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Gershbein: Stand Behind your Brand Promise on LinkedIn

I regularly speak about personal brand as our greatest asset in business.  In today’s wired world, clarifying, managing, and protecting it should be Priority One.  As we advance on foot in the real world, we are also leaving a digital footprint that allows others to form their own opinions about our products and services—and our ability to provide them.  These sentiments find their way into online conversations and, whether you’re actively involved or not, they’re taking place.

Internet Wars are raging, and the competition for mindshare is cutthroat.  It all comes down to—somehow, anyhow—getting noticed, asserting your value, and making memories about you, your company, and your product or service.  The search engines are congested.  Content is in abundance.  It can be a challenge—and an expensive one at that—to operate above the fray.  More and more professionals are taking the leap of faith and exploring the upside of a robust LinkedIn presence, a Facebook company page, a Twitter following, a blog, video marketing, and a vehicle that integrates the content.

LinkedIn achievers are superb micro-managers of their brand.  Knowing that the slightest nuance can influence the ways in which they are perceived, they carefully orchestrate every E-mail, blog post, tweet, phone call, and face-to-face meeting.  As content marketers, they go to extremes to ensure that they are not compromising their value proposition and are living up to their brand promise every day.

Success Secret #9:  Command your Brand™ in your LinkedIn Profile

In your LinkedIn profile, you are taken at face value, and first-time visitors—whether they’ve met you or not— can only intuit what you can bring to a possible engagement.  The extent to which you can Command your Brand™ has far-reaching consequences in your ability to generate actionable leads, facilitate engagements, and convert opportunities.  Once a favorable impression is made, and a certain authenticity is perceived, you can initiate, participate and ideate on LinkedIn, and really start to drive conversations.

In order to energize and elevate your personal brand on LinkedIn, you should:

♦ Cultivate a Digital Personality

In the physical world, we have weight and occupy space.  We are entities.  We comport ourselves in certain ways.  Our brands are built through observation and experience.  People migrate in and out of our professional network; some get to know us on some level; others, not at all.  We seek a sense of community and want to run with a crowd that likes us, “gets” us and can refer us.  We nestle into tribes, develop trust and rapport, gain favorable introductions to potential clients, and operate with a sense of purpose.  Eventually, we select key individuals with whom we want to move forward in business, and build equity into these relationships.

On LinkedIn, brand is created and bolstered through perception.  We start as a visual cue on a computer screen or a notion in the minds of others.  Somehow, that mental image gathers emotion, attitudes, feeling, and beliefs, and is converted into short-term memory which—when supported by fact—shifts into long-term memory.  For those who have a history with us, we want to reinforce a positive perception.  For first-time visitors to our LinkedIn profiles, we want to create awareness of ourselves and engage on some level.  The goal is to not sound robotic; instead, be authentic and relatable.  Let your business persona shine through the text.  The LinkedIn achiever is willing to share as much information as is relevant in order to increase the probability of a meaningful engagement.

♦ Be Congruent in your Actions and Content

We are all works in progress.  Much of how we brand occurs without our direct input and lies beyond our control. We can change our look, mode of apparel, communication style, even the type of handshake we give, and these all play into the ways in which we own our uniqueness.  Additionally, we can control the quality of the work product or deliverable and our level of focus in providing it, but we can’t predict the responses that we elicit in others.  Such is human nature.

On LinkedIn, style points count.  If you present in lackluster fashion, you will be perceived as such.  A polished LinkedIn presence keeps your network engaged and allows you to create an indelible, ideally favorable, impression.  Moreover, the content that you create for and generate through your LinkedIn profile—as well as that which you distribute off of LinkedIn—reflects your brand promise.  Of course you are “results-oriented.”  Naturally you deliver “unsurpassed customer service.”  Without question, you are “the clear choice.”  But to those researching you, these are unsubstantiated claims.  The burden of proof still rests with you in the real world.  It’s not until you’ve matched these perceptions with action that a personal brand begins to evolve.  Over time, your identity emerges, brand builds, and you stand for something.  You become real.

♦ Think of Yourself as an Iconic Brand

Iconic brands aren’t relegated to huge, global companies with stylized, sophisticated, geometrically perfect logos and 9-figure advertising and marketing budgets.  The beauty of LinkedIn is that it puts you and your company on the same playing field with these brands—with little or no spending.  With the right strategy, skill sets, and a little bit of good, old-fashioned confidence in your abilities, you get to play in the same park as the big dogs. LinkedIn achievers envision themselves as fully established brands, and implement and execute strategies that define, support, and amplify their brand promise.

What are the elements of your personal brand that make you indelible?

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