Who Needs a Personal Brand?

A former boss once told me that I should spend as much time talking about the work I do as I spend actually doing that work. It didn’t really make sense to me. I had assumed my boss wanted me to keep my nose to the grindstone getting through as many projects and initiatives as possible.

But as I progressed in my career, I better understood the value in communicating accomplishments and sharing knowledge. It is (or at least should) less about self-aggrandizement and more about helping others learn from and leverage the work that you have done.

Sharing your expertise in a way that helps others is a net positive for everyone involved.

Building a personal brand is not just for CEOs and politicians.  In our digital professional world, we should all give some thought to our online reputation and consider why we might want to buttress it.

Personal Branding Will:

  • Increase your authority and marketability.
  • Open doors to connect with other smart and interesting people.
  • Get your sales calls returned.
  • Bolster the brand for whomever you are working.
  • Help you get a job when you want one, or
  • Help you to walk away from one when you don’t.

Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found that having a strong personal brand delivered all of the above. Part of what gave me the confidence to start my consulting agency was that I had long been cultivating my personal brand, even if I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.

I was active on LinkedIn sharing articles, commenting and connecting. I would go to conferences and talk with other people about what we were each working on. When a vendor was looking for a partner for a white-paper or someone to serve on a panel, I was the first to volunteer.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

Building a strong personal brand is an aggregate process that builds upon itself. Overnight success can require years of hard work.

1. Audit your online profiles

This is the equivalent of cleaning your house before a party. Before you start engaging and influencing make sure that when people look for you, your online profiles are ready for prime time. 

For most professionals, LinkedIn is the most important online profile you have. By spending even 15 minutes updating your LinkedIn profile, you can ensure that you will make a better impression when people seek you out. Here is a quick guide to get you started.

2. Start engaging with others’ content online

We all like being listened to and acknowledged. This is a strong foundation for any relationship, whether online or IRL. You can easily build goodwill and connection with people if you pay attention to what they are saying.

For LinkedIn, if you take a look three or four times a week and like, comment or share something each time, you will be in good shape.

When you read and comment on an article someone shares it will be appreciated, remembered and likely reciprocated. This also opens the door to identifying and connecting with new and interesting people.

3. Share your own insights and experiences

Once you have optimized your online profiles and started listening and engaging with people in your network it’s time to make some noise! I use Google alerts and a few different rss aggregators to keep myself up to date on new happenings in my industry. (Ideally you should be doing this anyway to stay informed.)  From there it is just a couple of clicks and a quick comment to share the most interesting of those articles on LinkedIn or Twitter.

You should also consider writing your own articles or updates. Creating articles on LinkedIn is fairly straightforward. You can also just write a longer form status update that stands on its own without linking out to something else (the LinkedIn algorithm is a fan of these types of posts).

Really, personal branding is just those things that each of us do that engender trust and affinity. When we do these things in person they come so naturally to most of us that we don’t even think of it as personal branding; In much the same way that I don’t like “networking” but I love meeting with other people in the industry and getting to know them and their stories.

Personal branding can deliver lots of value and in the grand scheme of things is not terribly difficult or timeconsuming. But it is a long-game in which success requires persistence. 

Casey Hall

Casey Hall is the founder of Lumberjack Social (https://www.lumberjack.social/). He helps companies use digital channels to connect directly with their customers and prospects. He has managed global social media programs for large enterprise organizations, developed and deployed highly successful employee advocacy programs, and works directly with executives to build their online authority and influence. Casey is a regular and sought-after conference speaker and panelist at industry events. Casey began his career as an attorney and enjoys log-rolling, martial arts, curling, and mountain biking. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two sons, and two dogs.

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