Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding

    Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding

    ‘Wait, isn’t it that famous guy? I saw his post on LinkedIn like a week ago! His posts are always on my feed!’ Today, apart from focusing on the p...

    ‘Wait, isn’t it that famous guy? I saw his post on LinkedIn like a week ago! His posts are always on my feed!’

    Today, apart from focusing on the products we buy, we also focus on the companies that sell them and the people that represent those brands.

    Sometimes, the question of whether or not your brand is well-known among your audience can be a crucial factor that determines purchases. 

    This is true for both business brands and personal brands. At the end of the day, the personal brands of employees make up the company they’re associated with. 

    Read this article to find out the role of personal branding in business, and whether or not you should use LinkedIn to build one. Stick around till the end — we share LinkedIn branding strategies that work, and an exclusive interview with Nemanja Zivkovic, a LinkedIn influencer who shares his secret LinkedIn branding tips.

    How can a developed personal brand help your business?

    Personal branding is one of the most important parts of establishing yourself as a credible expert, bringing attention to your persona and the business you run. 

    A developed personal brand helps you achieve a lot:

    • It brings you name recognition. 
    • It makes it easier for your ideal customers to find your business. 
    • It’s a way to scale your relationship-building process: instead of limiting yourself to one-to-one conversations, you get your audience to listen to what you have to say by holding one-to-many conversations.
    • It exposes you to a larger audience. 
    • It helps build trust and confidence — when people know who you are and what you stand for, they automatically feel closer to you and, therefore, trust you more. 
    • It gives you control over how people view you. 

    Nowadays, the best way to build your personal brand is to go online. Social media is the promised land for micro- and macro-influencers, as they let you showcase your expertise, gather a targeted audience, and build strong relationships with them. 

    But what social media should you choose to build a personal brand that will help your business sell more? The answer is on the surface — the best social media platform for business people, LinkedIn. 

    Why choose LinkedIn for personal branding? 

    A lot of people choose to be active on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok over LinkedIn because they’re scared it’s ‘too professional’ and that you can only post serious content. This is not the case. LinkedIn is becoming more and more casual, opening its doors to everyone who wants to build a personal brand while still staying in the professional framework. 

    Here’s your sign to try LinkedIn out for developing a personal brand:

    • LinkedIn has a massive audience of around 756 million members in over 200 countries and territories, and this number continues to grow.
    • In comparison to other social media platforms, LinkedIn’s audience is almost twice more intent-driven: users log in to LinkedIn with an aspirational mindset to learn and improve. 
    • According to eMarketer’s Digital Trust Benchmark Report 2021, LinkedIn — for the fifth year in a row — is ranked as the most trusted social media platform.
    • There’s a lot of room for new influencers: while the demand for content is high, only 1% of LinkedIn’s monthly users share posts on a regular basis. 
    • It’s easy to get started: on LinkedIn, you can start building your personal brand by simply publishing post updates. 

    All in all, LinkedIn personal branding is easy; especially if you have an example to follow.

    Nemanjia Zivkovic — An example of successful LinkedIn personal branding

    Here at VistaCreate, we value personal insights, first-hand experiences, and exclusive information. So, instead of lurking around the web trying to piece together LinkedIn influencer journeys, we approached them directly and asked for some input. 

    Nemanja Zivkovic

    We talked to Nemanja and asked him the most burning questions about building a personal brand in general, and on LinkedIn specifically. Here’s what he had to share…

    What was your path to success like, and what do you wish you realized sooner?

    My career started from activism and non-profits, where I learned that it’s not about making more money, but about creating relationships with people, helping them, creating communities, and then the money will follow. It is the essence of what I do. 

    I help B2B companies increase their revenue by focusing on creating relationships with their clients and customers aka bringing B2C stuff into B2B (feelings, emotions, humanity). Spending most of my career in B2B helped me learn how I can do that, and then when I started Funky Marketing, I wanted to do marketing in a different way, with a bit of funk. 

    As the founder of civil society in Serbia once told me, after I asked him what’s next: 

    “There’s no end. The fight for good never stops.” 

    Funky Marketing is fighting to get marketing where it belongs – to a place where we respect ethics and where the customers are at the core of what we do and why we exist. 

