How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is undoubtedly the best platform to build a personal brand for professionals. So whether you’re an attorney, financial advisor, real estate agent, corporate consultant, or any other professional, LinkedIn marketing should be one of your biggest priorities in 2022.
Social media marketing has empowered individuals to build personal brands. Anyone can create a compelling personal brand with imagination, consistency, and diligence. But of all the platforms, one that’s tailor-made for professionals is LinkedIn. Its users know that it’s not for frivolous content and expect to find authoritative figures to follow and engage with.
LinkedIn marketing should be a key part of your social media strategy because it can help you increase your brand awareness, widen your reach, persuade prospects, convert leads, and become an authority in your domain. If you’re an independent professional or run a small business, the following steps will make it easy for you to build and boost your personal brand on LinkedIn.
The LinkedIn personal branding guide
1. Know your objectives
The first step is to identify your goals. Most people would say it’s merely to build their profile. But that’s too generic. You should look at your business objectives and then figure out what you want your LinkedIn marketing to achieve.
Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Who isn’t? Especially if you’re launching new services or moving into a new area. Or the objective is to generate high-quality leads.
While these are your business objectives, you can also tie them to another part of your digital marketing strategy. Do you plan to come out with a newsletter and are looking for subscribers? Do you hold webinars and are trying to get attendees? Or is it to increase the number of your website visitors?
2. Define your audience
Now that you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to identify who you want to reach. The secret of any successful social media marketing strategy, including that on LinkedIn, is audience segmentation.
A mistake that some people make while segmenting their audience is using broad categorization. What will pay off in LinkedIn marketing is specificity. The good news is that LinkedIn helps you do that. Since you’ll be trying to reach professionals, you can choose them by industry, location, job title, experience, professional qualification, etc.
Remember that your marketing objective should lead to your target audience. If you offer financial advice to young professionals, you can segment them by age groups. But if you also offer a premium direct consultation service, you should also focus on your city and nearby areas.
3. Find audience insights
Knowing your audience is more than understanding their age group, profession, educational level, or place of residence. It’s also about finding what they want and, importantly, what’s stopping them.
These audience insights will reveal user journeys and help you create relevant content. They will also make it easy for you to define your tone, voice, and character. These will collectively build a unique personal brand for you on LinkedIn.
To mine audience insights, you can look at the content they like. Pay attention to their comments and the problems they mention. Look for your competitors they follow. What’s your audience’s level of engagement with them. What content do they find exciting?
4. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for search
LinkedIn is not just the biggest networking platform for professionals. It’s also a search engine. To be liked, followed, and shared, you need to be found. This calls for a thorough optimization of your LinkedIn profile.
As part of your audience analysis, you should also look for the keywords they use to find your competitors or similar solutions. These keywords should be in your job title, headline, summary, and description.
To make it effective, you can also search on Google for those keywords and see which ones are more prominently used. The strength of your keyword will determine the ease with which you’ll be found.
5. Write a compelling description
This is the part where you’ll have to spend some time. Your description is your elevator pitch to prospective followers, clients, customers, or companies. It should inform the reader what you specialize in, your qualifications, and key aspects of your resume.
Think of the description as a short cover letter that needs to interest the reader. Instead of general summaries, focus on facts to build credibility.
If you have published papers, mention the journals or sites they would have appeared.
If you have increased tax savings for your clients, mention the average percentage.
If your clients have stayed with you for years, mention the average duration.
Specifics are what will impress the viewers. More importantly, focus on your biggest accomplishments. Don’t worry if it sounds a bit boastful. People want to be with experts and your description should tell them that you’re an authority in your category.
6. Use the right profile photo
The right photo can increase your impact by making you look professional and friendly. But some people tend to be too casual about their profile photos.
So, what’s rule number one of LinkedIn profile photos? Please don’t use a selfie. No matter how good you think it looks, it will make you seem unprofessional. Secondly, ensure that you have the right lighting. Nothing too bright or dark.
The photo should cover your face and shoulders. Extreme closeups or full-body shots won’t be effective as profile pictures. Make sure that there’s no one else in the picture. You shouldn’t crop yourself out of a group photo either.
Another rule of thumb is not to use any accessories including sunglasses or hats. Ensure that you’re dressed professionally and seem approachable. You don’t have to use a professional photographer to get the right photo. You can easily do it on your own.
