BCCJ Event February 2019

Personal and Business Branding

Masterclass offers tips for online networking

With more than 600mn members, LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world. But in Japan, it is seen less as a place for networking and more for job seekers and recruiters. While this may be true, LinkedIn can be used in different ways and for reasons other than recruitment. Personal branding and marketing are important if you want to sell yourself or promote your firm, and there are few better platforms for doing so.

On 4 December, 2018, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan hosted a Mini Masterclass on LinkedIn led by Chris Reed, author of the number-one international bestselling books LinkedIn Mastery for Entrepreneurs and Personal Branding Mastery for Entrepreneurs.

At this event, Reed, who is the owner of one of the most endorsed LinkedIn profiles spoke about the importance of personal branding, promotion for your firm and how to get your LinkedIn profile in front of more people.

Sell yourself

“Nine times out of 10, when you Google some­one, their LinkedIn profile comes out on top,” he said. “LinkedIn has a relationship with Google, which means that the LinkedIn profile [ranks] higher than anything else”.

Reed emphasised four points that lead to the highest visibility:

  • Personal branding
  • Content marketing
  • Business branding
  • Social selling

A personal brand statement is important, he said, as it shows your brand values and position­ing, and is essentially a personal pitch to any potential client, employer or partner.

“Put your recommendations down, put your skills down, put your awards down … especially if you get endorsed by people,” he explained. “If people who actually know about the subject matter endorse you, it makes it more powerful. Put your accom­plish­ments, awards, organisations and publications down”.

He also talked about an element many people gloss over: the background image. This, he explained, is a premium advertising space where you can sell yourself”. This visual component extends to the overall layout and aesthetic of your LinkedIn profile. A professional profile photo, relevant background image and accurate, well-written biography work together to make a good first impression.

Content is key

Reed also talked about sharing. Regular updates on work, content, opinion and location to keep people engaged. “Put logos out there and ask, ‘What do you think?’,” he advised. “You’re asking a team of experts, professionals. So, use crowd sourcing. Share your passion for business content”. Engaging followers encourages comments and likes, and helps you get opinions from key people.

Video is another tool that is often overlooked. “Because you can watch videos on LinkedIn, you don’t need to leave the app. I can identify every single person who commented, liked and viewed my profile as a result of it”. He added that sharing photos of yourself and asking questions can generate views and traction.

“I was on the radio a few weeks ago in Singapore. The radio station is quite small, so I pre-promoted it, recorded it, then put it on LinkedIn,” Reed explained. “More people will actually hear my interview on LinkedIn than heard it on the radio station itself. Same with videos and podcasts—put them on LinkedIn”. If you go to conferences, put photos of the event—before, during and after—on your profile. Scenes of authen­tic people doing things in a real-life business context are powerful, he said.

Brand pages

In a surprise for some, Reed advised against having a LinkedIn profile for your firm. “Do not invest in this. It does not work. It is a waste of money. No likes, no comments, no shares”.

Individual employees should be using their own accounts to promote the firm and the work they are doing for it. Publications, media and videos can be posted on their LinkedIn profiles. Individual platforms generally get more traction, as the comments section is open while profiles of firms are more closed-off.

Reed also made it clear that social selling is one of the biggest things you can do on LinkedIn. “Don’t try and do sales on LinkedIn until you have your personal branding and content marketing,” he said. “That is why you tag people. If they like it and they comment, you get in to their feed and your audience then opens up. That is the great thing about LinkedIn—it is all about networking”.