Personal branding seems to be the buzzword of 2020. This may be partly because of the higher number of people working from home. Over the past few months, many users have had to find “contactless” ways to continue to win new business and establish contacts. How did they do this? Via social media platforms!
People prefer to follow people rather than brands
Many people have established a personal brand on the LinkedIn and Xing business platforms in order to interact with others and ultimately to generate new business. In her blog post, my colleague Viktoria Kux has already clearly illustrated why personal branding is not only important for senior executives and the self-employed – and why people prefer to follow people rather than brands.
Becoming a brand
It is now common for people to talk about companies and products online, thus shifting the focus on to individuals. But how can an individual become a brand?
First, let’s look at the areas that turn an individual into a brand. There are three aspects to consider: your own profile, your shared content and your own network.
Your personal brand is formed by the intersection of all three of these “opportunity areas”.
- 1. What added value do I provide as a personal brand, and for whom (target audience)?
- 2. How visible am I?
Added value and target audience
Be focused when considering the first question. Simply note down what your goals are, what your strengths are and which target audience you want to reach. Summarize these aspects in two to four sentences.
Ask those around you, such as work colleagues, business partners or customers: What are the things that set me apart? What would you recommend me for? External observers can often offer a different perspective and highlight strengths you might never have considered before. By doing this you can steadily create added value.
As an example, an engineer with a background in computer science who is responsible for IT security at TÜV Rheinland would like to establish himself as an expert in cybersecurity for industrial plants (operational technology, or OT for short) over the next few years. His strengths are a large network both inside and outside TÜV Rheinland, an array of well-known companies in the sector that he has already worked with, and ten years of professional experience with a utility company. He holds various certifications in the area of IT and cybersecurity, including CISSP, CISM, CRISC, ITIL and ISO 27001. He can also analyze complex issues quickly and communicate them in a clear and comprehensible way. As a result, he is often invited to participate in panel discussions and gives presentations on OT security. His first priority is always to find an efficient solution. His target audience consists of security experts for industrial plants as well as CEOs and members of senior management at large and medium-sized companies who use the LinkedIn platform.
This results in the following summary
“As an expert in OT security with a large network and many years of experience within the sector, I can convince IT security professionals to protect their industrial plants against cyberattacks and prevent significant economic losses. After all, the losses resulting from a cyberattack are much higher than the investment in lasting cybersecurity.”
The aim of the question, “How visible am I?” is first to work out what content you can produce to get your message across to your target audience. You should also actively “network” and constantly expand your community. It can also be very useful to simply formulate two or three messages that you can slip into your communication. For example, for our OT security expert these topics might include:
a) Industry 4.0 – opportunities and risks of interconnecting the entire value chain
b) Digital transformation must be conceived in combination with cybersecurity.
c) Making cybersecurity a top management priority is a major key to success.
Defining these points makes it easier to create content for your own brand. With this in mind, you can write a blog article or link to a specialist article, comment on it and share it with your network. Alternatively, you can simply select company articles to publish on social media. Add a short comment and discuss them with your contacts – the important thing is that the article is relevant to your followers. This relevance is rewarded with interaction with your content, which in turn increases your visibility.
Joining groups for different specialist fields on LinkedIn and Xing also draws attention to you as an individual. You can simply take part in discussions, ask questions or provide answers.
These “small” steps help to raise awareness of your personal brand within your network. You could even end up being invited to discussions, interviews or conferences that are communicated and hosted exclusively via business platforms.
Stick at it
Building a personal brand requires hard work and patience – but that’s not all. You should also invest a little enthusiasm and be passionate about your issues. The more authentic you are and the more personality you put into your posts, the more attention you will attract. Hard work pays off! Stick to your task, steadily grow your network and you will become an ambassador for your area of expertise. Talking of ambassadors, at TÜV Rheinland we are currently working on our own brand ambassador program and will also be offering training sessions on personal branding, content creation and social selling.
5 tips for extending your reach on LinkedIn
When will you get started? We have five tips for you to make sure your content reaches a wider audience: (Publishing LinkedIn posts on personal profiles):
- Don’t use any external links – LinkedIn penalizes you by restricting your reach if you add external links to your posts that direct users away from the platform. It is better to add the link in the first comment.
- Post interactive content – it is better to use “carousel posts” (with several images that readers “click through”), video posts or polls. LinkedIn rewards interaction with reach.
- Encourage users to comment and react with brief sentences instead of a simple like. LinkedIn rewards these efforts with an increased reach.
- The first 60 minutes are crucial. If plenty of users consume the content, it will be passed on to other LinkedIn members.
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete. LinkedIn acknowledges this by improving your profile’s reach.
Social Media Manager
At work, she analyses everything that TÜV Rheinland reveals on the WWW and Social Net. At home, she keeps her children in the picture. Because her son and daughter always come first. When she has time for herself, she enjoys French films or meets with friends.
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