The other day a colleague of mine made the following statement: “Do I need to use LinkedIn, I’m not a huge fan.” Wow, just wow. How could it be that this smart marketer sees LinkedIn as unimportant in his/her life? How is it that this clever human doesn’t see the importance of their personal brand? How is it that this person misses the importance of the most valuable career marketing tool available?
I, being me, had no trouble telling him/her that he/she is wrong, or at least not seeing the bigger point.
This person went on to explain that the only real use was job searching (while assuring me that he/she is not looking for a job and is extremely happy in their current job). And yes, it’s true, LinkedIn is an amazing job search tool, but that only scratches the surface.
I asked him/her to think of it this way – LinkedIn is the only universally used tool that frames your value in the working world. It’s the only tool on the market that allows every person to showcase their work history, their thoughts and manage their connections. Most importantly, it allows every member to build their personal brand.
A personal brand is no different, or less important, than the brand a business builds. It’s the image you build, based on facts about your life. It’s sharing your thoughts and skills with the world. And, the best part of all, we all have one – the only question is whether we’ve spent the time to build and promote it.
People promote their personal brand in many ways in the business world. Some write op-eds or work to get involved in PR/media, so they appear in news stories. Some people build personal websites and portfolios online. Some people go on the road and speak at conferences. Some people build out their LinkedIn profiles, participate on their social platform and expand their network on a regular basis to meet new people and increase their influence.
I contented that all of these are great ideas. But, if you want to get started, or focus on the one path that has the most bang for your buck, my advice is to focus on LinkedIn to build your personal brand.
How I built my personal brand
I’ll admit I didn’t always get it, and I have some improvements to make. But, a few years ago I decided to build my network, I thought, “what kind of marketer doesn’t have more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn.”
At the time the answer was me, so I set out to reconnect with people. I set out to meet new people. I set out to build my network, and now I rarely find a circumstance where there’s more than one layer of separation between the people I want to meet and me. But that was just the start.
Soon after, LinkedIn started its blogging platform, and as a content marketer, I saw it as an opportunity to share my (unsolicited) opinion with the business world and, hopefully, connect with more people. The result, 18 articles with a combined total of over 60K reads and 2100 regular followers, the first of which had me exploring work-life balance lessons from Ferris Bueller.
OK, I’m going to stop now, because this is starting to sound like a Marc advertisement, and that is not my point. Rather, I am not the point.
You are the point.
Why you need a personal brand
You have a personal brand. And while you may be comfortable with your place in the world today, there may come a time where that changes. Building your personal brand on LinkedIn will give you the contacts and reputation that will help you meet your goals.
You might find yourself unemployed and searching for a job. Wouldn’t it be great to have connections all over the world (or at least in your industry?)
Maybe tomorrow you’ll need a contact at a company where you are trying to sell your product. Wouldn’t it be great to have a connection or two there to help get you in the door?
Or, regardless of the industry you’re in, chances are you have a point of view on many things that other people will find interesting. Why not publish your thoughts on LinkedIn Pulse and share it with your growing stable of connections?
Why not get started on building your personal brand? Why not start with LinkedIn?