20 things you can do right now to become a truly social leader

Andrea T Edwards

I had the great pleasure to speak with two groups of professionals recently. Firstly at Rutgers Business School Asia Pacific thanks to the invitation of its executive director, Stephanie Krishnan. Then in the same week at a women’s leadership workshop, led by the equally fabulous Zsuzsanna Tungli, Ph.D, who runs Developing Global Leaders Asia and Cultural Training Asia. If you are in the market for women’s leadership courses, Zsuzsanna is your lady.

Both completely different sessions, the audience were just fabulous. Interactive, inquisitive, and most importantly, they challenged my thinking too. I love to be challenged, because it gives me the opportunity to keep drilling down into my ideas and adjusting them when I see that another point of view is valid on top of my own.

As a give-away for both groups, I decided to put together a list of 20 things everyone can do to get moving. The challenge I see constantly is the starting point. What to do first? It’s a common thread every time I speak, so I decided to share this list more broadly as a blog.

Hopefully this will give you the starting point you’ve been looking for as well.

20 Steps to Building a Strong Personal Brand

But what is personal branding?

It’s you. It’s what you stand for. It’s what you believe in. It’s how you think. It’s how you act. It’s you packaged up and presented to the world online.

  1. Spend time reflecting on what you want to be known for. It’s not your job. It’s your passion, your magic. What makes you great, unique, compelling? People just can’t resist passion.
  2. Think about your why – Why do you want to build a personal brand? Finding a job is not a why, it’s a need. So… Do you want to change the world? Elevate your profession or educate those coming up behind you? Be a role model for the next generation? Be a thought leader in your field? Get more internal recognition or external awareness of your talent? A powerful why gives your presence meaning and helps you to commit.
  3. Before you do anything on LinkedIn, understand where you are today at linkedin.com/sales/ssi – get the measurement, understand where you are in relation to your industry and connections, and set a goal to increase your Social Selling Index.
  4. Update your profile(s) and take advantage of the visual opportunity – include a great profile photo and meaningful banner. Also, insert photos, links and articles throughout your LinkedIn profile – 63% of the world learns visually, so tell a visual story.
  5. What social platforms should you use? The answer is always “where your audience is”. LinkedIn is critical for any professional, but is Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, SnapChat, etc… relevant to you? What about local platforms, like WeChat, KaoKao, etc…?
  6. Write an amazing summary on LinkedIn and write it in the first person. Take the time to tell your story and don’t repeat your career – we can read that in your job profile information below. Who are you and what do you care about? Include personal information if you’re comfortable.
  7. Under your name on LinkedIn, you have 120 characters to write your professional headline. It automatically populates with your current job title, but why not tell a story? Mine is “Helping businesses and professionals tell better stories, while rousing passions in people to embrace social leadership.” Never miss an opportunity to tell your story and you can use this on other social platforms – like your Twitter bio.
  8. Get into the habit of using hashtags – it links you to ideas and people. Hashtags are core to building a brand beyond your immediate network. And yes, you can use hashtags on LinkedIn. This is how I segment my main hashtags, what are yours?

    1. Content marketing – #Contentstrategy #ContentMarketing #Storytelling #CMO #Marketing
    2. Personal branding – #SocialCEO #PersonalBranding #EmployeeAdvocacy #socialleadership
    3. Technology – #Innovation #Asia #MarTech #CX #contenttech
    4. Causes I care about – #Xthehaze #environment #equality #parity #diversity
  9. When you know your core theme, identify up to five publications that inspire you and align to that theme. Subscribe to emails, favourite the sites, follow the social pages and visit often. Make it a habit to share this content, but please, always always offer an opinion on why you are sharing it – this is microblogging. Your audience is looking for value and they want their community to flag content that is worth their time. Be of service.
  10. If you want to build a powerhouse personal brand, creating your own content is central to that. Start blogging on LinkedIn and build your own blog (I use WordPress) once you are maintaining a blogging schedule. It’s important to own your own content platform. Don’t know what to write? Answer questions you are always asked.
  11. If you work for a company, make a commitment to share one piece of company content every week – but only share content you are proud of. Many employees are sharing content that turns their audience off. Employee Advocacy is about your brand first, the company second, however don’t forget you benefit from being aligned to your company brand.
  12. There are five reasons people share content: Curiosity; Amazement; Interest; Astonishment; Uncertainty – keep these in mind when you share, because this is what your audience wants – great quality content that makes an impact.
  13. Now that you have identified your theme, defined your content sources and decided if you are ready to blog, make a commitment and don’t stop. It can feel like you are speaking into a void sometimes, but keep going and build your presence. Your value increases over time, so commitment and persistence is critical to success.
  14. The important point about building a personal brand is being consistently present. You can be present every day, once a week or once a month – whatever you decide is up to you. My advice is to sit down with a coffee on a Sunday morning and schedule your posts for the week – this is a 30-minute exercise. I use Hootsuite to automate my content and there are other platforms too. This helps you manage your presence, but don’t forget to be present on social media throughout the week to engage with your community too. Automation is a key part of being successful, but please, automated responses (like you can do on Twitter) no no no – it’s annoying.
  15. Be selective about what rules you follow. A common rule is blogs shouldn’t be longer than 400 words, and yet the average word count of top-ranking content (in Google) is between 1,140-1,285 words, according to SearchMetrics. This is a new world. Focus on being awesome and learn what works for you as you go.
  16. With 74% of all internet traffic expected to be video this year (Syndacast study) should video be part of your strategy? We are seeing an increase in video content across our personal communities, so keep it in mind as you grow your brand.
  17. Be committed to wowing your audience. Too many are online because they think they must be. Be present because you want to help people and change lives. This will help you to stand out above the noise of social media.
  18. Be kind and THINK – there are many trolls online and those who like to get into an argument. However, especially as we are based in Asia, being respectful and not going into attack mode is critical for success. Just move on if someone annoys you and never be unkind.

    1. T – is it True?
    2. H – is it Helpful?
    3. I – is it Inspiring?
    4. N – is it Necessary?
    5. K – is it Kind?
  19. Join the #GivingEconomy – build your brand by building others up. Comment on their posts, share their blogs, tell them they’re doing an awesome job. This will help you build a powerhouse brand faster than anything else you can do. Personal branding is not about you, it’s about being useful to your audience – whoever that is for you.
  20. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – run your own race. There will always be people with more followers, more interactions, more profile. It’s not a competition. Just focus on being awesome and valuable.

A culture of social leadership results in

Engaged and valued employees

Retaining & recruiting the best

A more agile business

Better connected to ideas

More customer loyalty

Industry leadership

Competitive advantage

If you’ve been reading my content for a while, some of these won’t be new, but I hope there’s some inspiration in here for you? I’ve got some great ideas for blogs in the weeks ahead based on the questions I was asked at these two events, so I’m planning to answer them here.

I really do hope you find my insights useful, and please, if you think I’m missing something, tell me, because that’s how I learn. Looking at the list of 20, what would you add to the list? Or is there an area you are finding challenging to overcome in regards to building your personal brand? Maybe I, or someone in my community, can help?

Cheers

Andrea

Let’s get the party started photo courtesy Shutterstock

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Andrea Edwards, The Digital Conversationalist, is a passionate communications evangelist and expert in content marketing, personal branding, social leadership and employee advocacy. These four focus areas fundamentally transform how we do business today, and empower us to delight our customers, as well as growing personal career opportunities and your brand’s success. A globally award-winning B2B communications professional with more than 20...

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