Giving your job search an extra boost
Personal Branding and how far it will take you?
In this day and age, we need to be out there. There are plenty of platforms to help us achieve this. But before we start let us find out what is personal branding? In order to understand personal branding, you need to understand branding to begin with.
What is branding?
A brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another. In the case of
McDonald’s, the golden arches became part of the brand. Those arches separate their product from all other fast food restaurants and they’re a recognisable symbol even to a 3-year-old child. We know so many children in that age group who can identify McDonald's from the sign alone.
Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. At the end of the day every business consists of people. People who make decisions, who drive business, who employ people and so on. A powerful personal brand image is very important. This module will talk about how you can build that image.
Why should I care about a Personal Brand?
Building a recognisable personal brand opens professional opportunities. Creating a vision for your future and implementing that vision can lead to the following:
• A better job
• Better contacts and clients for your company
• Industry recognition
• Greater opportunities and much more
If you’re looking for a better job, you want your future boss at your ideal company to associate your personal brand with something that they need on their team.
But you may say, “I don’t want to build a brand.”
Sure you can try not to but of course, you don’t really “create” a personal brand. You already have one.
Don’t believe us? Google your name followed by your hometown. If you have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile your name probably comes up on the first page.
Maybe you have recently been mentioned in a local news article. All of these things are part of your personal brand.
Scary? Well to live in this day and age technology is now a part of life. What you can do however, is manage your personal brand so what people see about you is what you want them to see.
10 ways on building a personal brand:
1. Knowing Yourself and Being Yourself: Imagine how hard it would be to build a brand around your "fake" self. You would have to act a certain way, appear a certain way, and say certain things, regardless of how you felt about it. Some professionals suggest going about building a personal brand by shaping and molding what others see, but this is exhausting to maintain.
In the long run, your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are?
If you don’t, you will need to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and on your core values. Never forget - people connect with original people. If you don't appear to be a real person, or if it feels like you're faking it, there is no way people will trust you. Even if they do buy into your fake persona for a while, the slightest bit of inconsistency could prove problematic. Building a personal brand is first and foremost developing an understanding of your true self, and then sharing that with the world.
2. Speaking engagements: If you're looking to build your brand, then you should be speaking on a regular basis. In order to do this, you will need to develop your
communication and presentation skills. If you speak in exactly the same manner others do, you will never stand out from the crowd. Speak from a place of knowledge and power. Show that you know what you're talking about, and answer questions in a
way that serves your audience.
You need to exude confidence. Some may criticise or disagree with you. You need to learn to become thick skinned but at the same time being modest and humble. The important thing is to remain open to feedback. Thank others for sharing their views, and if the points they raised are legitimate, determine how you can improve and do better next time. It’s a learning curve all the way.
Speaking engagements are opportunities to be seen and heard. Start small and keep building. You may not land high-quality speaking engagements off the bat, but if you keep swinging you'll build your following and get invited to speak at bigger, more notable events and conferences. Buckle down and offer the greatest amount of value you possibly can give every time.
3. Write articles and participate in interviews: Start writing articles whether on leadership or your specific field of expertise. Don’t stop there, give interviews as well to establish credibility. As with speaking engagements, landing the best opportunities takes time and effort, but if you remain open to what comes your way, pretty soon you'll be showing up everywhere. Getting an "in" with the media, online publishers and publications can prove challenging. However, it is a powerful way to show that you know what you're talking about. Every outlet you build a connection with increases your brand authority.
4. Build your online presence: Maintaining a professional online presence is something you're going to want to monitor on an ongoing basis, and improve upon whenever and wherever possible.
Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully filled out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible and make you look professional? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?
5. Secure a Personal Website: Do you have a website for your personal brand? One of the best ways to rank in search for your name is to build a website. This gives you considerably more control over your online presence than social media. It can't hurt to add new content to your site on a regular basis either. An essential move in Personal Branding is to buy your own name web domain as soon as possible. The site doesn’t need to be robust. It can be a simple two to three-page site with your resume, link to your social platforms, and a brief bio. You can always expand on the website in time.
