People don’t buy your product, they buy you. You hear it a lot in sales, and in recruitment it’s especially true. Your clients and candidates are buying into who you are and what you represent.
The term branding used to be reserved for businesses or wider companies, even celebrities, but whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand. Everybody has one, but not everyone’s is developed to be a strength. As recruiters you have the opportunity to control your audience perception through what you’re posting on LinkedIn and how you’re communicating with your candidates and clients, and it’s up to you to take control of what your network perceive of you.
Define your personal brand
The first step in taking control of your personal brand is to understand it yourself. Think about the attributes you’d like people to associate with you, who you are, your skills, your personal goals and your core values or beliefs. This isn’t about crafting a persona, but taking elements of your personality that you can authentically build upon. Consider the message and ensure it’s consistent every time you’re posting or interacting on LinkedIn.
Set a solid foundation by writing a memorable profile before considering content. You have a canvas of 120 characters to paint a quick picture of who you are, and your summary to introduce your whole self, not just your work self. Have an angle that sets you apart from your peers, and avoid cookie-cutter bio templates.
Understand your audience
When developing a personal brand you have to identify your target demographic, understand what they want to see and curate your content and engagements. As recruiters a large percentage of your network will be passive candidates and clients, so solely filling your feed with exciting new opportunities won’t provide value to the majority of your audience. It’s not that you should never post your new roles, but think about the ratio compared to other content, or be imaginative with the ways you’re advertising them. See an article about advanced gene therapy and you happen to be working on a related role? That’s a great opportunity to share it, add your view and mention the role you’re working on.
Tailoring more content toward passive candidates or to clients can help you in the long term, and can set you apart from other recruiters if you’re reaching out to them in the future; think industry news, blogs, videos or updates from your clients.
Create a content micro-strategy
The key to maintaining your brand image is consistency, and on the surface it might seem a large task to ensure you’re remaining in your networks’ feed and adding value at the same time. You’re well used to working toward your KPIs, so think of the content you’re posting as a different target you’d like to hit. Say, over the next two weeks I’m planning to share four industry news articles, two blogs from my network, two of my colleagues’ job posts and two of my own. I can take this plan and apply it each fortnight, and even use a content scheduling tool like Buffer, who offer a great free plan, to queue all of the posts in one sitting. Maintaining a presence doesn’t mean you need to be sat on LinkedIn for 6 hours a day churning out to-the-minute industry developments; by defining a simple strategy and setting aside a small amount of time to compile your content, you can set a week’s worth of posts at your desk on Monday morning.
Engage with authenticity
You’ve decided what you’re trying to say, and have a strategy in place for how you’re going to say it; the hardest part is maintaining this and in turn developing a reciprocal relationship with your network. The interaction you have with your network should be a two way street, and that can’t happen if you’re only putting content out there. It’s important that you’re engaging with what you’re audience is discussing in order to develop an authentic relationship with your network, and it takes more than the occasional totally agree comment on a shared article. Adding an opinion to what someone in your audience is talking about can be daunting, but can help in boosting your industry knowledge and sparking interesting discussions.
Your network aren’t all candidates that are looking for their next career move, so tailoring all your content toward that demographic won’t garner long-term results. Developing and refining your personal brand and using your industry knowledge to inform that will help in building trust with your audience, and positions you as a valuable voice within your industry, making it easy for others to see the value of having you in their network.