page. Also find your company blogs. But please don’t share anything unless you’re proud to share it. This is your personal brand. Your company benefits, but take care of your brand first. Anything you share, even company content, needs to be aligned to the theme you want to be known for
10. Follow colleagues, former colleagues, and friends on LinkedIn. Try to get to 500+. Remember perception is everything, and if you are a senior leader, knowing 500+ connections is expected. Connect with people you meet, because building a personal brand requires you to build a tribe and that has to move beyond your direct connections
11. Personalize your LinkedIn address (see the screen shot below). If you haven’t done this, there will be a series of numbers after your name. Get rid of the numbers and make it your unique address. Click on the wheel to the right to edit this. I recommend coming up with one name for your social media accounts, and then you can use it across Twitter, Instagram and anywhere else you want to be. You should also publish it on your business cards, as a link in your email signature and on presentations to increase your following
12. The final thing is build your brand by helping others build theirs – it’s the Giving Economy. So many miss this opportunity, so be gracious and generous on social media with your community – commenting on their blogs, sharing their blogs, engaging in conversation, etc… – because then you will really start to see your personal brand take off. Personal branding is not an egocentric exercise. It’s an opportunity to give to and help your community be better informed, more successful, and so on. Come from a place of giving and you can’t lose
Personal branding is an amazing opportunity for every single one of us today. We have the platforms to build the careers and dreams we want, why wait another day? Find a place to start and get going OK? With the above tips, at least your LinkedIn profile will look amazing.
I wish you and your family the happiest of Christmases or Happy Holidays if Christmas isn’t your thing, and I hope 2017 is an amazing year where the world settles down and we all succeed together, collectively making the world a better place.
Let’s rock image courtesy of Shutterstock
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