6. Google Yourself: Don't forget to Google yourself regularly to see how you're coming across, how others might be perceiving you, and what they're saying about
you. You'll have a tough time building a great personal brand without making a real effort to monitor and tweak it.
7. Find ways to produce value: We’ve all been there. Someone in your network posts something utterly mundane or ridiculous and you wonder what compelled them to do so? A medium is not a substitute for a message. Find ways to add value to your audience by creating or curating content that’s in line with your brand.
8. Be purposeful in what you share: Every Tweet, Linkedin or Facebook update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.
9. Associate with other strong brands: Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? An alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What hidden opportunities are available within your company which you have yet to tap? Consider submitting a guest post to the company blog or look at other digital assets you can connect to your brand.
10. Remain a student of your industry: No matter how well you know your industry or area of expertise, it would be wise to remember that things are changing at a faster rate than ever before, and you have to stay up-to-date with the latest changes, trends and technology. It takes time to build your personal brand. If you fail to stay relevant, all of your efforts will be wasted. If you don't want to be discredited, then you'll want to keep a steady supply of articles, trade journals, blogs, and books on hand. It also pays to learn new things, develop new skills, and to expand your knowledge. If you're not growing, then you're stagnating, and that's the last thing you want to do.
As you begin to sharpen your personal brand, the right opportunities will start coming your way. People will begin to see that you know what you're talking about, and they'll invite you to be a part of their stories or news pieces.
How to manage a Personal Brand
Here are a few things you can do to manage your personal brand:
1. Be clear about the image you intend to project. If you have more than one message, you run the risk of confusing people about what you are all about.
2. Make certain your brand message is consistent across all platforms. For instance, your resume and LinkedIn profile must be in sync.
3. Back up any broad statements with objective proof. Show numbers, dates, etc. of what you have done the backs up your claim.
Additional Resource: This is a great workbook to help you build your personal brand.
Understanding LinkedIn and keyword algorithms
LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.
A LinkedIn member’s profile page, which emphasises employment history and education, has professional network news feeds and a limited number of customisable modules. Basic membership for LinkedIn is free. Network members are called “connections.”
With basic membership, a member can only establish connections with someone he has worked with, knows professionally (online or offline) or has gone to school with. Connections up to three degrees away are seen as part of the member's network, but the member is not allowed to contact them through LinkedIn without an introduction. Premium subscriptions can be purchased to provide members with better access to contacts in the LinkedIn database.
Why is LinkedIn so important?
So what is all the hype about? LinkedIn has become ground zero for recruitment. Headhunters use it as their source for the best talent in the market. All major company HRs are there too. It has become the hub for recruiters to screen candidates. Not being on LinkedIn can be a major handicap in your job search. If you do not have a LinkedIn Profile go and apply for one as soon as possible
How do I get recruiters to review my profile?
In order for this to take place you would need to increase traffic by applying effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques. Effective SEO for your LinkedIn Profile is not as difficult as it sounds.
Basically, LinkedIn is a very large database of profiles that uses key fields to order (or "index") the entire collection of data. Since most of LinkedIn's revenue is generated by recruiters using LinkedIn to find candidates, LinkedIn knows the best keywords for personal SEO.
The good news? Most of the terms you enter on LinkedIn are searchable by other users - meaning that you can’t go wrong by adding keywords (representing, of course, the job titles and skills appropriate for you that are found in job postings).
This may sound a bit confusing but it isn’t. You can find keywords also by putting in your Job title and Job description in Google.
For example, if you are a Secretary type “Secretary Job Description” in Google and check the results you get. Capture data from 2 - 3 Job descriptions. You need to find common words being used in these Job descriptions. Those are potential keywords.
Once you have those noted. The main job at hand starts. Here are 5 tips for effective LinkedIn SEO (and more views) on your Profile:
1. Pay Attention to Your Professional Headline
The most prominent branding message on your LinkedIn Profile is also the most critical when it comes to SEO. Next to your Name, your Professional Headline, the phrase that appears below your name, is the most highly rated field in the index. What does this mean? Keywords listed in the Headline field will have a greater impact, increasing your ranking among other users for the same terms.
