Build Your Personal Brand (Series Part 1)

By Asha Aravindakshan, SFMBA ‘17

As an alumnae whose professional career is based on amplifying impact, I know how important personal brand is, as the foundation for your digital career toolkit in a networked job search. Before you can get digital tools, like LinkedIn, to work for you properly, you need to establish your reputation in your field. Your reputation shows that you have the experience and credibility to help others; it shows you as a leader. Your reputation is key, especially if you are looking to take on a bigger role, switch companies or industries, or grow a business.

You share your brand in a number of ways: through your LinkedIn profile, your social media activity and other online presence; and also through your elevator pitch, your resume, and every networking interaction.

You might already have a brand. Is it one you’ve thoughtfully crafted? If not, it’s time to think about it!

First Impressions

Let’s start with your digital presence. Take a moment to search for yourself online.

When I type “Asha Aravindakshan” into the Google search bar, it takes .55 seconds for the results on the first page to appear in this order:
• my LinkedIn profile,
• my Twitter profile,
• various versions of my biography appearing on event websites for speaking engagements,
• my Instagram profile, and
• my Facebook profile.

I’m guessing that your search results page looks similar to mine, but maybe the social media profiles order is slightly different based on how often you post to them. The exciting part of this discovery is that you control the content on these social media profiles and in turn, on your search results pages.

Who Are You?

You had a chance to explore what the Internet thinks you are. Is this you? Is there anything you want to be known for that is missing? Think about both your technical knowledge and who you are as a person. What differentiates you? Who are you as in individual and a team member?

Some of these elements of your brand you should state explicitly – like your skills, expertise, and specializations. Other elements, such as your personality or approach to your work, might come across in your photo, background, professional videos, career headlines, and the work experience you choose to share, as well as how you position it. Think about your brand as you build any profiles, bios, resumes, and career stories – are you sharing the details that help others understand the value you bring to your network?

Don’t worry if you’re still figuring out your brand. Your personal brand will change over time and you can re-brand. Just keep on top of it! Revisit it quarterly to see if there are opportunities to show increased credibility in the areas and skills where you’ve developed expertise.

In a June 2017 article for Inc., leadership expert Lolly Daskal writes “Credibility is, in a way, a higher bar than success. It means others look at you as a reliable resource and decision maker.” We have larger networks than ever before, with more changes and job shifts among them. Help your network see and stay in touch with your value!

Start with Your LinkedIn Profile

Let’s put some of your branding exploration into practice! The most important digital tool for showcasing your transferable skills is your LinkedIn profile.Setting up your LinkedIn profile is straightforward, especially since LinkedIn has a “Add profile section” wizard that guides you through each section to populate your profile and earn an “All Star” badge. The top five main sections to complete are About, Experience, Education, Volunteer Experience, and Skills.

As you complete these sections, remember you are more than just your job and your education. By populating the additional sections, you have a well-rounded profile that shows the profile viewer who you are as a human being. Be sure your About section – for example – demonstrates your interests, passions and achievements in your own words. Use it to connect the dots between non-linear experiences, highlight the skills that you are proud of, and show off your personality.

For jobseekers, a complete profile is essential. LinkedIn can help you to reinforce the personal brand that you want to establish (or re-establish) and get you in front of recruiters searching on the platform. It can also set you up for success with the one-step “easy apply” button on the job postings available in its job board. This spring, make it your goal to have a complete, up-to-date profile that positions you well for your future career.

See you next week!

This blog is Part 1 of a three-part series where I will also share tips for your Elevator Pitch and Business Networking.

Learn more about your Personal Brand in Making LinkedIn Work for You – featuring Asha Aravindakshan, SF ‘17 on the MIT Sloan Alumni YouTube channel.

This excerpt is from Skills: The Common Denominator by Asha Aravindakshan, SF ‘17, which will be published by New Degree Press in August 2021. You may pre-order the book from IndieGoGo.

By MIT Sloan CDO