    I’d never change anything about my journey. I knew what I wanted to do early, but I needed to wait for the Internet to catch up, so I could actually do it for a living. 

    How does a developed personal brand help your business?

    A personal brand helps you in a couple of ways, all depending on your goal. It can be showing your knowledge and experience (aka building authority), which can get you clients and customers, or get you a new, bigger, position in your current company. 

    On the other hand, you can showcase your expertise on a specific subject in case you want to change your job and start a new career (aka building a side job) that can become more than just a side job in the future. 

    From a marketing standpoint, it allows you to try out things outside of the current projects you’re running inside the company. Quite often, C-level doesn’t understand marketing and its value. So, using your own profile and personal brand to test things out and show C-level that it works may be crucial. It can change their opinion and allow them to appreciate what you’re trying to do. 

    From a company standpoint, helping employees build their personal brands means building your company’s brand as well. Aligned, personal brands of the people from a specific company create and accelerate the company’s brand. And it shows that the company cares about its people and supports them to talk about important topics. When you’re already hiring great people, why wouldn’t you help them show that they’re subject-matter experts?

    Is LinkedIn your go-to platform for building your personal brand? If so, why? 

    100% yes. It’s not the only one, as I don’t like to keep all my eggs in one basket, but it is the main one for a single reason — it’s the go-to platform for B2B, and it’ll stay like that for at least next 10 years. Besides that, organic reach is huge — I’m reaching 3 million people with my posts in a year. If we add people that are working with me to that equation, that’s at least 10 million people seeing everything we post. Sort of like a huge conference or a full house with your target audience, where you get a chance to speak daily. 

    What are your best LinkedIn branding tips? Are there any dos and don’ts of establishing a personal brand on LinkedIn? 

    Find out as much as you can about yourself and about who you’re talking to before you start. Make sure you have the answers to these questions. Take as much time as you need and give as detailed answers as possible.

    • Who are you? (not your name, but who you are as a person and a professional)
    • What do you do?
    • Who do you serve? (you can serve yourself, you can serve the company, your goal, your clients …)
    • What do you want to do? Set your personal goal.
    • What kind of experience do you want people to have when your name comes up?
    • What do you want to achieve?

    Then, define the people you admire. Write down their names and research. Compare yourself to them and the way they did it. As you do this, recognize your uniqueness and value.

    • What do you have to say?
    • What do you want to be famous for?
    • What could you teach others? What can you teach?
    • What and when can you influence, or what do you want to influence?
    • What do you know that others in your industry do not know?
    • What kind of content can you create and in what format?

    When you know that, there are a couple of things you need to understand. Answers you’ve just given will help you find a balance between personal and professional. Don’t get to extremes with any of it. 

    With getting too personal, you can go viral, get likes and followers, but it won’t result in getting more clients. It’ll result in people not wanting to buy from you. On the other hand, if you get too professional, you won’t really connect with people and you won’t create relationships. You can’t create trust without going at least a bit personal. 

    • Create and share content that will show that you have knowledge and experience, and, on the other hand, who you are as a person.
    • Create a narrative, and tie it to the big change people are facing. 
    • Polarize people, piss them off, disagree — you’ll have to do that if you want to get them out of their comfort zone. Keep a balanced content strategy that includes personal AND professional content.
    • Engage with people; it’s more important than posting.
    • Connect with already active people. 
    • And be persistent in sharing content at least 2x a week. If you’re serious about your growth, do it every day.

    Tell your story, help others, think in public, and people will follow. 

    7 LinkedIn branding strategies that will help you develop your personal brand online

    1. Revamp your LinkedIn profile

    When it comes to LinkedIn personal branding, your profile page is your most important tool. It’s the hub for all your branding activities, and you need to make sure that it looks good. 

    So, the first thing on your to-do list is to make sure the tool you’re using to build your personal brand on LinkedIn — your profile page — is in top-notch shape and ready to promote your persona to the audience. 

    First impressions matter and they’re super difficult to change. When a person first lands on your profile, they need to instantly see and understand the value they’ll get out of following you or connecting with you. There are a couple of things that make it possible… 

    Optimize your LinkedIn profile for search

    Just like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, LinkedIn is, too, a search engine — just a little more specific. People search for the topics they’re interested in and the people who cover those topics.

