Last Saturday, I hosted Kayode Abass, a LinkedIn coach and Personal Branding consultant on the October edition of Learn & Grow Series. We talked about LinkedIn Hacks to power your personal brand and unlock rare opportunities and boy! did we have a great time. Kayode showed us little-known hacks and went deep into optimizing your LinkedIn profile for job and business opportunities. (Get your copy of the video class from Kayode Abass and previous classes here.) However, I picked 8 pearls of wisdom from him about growing your personal brand that you can apply immediately. I dug deep into each point so this is quite lengthy - use the Table of Contents below to quickly choose where you want to go. Shall we?
#1. If you don’t brand yourself, people will brand you
Many people get turned off when they hear "personal branding" because they think it's about packaging yourself into a larger than life figure of who you really are or lying and making up numbers to make yourself look important. On the contrary, your personal brand is how people perceive you - what comes to mind when they see your face or hear your name.
Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room
- Jeff Bezos
Founder of Amazon
The most important point in personal branding is that you have a lot of control over that perception. You have the power to control how people see you and the narrative about you. However, if you refuse to, they'll still have a perception of you anyway. Only that it most likely won't be what you need to further your goals. It's one thing for you to be a superstar and another for people to see you as a superstar. Personal Branding makes sure of it.
#2. Personal Branding on LinkedIn starts with your profile
It takes less than one-fifth of a second to make first impressions online. Even though psychologists say it takes less time to make a first impression in real life, first impressions are more critical online because you're not there to explain yourself or sway anybody's judgment. With such a slim time-frame, making a good first impression should be on your priority list. So how do you do this? Build an amazing LinkedIn profile.
Before you sigh and say it's hard, note that an amazing profile is not one with the most certifications or best skills. It's one that presents you in the best light and meets your personal branding goals. The problem is that many people's profiles are not yet fully optimized to support their goals. If this is you, please do a quick makeover of your LinkedIn profile ASAP.
Stop telling an outdated story. Update your profile as you progress, hit new milestones or change direction in your career. Imagine if the MD of Coca-Cola sent you a connection request and his profile has not been updated since 1996. You'll suspect foul play right? Exactly! If your profile is not complete, you'll come off as a scam.
#3. Visibility creates a top of mind awareness with your audience
No matter how amazing you are, if nobody knows you're there, you're just winking in the dark. You must have heard something along these lines before:
"You need to put yourself out there", “Marketing is an act of service to those who need you. If you don’t promote yourself, you’re stealing from them”
They’re all true, and frankly, over-flogged. So, I won't repeat it. However, if you've also heard:
"Nobody needs to see you, as long as you're doing the right thing."
That one is crap. What's the point of creating something if those who need it can't see it? This is 2018. Nobody wakes up thinking "I need to go and look for [insert your name]'s LinkedIn Profile. "If you build it, they will come" may have applied in Field of Dreams but not in real life. If you build it, they will come - only if they know it's there. So, first be visible.
How can you apply this on LinkedIn? Make sure your profile is public i.e. allow people to see you
If you build it, they will come but first they need to know it's there.
#4. Understand each platform and adapt accordingly
Why should you behave like a Roman when you're in Rome? So that:
- You don't look stupid
- People will take you seriously and not mistaken you for a scam
- Street people won't take advantage of you as a JJC (slang for newbie)
- You can copy what's already working instead of struggling to figure it out yourself
Now, in a bid to "work smart", many people copy and paste their content from Instagram to LinkedIn without batting an eyelash. That's like behaving Nigerian in Rome. Beware of those in-app tools that let you automatically post from one platform to the other eg. Facebook to Twitter. They are not the best. See what happened when I tried it:
Go the extra mile to create the right content for each platform. How?
- Right sizing: For instance, Instagram images require a 1080 x 1080 px to look great on your feed while LinkedIn requires 1200 x 628 px. I use a tool called Canva to design my posts so I never have to remember these dimensions.
