//Rasmus Busk Hyllemose, Content & SoMe Marketing Lead, the Hub
These days, your LinkedIn profile says more about your professional ambitions than any resume ever could. Personal branding has become a must-have in 2020 on the platform, and the way that brands approach LinkedIn and use their employees as ambassadors is a screaming indicator of this.
Companies are now starting to utilize their employees and c-suite personnel as an extension of their brand in order to reach a larger audience and help create a personal image of the company on LinkedIn. This trend is quickly resulting in the domino-effect grasping one industry after another – B2C as B2B.
This is why employers will also find you more valuable today if you are an active user and have an audience on the platform because it gives you an edge to your worth as an employee and proves that you’re a valuable asset who can advocate for a company on one of the most powerful business channels out there. What is more, you can leverage this type of industry relevance to your advantage and land the job of your dreams. Hence why you are reading this right now.
It’s easy to point out the people who really want it on LinkedIn. Some are making noise on LinkedIn by being loud and very active and some are just more calm and professional in their way of engaging with the platform. There’s a fine line between being loud and being a loose cannon – meaning that being loud doesn’t automatically translate into being unprofessional. But you should avoid being active for the sake of just being active if you seek to build a personal brand.
The key to successful personal branding on LinkedIn is to be relevant and professional. You will be well on your way to LinkedIn success if you master the art of consistency/efficiency. Because building a personal brand takes time. Possibly years. Only in a few cases, you make it within months because you might hit the buzzer-beater with only 1 second to go outside the three-point line, Steph Curry style. But this as we know rarely happens to the rest of us rookies which is why we better bet on working hard and being consistent. This way you’ll be able to slowly work your way into the starting line-up for job interviews to come. So…
How exactly can you build your personal brand on LinkedIn in 2020? Keep reading and you’ll find out how to do just that, in these 7 more or less comprehensive steps. Follow me and I’ll teach you the way young padawan.
Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn in 7 Steps
1. Make Your LinkedIn Headline Memorable.
More often than not, your LinkedIn headline is the first thing potential employers read about you. For this reason, ensuring that yours is worth remembering is essential when searching for a job in 2020. Granted, a LinkedIn headliner should not be a determining factor in whether a candidate is qualified or not. But we can’t ignore the nature of human bias or the fact that first impressions do matter.
Laziness is too easy to spot on a LinkedIn profile and it quickly becomes the first opportunity for a recruiter to “evaluate” you. You want to hinder the risk of being overlooked and instead put in effort to stand out. You want your profile to reflect your work ethic and personality as best as possible. So, leverage every touchpoint to ensure you leave your mark and always remember that what you put into personal branding is what you’ll get out of it.
These are the three key points you should always keep in mind when writing your LinkedIn headline:
❏ Integrate the right keywords.
Optimizing your headline with relevant keywords that pertain to the jobs you are interested in means more visibility in searches. In turn, this results in more potential employers checking out your resume. Research available keywords in your niche and see which power words or phrases get thrown around most often, then find a smart way to include them in your headline. You can either start by investigating job posts to spot boss words, but another smart way of doing your research is to be active on LinkedIn by reading job-related articles, blog posts, and listening to podcasts. Stay on top of what’s hot and exemplify your knowledge of this.
❏ Emphasize your value.
What new do you bring to the table in your particular field? At the end of the day, you are one of many candidates with similar backgrounds and it’s a war on getting the exciting jobs. Half the goal of a successful LinkedIn headline consists of knowing how to market yourself by knowing your own true value. Don’t be afraid to underline your worth.
❏ Don’t be afraid to stand out.
Patting yourself on the back for your professional achievements might seem off-putting. However, there are over 500 million users on LinkedIn right now, so what makes you stand out? Don’t describe yourself with a mere job title, but rather highlight what it is about that job that you excel at, what your passion is. It’s all a part of personal branding. What makes you wake up in the morning and go to work? This way recruiters will be far more likely to consider you for a position if they recognize your cultural fit right away.
Remember to not be scared of expressing your skills, worth & needs. As a personal brand, you want to reflect your profile and person. Everything happens for a reason and putting-off employers who don’t accept or welcome a personality and values like yours will never be a great culture fit anyways and therefore probably won’t be the job that ultimately makes you happy. Reverse the perspective and you are multiplying your chances of being discovered by employers/recruiters who are looking for people exactly like you.
