Not everyone using LinkedIn is looking for a job. Today, John sought my help as he is the CEO and Founder of his own company. His goal was to take the skeleton profile he’d had up for years and make it a fantastic marketing tool for himself, mentioning his products and service. This is done by developing John’s personal brand, so his professional reputation online shines.
Poor first impressions are so challenging to overcome. Advertising your strengths, talents, accomplishments takes great finesse. However, presenting the best possible image of yourself can be a winning combination. By establishing a career identity that uses your natural and best talents, you can distinguish yourself from your peers, attract more business and impress job candidates who are considering coming to work for your organization. So, how exactly do you improve your current profile’s effectiveness? First, you create a career identity in a way that’s similar to how a company makes a brand vision for a product. The significant difference is that, in this case, the product is you.
Ask yourself this question: Do I know what my career identity is? Not your job title, but your career identity, that unique reputation you have and advertise to the world. If you don’t have an answer that automatically rolls off your tongue, you are not alone. Most people haven’t given much thought to how they are perceived. But everyone needs to think about that question if they wish to become the best they can be.
The most common mistake individuals make is simply ignoring their profile and not ensuring it’s updated and complete. If you haven’t touched it in years, then it needs a major overhaul. And it needs to stress your unique personal brand. Unfortunately, many people get confused about exactly how to do this.
Your career identity is your professional reputation, and it is also known as your “personal brand.” It reflects other people’s opinion of you as a worker, leader, the associations they make when they think about you, and what you do or don’t do well. Your personal brand, which I refer to as “Brand You,” communicates your career identity to the world. A job title is a title, but it is not who you are when we refer to your personal career identity.
Throughout your professional life, you must continually define and promote your personal brand to keep it vibrant and to distinguish yourself in the workplace. You need to set yourself apart by emphasizing your talents in a way that showcases what is distinctive about you. You can develop a mark of excellence that reflects your unique talents and abilities in the tasks or activities that you do best. People who display an excellent personal brand find it is the very reason for their success.
What is Brand You?
Your career identity is not some slick piece of advertising. Brand You is based on the authentic, talented, genuinely unique, and special person you are. It is not phony and conceited or an exaggeration, nor is it a trick or a fleeting fad. The components of Brand You are the essence of you as a person, which include: your work strengths, accomplishments, your image, passion, and personality traits, along with others’ perceptions of you, applied in a work environment.
There’s quite a crowd of human beings out there competing for recognition, new business, jobs you’d like to get. To stand out means utilizing Brand You, especially when most everyone else is largely undefined. Advancing your personal brand is the most effective career development strategy you can implement. Consider how you want to be thought of by others. Do you want them to see you as just plain, ordinary, average? The answer is an emphatic no.
Applying personal branding to distinguish yourself
Rick came to me with a challenge. He was a CEO of a company he had founded. He realized people were checking out his LinkedIn profile, and Rick needed to update and complete it so he would impress potential clients and prospective employees. He came to me with his challenge. He said: “Robin, I have hired two other companies in the past to develop my LinkedIn profile, with poor results. Can you help do this?”
I define a person’s career identity and translate it into their LinkedIn Profile. Approach your profile by answering these questions that I asked Rick:
What are your top strengths?
What are the talents and things you are best at performing?
What are the most important accomplishments you’ve made for each job title, mainly focusing only on the last ten years of work experience?
Once you have these answers, incorporate these facts into your Professional Experience section and the About section. Note this when writing:
Professional Experience section is written in the third person and states facts using the formula YOUR ACTIONS = RESULTS. For example:
- Created and executed product roadmaps and strategy to develop new tools (scheduling, pricing, contract-building), adding essential automation to support 300+ internal customers. Results delivered a cost savings of $28M.
About section is written in first person. It is more personal and should offer a few nuggets about your personality and should cover what you are best at. For example, another CEO client’s section began:
- As a result of becoming a father, I have dedicated myself to helping families effectively solve two critical problems and ease their parenting life.
He then explained the issues and how he founded and ran two companies that effectively solved both problems. You create a positive impact on readers when you make this section more personalized and genuine.
Your Recommendations Matter
As the CEO of your own personal brand, your job is to actively build and shape your reputation into a very appealing one. LinkedIn is the most powerful tool in your career arsenal in today’s competitive workplace in your references or on LinkedIn, professional recommendations. It’s the comments in the recommendation from past bosses, colleagues, coworkers, business associates, or employees that define your career reputation. Asking a few select others to write you a professional recommendation is essential. The best way to ensure you get one is to ask a colleague to write one for you.
In the request, make a note of what you’d like them to cover and write out a few lines that they can easily copy and post on your profile page. Only 1st connections can post, so be sure you only ask 1st connections. It’s wise to write and publish a recommendation on that person’s profile, mention you have done so, and then ask them to return the favor.
By differentiating yourself from the competition, you show your uniqueness and impress anyone that looks at you online via LinkedIn.
Your last step is to lay this all out in LinkedIn, converting your brand so it is apparent to anyone who reads it. This step-by-step guide, E-Guide for Creating a LinkedIn Profile, available to you when you sign up for my newsletter, takes you through that process and will be most helpful in completing your profile.
This article was originally published in Forbes.com.