- Right wording: You can't talk with your grandma the same way you gist with your cousin. Grandma will be confused.
For example, in the posts below I was saying the exact same thing. Click on each version to see how I modified image size, hashtags and caption to suit the platform:
View this post on Instagram
Investing in your personal brand is important for 2 reasons: 1. It is necessary for career advancement (FACT! This is 2018) You'll naturally attract opportunities to yourself. . 2. It helps you to be a better leader that can create greater impact. I'm not talking about self-promotion, showcasing only achievements & acquisitions, but being a channel of thoughts & experience that others can depend on. . Developing your personal brand goes well beyond social media, but that's a topic for another day. So while we're here, swipe to see 5 ways to grow your personal brand online. If you like it, someone else will. So, please Share! #theonlinepresencestrategist #personalbranding #onlinepresence #onlinepresencetoolkit
Whatever platform you're on, some things are basic such as finding ways to engage your audience and get them more involved. Two ways to do this:
- End your post with a question. Eg. The LinkedIn version above
- Tell them what to do next. Eg. The Instagram version above
#5. Understand your audience and create content to give them what they want
On every platform, people are looking for something. While I understand that you're there to grow your reputation, get a job or boost your sales, others are not there to meet your goals. They are there to solve their own problems. To get their attention, you need to let them know you are the solution they are looking for. How? By creating content. If your personal brand is fire, content is gasoline. Content is the fuel that powers your online presence.
Your content is every word or image that tells us what's in your head. On LinkedIn for example, you have many opportunities to do this. I like to think of them in advertising language: Your Cover Photo is your personal Bill Board. Your Headline is your Tagline. Your Summary is your Unique Selling Point, Your posts and updates are Press materials, etc. In these elements, your goal is to show up the way you want your brand to be perceived.
Not sure what kind of posts to create? Try any of these:
If you don't know your audience, your content will be bleh and you'll only hear crickets when you post. Understand your audience and appear accordingly. There is no "best" way to create your content. You have to work with what is suitable for you. What kind of message resonates with your audience? What's consistent with your brand?
At the end of the day, you attract what you put out there. So, whatever content you create or share, tie it to the type of audience you want to attract based on your business + career goals.
#6. Build Relationships
For goodness sake, endeavor to be social on social media. Be friendly and create a community around your interests. Don't just shout your ideas and leave, stop to notice others and acknowledge them. Here's how:
Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting with
- Seth Godin
Multiple times Best-Selling Author
If you think this is tough, you're right. That's why I recommend that you focus on one platform. By all means, register your presence in as many places as possible for a robust online presence. However, focus your efforts on one or two to avoid burn out.
#7. Balance Quantity with Quality
You will win once you figure out the simple mechanics of turning strangers into friends and friends into customers
- Seth Godin
Multiple times Best-Selling Author
You can tell I love Seth Godin 🙂
#8. Measure and Monitor your Brand Goals
This one is simple. What you don't measure, you can't manage. There's only one efficient way to tell if your efforts are making any difference: Look at the Numbers
Dive into your analytics to see what's working and what's not. Who's viewing your profile? What do they do? Where are they from? What's their gender? How long did they stay? What made them leave? What did they like most? Do more of that! What made them leave? Do less of that!
Social Media platforms have in-built analytics you can use. If you have a website, set up Google analytics. You'll be amazed at what you find.
Personal Branding is a process and not a destination. You can't put in all the pieces of your brand from Day One. The big personal brands you know all started from somewhere. Don't feel overwhelmed by details. You have a voice and message with which you can change the world. Don't wait for perfect conditions either. The best time to start taking yourself seriously was last year. The next best time is now.
So, which of these 8 lessons are you going to apply today? What future topics would you like to see on the Learn & Grow Series? Which experts would you like to learn from? Let it all out. I'm waiting to see your comments.
Want a copy of the video class from Kayode Abass? Get it here.