Social media has become an everyday part of life for the majority of people. We use it to connect to family members, friends, causes we support, and brands that we’re interested in.
Despite all of the personal uses of social media, many working-class individuals are unaware of ways they can use social media for business purposes. For example, expanding one’s professional network and building one’s own personal brand.
Jay Harrington suggests this very thing when he consults with growing companies and being that he has 10 years of legal practice as well as operating his own marketing and consulting agency, the suggestion comes from experience.
Why Is Building A Personal Brand Important?
Jay explains that social media has evolved to include and embrace professional network building. Lawyers and legal teams that he consults with are becoming aware that if they aren’t visible online, they’re practically invisible.
In today’s world, if a business or professional hopes to be visible, they need to be aware that the first place everybody looks is online. Without an online body of work, it’s difficult to appear credible and authoritative in a field.
Following the pandemic, a lot of professionals are hoping for things to return to normal, and it’s unlikely that they ever will. Both culturally and individually, people are no longer looking for the same level of interaction as what was common up until recently.
For this reason, as well as many others, social media and the digital landscape is key.
LinkedIn vs Paper Resumes
LinkedIn is currently the most widely used social media platform when it comes to professional interactions. The platform showcases a professional individual’s history, talents, causes, and business demeanor in ways that are far superior to paper resumes.
Jay explains that on a paper resume, a business can get a static impression of what kind of experience a person has in the job market.
A LinkedIn profile can provide the same information and more. It allows professionals and employers to dig into a person’s information as well as seeing an example of how they act, how they conduct themselves, their creative outlets, what they’re currently dedicated to, and what they want to work towards.
It’s much easier to decide whether a person is a good fit for a position when other professionals get a preview of the whole person in addition to their job experience.
Social media from a business standpoint creates a window into the mind of other professionals. If they create content, employers can get a quick preview. If they network, employers can gauge their communication skills.
A paper resume cannot satisfy any of those needs.
Personal Brands On LinkedIn
Illustrating one’s personal brand through social media meets the same criteria that used to be set forth in traditional business conferences. Companies would send an individual to represent the face of the organization and when this person networked with others, they not only displayed the company in a positive light, but became a snapshot of the humans working within.
The same goal applies for online personal brands. Every organization needs partnerships, ways to recruit new employees, and reach the public. The personal brands of people within an organization can help reach that goal. Employees of a business can amplify the message that business is trying to spread.
In this way, LinkedIn is both a personal and professional platform. Not only does it connect people, but it expands awareness and shares knowledge from the perspectives of people, not faceless companies.
Content Creation On LinkedIn
A great way to increase awareness for personal branding is to create content that represents the individual as a professional.
However, creating content can be challenging when there are so many possible places to start. In order to avoid getting stuck, it’s good to be aware of an objective.
Are you looking for a new job? Are you trying to become more visible in an area where you have experience? Are you trying to network with other professionals in your industry? Are you trying to draw in more clients?
Knowing your goal and having a narrow focus on what you’re hoping to achieve is a good way to stay on task and limit distracting options.
Jay illustrates an example by saying that a lawyer who is hoping to attract more business might think about what his or her target client cares about. Content should be centered around information they would be interested in.
If it’s still difficult to get started creating content, there is always the option to start small.
Content creation can involve something as small as commenting on content that other professionals post. If you’re following a certain niche, read articles and information posted to LinkedIn that concerns those topics. Jump in and engage with your chosen field to get over your fear of content creation.
Commenting on posts related to your field not only helps get the first steps of content creation out of the way, but it also helps extend your network. People will read your comments and interact with them, maybe making comments of their own. Getting involved with your niche can help inspire further content creation.
Content creation can be a great way to slowly get to know professionals in your field without approaching them out of nowhere.
Jay explains that nobody likes being suddenly bombarded by people who want to ask questions or offer services. Instead of attempting a cold-connection, try interacting with that professional’s content first.
People are more friendly and pay more attention to others who engage with content they create and post, so spend a couple of weeks commenting on posts the professional creates. Leave a comment a couple of times a week and your likelihood of success will increase when you reach out to the person later. In some cases, the professional will reach out to you first.
Knowing how to gradually build a good rapport with people you’re hoping to speak to is a better way to approach them than a sudden bothersome request. In being able to appropriately meet people you’re interested in getting to know, you’re more likely to open opportunities that you’re hoping to achieve at some point.
Jay gives an example stating that some business professionals avoid interacting on LinkedIn because they want to get into traditional marketing activities right away (such as public speaking roles or quotes in publications).
The path to those opportunities is on social media for individuals who know how to approach them. The businesses looking for people to take advantage of those opportunities are online. People who showcase themselves are more likely to get noticed and invited onto the desired platforms than those who bombard businesses with offers or requests.
For individuals who do not have a lot of visibility on LinkedIn, it may be challenging to know where to start.
Jay suggests being aware of where your desired audience spends their time. Where do you want your personal brand to be most visible?
Pinpoint your area and start creating content related to current topics that affect your niche. Because content creation is versatile, the type of content you create is up to you. Whether you write articles, create podcasts, or take up some other form of creating content, start small and aim for an upward trajectory.