The Truth About Personal Branding and LinkedIn (And How Social Media Can Boost Your Career)

by | Personal Branding, Social Networking

Personal branding is a hot topic whether it’s for people who swear by it or people who swear at it (You know, those who treat it like a person they just don’t like, even though they can’t give any solid reasons why).

I get it, though.

There’s no shortage of misconceptions about personal branding, and when you add social media to the mix, it can be like the third swing at a piñata: a mishmash of advice and examples scattered around.

That’s why I thought who better to talk to than the Personal Branding GuruWilliam Arruda—dubbed by the media and clients, not self-proclaimed! As a personal brand strategist, I look to William Arruda as a trusted source for trends and inspiration. William has twenty years of corporate branding experience and is the author of Career Distinction and Ditch. Dare. Do!  He is also the founder of Reach, the global leader in personal branding.

I’m excited to share William’s great insight to help clarify your personal branding questions and shut down the noise that may prevent you from putting yourself out there. Here’s what William has to say about how you can boost your career by building your digital brand:

Marietta Gentles Crawford: Let’s face it, some people tend to roll their eyes when they hear the term “personal brand”. Why do you think that personal branding gets a bad rap sometimes?

William Arruda: That’s because people think personal branding is about bragging or self-promotion. That it’s ‘me’ focused. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Personal branding is based in authenticity and delivering value to OTHERS. When you adopt that mindset, you understand what personal branding is truly about and how you can use personal branding techniques to increase your success and fulfillment. The eye rolling stops!

Gentles Crawford: Many businesses use social media to build their brand, but now it’s a platform for career-minded professionals as well.  When did social media start to play a role in personal branding?

Arruda: 12 years ago, LinkedIn emerged on the scene as a way of showcasing your brand. It created the lightbulb moment for a lot of people who realized that they need to build their brand and that social media is a valuable tool for doing so. Most career-minded professionals understand this.

The new development in this area has to do with companies. Innovative organizations are encouraging their people to use social media for their own career management and to support the company’s branding efforts. People make businesses human.

When employees become the face of the organization through social media, they support their own career objectives while making their organizations more visible and valuable to all stakeholders.

Gentles Crawford: Clearly social media is an important aspect of career management, yet many professionals still neglect their digital brand. What’s worse: Having a mediocre digital brand? Or having no digital brand at all?

Arruda: They are equally bad – because either way, it will work against you. Today, you need a stellar online profile if you want to be considered by decision-makers and influencers. Not having one means you don’t exist. Having a mediocre profile says “I’m average” and who wants to engage with things that are average or adequate or OK or acceptable?

If you want to stand out and succeed, you need to make it a priority to build an authentic, differentiated and compelling profile and you need to keep it up-to-date so it remains relevant.

Gentles Crawford: LinkedIn is a well-known platform for building a compelling online profile. How important do you think it is for professionals to be active on LinkedIn?

Arruda: It’s critical. If you aren’t engaged in LinkedIn, you are missing from the conversation. There was a time when LinkedIn was your online resume and virtual professional network.

Today, it is your comprehensive personal branding platform – replete with features that not only help you tell the world who you are, but enable you to do your job better, learn and grow, express your thought-leadership, source staff, etc. Active means regular engagement and interaction with others both inside and outside your industry/job function.

Gentles Crawford: Will being “too visible” on LinkedIn hurt a professional’s career? Do companies see this as a bad thing?

Arruda: As long as the intention is to deliver value to others and the visibility is aligned with your brand promise, there is no risk. It is only if you are using linked in as a platform to say “Hey, look at me” and your focus is on self-promotion that you risk alienating others and damaging your brand.

Gentles Crawford: In addition to LinkedIn, are there any other social media platforms professionals should consider for personal branding?

Arruda: Yes. SlideShare is a really valuable tool for expressing thought-leadership. And because it is owned by LinkedIn, it is extremely easy to share content and add it to your profile. YouTube is also extremely valuable because of the power of video. Video allows you to deliver a complete communication and connect emotionally with viewers. It is a powerful way to express your brand. It also helps you get found because videos often show up on page 1 of a Google search on your name.

Gentles Crawford: How can professionals best use social media to boost their careers?

Arruda: Everyone needs their own strategy – because it depends on who your target audience is and where you can reach them. The most important things to remember are to be regular and deliver value. The other important aspect of social media is the opportunity to turn real-world personal branding activities into virtual branding. That way you can expand your audience. For example, if you deliver a presentation at a professional association meeting to an audience of 80 people, you can amplify the impact significantly by having a video of that event available on YouTube and posting your slide presentation to SlideShare.

Gentles Crawford: You recently released your Personal Branding Trends for 2016 in Forbes. What do you see trending for personal branding over the next 3 to 5 years?

Arruda: The biggest trend is video – both real-time and asynchronous video. In the not so distant future, video will dominate the communications landscape. email will become vmail. Teleconferences will more likely be done via video teleconference. Blogging will move more rapidly to Vlogging. Video is clearly a better way to communicate, but there were many impediments to using it – bandwidth, video technology, the challenge with sharing, etc. All of that has gone away. The only remaining barrier is people’s comfort level with it. Millennials are comfortable with video and are moving into leadership roles. It is only a matter of time before we all have to jump on the video bandwagon.

Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.

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