We all know that your organization’s branding is important, but what about your branding? Personal branding has become an important piece to the career puzzle, especially for those in—or on the path to—senior leadership. Building your executive profile is a crucial part of developing trust and establishing credibility. This helps you impress investors and instill confidence in the organization. However, the majority of executives don’t take advantage of building their brands through the channels that mean the most to their audiences. Often, when someone thinks about building their professional brand, they think about becoming a published author or keynote speaker. While these are great tactics, they can take up a large amount of time and effort, and opportunities can be few and far between. In recent years executives have been turning to social media and other online platforms for a more accessible and consistent means of growing their personal brand. Thus, the executive profile was born. It includes all of the professional profiles you have on social media, most commonly, LinkedIn. It is a key platform for building a professional profile because, with over 706 million members in 200 countries and regions worldwide, LinkedIn is an extremely powerful business network. Each user can have up to 30,000 connections and unlimited followers, so it works well for executive team members who play a role in company relations.
4 Reasons You Should Build Professional Profiles.
LinkedIn has been a key driver in professional network building since its creation, but why should executives care about their presence on the platform? Why is it worth their time? We have four great reasons to get you started.
It can be difficult to maintain professional relationships, but they are extremely important to your success in any industry, even more so if you work in a B2B focused organization. Many executives are already so busy; it can be easy to let relationship management fall to the side. Having a well-maintained executive profile can help reduce the amount of one-on-one attention necessary for some connections. If you are consistently popping up in their feeds and providing timely, topical, public content, they will be reminded of your value, and it will be easier to reach out when you can.
The greater presence you have online, the greater opportunity you will have to be discovered. The more that you share your content, the more it will gain traction. One of the greatest opportunities on LinkedIn is to have your content shared by connections, quickly expanding your network reach. If you’re active on the platform, your content will gain more engagement, which will bring it closer to the top of people’s feeds, and have it featured in more discover pages.
Growing Your Network
Having a good executive profile is a key piece of getting prospects to turn into connections. If you don’t have a solid foundation, the people you reach out to or share your information with may not make the jump to further the relationship. When you connect with another professional in person or online, their first step is often to look you up on social media, LinkedIn being the first. If your profile isn’t enticing, the relationship may end there, but if your profile can leave a lasting impression, it can become a lifelong partnership.
Gaining Trust and Credibility
Your executive profile can lead to opportunities beyond connecting with prospects. Having a solid online presence will make you discoverable by professionals offering mutually beneficial relationships looking for credible, trustworthy sources. This includes journalists, reporters, and writers to contribute an opinion or interview for a topic in your industry. This also includes competitors or other industry executives who can reach out when they need a partner to pass opportunities beyond their company’s abilities. The more credibility you can foster through your executive profile, the easier pitching yourself for opportunities will be.
Although it’s a good idea for any professional to build their online profile, it’s especially important for company executives to have a professional presence online. CEOs, presidents, business owners, and other high-level executives are often looking for ways to earn more recognition and build a professional brand—even if you aren’t at the top of the corporate ladder, it’s still valuable to work on yours. Your profile online will influence a new business you can bring to the company, as well as future opportunities for your professional growth. An executive brand defines who you are, what you contribute, and what you want to accomplish—so you can make a memorable impression.
While the mediums you choose to use to build your executive profile should coincide with the platforms your intended audience uses, LinkedIn is the best first step. It’s a platform that is already intended for professional connections, so the type of relationship you are trying to foster is the norm. If you’re just starting to build a professional presence online, it’s the place you should start. A solid foundation on LinkedIn is necessary before branching out to more unique platforms. However, other platforms can also be of benefit in addition to LinkedIn if they are viable ways to reach your stakeholders and prospects. Twitter is another popular platform due to its large-tech, business, and finance followings. Instagram is also sometimes used for professionals in the entertainment, hospitality, and events industries.
If you’re exploring LinkedIn for executive profile building, you’ve likely asked yourself: do I need LinkedIn Premium? It really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your profile on the platform. There are four tiers to LinkedIn Premium, including Career, Business, Sales, and Hiring. For the purposes of building an executive profile, Sales would be the best fit. Some of the benefits of having Sales Premium are:
· 30 InMail messages
· A standalone sales interface
· Advanced lead search with filters
· Ability to who’s viewed your profile
· Unlimited browsing
· Alerts and insights
· Access to LinkedIn learning courses
If you’re serious about your executive profile building on LinkedIn, it might be worth looking into Premium, but it’s definitely not needed to get started.
