Lesson 2: Developing Your Personal Brand

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We're going to continue optimizing your LinkedIn profile by developing your personal brand. If you haven't heard this term "personal brand" before, I'll tell you exactly what it is. It's how you're going to market yourself to employers. I actually read somewhere recently "Your personal brand is what everybody says about you when you're not in the room," and that's very true.

You're definitely trying to put together what it is that makes you unique and what it is that makes you the better choice over somebody else. That is what your personal brand is, and it's very important especially as the job market gets more and more competitive.

I want you to think, first and foremost, about what is inspiring you to pursue your job target. Something you might want to consider is what are you most passionate about within a certain career, whether it's mission-oriented or just something specific about the day-to-day that really excites you? Something you can also ask yourself is why are you choosing this career over another? That may help really narrow down what it is that is inspiring you and what it is you're most passionate about within this job target or within the career that you're staying in.

Your passions are what will set you apart from other candidates with similar skills and experiences. Think about that for a minute. The average job will attract 250+ resumes or applications, so it's your job to figure out what is going to help you stand out from the other 249 applicants who likely have the same qualifications, similar skills, and very similar experiences. That's where your personal brand is really going to help you stand out.

I also want you to think about your strengths. Your strengths are going to be more than just your job-related skills, although they are included. Your job-related skills are the skills that are needed to complete the day-to-day of your job target. You want to consider those, but you also want to consider your personal traits or what traits help you do this job to the best of your ability.

Also consider your computer or technical skills. These are becoming increasingly more important in a wide range of industries and even in fields that you wouldn't think you need computer skills. They're looking for at least basic computer knowledge and basic software or technical skills. These are all going to play into what your strengths are and should also be at the forefront of your personal brand.

You also want to consider what your five or ten year plan is. Your career goals really need to be evident in your personal brand. Consider your values. Consider your desired level of responsibility over the next five or ten years. This also plays into your desired level of stress or how much responsibility and how much stress are you really looking to add to your career whether you're good at handling and managing stress or not. Also, your potential for professional development. How far do you want to move up that corporate ladder?

You also want to make sure that your job targets really align with those career goals because your career plan and your career goals are going to keep you accountable for all of your career choices. You want to make sure that you're applying to jobs that are going to align with your ultimate career goals. You want to make sure that you're spending the time practicing for an interview for a job that's going to align with your long-term career plan. Especially job offers. You don't want to be taking jobs that really don't contribute to your overall career goals because these are jobs that are going to be reflected on your resume; the more targeted your resume can be, the more effective your job search and how quickly your job search is going to end.

Consistency is key with a personal brand. You want to make sure that your personal brand is evident across your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook profile. If you have a personal website for a portfolio, your personal brand needs to be very evident on that and be consistent. You can also add elements of your personal brand to your email signature or personal business cards. Consistency is absolutely key.

If someone were to look at your resume and think, "Oh, I know exactly what this person is about," but then your LinkedIn profile gives them a completely different perception of you, that's not good. That's not going to help you, and that's not going to accelerate your job search.

I want you to create a Branding Statement, first and foremost, for your LinkedIn Headline. Your Headline is a great spot, it's perfect real estate, to really showcase a condensed version of your personal brand. Your Headline should include your positions title or your job target, your top job-related skills (or if you're transitioning careers possibly some of the personal attributes or other strengths that you've identified in your personal brand), and you also want to identify what your career goal is or what value you offer to employers.

The key with the LinkedIn Headline is you have to keep the statement under 120 characters. It's really valuable real estate because your Headline is going to show up directly beneath your name in LinkedIn search results and on your LinkedIn profile. So this is a great way to really showcase who you are, what you're doing with your career, what you're pursuing, and who you want to attract in a very short or condensed statement.

I also want to give you a couple examples because this may be a completely new concept for you. In 140 characters or less, this is a Headline that would be really exciting for an employer to read versus Medical Device Sales Manager: "Dynamic medical device sales manager accelerating new business and revenue with superb relationship building skills." Now doesn't that just sound way better than just his position title and company name which is the default that LinkedIn will likely give. This person is sound so much more engaging. It tells them exactly what they are driven to do and how they're going to achieve it; and that's going to set this person apart from someone else in the search results who just listed their position title and company name.

Here's another really creative example: "Copywriting artist transforming technical jargon from flat-line boring into visitor-converting, revenue-driving websites." Wow! Doesn't that just sound so much more exciting, and don't you want to meet this person? I mean, I would want to meet this person. I'd want to see exactly how well they communicate through their copywriting. I'd want to see samples. Honestly, I want to see samples of their work and probably start a conversation. This is going to sound so much more appealing next to the next search result which likely just says "Freelance Copywriter.".

I want you to do a second task within this lesson and expand on your Branding Statement to create a job-winning Summary section. Your Summary should tell your unique story. It should explain your career goals in more depth. It should really highlight and introduce the achievements that you're going to elaborate on throughout your profile. And it also needs to include a call-to-action that's going to drive them to either contact you or request your resume. There's a wide range of calls-to-action that you could add.

You get about 2,000 characters to do this within your Summary section, so you could really show off your personal brand within that Summary. It shouldn't be wasted space, and it shouldn't be simply a copied-and-pasted summary from your resume especially when your resume summary needs to be less than 4 lines.

You can really expand on and really showcase your personal brand in this section, and you should. It's going to help you stand out. It's going to help you appear higher in search results on LinkedIn, and it's going to really stand out to an employer who's going to want to get to know you more than just what's written on your resume.

Watch the video to see the demo for adding a Headline and Summary section to your LinkedIn profile from the desktop view.

We're going to wrap up this lesson and move forward with integrating the right keywords into your LinkedIn profile in the next lesson.

1 | Customize your Headline with a 120-character, condensed Branding Statement.

2 | Expand on your Headline by adding a detailed Summary section to your profile.