The Importance of your Personal Brand

Your personal brand is how the world sees you.

Your personal brand is how the world sees you; your peers, potential clients and future colleagues. Creating a personal brand ensures your target audience knows who you are, what you stand for, and why prospects should choose you over a competitor.

Your CV is an important document, and needs to be kept up-to-date to showcase the detail of your experience, companies worked for and projects you’ve been involved with. However, it’s no longer enough to secure new positions - your LinkedIn profile and activity needs to be considered and kept active. Hiring managers will look on LinkedIn after receiving your CV, but if your brand is strong enough, it’ll lead to headhunts and job opportunities coming to you before you’ve even had to use the document.

For contractors, when you are moving from company to company, you cannot rely on a set business to ‘carry’ your brand, so you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Yes, the fact that you’ve had experience and partnered with certain companies will assist in building your overall brand, but you need to do more to strengthen this.

If you’re operating outside IR35, it’s almost more important - you are operating as a ‘business entity’, so you need to reflect the standards, values and procedures a business would to build trust with a potential client.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) did a recent survey in which they asked freelancers to rate the importance of 15 different factors affecting the performance of their business, in categories ranging from significantly positive and slightly positive, to no impact, slightly negative and significantly negative impact. Coming up top was ‘my brand/reputation in the market’, with 61.9% rating this as 'significantly positive'. This re-enforces the importance of a personal brand, and it is great to see such a large proportion of the results really see the value.

A key tool for building your brand is LinkedIn. To stay ahead of the competition you need to take advantage of all aspects of your profile to really boost your brand.

Here are 12 quick wins to maximise your profile:

  • Upload a professional photo – consider who will be looking at this, if you wouldn’t represent yourself like this when meeting a potential employer, change it. Make sure you look approachable and friendly.
  • Upload cover photo - use the cover photo as an opportunity to boost your personal brand, show your expertise and make it immediately clear what you do.
  • Utilise the headline – make it clear what you do, your niche skills but make sure you keep it short and clear.
  • Set your LinkedIn profile public by checking “Yes” under Privacy Settings > Profile Visibility > On The Internet, so people can find you.
  • Add in certifications – demonstrate your expertise, stand out from the crowd and make sure you’re findable for recruiters and hiring managers looking for your skills.
  • Keywords – use them throughout your profile to drive your page to the top of peoples searches.
  • Use the summary as your elevator pitch to share your personal and professional motivations, skills and interests. It’s an opportunity to showcase your personality and passions outside of the dates and career history.
  • Content, content, content! Having a great profile isn’t enough, you need to demonstrate your expertise and become a thought-leader by sharing knowledge. This can be through articles, posts and sharing news stories. Make sure you comment and tag people to increase engagement and visibility.
  • Interact and engage with posts – comment, like and share – this will not only lead to conversation, but also boost your personal brand and position yourself as an expert. Make sure you engage with a range of people from influencers to peers, old colleagues and potential clients to reach a wide audience.
  • Join groups and be active within them!
  • Grow your network – connect with potential clients, peers met at events, and colleagues. You need your activity to be seen by the right people.
  • Ask for recommendations – according to LinkedIn, 92% of people trust non-paid recommendations and the same percentage trust those from peers. Not only that, having recommendations ranks your profile higher in search results, shows real credibility and gives a point of reference.

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