As an HR professional, you spend a lot of time creating and protecting your company’s brand. How close of an eye do you keep on your own personal brand, though? Maintaining a positive reputation and establishing yourself as a thought leader may not seem like a priority compared to your day job, but in this tech world, personal branding it can lead to career success as well as greater visibility for your organization.
The challenge is to find your digital voice and make yourself heard above the roar of internet traffic. In other words, you’ve got a rep to maintain. We’re here to help you do it.
But First, The Bad News
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s quickly cover a few red flags to be aware of when building your personal brand.
1. Being overly eager on LinkedIn
When sending messages and connections requests is just a click away, it’s easy to get a bit carried away. Nevertheless, it’s best to resist the urge. Spamming your contact list is a quick way to become disregarded as annoying and perhaps even blocked by what could be beneficial connections in the future.
2. Talking at people rather than with them
Building a brand is about connecting with people, whether that be over discussing shared values or differences in opinion. This means that just speaking to people instead of including them in the conversation is a no-go.
3. Not filtering your online presence
It goes without saying that internet posts have a long life; as they say, “nothing dies online.” One wrong Tweet or online post, even if just a joke, an easily destroy your reputation—and possibly even cost you your job! Better not to risk posting anything that could be taken as offensive, malicious, or inappropriate.
Now the Good Stuff: 4 Secrets to Building Your Personal Brand
Becoming a thought leader is all about delivering value. This could be in the form of career advice shared on your LinkedIn page, such as how to navigate conflict within the workplace or become a better leader. It’s important to note that there is a difference between regurgitating cheesy HR advice on LinkedIn and providing real value, though.
Think about what your followers would want to hear—or better yet, what unique advice and insights you can deliver that no one else could. What unmatched experience do you possess? Do specific topics fall within the Venn Diagram of your interests and expertise?
Tip: If you’re not sure where to start, try asking 10 of your closest friends and connections to describe your strengths and areas of knowledge in five words. Notice a pattern? Then you’re on the right track.
For example, take an influencer like Lars Schmidt, the Co-Founder of HR Open Source (HROS.co) and Founder of Amplify. To build a knowledge-sharing community centered around HR and recruiting, Lars contributes his own personal experience about topics like culture fit and starting new positions while also sourcing insights from other top business leaders. He’s developed his own unique brand and leveraged it to achieve business success.
Like Lars, you can bring your own personal style and voice to the table, and use them to deliver exceptional value to your audience rather than just repeating what has already been said.
2. Don't commit exclusively to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great platform to build your professional reputation and reach a professional audience, but it’s not the only place that people (recruiters, potential employees or coworkers, prospective clients, etc.) will look. Being active on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest with business-centered content will help to expand your reach and connect with various audiences that don’t hang out around the LinkedIn water cooler.
3. Let your personality shine
Are you a robot? We hope not (for plenty of reasons). So let your personality shine and don’t be afraid to project your authentic self online. While it is important to remain professional and polite at all times (consider using language you would use in your grandma’s presence), that doesn’t mean you have to be a cookie cutter HR professional.
Include funny jokes or personal stories into articles published on LinkedIn
Share posts about your hobbies or fun experiences on Facebook or Instagram
Create a short “about me” video to put up on your website and/or social media posts so people can see your personality
A good example of this is Oleg Vishnepolsky, Global CTO of Daily Mail. Oleg’s Twitter pageisn’t just filled with advice for business leaders, but motivational quotations and excerpts from his diary as well.
4. Promote enough to contribute (but avoid “collecting”)
Self-promotion can be a tough gig. Push too hard and you’re pesky, don’t speak up enough and you get lost in the fray. Walk that fine line—and stay true to your personal values at the same time—by focusing on what you can contribute to your audience rather than collecting vanity metrics that feed the ego (things like the number of followers and likes on your pages). By turning your attention to helping othersrather than yourself, you’re sure to become an asset instead of a pest.
Helping your people and your company build the right brand starts with unbeatable onboarding.