If you’re looking to grow your career, make connections with people in your industry, and build a personal brand, you should be on LinkedIn. To get a little personal, nothing has been more valuable to my career than building a platform on LinkedIn. It’s difficult to get a remote job when there are many people, and it’s even harder when you’re outside the West.
In this article, I will walk through three steps to use LinkedIn to build your personal brand with advice from me and others who have found success using it.
Why LinkedIn is important for personal branding
Whenever you’re trying to grow in your career, whether as an employee, startup founder, or small business owner, you’re faced with one major problem: there are a thousand other people just like you. Standing out among the sea of people competing for the same jobs, clients, and customers is increasingly difficult – and social media platforms often contribute to that difficulty with their ever-changing algorithms.
However, LinkedIn’s focus has always been connecting professionals and the platform has managed to stay the course. Building a personal brand is about building an online persona that people with similar needs or interests can easily identify with you. The marriage of personal branding and LinkedIn means that even a complete newbie can start creating on LinkedIn today and find success on the platform.
Don’t just take it from me either – small business owners Sherell Dorsey, Sheena Russell, and Latesha Byrd all acknowledge the power of LinkedIn for personal branding.
If you want to take charge of your image, there’s no better way to do that than crafting your personal brand on LinkedIn.
3 steps to use LinkedIn to grow your personal brand
In terms of actionable tips, taking LinkedIn seriously for personal branding is quite simple to get started with. We've broken the process down into three key points (or steps) you need to hit to put you on the right track.
1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile
Your profile is the first thing people see when they encounter you on the social media platform, so you should optimize it to expand your professional network. At a glance, you want to tell people exactly what they can expect from you, whether as a candidate for a job or a simple follow on LinkedIn.
Take advantage of the features that LinkedIn offers and add to your profile:
- A square, 400x400px profile picture that doesn’t have to be super strict and buttoned-up but should clearly show your face and not be from a blurry night out
- Optional: Film a profile video – you only have 30 seconds, so make them count
- A background image that doesn’t have to be elaborate but is prime real estate if you have a message you want to get across immediately after someone visits your profile
- A headline that details what you do and, one step further, what unique service or experience you offer. Think of your headline as a tagline. It’s the first description many people will see, so make it memorable
- Hashtags that mention what type of content you create – these are great for getting discovered by your target audience
- The services you offer
- Link to the most relevant links in the Featured section. This includes features in reputable publications, your own published work, or even your resume.
- Make the most of your ‘About’ section with an engaging description of who you are and what you do. This is the only place where you can give context to what people might see on your profile. Get inspired by these About sections from LinkedIn's blog.
Finally, an underrated tip is to make sure you’ve customized your LinkedIn URL. This can help you stand out in search results for your name. If you have a common name, get creative to stand apart from the crowd.
2. Build and engage with your network
Once your profile is optimized, you’re ready to make connections and grow your network. Making time to connect with new people keeps your network fresh and active and strengthens your global connections.
People generally think highly of those who keep good company, so building your LinkedIn network simultaneously builds your personal brand. To do this, connect on LinkedIn with trusted friends, former colleagues, classmates, industry leaders, vendors, and other professionals. And don’t be shy about asking your contacts for introductions to people in their networks.
When connecting with people on LinkedIn, keep the following tips in mind:
- Personalize your connection request: When sending a connection request, take the time to personalize your message. Mention how you found their profile and why you're interested in connecting with them. This will help make your request more memorable and increase the chances of getting accepted.
- Connect with people you already know: Start by connecting with people you know, then the people they are connected to, then you can move on to making broader connections in your industry or with those with similar interests. You can search for people by company, job title, or keyword.
- Join LinkedIn groups: Groups are a great way to connect with like-minded professionals and expand your network. Engage with the group by participating in discussions and sharing relevant content. I’m part of several remote work and content marketing communities which allows me to stay on top of what my colleagues in those industries are thinking and doing.
- Attend LinkedIn events: LinkedIn users often host events using the platform’s audio and video capabilities. These events can be a great way to network with other professionals and make new connections. For example, Jayde Powell, who we interviewed for our newsletter-exclusive content series ‘Creators Unlocked’, runs a bi-weekly LinkedIn Audio Event called #CreatorTeaTalk that connects marketers, brands, and creators.
- Engage with your connections: Engage with your connections by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. This will help strengthen your relationship and increase their chances of engaging with your content in return.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, avoid going straight to asking for something when making a connection request. The more well-known a new connection is, the more likely it is that their inbox is full of messages asking for something. Go the opposite direction and offer something: a fresh perspective on a post they shared or a great new podcast you’ve been enjoying.
Whatever your goals are for LinkedIn, you will benefit a lot from approaching the platform with your authentic voice and curiosity.
3. Create and share content
Publishing content on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase quickly what you’re passionate about. LinkedIn offers robust options for content creation, from image carousels to videos, to newsletters.
Sharing content on LinkedIn to your connections and any new people the platform’s algorithm shows you can help you build a reputation in your industry and, subsequently, your personal brand. The more you publish, the more credibility you’ll build, and the stronger your professional profile will become.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do too much new thinking to start publishing on LinkedIn. Jack Appleby, who we interviewed for Social Proof, shared that he repurposes content from his Twitter, and it performs twice as well. Katelyn Bourgoin agrees with this strategy saying, “[I went] from about 9000 followers to almost 19,000 followers on LinkedIn, and I [just] repurpose most of my Twitter content on LinkedIn.”
If you already publish to another platform – fantastic! You can take your content, whether it’s a podcast or blog, or even tweets like Katelyn and Jack, and share them to LinkedIn. Content on the platform is usually written more formally than tweets but not as formally as long-form content. With this in mind and a little tweaking, you can build a regular content cadence and start gaining recognition for your thoughts.
Build consistency on LinkedIn with Buffer
If you’re looking to start building your personal brand on LinkedIn, you need to be consistent. That means publishing thought leadership content regularly and engaging with replies, all while keeping up with your connections. Sound like a lot? Not if you have Buffer in your toolkit!
With Buffer’s range of tools for publishing to LinkedIn, you can take some of the load off your back by scheduling content in advance, so you only have to focus on engagement. If that sounds good, get started for free!