As the most followed CFA holder on LinkedIn, Eric Sim, CFA, has expertly leveraged social media to connect with other professionals, build your personal brand and advance your career. In the How to Master Social Media series, adapted from his recent book Small actions: lead your career to great successSim shares some critical lessons on how to make social media work for you.
Your internal brand is essentially what people in your company think of you. It is usually marked during the first year of employment.
Whether your colleagues initially think you’re witty, creative, ineffective, or useless, it’s hard to change their minds once you become a long-term employee. While there is little you can do in your day job to boost your internal brand, it is still possible to change internal perceptions by changing your external brand through the strategic use of social media, particularly LinkedIn.
My boss and I once attended a meeting with a major client in China whose company was planning to go public. My manager knew the client respected college professors, so he introduced me as “Professor Sim.” The client laughed at first because he didn’t think a senior banker would have the time and inclination to teach, but my boss asked me to give him the college business card. I was surprised he even remembered my second teaching job because he was so busy chasing bank offers, but it was at the forefront of his mind when he introduced me.
This shows that your external activities, which you can promote through LinkedIn or other social networks, can influence your internal position.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can change the course of your career, so it’s perfect for building your brands both externally and internally. For example, if you’ve given a successful speech outside of work, you can post it on LinkedIn to grow your brand externally. Then your colleagues who follow you on LinkedIn will know about your talk, which gives a good boost to your internal brand.
But don’t just have a LinkedIn strategy, have a social media strategy. Here are three small actions you can take to improve the way you approach social media as a professional.
Strategy 1: Use LinkedIn as an engine to drive other channels
Think of LinkedIn as the powerful engine that drives your social media brand. LinkedIn allows you to write longer and more interesting pieces that can get your brand more recognized over time. So, when you’ve developed a topic that will interest your followers, post it on LinkedIn first.
After LinkedIn, you can edit the post and share it with other relevant social accounts. Sometimes you can also share your LinkedIn post with friends through messaging apps. Job and business opportunities can come from any platform.
I became a professor at a university in Hong Kong in 2016 because a former colleague at a US bank saw my Facebook post about a talk I had given at Cambridge University. She contacted me on behalf of her professor friend, who was looking for a finance professional who knows how to teach. I then met the professor for coffee and then found out that I was made an adjunct associate professor to teach finance and communications.
Strategy 2: Make your profile consistent across platforms
It’s important to have a consistent personal brand in your offline life. You should also be consistent in setting up your social profiles. Many people have a formal header photo for their LinkedIn profile and use a more casual profile picture for Instagram. While this is a popular approach, if you really want to build your brand quickly by making it easily identifiable and consistent, I recommend using the same high-quality, professional photo for all of your channels.
I also use the same title, “banker, speaker, lecturer, writer” on my profiles on LinkedIn, Instagram, Clubhouse, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, WeChat and WhatsApp. If conversations start on LinkedIn and then move to Telegram, for example, my new connections experience a seamless transition without asking me if they’re still talking to the same person.
Another good reason to stay consistent: The line between casual and professional relationships is blurring, so many of your connections will see you on multiple platforms. Your Instagram friend may become your colleague or even your boss one day, and your client or manager may become your Instagram follower. Meanwhile, HR managers and hiring managers may try to check all of your profiles, not just LinkedIn, before interviewing you, and you should give them a consistent impression.
Strategy 3: Speak the native language of each platform
While it’s important to keep your social profiles consistent, you should adjust the content of your posts according to the native language of each platform. This is how I adapt my posting style to some of the major social networks.
You should use professional language, add value to readers, and tell a good story. Writing long or short articles is fine, and it’s usually best to include a relevant image alongside the text.
If a topic has performed well on LinkedIn and is also relevant to my Facebook friends, I can post it on Facebook. I don’t post anything too technical on Facebook. It is best to shorten the post and use a more personal and informal tone.
Your text should be even shorter on Instagram (one or two sentences is usually enough), because the photos are the focus. When my LinkedIn posts have powerful images that deserve to go on Instagram, I try to use them. When I spoke at a CFA Institute event in Bahrain, I posted some fun photos from my trip on Instagram along with some quick tips (“try the local food, visit the national museum”) on how to engage with an audience in a new country. My LinkedIn post on the same talk was much longer and more formal, so I respected the native languages of both platforms.
Of course, whatever you write, it’s important to write it well. And how to do it will be the subject of the next installment of the How to dominate social networks series.
Don’t miss out on more social media and career development tips Small Actions: Leading Your Career to great success, by Eric Sim, CFA, and his co-author Simon Mortlock.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. Therefore, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the views expressed necessarily reflect the views of the CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
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