By Stanley Olisa
If you’re a professional and you don’t have a presence on LinkedIn, you’re losing out a great deal. The corporate space is increasingly becoming competitive, with everyone trying to entrench their relevance and demonstrate their industry clout to gain some edge which can bring them value along the line. In this world of digital disruption, it’s become exceedingly important for professionals to project their voices, espouse their credentials, show expertise and cast themselves as thought leaders whose knowledge becomes their equity. They become famed for something through what they’ve consistently shared online. This is the import of personal branding. And this piece highlights how LinkedIn, a powerful medium, can be leveraged for personal branding, taking it from the standpoint of public relations.
LinkedIn is your ‘owned medium’
In public relations, we have three forms of media: earned media (third-party validations; media mentions not paid for but earned by the brand through strategic media leveraging); paid media (media mentions paid for; adverts); and owned media (mentions orchestrated or content published by the brand on its own platforms- social media accounts, blog, website, Google Business Page, comms collateral, etc.
Think of LinkedIn as your owned medium- you’re totally in control of the content published on your LinkedIn page. It’s your gateway, your medium for achieving visibility in your industry and building your personal brand. Consider LinkedIn as a ‘publication’ and you the publisher. The publisher owns the medium, has a goal to achieve with it, and a target audience to serve. Similarly, this scenario applies to you as the owner of your LinkedIn page. What do you seek to accomplish on the platform? What audience are you trying to reach? What network of connections do you intend to build? These are salient posers you must address when deciding to optimise your LinkedIn page for personal branding.
In the same vein, to maximise the boons of LinkedIn, you must understand how the platform works. LinkedIn has a unique algorithm which determines content visibility and traction. Study the platform to familiarise yourself with its features and the implications of each. Also, take stock of how other professionals and content creators in your industry interact with the platform. The aim is not to copy them, but to learn some of the ‘hacks of LinkedIn’.
You are a brand and content is your driver
The earlier you appreciate this fact, the better for your professional persona. As a professional, irrespective of your field, you’re a brand, like a company/product. When you flip through the pages of a newspaper or scroll through your feeds on Instagram, you see different publications/posts by companies promoting their brands. Each company wants their brand to have a large share of voice in the media, so they keep publishing content to remain top-of-mind. This is how you should also manage your personal brand to enjoy talkability. Quality talkability.
You’re your own brand manager. But how do you drive your personal brand? Content. Content is everything in personal branding. It’s what evinces your brand, gives it expression, accords it essence, and establishes it in the minds of your target audience. This, therefore, presupposes that if you don’t post or share credible and pertinent content on the platform, one that suffices as an extension of your persona, you can’t build your personal brand on LinkedIn. This is the truth. To build your personal brand on LinkedIn, you must be active on the platform. You must show up constantly and do that the right way by having a content objective and a strategy.
Creating content that resonates with your personal brand on LinkedIn is no rocket science. You can talk about your interests, your forte, strengths, and share experiences of highpoints and low points in your career trajectory. Don’t be shy to share your moments of failure, for that’s the stepping stone to success. And people will learn from such content. It really doesn’t require much to write impactful posts; but ensure that your content aligns with your personal brand, which is what you’re ‘selling’.
Storytelling is Key
You can talk about your skills and capabilities in your posts but don’t be salesy. Salesy posts scare people off. That’s why it’s advised to employ the storytelling technique to draw your target audience into such apparently ‘advertising’ content. Storytelling is the new marketing skill. People love stories, especially stories with some human-interest element. With this approach, you can get your target audience to read beyond the first few lines while you build up their interest till the tail-out. Our span of attention as humans has gone lower and this has placed more demands on PR and marketing professionals to become more subtle and creative with ‘promotion’. People don’t want to be sold to; but you can subtly sell to them without selling. Tell them stories with an irresistible ‘hook’. Incentivise the content.
Carve a Niche
What do you want to be known for on LinkedIn? What should come to mind whenever your name gets an eyeball? In choosing a niche, don’t make the mistake of following the bandwagon. Consider what you care about and are passionate about and develop your thought leadership in that area. If your forte is digital marketing, then create content which reflects your knowledge of this and positions you as a go-to authority on the subject. If you do this well repeatedly, you’ll become reputed for digital marketing and will start getting gigs. For example, I have carved a PR niche for myself on LinkedIn and this has brought me opportunities of considerable value.
Wait for the results
Building your personal brand on LinkedIn requires patience and pertinacity. You don’t become a thought leader overnight. You start by publishing high-value content regularly, building the right kind of network, sharing relevant content of others, adding insightful comments on others’ posts, and putting a like on posts which are germane to your area of specialisation. The metrics will be discouraging initially but don’t be dissuaded by such numbers. Keep posting content as the metrics will improve over time. Your personal branding on LinkedIn is chiefly dependent on your ability to post relevant content consistently.
• Olisa, a communications consultant, sent in this piece from Lagos