    So, if you want to be seen — make sure you optimize your profile for search. Determine the keywords that describe your field of expertise best, and use them in your headline, job title, summary, and posts. 

    For even better results, make use of Creator Hub. Turn Creator Mode on and select up to 5 topics you want to focus on in your LinkedIn publications:

    Sort out your profile picture and header 

    A picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to LinkedIn, these ‘thousand words’ are also the first your visitor will see. Your LinkedIn cover and your profile picture immediately draw attention to themselves. If they’re blurry, unprofessional, or — what’s worse — non-existent, you flunk your LinkedIn personal branding. So, make sure that the visual aspect of your profile is high quality. 

    There are a couple of things you can improve.

    First, your profile picture. As a rule of thumb, these are the usual requirements for a personal brand-worthy photo:

    • Avoid extreme close-ups or remote angles; your photo should include a clear view of your face and shoulders.
    • Make sure it’s crystal clear — blurries aren’t welcome. 
    • Try not to obscure your features. Unless glasses or a hat are a crucial part of your personal brand, don’t go for a photo where you’re wearing them. 
    • Smile — amiability is always a good trait.
    • Don’t use a group shot. In a way, LinkedIn personal branding is a bit like dating — you wouldn’t want to leave people guessing which one of the pals in the photo are you. 
    • Good lighting is a must.
    • Avoid bathroom and lift selfies (duh!). 

    Side note: All of these ‘rules’ are merely suggestions and not set in stone directions. Above all, you need to remember that your profile picture must represent your brand and be a good reflection of who you are as a person. Use it to translate your personality, your beliefs, and your expertise into the masses. 

    Next up, you need to customize the header of your profile. Too often, LinkedIn users deem covers as unimportant and postpone this step. But really, it’s another crucial building block for a well-branded LinkedIn profile. It gives you an opportunity to get creative and distinguish your brand. 

    Some things you can include in your cover are:

    • The recent accomplishments that you’re most proud of.
    • Your strengths, visualized.
    • Images associated with your field of expertise. 
    • A company you work for, etc. 

    When it comes to your LinkedIn cover, you can make it as fun and creative, or as straightforward and strict as you want. The only limitation is that you need to adhere to 1884×396 dimensions.

    To make the job easier for you, VistaCreate offers a variety of professionally designed and customizable LinkedIn cover templates:

    Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding
    Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding
    Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding

    Use your description as an opportunity to sell your expertise

    It’s often hard to describe yourself, but don’t let this stop you from leveraging all the benefits of a completed profile description. Use the space LinkedIn provides you with to share more about who you are, what you’re good at, and why people should follow you. 

    Just remember to stick to a specific format. Instead of merely including descriptive sentences about how great you are at, say, content marketing strategy, SEO, or sales. Prove it with examples and numbers. 

    For example…

    ❌ A great content marketer.

    ✅ Created a holistic content marketing strategy for a blog, and increased its monthly traffic by 40% in 6 months. 

    Tell a story, engage people, and make them crave more of you because you’re fun, interesting, and know exactly what you’re doing. 

    Highlight your skills (and do it strategically) 

    LinkedIn allows you to showcase up to 50 skills that you’ve mastered on your page. At first, it seems like a lot of skills to remember but as soon as you get down to filling out this section of your profile, the auto-suggest feature makes you quickly realize that you know quite a bit. 

    Make sure to pay some attention to this section and highlight your skills strategically. Make them compliment the information you already mentioned in the About section. Go broad, then go narrow. 

    For example, if you’re a content marketer, include skills like “content marketing”, “social media copywriting”, and “blog content strategy” alongside each other. 

    Customize your LinkedIn URL

    Finally, make it easy for both real people and search engines to find your LinkedIn profile and your content. When building a personal brand on social media, there’s no such thing as too much visibility.

    For that, customize your LinkedIn URL. You can either keep it short and sweet with just your name or alias, or spice it up a bit with your key skill, position, or something else. Just make sure you use dashes and not underscores for the URL structure. 

    2. Turn LinkedIn posting into a habit 

    Just like with Instagram, Facebook, and other social media, you need to have a content strategy to build a personal brand on LinkedIn. An odd post or article every week won’t do it — you need to post consistently and strategically. Commit to publishing at least something every day. 