Now you know why using the default "current-job" Headline is not a good idea!
As an example, consider switching “Vice President Sales at ABC Corporation” (your current position) to “VP Sales. Revenue Growth in Cloud-Enabled Technology Solutions. Product Development & Sales Operations Leadership” (your current position with more keywords added to more fully explain it).
2. Consider Adding Keywords to Your Job Title
The Job Title field on LinkedIn is also a highly indexed field (as is your Employer name). However, if your current job title is too vague, you can miss out on a chance for more traffic.
What works well, in this case is to add content to your Job Title, taking care not to change the original content. For example, “Operations Associate” can become “Operations Associate – Operations Manager for Thermo-Printing Division” The second version more fully explains the true job function to someone outside of the organisation.
This strategy prevents ABC Corporation from becoming a highly relevant search term on this user’s Profile, while enabling other keywords (Product Development, Sales Operations, Cloud-Enabled Technology, Revenue Growth) to draw more traffic. LinkedIn allows you to use 120 spaces for your Headline, and using as many of the 120 as possible is smart.
Other examples: “Senior Consultant” becomes “Senior Consultant, IT Project Management” ”Financial Analyst” becomes “Financial Analyst – Audit & Compliance”
In all the cases above, the second version provides both more keyword detail and a clearer explanation of
the job. LinkedIn currently allows you 100 spaces for your job title.
3. Use Your Summary for Additional Keyword Content
Although not considered a highly indexed part of LinkedIn, your Summary must nevertheless contain compelling text, along with a high percentage of keywords relevant to your goal: "As an IT Director, my goal is to satisfy stakeholders and speak the language of our trading industry users, while implementing technologies to boost processing speed and accelerate business transformation. I've led IT project teams of up to 110 in service delivery and brought hosting costs down 32%, even during rapid growth."
"In Senior Manager and Director of Sales roles, I’ve built trust among customers and captured market trends in the oil and gas industry with new sales channels and alliances that grew revenue 123%. I enjoy the challenge of creating a competitive edge through increased brand recognition and high-performance sales team mentoring."
Of course, this type of Summary language employs more robust keyword content than a resume summary - which is a key reason you shouldn’t duplicate your resume on your LinkedIn Profile.
Now although LinkedIn eliminated the Specialties section they used to have, you can still include something similar in your profile. This would look like:
Network Administration Tools
Cisco Network Administration
Windows Network Administration
Linux Network Administration
The LinkedIn Summary is often ignored or used minimally. Don't make that mistake!
4. Add Projects and "Extra" Sections on LinkedIn.
Often neglected as a great strategy for adding more detail, sections like Projects, Certifications, or Honors & Awards can be used to inject more keywords. Should you decide to use these sections, keep your wording short and keyword-dense.
For example, a Certification for a particular software language could state "Java Developer" with the initials of the credential.
A COO in the real estate industry could also add several Projects entitled "Commercial Real Estate – Perth " to show proficiency in overseeing large-city construction efforts.
In the Honors & Awards section, you can add accolades that begin with your desired job title ("Senior Sales Executive Winning President’s Club for 5 years").
5. Continue Collecting Endorsements.
One of the most misunderstood sections of LinkedIn, the Skills & Expertise area started out as a directly searchable group of keywords. Now, it’s evolved into an
SEO tool that can draw serious traffic, but only if it’s used correctly.
The terms you add to Skills & Expertise factor more heavily in your LinkedIn search ability when you are endorsed for them. Therefore, it makes sense to add keywords and obtain (and accept) Endorsements on them.
A caveat: ensure the terms you add in this section are really keywords. Given a choice between a "hard skill" (such as "Project Management") and a character trait (such as "Leadership"), employers may prefer to search for specific competencies.
How to use LinkedIn to make the right connections
Although generating a list of potential people to follow is a great first step in marketing yourself on LinkedIn, being effective often comes down to finding that “right person” with whom you can present what you have to offer. These people are usually decision makers (or the final authority, or even the boss).
