Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
I love that quote. It’s simple, it’s true and it’s easy to understand. So here’s another idea that is simple, true and easy to understand. What you do on LinkedIn is part of your branding.
LinkedIn offers an incredible opportunity for business owners and other professionals to create a positive environment in which they can express ideas, respond to conversations and strut their stuff, all within a sphere specifically designed for them. What better way to brand yourself and, subsequently, your business? Yet some use LinkedIn the way they would use other social media outlets, such as Facebook. Have you ever seen any of this come through your LinkedIn feed?
- Poorly written articles
- Political rants
- Religious posts
- Sexual content
I’m betting at least one of your connections has circulated one or more of the posts I’ve described. So tell me. What’s your reaction?
I’ll tell you what mine is. “There’s someone I don’t want to do business with.”
It’s not that I’m a snob or that I’m inhuman. I’m not uptight, overly judgmental or irritable. I’m not anti-religion or pro-censorship. Here’s what this response is all about.
When I go to LinkedIn, I expect to be surrounded by professionals who conduct themselves as if they were in a physical, professional environment. When that expectation is not met, I don’t think poorly of LinkedIn. I think poorly of the person who made the inappropriate post.
There are certain things I just don’t want to know or need to know about the people I do business with. Sometimes when someone posts something I consider inappropriate, it’s a case of TMI. I just want to say, “You and I are not friends. We are colleagues. Please don’t overshare. It makes me uncomfortable.”
Most of us don’t want to be associated with people we think are doing the wrong thing. If you think your LinkedIn connection is being inappropriate, why would you want to remain connected, especially considering your other connections can see who you consider a credible professional? For better or worse, guilt by association is real. Do you want to take a chance of risking your reputation because someone you know posted a photo of a half-naked human or a gun rant?
What This Has to Do With Branding
Remember the quote, that branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room? What are people saying about you, based on your posts? If it’s something negative, your brand could be soiled.
So let’s turn this positive. Here are some ways you can boost your brand by using LinkedIn appropriately.
- Make thoughtful posts. Think about what you want to say, why you want to say it and how you want to say it. Even if your post is two sentences long, those two sentences can have tremendous impact on your brand. Find something meaningful that is truly worth sharing and spread the word about your discovery. Now people will associate your brand with intelligence and helpfulness.
- Write informative, interesting articles. Even if you think you don’t have good ideas, try your hand at publishing an article on LinkedIn. Talk about your industry. Offer some insight. Make some suggestions. (Get help if you need it.) There’s no time like the present to become a thought leader, and that’s a reputation that can support your brand.
- Take part in groups. LinkedIn groups present great opportunities to get involved in online communities of professionals who want to discuss specific, business-related topics. While a feed can give you a general platform to express your thoughts, a group can keep the conversation directed. Your input, if it’s good, will get noticed. Members will look at your profile, find out more about your business and draw conclusions about you. This is all part of brand building.
There are, of course, dozens of methods you can apply on LinkedIn to develop a positive brand, but starting with these three and practicing them consistently will get you headed in the right direction. Remember, when you log off LinkedIn, you want readers to spread the word about your business. Make sure it’s a good word.
Katherine Gotthardt, CEO of All Things Writing, has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. She focuses on content development and content marketing for small to mid-size businesses, writing and disseminating material that increases client visibility while supporting their brand.