Last week, I took my first business trip since 2018 to teach one of my dearest friends’ team of family lawyers how to brand themselves on LinkedIn. Lately, I have been talking to more and more people who are realizing that LinkedIn isn’t just something you use when you’re searching for a job. The team collectively couldn’t believe how much they could actually do on the platform, but they were understandably disappointed by some of its limits, as well.
LinkedIn makes it very easy for you as an individual to leverage all of the platform’s free features to gain exposure, craft messaging that resonates deeply with the kinds of people with whom you prefer to do business, and convert extended online connections into direct real-life connections. However, for businesses, unless you invest in advertising and premier packages, your company page remains more of an extension to individual profiles rather than vice versa. That’s just fine for a company focused on relationship management, since it’s the people that form relationships that then extend the company brand.
In a world where customer service norms include maze-like automated phone menus that never seem to understand your request, the most obvious way to stand out is to promote your front-line customer-facing employees and service providers as your company’s celebrities.
I find that people, by nature, are dynamic. The way I used to describe branding in the first decade of my business might have made it sound as if we have to file down the dimensions of people to fit into a shape that their audience, be them investors, partners, shareholders, stakeholders, vendors, employees, or clients, would easily recognize. However, the opposite is really true – the more dimensions of yourself you demonstrate through your online profiles, the more a variety of people will relate to and resonate with you. These will be people who align with your values, pending your values are also embedded in your content. Not knowing exactly how to do this is the problem my clients solve when they engage me.
I have had clients come to me to brand their LinkedIn profiles when they are pursuing fellowships, wooing investors, applying for an exclusive membership, proposing to be a speaker, or being considered for an industry award. They have also come to me when they want to build or deepen a myriad of relationships.
My suggestion that they show vulnerability and authenticity usually triggers some fears, particularly for those who prefer to stay anonymous and safe. There would definitely be legitimate reasons for some companies with many angry customers (everyone has more now than ever) to keep anonymous the people who receive and fail to resolve customer issues. Still, if a competitor felt more certain they could better care for those customer complaints and presented their customer care members as real, accessible people who genuinely care, imagine how easy it would be to capture those customers. Then the work becomes about delivering the utmost service, converting those customers into raving fans of your company, and leveraging the word of mouth and testimonials of happy customers to gain more, which is significantly less expensive than advertising.
If you read this and think, well, what if we invest in the personal branding of our team members and only make them more attractive as prospective employees to our competitors, then you likely have insecurities about your ability to retain your employees. Additionally, those insecurities are manifesting in ways that make it even more likely your people will flee, and you should probably engage a leadership coaching firm (like us) to help you retain your employees in more conscious ways. Keep in mind, when you celebrify your client-facing support and service employees AND your company brand demonstrates its authenticity, attracting talent is that much easier.
Less obvious people in your workforce to brand on LinkedIn than the people who represent your business to prospective clients and partners are the people who liaise between departments and depend on gaining alignment between them to achieve large-scale corporate initiatives. Even vendors give better deals to people with whom they have better relationships. Really, anyone in your company who relies on relationship management to achieve results will benefit from branding themselves on LinkedIn.
In the workshop I did last week, I guided the team through a mediative journaling exercise to help them identify their unique qualities and strengths, since I didn’t have 90 minutes to spend with each of them to uncover them myself and craft branding points. Then I guided them in where and how they can create meaningful, specific content that expressed and demonstrated these qualities and strengths, along with the outcomes that they produce. I showed them why and how to curate their home feed so that it was easier to quickly hop on LinkedIn to get and give value. I showed them how to write a LinkedIn connection invitation message that gets accepted 54%+ of the time and how to follow that up so that their network grew organically with people who had a high probability of converting from an online acquaintance to a fast friend, to a long-term ally. I showed them how to measure their effectiveness and make adjustments if they were not receiving quality invitations from the increased views of their profile. There were also some tips on how they can still get incredible brand expansion by using features that LinkedIn doesn’t do as well as other platforms, like groups and hashtags.
The feedback that I received was that, while they may have avoided LinkedIn before, they were energized by the possibilities now. They walked away excited to utilize the platform to help the firm as it launches support programming for clients as a supplement to legal services, so that they can get their clients on the other side of their legal challenges and into a new, better life. You’d probably be surprised by what you can do on LinkedIn. Want to know more? Schedule a consultation.
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Karen Huller, CEO of Epic Careering, is the co-founder of The Consciousness Conference (ConCon) and the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op community on LinkedIn. She is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a conscious career and leadership development firm specializing in executive branding, talent-values alignment, and conscious culture, in 2006.
While the bulk of Mrs. Huller’s 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.
Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
Mrs. Huller was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.
She serves on the board for the Upper Merion Community Center, which she helped establish, and is an advisor to Florida International University for their Women in Leadership program. For her service as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. Mrs. Huller has also been the lead singer for Harpers Ferry, a rock cover band, for 20 years. She lives in King of Prussia, PA with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.