Note: Even if you are not actively seeking an opportunity right now, following these tips for branding yourself and increasing your visibility and credibility across your network will only advance you further in your career and prepare you when it is time for a new opportunity or career change.
- Brand Yourself: It is essential that you know your unique value and communicate it effectively. To do this, identify your top three to five overlapping strengths that you feel will support your desired career direction. Now create/find a word or phrase that can become your personal brand and that represents these strengths. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Most importantly, feature your personal brand in your Profile Header and both your brand and your supporting pitch in your Profile Summary.
- Get Active in LinkedIn Groups: Start being active and contributing value from day one. Share interesting news with your groups, post links to intriguing articles and join in discussions to show your investment in your industry or area of interest. In addition to joining LinkedIn Groups, you may also choose to start your own group or become an active leader/moderator in an existing group.
- Become an Expert: LinkedIn Answers is a unique Q&A forum on LinkedIn that allows members to post their own questions by category, as well as to contribute answers to others’ questions. Getting involved by asking questions, answering questions, and sharing insights and ideas related to your chosen industry is an effective way to establish your personal brand in an area of expertise. The person who posts each question must select the best answers from those who respond. If yours is selected, it is shown on your profile as sort of a badge of expertise on a given topic or given industry.
- Follow Company Activity: Don’t forget that LinkedIn has Companies, its own comprehensive company directory. You can search for companies by any criteria and identify potential contacts in your network. You can also choose to follow the activities of specific companies by visiting their profiles and clicking the “Follow Company” link. This information can tell you whether the company is hiring and allows you to see the backgrounds of the candidates who are getting jobs there. It can also tell you when someone is hired for a position you’ve also applied for.
- Informational Interviews: Informational interviews work in job searching and networking because they allow you to make a personal connection with a real human being, who is typically in a much better position to endorse you and recommend you internally in his/her company. LinkedIn is a great way to identify potential interviewees in your target companies and industries. You can reach out to them via email or send them a message directly depending on what level of connection you have with them and/or their privacy settings. You can also get introduced via the Introduction feature. On your 2nd and 3rd degree connections’ profiles, you will see a link “Get introduced through a Connection” that will allow you to send a message through the chain of people between you both. This is how you can leverage your current network to your advantage.
- Profile Applications: There are a number of applications you can add to your profile to better brand yourself. You can feed your blog posts or the posts from your favorite blog right into your profile using WordPress or Blog Link. You can embed and share files and presentations in a portfolio via Google, SlideShare and Box.net. You can also feature your own works or your favorite or recommended reads for others with your Reading List by Amazon. There are multiple others from which to choose, but make sure to pick the applications that add the greatest value to your profile and candidacy.
- Events: LinkedIn also has an increasingly popular events calendar that may become helpful in your personal branding and career search efforts. Attending relevant events can provide new information and training and can serve as continuing education and industry-related activity to feature on your resume and in your interviews. Events can also provide you with an opportunity to meet new, like-minded connections and build your network. Lastly, hosting or creating your own events is very easy to do on LinkedIn Events and can be a great way to build your own brand as a thought leader in your industry.
Remember that you don’t have to do everything listed here to make an impact on your career, and you certainly don’t have to be active every day; however, use these tips to customize your activity for career success on LinkedIn.
Chris Perry, MBA, is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, brand marketing manager, career search and personal branding expert, professional speaker, entrepreneur and brand consultant. Chris is the founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Network, MBA Highway, the MBA Job Search and Career Network and multiple other ventures. Learn more about Chris on his website:http://chrisperry.me