If you want to grow your career, make connections with people in your industry, and build a personal brand, you should be on LinkedIn. To be a bit personal, nothing has been more valuable to my career than building a platform on LinkedIn. It’s hard to get a remote job when there are a lot of people, and it’s even harder when you’re outside the West.
In this article, I’ll walk you through three steps to using LinkedIn to build your personal brand with advice from me and others who have had success using it.
Why LinkedIn is important for personal branding
Whenever you’re trying to grow in your career, whether as an employee, a startup founder, or a small business owner, you run into one big problem: There are a thousand other people just like you. Standing out among the sea of people competing for the same jobs, clients, and customers is increasingly difficult, and social media platforms often contribute to this difficulty with their ever-changing algorithms.
However, LinkedIn’s goal has always been to connect professionals, and the platform has managed to stay the course. Building a personal brand is about creating an online persona that people with similar needs or interests can easily identify with you. The marriage of personal branding and LinkedIn means that even a complete beginner can start building on LinkedIn today and succeed on the platform.
Don’t take it from me either: Small business owners Sherell Dorsey, Sheena Russell and Latesha Byrd recognize the power of LinkedIn for personal branding.
If you want to take charge of your image, there’s no better way to do it than to build your personal brand on LinkedIn.
3 steps to using LinkedIn to grow your personal brand
In terms of helpful tips, getting serious about LinkedIn for personal branding is pretty simple to get started. We’ve broken down the process into three key points (or steps) you need to take to get you on the right track.
1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile
Your profile is the first thing people see when they encounter you on the social media platform, so you should optimize it to expand your professional network. At a glance, you want to tell people exactly what they can expect from you, whether it’s as a job candidate or as a simple follow on LinkedIn.
Take advantage of the features offered by LinkedIn and add them to your profile:
- A 400 x 400px square profile photo that doesn’t have to be very strict and buttoned up, but it should show your face clearly and not be from a blurry night
- Optional: Film a profile video – you only have 30 seconds, so make them count
- A background image that doesn’t need to be elaborate, but is prime real estate if you have a message you want to convey immediately after someone visits your profile
- A headline that details what you do and, one step further, what unique service or experience you offer. Think of your title as a tagline. It’s the first description many people will see, so make it memorable
- Hashtags that mention what type of content you create – these are great for getting discovered by your target audience
- The services it offers
- Link to the most relevant links in the Featured section. This includes features from reputable publications, your own published work, or even your resume.
- Make the most of your About section with an engaging description of who you are and what you do. This is the only place where you can give context to what people can see on your profile. Get inspiration from these About sections of LinkedIn’s blog.
Finally, an underrated tip is to make sure you’ve customized your LinkedIn URL. This can help you stand out in search results for your name. If you have a common name, get creative to stand out from the crowd.
2. Build and engage with your network
Once your profile is optimized, you’ll be able to make connections and grow your network. Taking time to connect with new people keeps your network fresh and active and strengthens your global connections.
People generally think highly of those who make good company, so building your LinkedIn network simultaneously builds your personal brand. To do this, connect on LinkedIn with trusted friends, former colleagues, classmates, industry leaders, vendors, and other professionals. And don’t be shy about asking your contacts for introductions to people in their networks.
When connecting with people on LinkedIn, keep the following tips in mind:
- Customize your connection request: When sending a connection request, take the time to personalize your message. Mention how you found their profile and why you’re interested in connecting. This will help make your application more memorable and increase your chances of being accepted.
- Connect with people you already know: Start by connecting with people you know, then people they are connected, then you can move on to make broader connections in your industry or with people with similar interests. You can search for people by company, title or keyword.
- join in LinkedIn Groups: Groups are a great way to connect with like-minded professionals and expand your network. Engage with the group by participating in discussions and sharing relevant content. I’m part of several remote work and content marketing communities that allow me to keep up with what my peers in these industries are thinking and doing.
- Attend LinkedIn events: LinkedIn users often host events using the platform’s audio and video capabilities. These events can be a great way to network with other professionals and make new connections. For example, Jayde Powell, who we interviewed for our exclusive newsletter content series “Creators Unlocked,” hosts a bi-weekly LinkedIn audio event called #CreatorTeaTalk that connects marketers, brands, and creators.
- Engage with your connections: Engage with your connections by liking, commenting and sharing their posts. This will help strengthen your relationship and increase their chances of engaging with your content in return.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, avoid going straight to asking for something when making a connection request. The more well-known a new connection is, the more likely their inbox will be full of messages asking for something. Go in the opposite direction and offer something: a new perspective on a post they shared or a great new podcast you enjoyed.
Whatever your goals for LinkedIn, you’ll benefit greatly from approaching the platform with your authentic voice and curiosity.
3. Create and share content
Posting content on LinkedIn is a great way to quickly showcase what you’re passionate about. LinkedIn offers robust options for content creation, from image carousels to videos and newsletters.
The platform’s algorithm shows that sharing content on LinkedIn with your connections and new people can help you build a reputation in your industry and, subsequently, your personal brand. The more you post, the more credibility you gain and the stronger your professional profile becomes.
Fortunately, you don’t have to come up with too many new ideas to start posting on LinkedIn. Jack Applebywho we interviewed for Social Proof, shared that he reuses his Twitter content and it also works twice. Katelyn Bourgoin agrees with this strategy saying: “[I went] from about 9,000 followers to almost 19,000 followers on LinkedIn, and me [just] reuses most of my Twitter content on LinkedIn.”
If you already post on another platform, great! You can take your content, whether it’s a podcast or a blog, or even tweets like Katelyn and Jack, and share them on LinkedIn. Platform content is typically written more formally than tweets, but not as formally as longform content. With this in mind and a little tweaking, you can create a regular content cadence and start getting recognition for your thoughts.
Build consistency on LinkedIn with Buffer
If you want to start building your personal brand on LinkedIn, you need to be consistent. This means posting thought leadership content regularly and engaging with responses, all while keeping up with your connections. Does it sound like a lot? Not if you have Buffer in your toolkit!
With Buffer’s range of tools for posting to LinkedIn, you can take some of the burden off yourself by scheduling content in advance so you can focus only on engagement. If you like it, start for free!