Here’s a question for you:
As an individual, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘LinkedIn’? Is it job opportunities? Is it professional development? Maybe it’s making connections in the world’s largest professional network.
People may have told you that LinkedIn is a great way to expand your networks, advance in your career, or simply find a new job. While all of those are great benefits, none of them actually represent the very core of what LinkedIn is and why every professional should have an active account.
Do you want to know why? Because we live in a world where everyone focuses on the results rather than how to get people to those results… and LinkedIn is a perfect example of this.
If you want to know what the central component of LinkedIn is, here’s a hint based on three different target audiences:
- Having trouble finding a job? Strengthen your personal brand.
- Having trouble progressing in your career? Strengthen your personal brand.
- Having trouble generating new leads and expanding your networks? Strengthen your personal brand.
Did you notice a pattern? If you did, you just spotted the very essence of what LinkedIn is: the ultimate network for personal branding. In order to accomplish any professional goals you have, you must have a LinkedIn profile. Furthermore, you need to have incentives to actively use your profile. After all, if someone doesn’t have a legitimate reason or motivation to use LinkedIn actively, they are less likely to stay active on their account, right?
While thinking about how this pertains to you as a LinkedIn user, here are 4 reasons why you should actively use LinkedIn in relation to enhancing your personal brand (along with an action item for each one).
1. To give people the chance to learn about your latest credentials
Action: Present the ‘updated you’ to your viewers.
At this day and age, people are urging for what’s current and what’s the latest. Just think about how many people you know who are looking to buy the latest phone or trying to find out the latest trends on their respective social media accounts.
In an era where industries have quickly incorporated digital media, people who know you and/or want to know you (employers, clients, etc.), are constantly surfing online to learn about others. As an active user of LinkedIn, you have an incentive to think about how your viewers should view you. That said, it’s always good practice to make sure that the information you provide them is complete, accurate and up to date.
Some of these profile sections include connecting with people you’ve met (and plan on meeting), reviewing your skills and endorsements, updating your ‘Projects’ and ‘Publications’ sections (if you have any) and researching/adding keywords to your profile based on how you want to be detected.
(Even if you have an ‘All-Star’ LinkedIn profile, notice that there’s always room for improvement!)
2. To establish authority on a given topic
Action: Read and contribute to your newsfeed.
LinkedIn can be very beneficial once you have established some good connections. However, that is only the beginning to optimising your personal brand. Maintaining the solid connections you have made is what will help you in the long run.
To establish a good digital reputation, you need to stay up to date with trending news items within your field. Based on your industry, the content you share and the feedback you receive from your connections is likely going to inform you on what you should discuss.
It is also good practice to consistently post content into your newsfeed about something specific. It demonstrates the willingness to share something that connections within your field find helpful. Suppose you are a banker and want to centralise yourself around the topic of ‘financial analysis’. Posting updated, relevant and interestingarticles to your connections doesn’t just make your presence known, but it suggests that you are an authority on the subject.
If you don’t have a well-engaged enough audience, it may also help if you practice what you want your audience to do. Your connections will notice when you like, share or comment on one of their posts, as that helps build their personal brand as well. It’s feeding two birds with one grain.
3. To gain more value outside of your network (and create more connections)
Action: Join and participate in quality groups relevant to your field.
Another technique you can use on LinkedIn if your connections don’t engage with you is subscribing to groups. LinkedIn users who have committed themselves to groups are typically less shy about speaking their minds and are more likely to converse with you on the things you like to discuss.
(This is especially important for someone who has recently created a LinkedIn account or for someone who does not have a decent amount of connections yet.)
Depending on the quality of users within the group, you can also get a better idea of what your potential audience wants to know, along with news items and ideas that you could promote to share on your personal newsfeed. Who knows? Maybe you will enjoy reading someone’s post so much that you may want to follow them or include them in your network.
(One professional group that could be helpful for people to learn about upcoming projects and opportunities in the MENA region is Middle East Projects.)
4. To expose yourself to new opportunities and ideas (personal growth)
Action: Add connections (from the real world and virtual world).
In a groundbreaking study, American sociologist Mark Granovetter concluded that if anyone wants to grow their personal brand (or their business’s brand), we need tofocus more on our acquaintances than our friends. Why? Because they don’t occupy the same world as we do. They think differently, they have a completely different network of people and as a result they are more likely to give you an opportunity that we cannot make on our own.
What makes LinkedIn so special for enhancing your personal brand is that it is normal to send and accept requests from people you know very little about. This could be someone you met at a networking event for two minutes, people you may know who aren’t connected with you yet, or someone who came across your LinkedIn profile.
(On LinkedIn, remember that it’s not just about who you know. It’s also about who your connections know.)
Whether you are seeking a new opportunity, looking to hire someone or have a steady job, every single person in the workforce needs to know how to use LinkedIn actively and optimally. The platform may be used for several purposes, but at the end of the day the most important concept is to think about how your actions (or lack thereof) will impact your personal brand.