7. Use a complementary cover photo
You can also add a cover photo to your LinkedIn profile. This gives you an opportunity to be distinct and establish your professional expertise. The platform stipulates that the dimensions of the cover photo should be 1884×396.
The easiest way to get a cover photo would be to search for one on free photo-sharing websites. But that would look lazy since those photos are accessible to anyone.
So, what can you use? You can add an image with your company logo. If that doesn’t fit well with the dimensions or if you believe that’s too overwhelming, you can upload an image of your office.
If you work from home and don’t have an office image or a professional background, you can look for images with cues about your area of expertise. For example, it could be a close-up shot of a laptop, library, workstation, etc.
What shouldn’t you have in your cover photo? Crowded photographs or images with people in them. Also, avoid quotes or images with too many graphics.
8. Customize your URL
LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one with your name in it. But chances are, unless you have a truly unique name, it would be already taken.
That’s no reason to worry. You can add your middle name or mention your profession. For example, instead of /karen-seymour, you can opt for karen-seymour-consultant. You should know that search engines like Google sees dashes as spaces. That’s why they’re recommended over underscores.
You can change your URL only after 30 days, so the one you choose should be appropriate and help with your recall.
9. Post authoritative content
Beyond your qualifications, expertise, or experience, what will build your personal brand on LinkedIn is the content you publish. Everything comes down to whether you can create authoritative content that interests and excites your audience.
Content is what will amplify your reach on the platform. If you can regularly post high-quality content, the platform will significantly increase your visibility. It will also bring into your network individuals and firms that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
This will be the crux of your brand building process and to make it impactful, here are the best practices to keep in mind:
Best practices for LinkedIn content creation
Develop idea clusters or content pillars: The first thing you have to do is brainstorm ideas in your domain. Even if some of them sound general, don’t stop the process. At this stage, the focus is on the number of concepts you can come up with. Once you have a sizable number, figure out how many of them can be extended into articles.
Find a theme: Once you have a set of ideas that you believe have potential, create a theme out of them. If you want to be authoritative, you need to focus on an unexplored area or come up with a different view on a popular domain. Identifying your theme will let you come up with multiple ideas for content.
Have a unique voice: To be recognized, you need to be unique and what will help is a distinct voice. You needn’t follow the category code. If you’re a tax consultant and everyone in your category sounds serious, you can be light-hearted in your approach. That alone will make you stand apart.
Create short-form articles: These are posts or articles with less than 1,300 characters. You can share insights on topical issues, pieces of advice on relevant topics, and interesting bits of knowledge. Make sure that you don’t repeat common information that’s easily found online. In addition, include some links for further reading.
Write LinkedIn articles: You can write articles and post them to your profile. This allows you to share your content with your network. The platform will also share them with those groups related to the content of the articles. This is an effective way to get you noticed and directly bring people to your profile page.
Use multiple forms of content: Don’t just use text. Include images, infographics, slides, etc. The fastest-growing form of content across all social media platforms is video and it would immensely help if your content can include videos. You can create short videos where you talk to the camera offering knowledge or insights.
Be original: Your content shouldn’t mimic what everyone else in your domain is doing. Be distinct and disruptive. If you’re a career consultant, instead of giving interview tips, create a video on when to quit a job or how not to quit a job.
Create a content calendar: This will help you create content for weeks. From your idea cluster, choose four or five topics that can be developed into articles, videos, or infographics. Look out for trending topics and align your content with those.
Be consistent: Remember this about social media: The platforms prefer consistency over intensity. Don’t post a 3000-word article once a month. Instead, post 800-word articles four times a month.
10. Engage with your network
Always look for opportunities to expand your network. Accept all connection requests and do it regularly. This will organically grow your personal brand. When you send connection requests, always personalize them. Remember that the wider your network, the greater the visibility for your content.
If you find an influential figure you would like to partner with in the future, read all their content and offer valuable and original feedback. Don’t be embarrassed about asking for recommendations from those in your network. Find your past clients or customers and personally request recommendations.
Importantly, try connecting others on LinkedIn. If you believe two individuals could benefit from each other, introduce them. Along with that, look out for topics that are relevant to your followers and share content that would add value to them.
By using these tactics consistently and diligently, you can build a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn. Once you successfully use LinkedIn marketing, it will be easier to acquire and retain clients and grow your business.