When it comes to utilizing “social networking“ websites, it can be hard to resist the urge to mix business with pleasure. We often hear about people, especially young women, having negative outcomes because of decision makers scrutinizing their Instagram pics, investigating their FaceBook pages and deciphering their random Twitter “Tweets”. Potential clients, bosses and co-workers are allowed to bear witness to them engaging in various youthful indiscretions that can hinder their career and professional mobility.
Tailoring the privacy settings of your accounts should suffice to prevent these intrusions into your online realm. However, the more purely social sites may not be the proper setting to build your professional brand in the first place. Unless of course you are an up-and-coming bikini model, aspiring twerk-team MVP or the next “Sweet Brown” variety of internet celebrity.
FaceBook is very popular with young professionals. It provides access to a wide array of fun applications, games and social events. It can also be used as a tool to help brand yourself. You may do this by posting relevant content to your page that can be read by your “friends”.
Twitter is another widely popular portal to the world of social networking. It allows you to communicate succinct messages to your “followers”. The site also allows you to follow important contacts. You can even send targeted messages to key people.
Instagram has become the premier platform for people to share photos. The site almost single-handedly created the “selfie” craze. Regardless of whether these pics are in good taste or not, just the sheer number of selfies a person posts can be viewed negatively by others.
For the most part, these sites give users access to a wide array of purely fun applications. Because the goal is primarily to have fun, most people have a hard time presenting a cohesive professional image using these sites. Instead, many people who attempt to use these sites to help build their personal brand, can’t resist engaging in the less professional offerings that drive the success of social networking sites. Ultimately, they end up with pages consisting of a mix of some pertinent information peppered with an assortment of cool, but potentially damaging pictures, random quasi-humorous “tweets” and other non essential content. Some of which might even be considered, lewd, vulgar or even pornographic by employers and potential clients.
When it comes to professional branding and career positioning, LinkedIn is a more relevant online networking tool. It can be most adequately utilized to establish a well conceived, powerful and consistent personal branding strategy on the World Wide Web. LinkedIn allows you to be proactive with your branding strategy, rather than hoping that the right people see and understand your posts on the other social sites.
Of course with any successful branding strategy, you must take the time to conceive and execute a plan that addresses your desired outcome. This strategy should achieve the dual goal of positioning you as an expert and networking with the people who you want to make aware of your expertise. There are essentially 3 Keys to Creating a Successful Branding Strategy on LinkedIn:
1) Create a Powerful Profilepage.
The first step to developing powerful relationships on LinkedIn is to fully complete your profile page. This will give your profile a better chance of standing out to potential connections. The key to any good relationship is that it be mutually beneficial. It should be clear to potential contacts when they look at your profile why they should want to build a professional relationship with you.
2) Strategically Build Your Network of Contacts
To start with you will want to add contacts that you know well and who know you such as:
- Former Employers
Each time that you add a new contact, you should write them a recommendation or endorse one of their skills. Eventually you can ask for recommendations in return. Having recommendations will make your profile stand out to potential new connections more than anything else.
3) Join the Right Groups.
After you have acquired some contacts and recommendations, you should then join LinkedIn Groups. Make sure that you join groups in the specific areas of interest that you want to build your network. Now that you’ve joined the right groups, you share a common interest with some of the top people in your field. This will make it more likely that they will accept your unsolicited connection requests.
The keys to personal branding that you will need as you start to use LinkedIn are the same skills you will need as you pursue any branding strategy. As you build your profile on LinkedIn, remember that you are attempting to position yourself as a trustworthy subject matter expert in your field. Then as you pursue the task of building your contacts, keep in mind that you must assemble a winning team in order to achieve long-term career and professional success.
The best way to make a good connection is to be become a resource to others by:
- Promoting your contacts businesses.
- Putting links to their sites on your websites and blogs.
- Writing recommendations for them.
- Commenting on their posts.
- Answering their questions and polls.
Strive to become a valuable resource to your LinkedIn connections. This creates a reason for them to expand your relationship or to interact with you “offline”. Escalating your relationship with influential connections beyond LinkedIn can be the key to landing your “dream client”, promoting your business or landing a lucrative new project.
In summary, you can build a strong brand by properly leveraging LinkedIn. The key steps in this process are creating a powerful Profile, strategically joining the right Groups and acquiring the right Connections and Recommendations. It is also very important to become a dynamic resource to others, rather than just an inactive contact. If you follow these steps, you can utilize LinkedIn as a powerful platform that can dramatically enhance your professional success.
Vince Rogers is an accomplished resource manager, communications strategist, change agent and thought leader. He is academically trained in economics, marketing, management and professional communication. He possesses many years of successful professional experience in financial services and real estate management and marketing. His articles have been regularly “Featured In” on multiple channels @ Pulse | LinkedIn