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By Ronald Neef

Building a personal brand using LinkedIn

According to its site, LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries around the globe,” a number that has grown from 37 million users in the first quarter of 2009. Those who regularly use this social media platform are well aware that it connects professionals by giving them access to each other, jobs, news, updates and other resources.

There is arguably no social networking site (SNS) more important to establishing and maintaining a professional identity than LinkedIn. Unfortunately, there are those who underestimate the potential that LinkedIn has for brand-building and, therefore, under-utilize it. Simply setting up an account is not sufficient for gaining the maximum benefits LinkedIn has to offer. In order to build a strong brand on LinkedIn, the account should include a detailed profile, compelling content that engages the visitor, a reason for those visitors to interact with the account owner and a reason to come back to the account again and again.

Here, then, are factors to consider when developing and maintaining an engaging LinkedIn account.

Take inventory

Effective use of social media requires an honest analysis of the personal brand: What the person behind it stands for and who that person truly is.

For an existing account, conduct a critical review of the profile. Is it dated? Does it accurately reflect the mission of the brand and the personality of the person or company behind it? If the answer to any of these is no, it is time to revamp the profile.

Post a professional photo

As the saying goes, there is no second chance to make a first impression. A photo that is unprofessional or otherwise off-putting is unlikely to convince someone to connect with the person it shows thereby rendering the account virtually useless.

Identify the target audience

Find your key audience, then employ keywords regarding the profession or industry those individuals are likely to search on the internet. A LinkedIn account is not an advertisement; it is an opportunity for an individual to demonstrate that he or she has something unique to offer. Use of the right keywords is essential.

Link to your content

No matter how polished the page and no matter how resourceful or entertaining the content, the account will be of limited use if it does not include a call-to-action – something that turns information into interaction. Links to articles, blog posts or other published work and association (or other group) memberships are all tools to turn consumers into customers/clients.

Join LinkedIn groups

The more LinkedIn groups one joins, the more potential connections one makes and the greater the opportunity for an individual to gain widespread exposure of their personality, professionalism and expertise.

Build your brand

A LinkedIn account that does not post news or refresh content on a regular basis does not give people a reason to come back. For a personal brand, this spells doom.

Personal branding is vital to business success. There is arguably no better social media tool for building a brand than LinkedIn.

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