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By Maggie Tomasek
Your personal brand might sound like just another buzzword, but your “personal brand” is simply how you present yourself to the world. With the world becoming increasingly digital, making a good first impression (and second and third and fourth) can start with your LinkedIn profile.
Here are nine simple steps you can take to better brand yourself on LinkedIn to help you advance your career, find a new job or grow your business.
1. Invest in a professional photo. Your LinkedIn profile is much more likely to be viewed if you have a profile photo. You want to come across as professional, so ditch the selfie you took with your pals in Vegas and spring for professional headshots. Also, adding a header photo (1584x396) to support your personal brand or industry can really make your LinkedIn profile pop.
2. Incorporate other media into your profile. You can easily post photos and videos to your LinkedIn profile under the Experience, Education or Summary sections. Besides, it’s better to actually show your strengths and skills than tell about them.
3. Customize your profile URL. When you create your LinkedIn account, you’re automatically assigned a slew of random characters as a URL. If you customize your URL (i.e. linkedin.com/in/yourname), that will make it super easy to include your LinkedIn profile on your resume or business card. Plus, it just looks more professional.
4. Use a strong headline. Aim for more descriptive language, instead of a generic job title, and try to incorporate keywords. To find the most impactful keywords, look at job descriptions, LinkedIn groups or other industry publications to find the right terminology.
5. Define your elevator pitch. The LinkedIn Summary is your chance to grab people with just a few short sentences. Think about the audience looking at your profile and decide what you want them to know about who you are, what you do and what you can do for them. In short, your Summary does a lot of the heavy lifting to help you brand yourself on LinkedIn.
6. Manage your Featured Skills and Endorsements. According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, users who displayed five or more skills were messaged 31 times more and viewed 17 times more than those who did not. That’s significant! And if you want to do your connections a solid, endorse their skills when you have a chance.
7. Keep everything up-to-date. When you switch jobs, get a promotion, take on new responsibilities in your current role or add a new skillset, update your profile accordingly. It’s much easier to update as you go rather than trying to make tons of changes all at once, which could result in unintentionally leaving out something important. (This up-to-date information will also be helpful when preparing to negotiate for a raise.)
8. Blog with LinkedIn Publisher. LinkedIn’s blog platform can reach more people than sharing a link to your personal blog or another outside source (that’s because LinkedIn prioritizes their on-channel content when it curates your newsfeed). This will help you establish yourself as a thought leader and drive engagement, which ultimately leads to more visibility and a more solidified voice and personal brand.
9. Post updates. If you don’t create your own content, you can still leverage things you read from other thought leaders or industry publications to show that you’re on top of trends while engaging with your connections. Even one or two posts a week can make a huge difference.
Once your LinkedIn profile is optimized, you can apply these concepts into other aspects of your personal and public life. The more defined your personal brand is, the more memorable you will be – and that can translate into more business, better jobs and stronger personal connections.
Maggie Tomasek is Social Media & PR Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a seven-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.