Before you can start cultivating a personal or professional brand, you need to have a clear picture of the identity you want to create and what you want your audience to think and feel about you based on your profile. This is going to be a mix of your personality, your current company, and the needs of your audience in that industry. What do you want this profile to foster? Decide if you need to focus on credibility, professionalism, ethics, creativity, or something else. Look to other influential executives and leaders in your industry and get an idea of what it takes to be respected in your field—it will help give you a better idea of what skills, traits, and accomplishments you should focus on.
You want your profile to be consistent and authentic. Your brand needs to reflect who you really are and what you stand for. Start with the basics:
· Recognizable headshot
· Quality cover image
· A confident headline
· A concise and updated summary
· Up to date experience, board, and volunteer sections
Part of cultivating a professional brand requires interacting with your audience online. This includes liking and sharing other content, as well as commenting on useful pieces of opinion and advice on other users' posed questions and comments. Use hashtags, and follow topics on LinkedIn to get curated content that you can engage with daily. In order to stay on top of this, it’s important to set engagement goals for yourself. Decide how much time you’ll spend each day dedicated to looking through your profile and managing community engagement.
Not Delivering Compelling Content
Building your executive profile requires you to position yourself as an expert in your industry. The amount of content shared on the platform is increasing, up nearly 50% year-over-year in June 2020. This means it’s important to put out quality content to cut through the noise. To do this, you’ll need to create some original content that should offer some sort of value to your audience. It should be educational, informative, or thought-provoking. You can’t be entirely self-serving while building your professional brand; the content that you put in can’t always have the one purpose of informing your audience about yourself or your company. For content to help build your executive profile, there has to be some sort of value-added to it beyond just announcements (although those are important too). Think of the content you’re creating—the insights, knowledge, and advice—as the benefit that your audience gets from your online relationship. If writing isn’t your thing, you can opt for other types of shareable content like presentations that you can publish to SlideShare or recordings of your public speaking events.
Not Planning or Strategizing Your Online Presence
As an executive, you’re always going to be too busy to dedicate the time you need to build your profile. It’s an easy excuse to let things go or put them off for too long. If you don’t have a content plan or strategy in place for your online presence, it can be very reactive, and take a lot of in-the-moment inspiration, thought, and creativity. This leads to less quality content and more stress on yourself, eventually making your profile a difficult thing instead of a fun one. Get a strategy and at least a rough content plan in place so that you have a guide to keep your focused, on track, and on time. It will save you a lot of headaches down the road and streamline your LinkedIn content, leaving more room for discovery,
Not Evolving Your Executive Brand
If you’re innovating your business, you also need to innovate your profile. This means being timely with updates your bio when language, details, and role descriptions become outdated. Taking on new tasks at your company, joining a board, and volunteering in the community should all be promptly added to your LinkedIn profile as it happens. You should also be keeping your headshot up to date and current—Have you changed your hair? Started wearing glasses? Relocated to a new office or city? Keeping your profile picture and header images reflective of your current look and environment is important to stay true to your personal brand, making it easier to sell to stakeholders. It also offers additional touchpoints for connections to notice your profile again.
On an executive profile, you’ll want to share content that both celebrates your achievements and provides value and thought leadership to your connections. Some popular types of content on the platform for executives are:
One of the first places to look for content is yourself. It’s important to have a mix of original and shared ideas on the platform. Start by brainstorming any pieces you’ve written or potential ideas that would be good to share.
Take some time each day to scroll through your LinkedIn feed. If you’re following other industry leaders, organizations, and media outlets, you’ll stumble upon a lot of relevant content to re-share here. Explore trending hashtags and see if any of the content is relevant to your audience.
Twitter is a good resource for timely trending industry news. Set up alerts for certain hashtags related to your business or check in on the trending hashtags for your area. Setting up lists of accounts can help you organize your content interests on the platform, and a lot of it will transfer well onto LinkedIn.
Find some of your favorite news sources, from traditional media outlets to online publications and even some podcasts, and check to see if they have a newsletter you can sign up for. This way, you get their top tier content delivered to your inbox, saving you time sifting through all of the new news on each.
Content Discovery Tools
There are a lot of tools online, some free and some for a small subscription fee, that will help you find relevant content to share on your profile. This can also help you find inspiration, discover industry trends, and keep an eye out for competitors’ content. While just a manual Google Search or Twitter Trending dive can provide some insight into popular content, it can be very time-consuming. These tools take some of the work out of content discovery by showing you more catered, relevant content based on your needs: