Developing a strong personal brand is vital for career advancement, instilling confidence within your team, and building credibility within your industry space – among other advantages. Like corporations, individuals must build and maintain a brand that aligns past experiences, future expectations, and core areas of expertise in order to stand apart from the competition.

How can you determine your own personal brand? You might start by asking yourself what others are likely to say about you when you’re not in the room. How would you like to reinforce – or change – those perceptions?

Personal Brand Equity (PBE) is a hot topic, particularly in commoditized service-based industries, and is surely a subject that thought leaders will continue to dissect with the rising popularity of social media. At Cochran, Cochran & Yale, we offer leadership development services that can help you make the most out of your personal branding. Keep an eye out for a full-length article discussing best procedures for optimizing PBE as part of our upcoming Professional Development series.

In the meantime, let’s examine how you can optimize your brand through the world’s most popular professional networking site, LinkedIn:

  1. Don’t get lost in the digital fog: LinkedIn currently has about 500 million users world-wide, and is growing at a rate of about 2 new users per second. Of those, 106 million users are active each month. Recognize that building an online presence doesn’t just require you to create a profile – you must also actively manage, maintain, and grow your online presence. Just like your resume, it’s important to keep your LinkedIn profile updated with your current position, description of responsibilities, and any professional recognition, at a bare minimum.
  2. Build your network: Like networking events, LinkedIn is a platform to not only foster existing relationships, but also to make new connections and expand your professional reach. Have you managed to build and maintain a network of followers, peers, trusted advisers, and influencers? If not, spend some time going through your Outlook directory – or Rolodex – to make sure you’re connected to all of your key contacts. As an added bonus, when you add a new contact to your LinkedIn network, you gain limited access to their connections, furthering your reach.
  3. Create compelling content: Once you’ve created an accurate, focused LinkedIn profile and sent all your connection requests, consider creating content to distinguish yourself as a thought leader in your space. Professionals across all industries and levels are using LinkedIn as a personal platform to share passion projects, innovative ideas, and industry updates. Creating content starts conversations that lead to networking and professional opportunities.
  4. Stand out: As you continue to build and maintain your brand, examine leaders that you admire within your industry space. What, specifically, is it about these professional idols that sets them apart in your mind, and how can you capture and re-create those differentiators in your own branding?

For more specific tips on optimizing your personal brand on LinkedIn, or to discuss general brand management tips, contact Shawn Baker at shbaker@ccy.com.