In an age where job-hopping is as common as ever, professionals cannot afford to neglect their personal brands when making a switch. A decade ago a job change required newsletters, phone calls, emails and other traditional methods of informing professional contacts, but LinkedIn offers a modernized approach to compliment some of those old school (yet still effective) tactics. Your personal brand, if properly built and maintained, should be one of your most valuable professional assets, so it is crucial to plan and execute a swift rebrand that distinctly aligns you with your new organization.
Coordinating The Rebrand With Your New Employer
The orientation process with a new company can be overwhelming. While being bombarded with meetings and literature from HR, IT and other key departments, pay close attention to any procedures or practices that will impact the way in which you adjust your online image. The social media policy is particularly important, as it may include specific instructions on how employees are expected to brand themselves and interact with others online. If your company has little to no social media policy documented, find the appropriate person (could be the HR manager, marketing director or even an outside PR consultant like me) to briefly discuss the best ways to incorporate that company’s image and messaging into your digital profiles.
The next step is to research what the company has done for similar new hires in the past. Find out if they have issued press releases, email announcements or other means of notifying the public of new employees. The last thing you want to do is undercut the firm’s announcement by prematurely making changes to your social media accounts.
High level executives should also talk to the person in charge of media relations to find out if or when they will be expected to speak with reporters, as that will require additional preparation. Once you know how and when the company plans to make the announcement, you can plan your branding updates to run parallel with those efforts.
Updating Your Digital Profiles
A new job calls for new headshots. If your employer chooses not to produce these for you, spend the money to have them done yourself. The new profile picture for your social media accounts will symbolize the next step in your career, and it will attract additional attention to your new position.
Other profile changes, as stated earlier, should be appropriately timed in conjunction with your employer’s announcement. Build a list of every digital platform/channel in which you have a profile. That list will include all of your social media accounts and also professional directories or databases you are listed on. If you are like me and have a presence on a number of these, make sure you Google yourself so that you do not miss any. Develop a new, consistent bio or profile summary that you can use across all of your accounts, and when the timing is right, go down the list and carefully (and completely) update every account with LinkedIn being last.
You only have one chance to get LinkedIn update right, so it is extremely important that you properly plan and execute it in a manner that will drive the most interest and engagement from your network. The first thing to consider is timing. You can expect to get the bulk of “likes” and comments on your job change the week you make the update, so I recommend doing it on a Monday or Tuesday morning to stretch your visibility out over the course of the week. When you have decided that it is time to make the update and you have your new bio information ready to go, it is critical to execute the update correctly.
When you go into your profile and click “Edit,” a box will appear on the right side asking you if you would like to notify your network of your profile changes. Make sure you select “Yes” on this box so that LinkedIn can notify your network about the job change. Next you should go through your entire profile and update every appropriate section (especially the “Experience” section, as that is the one that triggers the new job notification to your network). Once all changes are made, go back to the top and click “Done Editing” to make the changes live and visible to your network.
Expanding Your Visibility After The Initial Announcement
Now that the foundation of your new brand is set, there are ongoing activities you should participate in to establish yourself as a thought leader and maintain an active and influential personal brand. The first one is blogging. If your new company has an active blog, you should commit to providing regular posts on industry trends and topics. Meet with the person who manages the blog to discuss the type of content you would like to provide and how often you will be able to contribute. Some companies even have video blogs and other owned media channels that give you an opportunity to promote your personal brand using company resources. If your company does not have a company blog, consider creating a personal blog or using LinkedIn’s publishing platform to share thought leadership with your network.
The next way to expand the impact of your personal brand is through active social media engagement. At a minimum, you want to share at least one LinkedIn update each week. Those updates can include your blog posts, media placements, company news and interesting industry news. Also make sure you are interacting with others by periodically “liking” their job updates, commenting on their posts, etc. Outside of LinkedIn, make sure you are maintaining an active presence on your other social networks by participating in similar engagement that is consistent with your personal brand. These social networks have collectively become one enormous, never-ending cocktail party for professionals, so make it a priority to start and join conversations to increase your network, brand and overall professional success.
Lastly, inform the head of media relations that you would like to participate in PR opportunities. If you have experience interacting with the press from your previous job, discuss that experience with this person along with how you believe you can help expand the firm’s visibility and brand by acting as a media source or company spokesperson. If you do not have previous media experience, your company may offer you media training from a PR consultant to prepare you for speaking to the media. When you earn media placements on behalf of your organization, you are also earning third-party credibility for yourself and your personal brand.
A new job really is the perfect chance to revamp your personal brand. Most professionals will go through this process multiple times throughout a career, so it is important to take command of this opportunity each time it arises through solid planning and execution. By taking the approach outlined above, you will bolster your visibility and influence among target audiences by firmly establishing your new, potent professional brand.
This post was originally published in Brian’s LinkedIn blog.
Brian Hart is the founder and president of Flackable, LLC, a national public relations agency supporting the communications needs of registered investment advisors (RIAs) and other forward-thinking financial services firms. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com.