As the world’s largest online professional network, one would assume we would be rushing to build our personal brand on LinkedIn. That’s not always the case. Firstly, what is a personal brand? The first time I heard that phrase I had no idea what it meant. I was fortunate enough yesterday to attend CPA Australia’s LinkedIn workshop with Jillian Bowen, Content and Social Media Manager for CPA and the Naked CEO.
But first, what is LinkedIn? And why is it so important to all of us, no matter what stage of our professional lives to have an online presence? Simply put, it’s all about you: who you aspire to be, what you stand for, a platform to showcase your skills, experiences and abilities, connect with people and take people on a journey of who you are. LinkedIn offers a professional platform to start building your profile and connecting with people you know or may wish to work with and is the perfect opportunity to build your personal brand.
As a social media specialist, Jillian introduced us to four key concepts to get you started on LinkedIn. The first tip is to build a powerful professional profile. Jillian stresses the most important part of your profile is a professional headshot as this attracts increased engagement with potential employers. The other key factors in building an effective LinkedIn profile is developing a punchy headline that acts as your elevator pitch by using searchable key words about where you want to be and what you’re aspiring to.
One of the most frequent questions Jillian gets asked by students is “what if I have no experience related to my industry?” Her answer – your experience is translatable from industry to industry, profession to profession. Bring the skills you have learnt to life and show why they can relate to the job you want. So if you work in retail, think about the customer service and communication skills you gained. How can these skills be an asset to other potential employers?
So where do you start in building connections? How do you reach out to people you hardly know but want to start a professional connection with? How do you build up the courage to talk to someone you have never met but would like to work for? Think about how many people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Your fellow students, lecturers, tutors, workmates, family and friends. Jillian gave us some really insightful ideas on how to approach potential connections. Treat people like you would in real life. Reach out to a broad range of contacts. Use your university alumni page to identify people to connect with in your industry. Join groups. Be an active participant. Yes, it can be scary approaching someone you don’t really know but you never know what can happen. Give people a reason for why you are reaching out to them. Jillian sets the target of a minimum of 50 connections so try to have a weekly target for connecting with new people. All these tips give you the building blocks to start thinking about what you would like to get out of LinkedIn.
So how does this all come back to having a personal brand? LinkedIn now allows users to start a dialogue with your connections and companies, participate in group discussions, curate and share content with your network. Your professional profile and the content, opinions and commentary you share are a reflection of the authentic you. As you build your LinkedIn presence and start to develop your connections, Jillian shared with us a daily, weekly and monthly action plan to keep us on-track.
Her top tips to build and maintain an effective LinkedIn presence:
- Connect with new people
- Touch base with important contacts in your network
- Make a habit of doing something outside the norm to make someone feel extra special
- Continually renew and update your profile
So while it can all appear a little overwhelming and daunting, Jillian’s workshop left us all feeling just a bit more confident in using the wonderful world of LinkedIn.