Many professionals recognize that a strong personal brand is essential to their success in the marketplace. As I have discussed in previous posts, an effective personal brand is authentically related to your skills, interests, and areas of expertise. But many in the professional services ranks still struggle to promote themselves and their brand in a way that will be welcomed by current and potential clients.
LinkedIn is one of the best tools I have found for someone at a professional services firm to grow their personal brand. Many professionals already use LinkedIn to stay connected with colleagues, network, and search potential job opportunities. But thanks to the targeted reach of the social network, LinkedIn can also be a powerful tool to help professionals elevate their personal brand.
Most professionals wouldn’t think of putting an ad in a magazine to promote themselves or cold-calling potential clients to ask for a meeting. Similarly, they should also follow some simple and established techniques for using social media to get their name in front of prospective clients, as well as other influencers, and promote their expertise in acceptable ways.
(One note: This article is not meant as a guide for how to use LinkedIn. I’m assuming that you already have a complete and up-to-date personal profile and a substantial number of personal connections. If not, there are a number of great resources online to help you get started.)
Here are four strategies to using LinkedIn to build and promote your personal brand:
Join and participate in Groups. Groups provide a platform for sharing ideas on a specific topic or interest, such as an industry, business function or operation, or technical expertise. Posting and engaging in Groups allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and capabilities, and meet other people with similar backgrounds - some who may be prospective clients.
Share (and comment on) other people’s posts. This is the easiest way to highlight your knowledge because you don’t have to write very much. Look for a post in your LinkedIn feed that is insightful and relevant to your professional life and “share” it with your network, along with an appropriate, value-added comment. It can be as simple as “Great article with useful insights.” Or better, add your own point of view to contextualize or elaborate on the author’s comments.
Post a link to relevant, high-quality content and comment on it. Similar to #2, except instead of posting content from your Linkedin feed, share an article you found online in a newspaper, magazine, trade journal, or other publication. For example, you might share news about a court decision, regulatory change, or new accounting rule. This strategy works best when you link to a story in a reputable publication. Your goal in posting is not to tell people the news (leave that to the journalists), but to demonstrate your subject matter expertise by adding your own insights or suggested recommendations in response to the news story.
Write and post your own article. This strategy is the most involved but also the most rewarding way to showcase your knowledge and expertise. Pick a topic that is related to your subject matter areas, keep it short (500 words is a good starting point), and write with the reader in mind. While your goal may be to show how smart you are, the reader’s goal is somewhat different, such as getting one or two quick tips that are immediately useful. Your best path to achieving your goal is to help the reader accomplish theirs.
Once you have graduated to publishing your own original content on a particular subject, you will be on your way to establishing your brand reputation around a topic. It will take time and persistence, but soon you may find others commenting on your articles or posting responses in which they may agree or disagree with your perspectives.
Having a well-written profile and making strategic connections are necessary in order to get value out of LinkedIn. If you want to use it to elevate your personal brand and promote your subject matter expertise, learn to be an active contributor and conversation starter. Of course, this is just one way to use the platform to elevate your personal brand. In my next post, I’ll share some tips for effective online networking.