Networking is not an option but a necessity for marketers, freelancers, students, job-seekers, managers, and many other professionals because it helps them to advance and grow their careers.
Today the meaning of the word 'Brand' is not confined to big companies only. You and your occupation can also be a brand as an individual. Personal branding is the process of building a unique identity for yourself with your skills or for a business.
LinkedIn is one of those platforms that is preferred by users when it comes to professional networking and building a personal brand. With more than 850 million users the preference can be understood. But how exactly do we take advantage of LinkedIn for personal branding?
To know how to leverage LinkedIn for building a personal brand, we conducted a live interview session with Shweta Ojha, a LinkedIn coach, and consultant, who has helped more than 10,000 individuals, startups, freelancers, SME business owners, and students to build their personal brand and grow their career through LinkedIn. Her profile shows how passionate she is about personal branding.
So without wasting any more time let us see a few steps and advice given by Shweta Ojha to leverage LinkedIn for building a personal brand.
Q1. Why LinkedIn is an important platform for professionals, especially women?
Shweta answered this question by introducing her journey and the importance of LinkedIn with us. Being a homemaker for more than 20+ years Shweta wanted to get out of her comfort zone and find her identity and potential of what she could do. During her job as a business development executive in an HR firm, Shweta familiarized herself with LinkedIn and figured out that the platform is the best place to leverage more leads for the company.
There were a lot of new things to learn from resources like articles, posts, etc. LinkedIn is more than job hunting and listing and this is also confirmed by our guest. If you have an illustrious LinkedIn profile with a strong professional career, various experiences, and skills then you can achieve more than just lead generation and personal branding.
From the platform, you can learn a lot of things not only as an individual but society too. For the women's community also Shweta further explained the importance of LinkedIn with the statement,
“As for women who wish to build their career, LinkedIn is a no-brainer has to be there. The simple reason being is, you are there on the global networking platform, if you voice out your opinion, share your expertise, and share your experiences, you will get to amplify your audience more than the restricted circle of your colleagues, friends, family or the organization you are representing.
You are talking about yourself at a very large level and there you get to understand how people perceive you and they do it without any bias because they don't really have anything apart from what you're sharing and that gives a lot of confidence.”
The journey of LinkedIn is not just about having great connections or getting searched by recruiters and companies. It's just the starting point. It is your journey of personal growth while creating your personal brand by genuinely sharing whatever experience you have. Be authentic with your content and make it your intent to help other people on the platform too.
Q2. Why is personal branding so important today?
Creating your personal brand is important because it is an asset and a great source of visibility for job-seekers. Personal branding will not only strengthen your profile when you are representing a particular company or organization, but it will be there to support your career journey even when you are on break or when you are changing your career option.
With personal branding, you will get lots of opportunities and don't have to feel crippled just because you do not have any title or position in a company. Also, the meaningful connections and networks that you made on LinkedIn will pay you back because you do the same while creating your personal brand through LinkedIn.
Most of us have a conception that LinkedIn is the job-finding platform and Shweta also confirmed that back in the day people treated it like a job portal, but we know there is more to it than just job-seeking and applying. Of course, people who want jobs through LinkedIn will get that much-needed attention and visibility by building their personal brand. Personal branding is the easiest way to stand out from the crowd and complete goals like getting a job in your dream company.
Q3. Does having a lot of followers mean you have a personal brand? What can people do to build their personal brand?
In LinkedIn having a good number of followers is surely an indication that you have a personal brand, but that doesn't mean that you have to chase followers. Actually, the authenticity and loyalty of followers matter more than the number of followers for building a successful personal brand. “The more organic your followers are, the better or stronger your personal brand is going to be because they're going to be your loyal followers because you provide them some value”. Shweta added this point to clarify that let your followers grow organically without trying any famous social media followers and subscriber-increasing tricks.
The key point is that the number of followers doesn’t define your personal brand. Of course, it gets the attention of relevant people you need or influence the number of leads, but you have to put on the rest of the work. For example, you are a freelancer or small business brand, showing people your creative self by sharing your experiences, expertise, product, etc. You can get their attention or maybe sell your e-book or digital product as a brand but to get hired or do successful business with them you will have to communicate with them and gain their trust.
Adding to the discussion QWEEN’s co-founder Niti also said, "Commenting on other people's posts or other knowledge-sharing articles because that also shows that you are some kind of subject matter expert or you're a person with an opinion and are not shy to put your opinion out.”
Q.4 What is the process of building a personal brand or LinkedIn profile for someone who is just starting?
Summarizing the pointers provided by Shweta we have divided the steps to explain them more clearly. Let's see what those steps are:
Clarity- This is the most important step while creating your personal brand or a LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is the digital representation of your professional life, it is different from other social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. It is important to determine the purpose for which you are creating your profile. It might be to get popularity, get genuine business, get a job, and build a strong network or anything else. Unless you won’t know your objective you might feel lost in the platform and won’t be able to figure out what exactly to post or what kind of people to connect with which might affect your goals. So you have to be clear about who you are, what you do, who you want to help, and how.
Engagement- Just creating an optimized profile is not enough. Engaging with your connections is a very crucial step. You can do it by commenting on posts, articles, and videos that are of your knowledge, reaching out to people through DMs, etc. This will not only attract the right audience to your profile but increase your visibility too. One caution advice that Shweta gave our viewers was to treat every post and comment shared as content and be mindful of what you are sharing. Your content should be in line with your personality and objective.
Not everyone has to like you - “Don’t try to be a chocolate cake”. These are the words that Shweta said to explain this point. Personal branding is all about uniqueness. You don't have to agree to everything someone says, share your point of view politely. It again brings us to the authenticity point, your connections are watching you. And if you show yourself as something on LinkedIn and then when you meet in person your personality contradicts your online reputation, it won't look good, and lose trust.
Q5. What kind of content would be recommended for someone who is looking for a job?
Seeking a job opportunity might have different scenarios. You can be an absolute newbie, an employee looking for a change in career or company, a new mother restarting her career after a break, etc. It might be possible that you won't be able to openly seek job opportunities. And that's where building a personal brand will come in handy. Here are a few tips shared by our guest for those who are looking for a job through LinkedIn:
First and foremost list down all the dream companies you want to work at. What your designation will be? Do thorough research on the platforms like glassdoor to find out the type of keywords that are being used by the companies. Add the keyword that resonates with your designation or industry to your LinkedIn profile. With these keywords, they will be able to find you as it will increase your searchability. Make sure that you do not overstuff the profile with keywords. One more thing that Shweta shared with us is that your experience section should not be generic, try to include some information that shows your work experience value.
Now that you have figured out fundamental things it’s time to start engaging with people who are part of that organization and can influence the decision-making process. Most probably the people who are two levels above in the hierarchy. Also try engaging on the recruiter's post, with the employees of the company you want to work at, etc. Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable with your content. You should post both failures and wins of your career. Pick out the skills and related experience that while sharing might show how you handled it.
One caution advice that Shweta shared with us is that refrain from sending direct DMs stating I need a job to a random person. Imitating others' profiles or content is also a big no. If something is working for one person it doesn't mean it will work the same for you. You learn with your own practices and experiences.
The journey of personal branding or LinkedIn might need great and consistent efforts but once you find success it will help you in long run. So what are waiting for? Get ready to leverage LinkedIn for building your personal brand.
Watch the full video of this session here.
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