30x30x30 Blogathon Post #24: June 24th – Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is our featured expert for Day 24 of the Blogathon. I am so pleased to have Neal’s contribution as I regard him as a ‘zen master’ of social media. His blog is ranked in AdAge top 100 and he is considered by Forbes as a top 30 Social Media Power Influencer. His books on maximizing LinkedIn are incredibly useful and a must have for your reading collection. More importantly, at least in my mind, Neal and I share a common love and passion for Japan and Japanese culture. In today’s post he even connects his experience in Japan to his own personal branding approach.
Enjoy Neal’s post and see his special offer below!
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Your LinkedIn Brand = Your Online Persona
No matter how you plan to use social media to brand yourself for career and/or life success, you will be interacting with, and be seen by others, without having a chance to personally meet them. While corporate websites give us complete control over how we depict our corporate brands, social media sites like LinkedIn level the playing field for our personal brands by stripping away the design elements and simply presenting every user in basically the same way. Let me take this one step further and tell you that others may make decisions on whether or not they want to contact you for professional reasons based on how you’ve utilized your LinkedIn profile.
My ‘Japanese’ Approach to Personal Branding
An analogy that helps explain this has to do with business interactions I’ve had in Japan. I lived in Japan for 15 years, often representing foreign companies with little or no brand recognition in the market. When I went on a customer visit, therefore, everything I did represented not only my personal brand but also the brand aligned with my company.
- Did I take a meishi (business card) with two hands or one?
- At what angle did I bow when I was introduced?
- What was my body language when I presented to them?
- How quickly did I respond to their emails, and did I strive to use Japanese or fall back on my native English?
All of these little activities added up to create a larger picture of who I was and how I did business, which then shaped how they viewed me as a person and eventually how they saw the company I represented.
This is exactly why social media, including LinkedIn, requires a strategic approach for your personal brand. Regardless of how much “branding” you try to include on your professional profile, keep this in mind:
“Your actions and words online speak much louder about your brand than anything else.” Tweet This!
Don’t Clutter Your Brand Message
In addition to your actions and words affecting your brand, you really become what you tweet. If you are trying to showcase your experience and expertise in front of other professionals, you need to stick to discussing appropriate topics that help portray your personal brand in a positive light. There may be a time and place to talk about sports or family when you meet people in person, but on LinkedIn, these types of conversations are out-of-place and awkward. A professional’s goal when using any form of social media should be to share content that his target audience find useful, allowing him to become the expert “channel” for that type of information. If you post useful and engaging comments that are aligned with your career objectives, people will perceive you as being appropriately skilled and experienced. However, if you clutter your message with off-topic comments, you run the risk of losing your credibility.
This concept holds true for status updates (or tweets, for those of you who have integrated them into your LinkedIn profile), discussions in LinkedIn Groups, and all other public avenues for communication that exist on LinkedIn. For instance, it might be tempting to chime in on a controversial subject that has been brought up in a LinkedIn Group or a disputed question on LinkedIn Answers, but due to the fact that anyone on LinkedIn—and, for answers and open groups, anyone on the Internet—can view your responses, you need to remember to communicate “on brand.”
Treat LinkedIn with the same amount of respect you would treat a professional association meeting or industry convention and you will be on your way to building and enhancing your personal brand on LinkedIn, which will be optimized for your career success.
Special Offer: If you are interested in learning how to maximize LinkedIn for your personal brand, please make sure to download Neal Schaffer’s free e-book “30 Minutes to Maximizing LinkedIn” here.