2. Optimize Your Profile Photo and Background.
To allow your personal branding to excel, you need to catch attention. One solid way of doing this is by optimizing your profile photo and background. Now that your LinkedIn headline is tailored to reflect your value as a job candidate, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on what your profile photo says about you. As per statistics published by LinkedIn themselves, accounts with a good profile picture are 21 times more likely to be viewed and 9 times more likely to receive a connection request from other users. In addition, this will only help my bullet number 5, so remember the importance of a good profile picture when you get there.
Simply put, associating a face to the name and career reminds recruiters that a living, breathing person is behind the resume. Of course, this also means that you need to strive to create as good an impression of yourself as you would like to make at a real-life interview. Now, this does not mean being beautiful or not. But it’s all about attracting through other personal factors like your choice of background (maybe bright colored backgrounds that make your profile pop in the feed), your choice of clothing or maybe even expressing some sort of dynamic in the picture e.g. through gestures or body movements. It’s not only ways of expressing your personality, but also ways of showcasing creativity and your ability to think-out-of-the-box, which is always the x-factor that companies are looking for. Can it scare off potential employers? Sure, if you’re not thinking the idea through. It needs to align and resonate with your profile and person – it needs to be a true reflection of yourself. Otherwise, if you are just doing it to be discovered, the employee will notice later on in the process that you aren’t as advertised. By itself, your profile photo should reflect your personal brand, a brand that you can live up to.
You don’t necessarily need to hire professional photographers if you’re not a photoshop type of professional even though it will help you with the aesthetics. Just keep the following simple pointers in mind and you’ll be fine:
❏ Wear an outfit that represents you well as a person.
Don’t be afraid to show your true self. This is 2020! It’s normal to have a tattoo or wearing a gold chain around your neck… Working in business does not always mean you have to wear a suit and tie. Wearing something different is also what helps your personal branding as it’s a part of the impression you will leave your network with.
When was the last time you heard about an office dress code? Let alone in startups? Maybe in the 1950s in a Mad Men like advertising agency where men wore expensive suits, smoked Cuban cigars and drank hard liquor during the day time and where women were told to wear enticing apparel. Because hey, times were chauvinistic! Luckily, as our dear Bob Dylan reminded us back in 1964, the times they are a-changin’.
❏ Don’t be too serious.
It’s important to smile a bit when you either make eye contact with the camera or when doing the look-away-because-something-funny-is-happening-over-there finesse. Remember the importance of standing out and being memorable. Go against the mainstream of too corporate looking advocates who would never dare to flinch a smile or an expression of not being totally serious. It’s boring and it’s more often than not representing the true everyday colleague which is what you are going to get when hiring someone. So why not just relax and be yourself?
❏ Avoid harsh lighting and make sure your picture is color graded.
Quality is always king and is what makes you able to take home the job whether you are wearing a blazer or a t-shirt.
❏ Make use of bright-color backgrounds for attention boost. But make sure it matches your colors of clothing!
Now all that’s left to do is choose a background image to match your picture. This completes your profile’s aesthetic and allows you to shine in search results even more, so don’t be afraid to use color to your advantage. Standing out is not just about being loud and provocative. It’s about doing it right and reflecting yourself. Say you are looking for a job as a type of creative and you are not showing your ability to match colors… Not a good look right? Remember what I told you about not being loud just to be loud. Be professional and be honest with who you are.
3. Enable #OpenToWork and Extend Your Location Options When Searching for Jobs.
The fact that the COVID-19 outbreak reshaped the global workforce tremendously is not a secret. In fact, roughly 88% of companies either encouraged or even required their employees to pursue their professional activities at home. This has forced not only enterprises to go remote, but also startups have been tossed into the challenges of not having a physical presence while working the usual nine to five. Luckily, this transition has opened up tons of new opportunities for companies to prove that being remote-first might not be such a bad idea after all.
In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, employees from a variety of fields have replaced everyday office life with video calls on apps such as Microsoft Teams. The month of March alone saw a rise in Teams usage of over 1,000%.
And while some businesses might have feared the shift, it has now been proven that productivity levels actually heightened in general. And also it has provided companies with enough experience to help them unlock their international potential by hiring remotely. For this reason, we recommend that you consider remote work as a viable job option in 2020 as it has become easier to land a job across borders.
4. Put Together an Outstanding LinkedIn Summary.
Your LinkedIn summary is the ideal opportunity to expand upon the qualities you teased in your headline and add to your efforts in personal branding. Wondering how to do that? First of all, maintaining the same tone is essential. Elaborate on what makes you the best in your field, and add some more relevant keywords into the mix. Other than that, you have a few other options as well:
❏ Include hard numbers and data.
What have you achieved in your career so far? Think percentages, headcounts, even money, as these are clear indicators of your past success. Openly disclosing these aspects is no longer considered taboo in the new landscape of job recruitment. It’s alright to brag a bit.
❏ Let your passion shine through.
What employers look for other than experience and results are candidates who are truly passionate about the work they put in. This is why finding a way to show how excited your field makes you will be a huge plus for your LinkedIn profile.
❏ Showcase your personality.
Pointing out the little things that make you who you are is a great way to show potential employers that you can enhance a team with more than just experience. At the end of the day, the modern workplace is as much about teamwork and socializing as it is about delivering results. The two go hand in hand and companies are focusing more and more on hiring culturally.
5. Engage with the People in Your Network. Often.
Take a moment to think about it and you will soon realize that LinkedIn is much like the professional version of Facebook. Therefore, looking for a job in 2020 can sometimes boil down to a strong social media presence, and as we clarified earlier personal branding has become a huge advantage when looking for jobs.
You don’t have to be a social media specialist to know that personal branding on these types of platforms is the surest way towards success. Thus, you should always keep the holy trinity of engagement at the back of your mind: connect, comment, and like.
The reason why you need to do this often is to create traction for your profile. You want to show up in other people’s feed, you want to be recognized and you want to establish yourself within your industry and field as someone credible, knowledgeable, and maybe even inspiring. Consistency is the only way to get there and it’s a long process before results start showing. But once it begins, it goes fast.
Also, remember what I told you in tip number 2? Optimize your profile picture helps you receive up to 9 times more invitations to connect. Why you ask? Because you stand out to them and it sends a message that you are the type of person that they need to know and can benefit from.
If you’re ready to take your LinkedIn presence one step further, we also recommend sharing posts. This will further establish the fact that you are present in your network of peers and even confirm your role as a source of valuable industry insights.
6. Be Creative and Publish Original Content.
Did you know that LinkedIn allows its users to publish articles and other types of original content? Whether you are looking for job opportunities in a creative field and want to showcase your writing chops, or you want to establish yourself as a trusted expert in a particular niche, LinkedIn is the ideal place to start. Content creation and thought leadership is a key resource when doing personal branding. You need content that your network can engage with and content that people are keen to share in order to build your audience.
Using the article feature on LinkedIn is thus a great way to build your personal brand on the platform and land a great job in 2020. These articles can then be shared on your personal profile, where recruiters have the chance to read through them and convince themselves you’ve got what it takes.
Of course, publishing original content on LinkedIn doesn’t need to start and end with articles. Are you a graphic designer? Share your artwork. Do you pride yourself on your impeccable researching abilities? Create relevant industry graphs and charts, then upload them onto your personal profile. Is video producer your preferred job title? Let your network see the video content you create. The possibilities here are endless. It’s one of the best ways to make your profile memorable and gives you a much greater chance of getting your content shared to possibly reach an employer looking for candidates you didn’t have in your network. It’s a win-win!
7. Never Stop Networking (Especially If You’re a Student).
If you got this far into your article and felt like it addressed the concerns of established professionals only, you might be asking yourself the following question:
“But I’m a student with limited practical experience, so how can I get started?” – Innocent 1st-year student at X University.
Building a durable brand for yourself on LinkedIn is something anyone can do in 2020. In fact, more students should start doing personal branding on LinkedIn as soon as possible since it’s a long process. With years of studying you have time to write great content to share on your profile based upon the learnings from your studies. By the time you graduate, you might have yourself a personal brand that will land you the dream job. It’s always better late than never. But the earlier you start in your career the better. And to be straight, you want better. So let’s get you started with these five simple steps to begin with:
❏ Connect with alumni from your university and people working in your niche.
A nice and easy first step for you is to seek out alumni or class-mates from your university. It’s a strong building block for your future network which ensures some sort of relevancy within your field. I have gotten multiple job offers through old class-mates since they could provide me with recommendations additionally. So it’s definitely a low hanging fruit ready for you to pick.
❏ Research potential employers and get a feel of the job market.
Try to reach out the each employer and ask the one question you seek answered: How do I get a job at x-company? Next step, you invite them to drink a cup of coffee with you because this is how you go the extra mile for a job. And sorry to say, but this is how you get ahead of the competition in 2020. Employers love seeing candidates going out their way in order to just get a shot at an interview and the crazy part is that only a handful of people within your field is doing exactly that. So here’s a great opportunity for you to start capitalizing on by displaying top-of-class motivation and a true go-getter mentality. This is undoubtedly a must-do practice starting early in your career and a secret sauce to getting a job. Even if you don’t get an interview or the job you still left a positive impression. Only adding to your efforts in personal branding.
❏ Tailor your online presence according to the industry you want to enter.
Make yourself relevant! Follow and engage with content relevant to the industry or maybe even do a post that concerns of a relevant topic to the industry you want to interact with.
❏ Never stop networking with relevant people.
A lot of people will tell you that you should only connect with people you already know. But to be brutally honest with you, that’s total BS! Or at least half of it is. Because a valuable network is an engaged network, which leaves you with the need of putting in social effort each time you get a new connection. This essentially means sending new connections a quick message about you and a type of conversation starter to break the ice. Of course, chemistry is part of the equation, but you need to take a first step in order to just get started building personal relationships. What is the outcome of this? Personal relationships will increase the engagement on your posts, original content releases, etc. All adding up to your personal branding strategy that will grow your audience and credibility further.
On a personal note, almost every good thing that has come out of LinkedIn for me has been from people I didn’t know to begin with. Today I do multiple marketing co-branding projects with people I solely met on LinkedIn. These initiatives have turned out to be even greater pieces of content and provided our marketing campaigns with much higher quality, longer reach, and more impressions.
One of the biggest hurdles of networking is overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there. We are too insecure in ourselves that we don’t believe that anyone will listen to us. Personal branding all starts with defeating your fear of connecting with a stranger, asking them questions, and posting comments/sharing original content. When you overcome that fear and come to the other side where you realize how easy it is and how happy people are to get back to you, you will understand the potential benefits and why everyone is talking about the importance of networking.
Here’s just an example of mine when I got my first job as a marketing manager and had no clue on how to do my job. I went to LinkedIn and asked for advice, here’s a snippet of a conversation I had with a complete stranger who I only just connected with:
“I just started in my first marketing manager position at a tech startup company and I have the full responsibility for marketing. I really spend a lot of time reading and learning from all sorts of sources and I also listen to a lot of podcasts. But I feel that I am having a hard time setting up my goals, doing a strategic plan, etc. and that may cause me to lose track of things not ensuring I aim for the KPI’s. Where do I start? How do I determine my strategy and goals?”
“Hi Rasmus! I can understand you are looking for career advice. So let me pitch in 🙂 In my own career, I’ve been a digital one-man army just like you. My experience is that it is good to get out of your own bubble and be open about its challenges. Many experts are extremely passionate and would love to share their knowledge. Try to create a professional network where you can ask questions. I have attended seminars and morning meetings several times, talked to the speaker, and been invited to their company afterward and got one-to-one sparring over a coffee. Also, If you have difficulty defining the strategy, you may also be able to lean on your external partner. If they are a good partner, they will also be willing to help you with the process as they are dependent on revenue from your business. I think the most important thing is to recognize that you do not have all the answers yourself. Be inspired by others and create your own version of the ideas.
Since you are in a startup, it is also important to work quickly and get some results, as the economy often depends on the short-term results. So maybe you shouldn’t spend as much time making chrome-plated plans (as one typically learns in school), but just get out there and get some results.”
As he stated, this is what they don’t teach you in school. And this advice turned out to be paramount for my new beginning as a marketing manager. It helped me launch myself into success and later on landed me this job. Passing on this advice to you. And it all started by learning how to network properly.
Entering the job market in 2020 is never a walk in the park, regardless of how vast your portfolio is (or isn’t). For this reason, creating a strong LinkedIn presence for yourself and showcasing your personal brand of professional skills is essential in this day and age.
Don’t listen to the door stoppers. Networking with other users and people you might not know on the platform are some of the best ways to build durable connections that will help you succeed in your job search and future career. You don’t necessarily need tens of years of experience under your belt when you know the right people and constantly nurture your professional relationship with them.
Your profile is the first thing recruiters or potential employers come in contact with when you show up in your search result, so why not make it worth their time? Who knows whose eye you might catch and land your dream job! Your reach has never been greater than now.