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LinkedIn and Building Your Own Brand

By Glynn Young, APR, Fellow PRSA
Communications Director, PRSA St. Louis 

With all the attention paid to organizations in the digital world, the recent Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (“Rise of the Digital Native”), hosted by UMSL Business and PRSA St. Louis serving as a sponsor also gave more than a casual nod to what individuals can do for themselves in the digital space. 

Ben Zuckerman, a financial advisor at Edward Jones, focused attention on LinkedIn (which this week announced it now has 500 million users) but noted that the same lessons apply to all digital platforms. He cited four steps. First is building a foundation, he said. “Think Kevin Bacon and the degree of separation,” and you may be more connected than you think. He also said to pay attention to “superconnectors” on LinkedIn – people with 500+ connections. 

Step 2 is branding yourself. “Be a knowledge leader in your space,” Zuckerman said. “Create valuable information and share it in your category.” Content is key and needs to be considered and developed for sharing across different platforms. “Schedule, share, analyze, adjust” is the process for creating content. 

Third is finding your ideal client or connection. “Start with who you know,” he said. “Think abstractly – where is my ideal connection right now?” He recommends “geo-targeting” through search and simple exploration. And then “hyperfocus” your message around your area of expertise. 

Step 4 is move from technology to reality. Zuckerman suggests writing a script for face-to-face meetings, including how you break into someone’s day and get an appointment. 

A panel discussion on “Building Your Own Brand” had some related insights and advice. The panel included Brianna Smith of TeraRecon; Angela LaRocca of Unidev; Marisa Lather, a digital strategist and speaker; Mich Hancock of Monkey Media; and Vernon Ross, a digital strategist. Ross moderated the panel by asking a series of questions. 

How do you distinguish your personal brand from your company brand? The short answer is – it’s difficult if not impossible. “You have to ‘proefessional-ish’ all the time,” said LaRocca. 

What do you do if you’re introverted or shy? Find your tribe. Find a person to fill your void and be that person for someone else. 

How many social networks should you engage in? “As many as you can manage.” 

What about politics? “What you post is authentic you,” said Hancock. “Be careful of political craziness – it’s not you.” 

How do you measure progress on building your brand? Start by asking what’s your goal, and write down your desired outcomes.

Related: The 4th Disruption, or How Not to Lose the Future

Photograph by Angela Franklin via Unsplash. Used with permission.

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