The Who and the What in Your Professional Brand

August 14, 2014


From social media sites, to personal blogs and websites, there are numerous platforms to give individuals the power to be their own publicist.  For me, the central location purveying my professional brand is LinkedIn—and it all started three years before I worked here.

In my personal pursuit to establish a credible online presence, I knew it needed to start via a professional platform. In 2009, I ventured beyond my growing network of friends and family on Facebook and joined Twitter and LinkedIn, respectively.  For me, starting and growing my professional brand online was the opportunity to give the world a little piece of who I was, outside of an 8x10 piece of Resume paper.

Find your voice and a cheerleader or two

In my last blog post for LinkedIn, I briefly touched on my career path and the handful of people I’ve met in life which started with a conversation on social media.  Upon entering my senior year of College at Butler University, I began to think about what life would look like after College. I turned to successful Butler grads by starting conversations via Twitter and LinkedIn and targeted community leaders and business professionals for guidance. I wanted to uncover how to have a voice among my network, and grow meaningful professional relationships, which led to my introduction to, Chuck Gose. Chuck and I have remained connected over the years and I’ve always admired his strong professional presence. I recently asked him, how social media, specifically LinkedIn impacted his professional brand and Chuck professed, "Some people are daily LinkedIn users. And some are obsessed. I tend to lean toward the latter. I view LinkedIn as the window into my professional and personal career and the door to connect. An unforeseen surprise is the joys of seeing connections grow in their own careers.” He went on to say, "I'm happy to have my LinkedIn profile be the initial preview of what customers and painters can expect to experience working with me."

Since meeting Chuck nearly five years ago, we’ve become each other’s ‘social cheerleaders’. You might be asking yourself what is a social cheerleader (and yes, I just made this up)? To elaborate, a social cheerleader is an informal alliance of professionals who you can count on for at least three things:  view, like or comment.

Having never formally worked with Chuck, he’s still a member of my professional alliance and someone I’d feel comfortable going to for advice and guidance. Alongside finding social cheerleaders to help build your professional brand, Barbara Gilleran shared tips on optimizing your LinkedIn profile in a recent blog post . A few key takeaways from this post specifically is developing a strong headline and summary.

What makes you unique?

Ask yourself, how is your story different from the thousands of others in your field? For a year or two, my LinkedIn headline was simply “LinkedIn Storyteller”. It was different, engaging and gave people about a hundred different ways to interpret my profession. I recall various inMails I received from individuals wanting to connect simply because they were intrigued with my headline on LinkedIn.  From there, it’s important to create an engaging summary and show some personality. My summary starts off with, “I am a not your average twenty-something” – this phrase has never left my profile since I made it on September 2009.  Often the “twenty-something’s” are given a bad rap-- for some, this demographic is coined for being unsure of themselves and the direction of their lives, but I’ve always felt the exact opposite. I know who I am and the direction my life is heading personally and professionally which professes my maturity in a unique way.  This phrase has also resonated well with young adults entering into the workforce. Recently, I’ve been contacted by numerous upcoming DePaul graduates in Chicago who are seeking career path advice. One individual credited my “inviting profile” and referenced my summary, which gave her the boost of confidence to connect with me and ask for an informal meet up over coffee.

Investing in people and creating relationships that matter is just one way I’ve built my professional brand. Many individuals are also using their online professional brand to connect with high-potential prospects and business relationships. My roommate, Daryl Weinhoff uses LinkedIn to leverage her professional brand like it’s her job, because it is! Daryl works as an Account Executive for LinkedIn Sales Solutions and was the top performing sales rep for the first half of 2014. In planning this piece, I asked how her professional brand has played a role in her success and she spoke about her relevancy on LinkedIn.  “It’s a priority of mine to ensure my LinkedIn profile portrays my professional brand, so that way when I am engaging with senior level executives, they are able to see how I can impact their business initiatives.  After every conversation, I make sure to connect with the people I just met and ask for recommendations from customers to add to my LinkedIn profile. This allows future customers to have some frame of reference when doing business with my in the future.” Daryl also credits sharing content on LinkedIn has led to numerous interactions with individuals and strengthened her relationships.

Ultimately, how you scale your professional brand is up to you. My tips on finding your voice, a solid squad of supporters and highlighting your unique take on life are just a few action items to get started. Take charge of your life and expose your greatness!