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Ask Haley: In Staffing, How Can I Build a Strong Personal Brand on LinkedIn?

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Q:

The following question was recently posted in ASA Central by the president of a Pittsburgh-based engineering staffing firm:

How can I build a strong personal brand on LinkedIn?

 

A:

Be intentional. And authentic. And use stories effectively!

Find out how below…

How can a staffing professional build a strong personal brand on LinkedIn?

First, be intentional.

Each person who is trying to develop a personal brand needs to think about how they want to be seen. Ideally, you’d get everyone together, discuss your company mission, vision, and values, and then help your salespeople and recruiters define their brands: how they want to be seen by others. An easy exercise is to ask people “How do you want your clients (or candidates) to describe you?” Hopefully, their answer is in alignment with your company’s values and brand.

I have a very good friend from graduate school, Chris Malone, who wrote a book called The Human Brand. The essence of the book is that the best brands have two components: warmth and competence. If you think about this, it fits perfectly for a recruiter or a staffing sales consultant. If I were an employer or job seeker, I’d want to work with someone who’s really good at what they do (competence), who knows how to work with people like me (competence), and who is likable and trustworthy (warmth).

Second, be authentic.

This may seem trite, but a personal brand should be, well, personal:

  • Posts should be about topics that matter to you.
  • The images and tone of the content should fit who you are.
  • If you are a person who cares about educating others, you should share a lot of educational content.
  • If you’re an individual who cares about helping people, your content should show people who have been helped (and their achievements, not your own – more on this in a second).

Look at someone like Gary Vaynerchuk or Simon Sinek or Adam Grant. All three have very strong personal brands. You may like them or dislike them, but all three have built incredible brands by sharing content that is very true to who they are, as individuals. And all three have generated tons of business because of the brands they have built. Now you or I may not be a Gary V., but if we build an authentic brand, we will attract people who share our views and values.

In terms of being authentic, there is a school of thought on social media that your posts should show your vulnerability. If you look at posts with the highest engagement, they are often when people share highly personal information. For me, that’s not who I am, so I don’t share things like this on social. It might get more likes, shares, and comments, but it’s not who I am. How about you? Would this strategy work for you and your team?

Third, tell stories.

When it comes to LinkedIn content, the most successful people share stories. In a great story, there is a hero, a villain, a challenge to be met, and a guide who helps the hero on his/her quest.

When it comes to social media, the best stories are when the client or candidate is the hero…and the salesperson or recruiter is the guide.

Maybe the hero is the client with a tough business challenge to be conquered…or the candidate who was struggling in their career. One of the great things about working in staffing is that you always have good stories to share!

Great stories can also be about personal experiences. How did it feel when you helped someone to get hired? What did you learn from that workshop you attended or that last client you served? Part of authenticity is sharing your observations of the world.

Fourth, use pictures and video.

Blogging (particularly long-form posts) are a great way to boost your staffing firm’s SEO, but for LinkedIn, your salespeople and recruiters are (probably) not going to write these. Let them use the tool they are most comfortable using: their voice. Everyone has a smartphone and a webcam, and most people are more comfortable talking than writing. LinkedIn makes it easy to create and share video content.

Fifth, make it easy for your team.

A few years ago, we came out with a software tool called NetSocial. It’s a tool designed to help teams share content on social media. The reason we created this tool was that we were constantly struggling to get salespeople and recruiters to share content on LinkedIn. Our clients had great content ready for sharing (blogs, job openings, etc.), but despite our cajoling, we could not get people to consistently share.

One strategy that will make content sharing easy for your team is to use social sharing software. This can provide everyone on your team with a consistent stream of company-approved content to share – and ensure that sharing gets done. For our team, this is how we share blogs, invites to webinars, and a lot of other educational content. For your team, you should provide a consistent stream of sharable content.

But don’t rely solely on automation. LinkedIn, and other social platforms, reward you for natively creating and sharing content. So, if you want a successful personal branding initiative, consider treating personal branding activities like you would treat cold-calling:

  1. Have a quota for activity.
  2. Help people create a monthly or weekly plan (so they are intentional about their goals and content).
  3. Give people time in their days to do the work.
  4. Check on the activity.
  5. Recognize and reward successes.

To recap, the best way for a staffing professional to their personal brand is to consistently and persistently share. To be intentional about what they want to accomplish and how they want to be seen. To be themselves and authentically connect with the people they want to reach. And then to use tools that support success in each of these areas.

Want to learn more about building a personal brand?

Watch: Personal Branding: Why It Is Essential for Salespeople and Recruiters (webinar)

Or, simply contact one of our marketing educators!

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