Are Japanese Personal Brands LinkedIn?

LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with a current membership of over 135 million. Close to 60% of these members are located outside the US. The latest data shows that professionals are signing up to join at a rate that is faster than two members per second! Clearly LinkedIn has become an essential tool for professionals all over the world to network, share business expertise, find jobs, advance professional knowledge, and build personal brands.

Recently, LinkedIn has set up shop in Japan with offices in Tokyo and the inclusion of the Japanese language on its site from October 2011. For Japan, LinkedIn’s proposition is to focus on local professionals and students keen to build their true identities and personal branding for their careers as well as the ability to connect with a global network.

Japanese are not LinkedIn Enough!

Japanese are still not that familiar with it LinkedIn. In a recent presentation I gave to business management majors at a university in Japan I surveyed the room about their social media usage. Almost all students use Mixi, Japan’s original social network. 75% are on Twitter, about 50% on Facebook, maybe 15% on Google+, and absolutely 0% on LinkedIn. Out of a room of over 50 business majors, not even 1 person had a profile on the most powerful professional network in the world!

When I asked why, their answers ranged from not knowing how to use it to not even knowing what it is. Japanese university students about to graduate and current working professionals in Japan need to be on LinkedIn now more the ever. Global companies are actively using LinkedIn to find new talent in Japan, and head hunters throughout the country are sourcing experienced professionals on the network. My advice to any student and professional in Japan is to sign up for an account TODAY.

5 Tips to Brand Yourself on LinkedIn

Once signed up, here are 5 tips I share in Japan to effectively use LinkedIn to build and promote their personal brands.

1) Have a headline that sells an experience 

When people visit your profile the first thing they will see is your name and headline at the top of your “profile box”. This is the most visible part of your page and you want people to continue exploring your profile. People often fall into the trap of identifying themselves in their headline by a job title (“Accountant”) or label (“Business Major”). While this is a valid representation of what we do, it actually groups us into the same category as everyone else doing the same type of job or studying the same subject matter.

You have 120 characters to describe who you are. This is the first place to stand out. Consider your target audience and sell an experience not a title or label.  Instead of saying you are a “psychiatrist” tell others you are “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs who want freedom, wealth, and sanity.”

2) Get a Professional Headshot

Absolutely do not leave out a photo and make sure that the photo you use is professionally done. Take the time to invest in high quality headshots as you will use them everywhere. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional business network. Your credibility is at stake so avoid photos of at college parties or with groups of people where it is not clear which person is you!

3) Edit your LinkedIn URL to include your name

For example,

Do not overlook this critical branding point. Beyond the power of simply having a profile on LinkedIn is the fact it is highly optimized on Google. Once you adjust the URL to include your full name, your profile will always show up on the first page of your Google results. This presence on the first page of search results will reinforce your online brand identity so that opportunities do not pass you by.

4) Write your ‘Summary’ in the first person and tell a story

By using “I am….” or “My name is…” you are speaking directly to those looking for you on LinkedIn. While the summary is not immediately visible unless someone views your full profile, it is probably the most important area on your profile. Treat this summary box as if it were your ‘elevator pitch’. Convince the readers of your LinkedIn profile that you have something unique to offer. Differentiate yourself from everyone else who seemingly offers the same service or who have similar skills, experience, and background. Michael Margolis, founder of Get Storied, tells us that “character trumps credentials”. There is plenty of space to show your credentials in the ‘Experience’ section of your profile. Use the Summary section to tell your story and show your character!

Also, your name is a key word and by using it in your summary you are improving the appearance of your name and profile when other search for you online.

5) Ask for recommendations (and recommend others!)

Build your credibility and validation for your brand and experience by having people who know you well write recommendations on LinkedIn. Once you start adding people to your network, LinkedIn makes it easy for them to write you a recommendation. You also have the power to review the recommendation someone writes and decide whether to add it or ask for edits on what they wrote. As a student you can request recommedations from professors, classmates, internships or virtually anyone with whom you have shared an academic experience. And make sure to return the favor and write a recommendation for those who have taken the time to write one for you.


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About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+