If you have a LinkedIn account, you have a brand statement. But does it make you easily discoverable and motivate others to connect?
by Mel Carson
Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications
If you’re reading this, you likely already have a personal branding statement: If you have a LinkedIn account, for instance, you have a branding statement. But, is yours the kind of summary that makes you easily discoverable and motivates others to reach out and connect?
Maybe yes, but maybe no.
A strong personal branding statement is connected to your professional purpose, or the reason you do what you do. While your professional purpose serves as an internal compass, pointing your passion in the right direction, a personal branding statement is above all your calling card.
It’s the first impression of you that you offer on paper and the thing on which many will base their “Do I engage or not?” decision.
So, yes, your branding statement is a big deal. It’s a living statement about you, your passions and your capabilities and should therefore be written with thought and care. But, honestly, for all that’s riding on crafting a strong branding statement, it’s not that hard to do.
Here are five quick ways to make sure yours stands out in a crowd.
Move beyond your professional purpose.
Do you have a professional purpose? A statement that describes the why behind your work? If you don’t, that’s step one. A personal branding statement combines your purpose with some relevant data about your professional world to accurately describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. To gather that data, take a few minutes to free-write about the following:
> Your education experience
> Your work experience
> What you love about what you do
> What you find hard about what you do
> Where you want to be in three years
Here's the formula: purpose + data = personal branding statement.
Pull out the mission.
This is your opportunity to be bold and clear about what direction you want your career to go in. Look at all the information you’ve written down and use it to flesh out a mission -- this should be a powerful sentence or phrase that tells people who you are.
Your mission sentence can be helpful for two reasons: It serves as a personal reminder to you and carries with it an element of accountability, but also helps prospective employers or clients quickly assess if you’d be a good match or not.
Identify your value.
Within your personal branding statement, identify your professional value.
A subjective term, this "value" could be described in the following ways: your experience, industry expertise, noteworthy clients, education level and personal passion.
At this juncture, I would encourage you to take a moment and empathize with prospective clients, customers and employers. What would be a strong value indicator in your field of work? What are they looking for? Don’t be fictitious, of course (an immediate career killer); but do be choosy. Include points of value geared toward both your professional career goals and your industry niche.
Sounds simple, right? Be real, be you, but it's it one of the hardest things to do. Writing about ourselves is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to find the right balance between not saying enough and saying too much. Here are a couple of pieces of advice I would offer toward the goal of being real:
Avoid the fluff and stay away from fancy claims you can’t back up. They will bite back.
Stay away from buzzwords. (Here’s a list of words to avoid in your LinkedIn profile.) They will do the opposite of what you intended.
Be self-aware and write a statement that accurately reflects your experience, passions and capabilities. Simplicity is OK. Short statements are, too.
Here’s an example of my own personal branding statement broken down: “Focusing on helping businesses and individuals achieve success through enduring social media, digital PR and personal branding strategies …”
Next, I put the customer (my target audience) first and mention my fields of expertise: “My 18 years of online advertising industry experience and seven years at Microsoft as digital marketing evangelist, enable me to provide counsel to my clients that is truly relevant, robust and real-time.”
Notice that I make sure to draw attention to my seven years at Microsoft (a value indicator) and state my mission: “Always striving to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of digital media and technology, I aim to improve my clients’ competitive position through partnership, tenacity and accountability.”
I continue on about my mission, but also describe my aim for achieving clarity, using my own words without sounding over-stated.
Revisit the statement on a quarterly basis.
Your personal branding statement should grow with you. As you rise in your career and work with new, interesting clients, take on new projects or learn a valuable skill, your personal branding statement should reflect those changes. I would encourage you to revisit it every three months or so to double-check that your purpose, mission and values still ring true in the present day.