As part of your personal brand communications plan for executive job search, you need to build social proof.
In this, the final part of my 4-part series The Personal Branding Manifesto, we’ll take a close look at some little-used ways and places to build social proof.
Check out the first three parts:
By now, most job seekers should be aware of the well-known places to build their brand and online presence – LinkedIn, a personal website or blogsite, Twitter, other social networks, etc.
The first two tips below focus on LinkedIn, but I’m suggesting ways to use LinkedIn that you probably are not taking advantage of.
3 Little-Used Strategies to Build Social Proof for Your Personal Brand
1. Add Video to LinkedIn and Your Other Social Networks
Not many job seekers are using video at all for job search and career management. It’s a shame. They’re missing out on the opportunity to showcase their subject matter expertise and personality in a way that flat content can never do.
Videos are also much, much better at building online presence than plain content. If you’ve read the preceding parts of this series of 4 posts, you know that candidates with a strong online presence are more appealing to hiring professionals.
Since so few job seekers use video for personal branding, think how much you’ll stand out in a positive way if you DO use video. Think about how savvy and up-to-date this will make you look.
People typically shy away from video because they don’t want to be on camera or don’t know how to create quality video.
Of the minority of job seekers who DO use video, the video type of choice is the video resume. These can work for some people, but most people don’t come across well on camera. A poor or mediocre video can actually hurt their chances.
They probably don’t know that there is another type of video that is much better suited to build social proof for their brand.
Kinetic animation videos are the better choice. You’re not on camera but, with movement and visual appeal, these videos connect people to your brand story in a compelling and engaging way.
Videos can be posted on any social media. The best places for job search and career are YouTube and LinkedIn. YouTube is especially important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and building online presence. Google owns it and favors it.
Here are the 2 methods used to put videos on social media:
- Native videos in which you upload videos directly to a channel (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and they reside on that channel.
- Embedded videos in which you post links on your channels to videos that reside on your YouTube channel or other video hub.
I know of job seekers who posted their videos on their YouTube channel and, within one hour, they had a page one search result for “their name” associated with the videos. That’s pretty impressive!
At this writing, LinkedIn accepts native videos in your updates feed and LinkedIn Groups. You can post embedded videos in your LinkedIn profile About, Experience and Education sections, and in LinkedIn Pulse articles.
2. Write Posts on LinkedIn’s Pulse Publishing Platform
I’ve found that many job seekers either don’t know about this opportunity, or don’t know that they have access to it.
LinkedIn offers this powerful platform to post articles to demonstrate subject matter expertise, express opinions, influence people, manage reputation, build online branding, and stay top of mind with people.
Publishing on Pulse is almost as good as running your own blog, but without the hassles of maintaining a blog. And it has added benefits:
- Each article you post is displayed in the “Activity” section of your LinkedIn profile, so it’s highly visible on your profile.
- Your Pulse articles also land in your updates feed.
- Each post is searchable both on and off LinkedIn.
Post an article within the same block on your Home page that you post an update. Look for the link to “Write an article”.
What topics should you write about?
Coming up with topics to write about can keep many from using this strategy to build social proof. Here’s a tip:
Go through the list of the relevant keywords and phrases you’re using in your personal marketing communications (resume, biography, LinkedIn and other online profiles, etc.), and write articles about those topics. These keywords represent your areas of expertise, so you should be able to write about them fairly easily.
3. Write Book Reviews on Amazon
Writing reviews of relevant books and publications on Amazon (or Barnes and Noble, and other sites with very strong link weight) packs many benefits:
- The branded personal profile you create on the site represents a valuable search result for your name.
- Any book review posted becomes another powerful search result.
- Carefully crafted reviews support your subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
- Reading the right books will improve your breadth of knowledge, and possibly strengthen your skill set.
To write the best reviews and leverage the power of this strategy:
- Choose books relevant to your areas of expertise, so the reviews will demonstrate your subject matter expertise.
- Choose books your target employers’ decision makers are likely reading.
- Look for books written by people whose radar you want to get on. Authors will most likely notice all reviews posted.
- For personal SEO, make sure reviews include the relevant keyword phrases that target employers search to find candidates like you.
- Without being too self-promotional, mention in the review if you’re an authority on the subject, such as “As a [type of] executive with more than 20 years’ experience in [area of expertise], I agree with the author that . . . ”
- Share the reviews you write on LinkedIn and other social media.
Monitor Your Efforts to Build Social Proof by Self-Googling Once a Week
While actively building your online footprint, safeguard your online reputation by keeping an eye on what happens to search results for “your name”.
It’s up to each of us to monitor and safeguard our reputation (or personal brand), and keep it free from “digital dirt”. Without self-Googling regularly, you will never know what people are finding out about you.
- What if there is someone with your name involved in nefarious deeds, and people assessing you assume that’s you?
- What if someone has posted something negative about you (whether or not it’s true), that damages your reputation and could sabotage your chances?
You could be out of the running without even knowing it.
Get into the habit of self-Googling about once a week. If negative search results for your name appear, do whatever you can to have them taken down.
If that’s not possible, work hard to build positive, brand-reinforcing search results, to push the bad ones down beyond the first page.
Here’s what to look for when Googling “your name”:
- Do you “own” the first several search results?
- Do you own most of the first page of search results?
- Or does it take several pages of results before getting to anything related to you?
- What information will people find about you when they click on those search results?
- Is the information you find what you want employers to know about you and your potential value to them?
- Do all the search results for “your name” – at least on the first 2 or 3 pages of search results – support and reinforce your personal brand?
What Kind of Social Proof Are Hiring Professionals Looking For?
Here are some of the things recruiters and hiring decision makers look for when they Google candidates’ names:
Social Media Engagement
How evident is your social media presence? At the very least, you need to have a fully-populated LinkedIn profile. And consider having at least some kind of presence on other platforms – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
The vast majority of executive recruiters use social recruiting (social networks and social media) to source and assess talent. They’re online, looking for people like you. If you’re not there, they’re going to wonder whether you’re social media savvy and know how to operate in the digital world.
A Professional Photo
Studies have shown that people relate to content better when it’s associated with a photo of the author. The photo should be a professional-looking, close-up headshot that is looking towards, and thereby approving of, the content.
Reasons To Rule You Out
If hiring decision makers are inundated with an overload of candidates, they’ll set the bar higher to whittle down the candidate pool. Unfortunately, that can mean that some great-fit candidates will be ruled out if “digital dirt” exists. They may never be given the chance to dispute the negative search results, if they’re untrue.
Naturally, employers will favor candidates who have squeaky-clean online footprints. You need to be vigilant in building and safeguarding your online reputation.
A tip for accurate Google search results:
Google personalizes results based on our search history, so it’s a good idea, from time to time, to use someone else’s computer to self-Google. Different results may appear. Also, it’s best to be logged out of any Google accounts before self-Googling.