You can talk to as many administrative assistants and receptionists as you’d like, but without the exact name or contact info of the person who makes the decisions, your efforts will be in vain. LinkedIn can help you reach that decision maker in the following ways:
When you perform an advanced search, include words like Account Manager, Director, or Vice President in the Keywords field. If your results show someone who’s in your extended network, now you have a specific name to mention when you call the company. Approach that person via LinkedIn and your mutual connections first, thereby making your first contact with them more of a “warm call” than a cold one.
Use the LinkedIn Company page to find out specific information about your target company. If you’re trying to reach someone within a company, see whether that person shows up as an employee on the Company page. To do so, click Interests on the top navigation bar and select Companies from the dropdown list that appears so you can search through LinkedIn’s Company pages.
You immediately see who in your network works for this company, so you know who to approach to pass along your request. Be sure to click the other tabs for this page — Careers, Products & Services, and Insights to view other useful information, such as former employees, top skills and expertise at this company, similar companies or topics to this company, and most recommended people to connect with.
Use InMail to contact people close to the decision maker. You may find that, in some cases, the decision maker may not be on LinkedIn yet, or their profile is closed to introductions and InMail. If so, you can use LinkedIn to find the closest person to the decision maker and ask that person for help, for a connection, or for information to help you reach the next level.
Say, for example, that you need to reach someone within LinkedIn. When you bring up LinkedIn’s Company page, you get some specific information right away.
This is a faster option than waiting or asking for an introduction, but there’s the chance the decision maker will ignore your message. You have to decide what’s best for your
You can then follow that company to see all its new updates and information as part
of your LinkedIn News Feed, for example. At the top right, of every company page is a
Follow button. You can click the Follow button to stay in touch with that company’s
Use InMail to contact the decision maker if they are on LinkedIn. You may not have the time or opportunity to get introduced to your decision maker, and if you’re using InMail to approach the decision maker, why not just go for the gusto and introduce yourself directly?
Use your existing network to ask for an introduction, advice, or to point you in the right direction. You can contact someone who works at your target company and ask that contact to introduce you to the decision maker. The decision maker is much more likely to be receptive to an introduction than a cold call.
Your network connection might also recommend you to the decision maker, which carries some weight when you send your resume. In addition, you may have a select group of people in your own network that can provide advice on who to connect with.
When connecting personalise each LinkedIn connection request you send.
The default connection request message can send the wrong signal to the person you want to form a relationship with. The generic message can imply either that you don’t have the time to send a personal request or that they aren’t important enough to warrant a personalised request.
The default connection message can end a relationship before it starts. Personalise each connection request with a reminder of how the person knows you or explain why they should connect with you, and you’ll find they’re far more likely to accept. The latter is especially important when you’re trying to connect with prospects you’ve never met.
A personalised connection message shows that you value the person you want to connect with. As a side note, if you send one too many invites that induce people to click on Report Spam or I Don’t Know This Person, you will end up in LinkedIn Jail. This will mean you’re required to enter an email address for prospects in any future LinkedIn invites you send, which greatly reduces your ability to expand your network.
Ask for endorsements from people who know your work
A LinkedIn endorsement is a great way to show someone that you notice and value their skills and knowledge about the service they provide.
This is not the best approach in getting skills endorsements. Endorsements should be given freely and without an agenda, and should never be followed up with a message saying, “I just endorsed your skills, can you endorse mine now?” Endorse the skills of the people you’re connected with to show others that you appreciate and admire their work, not to build your own endorsements.
Show your appreciation of another's skills with a LinkedIn endorsement. If a connection does reciprocate, take the opportunity to grow your relationship with a personal thank-you message.
Unlike endorsements for skills, recommendations are a personal reference and reflect on both parties. If you accept a recommendation from someone with a poor reputation, it shows on your profile and links back to theirs. Their reputation can reflect poorly on you.
Only request recommendations from people who can vouch for your work. Never ask for or accept a recommendation from someone you don’t know, or give a recommendation to someone whose work you can’t personally vouch for.