    Luckily, there are lots of different publication formats you can use to stay on top of your audience’s minds without exhausting your creativity. You can share post updates, slides, articles, Stories, videos, and more!

    But while you want to increase your online presence and post more on LinkedIn, you need to make sure that an increase in quantity doesn’t have any negative impact on the quality of your publications. You need to ensure that everything you share with your audience is valuable and worth spending time on. 

    Some examples of highly valuable content to share with your LinkedIn followers include:

    • Industry research
    • Expert opinions
    • Free e-books, checklists, or worksheets
    • Live webinars
    • LinkedIn Live events
    • On-demand webinars
    • Free consultations
    • Virtual LinkedIn Local events
    • Free live coaching sessions

    There’s a common belief that the crowd on LinkedIn is wary about visual content. This is nothing more than a misconception. Don’t be afraid to incorporate fun media to support your posts and strengthen your brand. With VistaCreate, designing posts is easy!

    Brand yourself: Nemanja Zivkovic shares secrets of LinkedIn branding

    To bring even more attention to your LinkedIn profile and strengthen your personal brand, publish exclusive content that you don’t share anywhere else.

    3. Leverage LinkedIn influencers 

    There’s a good reason LinkedIn influencers are influencers — they have a huge audience to influence. People follow them.

    A good way to boost your visibility on LinkedIn and open up new opportunities is to establish relationships with users that have already managed to do so. Make a list of all the LinkedIn influencers in your field and send them a connection request. Then, start engaging with them on a regular basis. 

    A good way to get through to an influencer’s audience is to mention them in your posts. Just remember to make those posts truly about the person you mention and not about yourself. Then, you have all the chances of getting a like, a comment, and a share. 

    4. Return the favor — help others to increase their online presence on LinkedIn 

    Social responsibility and the concept of giving back are big in modern society. So, once your personal brand starts getting a bit more recognition on LinkedIn, shift from asking for getting help to providing help to others. 

    Leverage your network to help other users grow. Give a shout-out on your profile to the people who aren’t LinkedIn influencers per se, but are trying really hard to become ones. If they share information your audience will find valuable, it’s a win-win situation. They get a piece of your LinkedIn authority and you get an introduction to their network of connections and the title of an altruist. 

    5. Like, share, and comment 

    A personal brand isn’t just about the stuff you post. It’s also about how you engage with your audience and the rest of the platform.

    To increase your visibility on LinkedIn and position yourself as a knowledgeable industry expert, make sure you’re active. Like posts that come up on your feed, react to them. If someone’s asking for advice — give it to them; offer value and become a true partner to the people you’re connecting with. If someone’s putting a question up for a discussion — state your opinion, back it up with your experience and knowledge.

    If you come across something worthy of attention, share the publication with your network. Ideally, don’t just repost it; add something of your own to spur a discussion within your audience. 

    6. Be real; embrace vulnerability

    The goal is to show the audience that there’s a real person behind a brand; this is what makes a brand personal. If you want to establish credibility and authority on LinkedIn, make sure you don’t exclusively show the polished version of yourself to your network. Allow yourself to be vulnerable — that’s how you show the real you.

    A personal brand is a representation of a real human who goes through both ups and downs. So, don’t only announce your successes; cover failures, too. Talk about the difficulties you had along the way, explain how you overcame them if you did, and what you learned from them if you didn’t. 

    Vulnerability builds connection; connection builds trust. 

    Speaking of connections…

    7. Work on expanding your network of connections 

    The way LinkedIn algorithms work is simple: the more people you connect with, the more exposure your profile gets. If you want to build your personal brand on LinkedIn, you need to build your network of connections first.

    Now, there are two factors that contribute to the growth of your network: the request you send and the requests you accept. Hence, you need to regularly check your pending requests and send out connection requests to the people in your field. 

    To make sure it’s a hit every time, don’t resort to empty connection requests or copy-pasted texts. Personalize your networking invitations to make sure you don’t end up being a follower.

    Valerie Kakovkina

    Content marketing manager at VistaCreate. Valerie loves all things marketing, with her favourite areas being email marketing and social media. When out of the office, Valerie loves travelling, going to parties, and helping her friends with their art projects (oh to be surrounded by artists).

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