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Why LinkedIn is important for your personal AND professional branding.

I almost cried when I saw this for the first time.

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It’s really complex to wrap your head around how you can effect others through stories on social media platforms. As we become more in tune with who we are as we get into our 30s we use different platforms for different messaging.

LinkedIn used to be the platform that you forgot to add information to until you applied for another job. You scouted out companies and their employers before you decide to apply somewhere. And inevitably, you’d get messages from “acquaintances” who were in the insurance industry asking to have coffee so they could ask you for your business.

If you’re an insurance agent… DON’T DO THIS.

No longer is LinkedIn merely used in those ways. LinkedIn has become a community. A place where other business owners give and get information.

For example, a few weeks ago, I spent time writing a long form post that talked about the new person I just hired and how strange it was that she felt she had to tell me where she was at all times. She had come from a toxic work environment and I thought it was just asinine that she felt that way.

The post read:

I’m having an issue with one of my employees that I desperately am working to correct.

She’s a gem for our company but I have one serious issue...

She has been beaten down in her previous jobs. Her former employers have made her feel like she can’t be trusted and like she has to be accounted for every second of the day.

She felt it was necessary to text me to tell me where she was and what she was doing. Although I appreciated it, she didn’t have to do that.

She apologized profusely for being really ill and missing a day of work when she first landed her position...

This is crazy!!! I can’t believe there are still employers who instill so much doubt in their workforce that they APOLOGIZE for being sick.

This. Has. To. Stop.

Support your people, people. The problem with my new employee is not something that SHE did. It’s a culture she was exposed to that broke her spirit.

It is MY responsibility to help her grow, to allow her to make mistakes without being punished. It’s is MY responsibility to lift her up when she is trying to attain new goals. This is how you build valuable rockstars that do their best work. It is MY responsibility to trust my people until they give me a legitimate reason not to.

I challenge your company to do the same!

A post like this generated 147 Likes, 13 Comments and 5,262 views in 3 weeks. The comments were very lengthy, most relating to the employer because it is a very real situation.

LinkedIn is a place to use other connections as a sound board. It’s a place to post your experiences or get feedback on a situation. LinkedIn has become so much more than an “online resume,” it has become a platform for personal and professional branding.

Personal branding is a very important part of your career. Whether you work in a corporate community or as an entrepreneur, personal branding can make advanced moves for you. LinkedIn is ripe for this.

Let’s say you are one of those pesky insurance agents I was talking about. Let me give you a quick and dirty lesson in personal branding. When you directly contact someone on LinkedIn, cold turkey, your chances of getting through the barrier of entry are slim and it’s also irritating.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a “cold call” or a “cold lead” when you are communicating on LinkedIn. This begins with personal branding and translates into professional branding.

First, update your info. Make sure you have a nice headshot or at least a photo of your face that doesn’t have sunglasses on. Make your headline short and catchy and update all your information so that it is relevant.

Second, connect with who you know on LinkedIn. These connections should be people you could call on your phone, email and reach out to. Ask some of them for coffee just to catch up, VIA EMAIL, TEXT OR CALL.

Third, establish yourself as an expert with a twist. Before you go all ‘connection-crazy’, make sure you have some content worth reading. Post about real examples, excluding names and too many details. Find something that specifically relates to you personally and professionally and how those worlds collide.

Are you having a hard time transitioning with a new policy that is now in affect with the new year? Have you been in Panama City working with hurricane survivors? What are some true stories you can tell that are vulnerable for you but interesting and relatable to others? This should not be “salesy”, this should be readable and shareable.

Fourth ask your connections for a little help. You’ve connected with your friends, colleagues and coworkers on LinkedIn and you’ve taken a few to have coffee. Ask them for a little help. Ask them to endorse you for certain skills and ask them if they have contacts that would be good for you to connect with.

Last, connect with the warm lead. You’ve done your research. You’ve posted relevant and interesting content. Your profile has a catchy headline, a nice headshot and up to date information. You look like a pretty trustworthy individual who could be a great contact to personally know on a professional level.

Pro Tip: When you do meet with your new warm lead who will eventually become a customer, be ready to refer someone great for them to contact that would be a lead in their world. By having this ready, you are not only a contact, you are a resource!

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-Briana Snellgrove, CEO