There have been many articles written on the topic of personal branding, but it’s an especially important concept to grasp if you’re a consultant. Your personal image and reputation play a major role in determining the opportunities that will come your way when you don’t have a company reputation to fall back on. Since you can be assured that any prospective client is going to give your name a thorough “Googling,” it’s best to start building your reputation online – specifically on sites like LinkedIn.
With more than 50 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It has become an essential networking and business development tool for consultants, freelancers and entrepreneurs. The site represents the "serious side" of social networking: it connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and project opportunities with a broad network of professionals. Demographically, LinkedIn is also a bit older than your typical social media site: according to Anderson Analytics, the average user is 41 years old.
LinkedIn is a great place for you to establish a credible web presence. Building a solid profile allows you to set the stage for your first contact with potential new clients. You can demonstrate your subject matter and industry expertise, and the breadth of your connections. You can also write recommendations for people whose work you admire. Many will reciprocate, adding a wealth of credibility to your services.
In February 2011, LinkedIn announced a new profile component: the Skills section. LinkedIn Skills have proved to be valuable, both for those looking for work and for those doing the project hiring. As more and more companies hire for projects, focusing not on tenure but on skills, this section of the profile has increased in importance – especially for consultants.
How it works: Say you’re a graphic designer, and one of the skills on your resume is “photo editing”. Typing this phrase into the Skills section of your profile will add you to LinkedIn’s network of other professional photo editors.
The photo editing Skills page contains a wealth of valuable information, including profiles of other photo editing professionals, how many other people are in the field, related LinkedIn groups and Skills phrases, and top locations for the industry and its relative growth. For example, there are an overwhelming amount of photo editors living in Brooklyn, according to LinkedIn, and the industry only grew about 1% last year. Related skills include “banner design” and “photojournalism”. This can also be useful if you’re trying to set a bill rate based on skills.
Also please join our LinkedIn Group where we regularly share both industry news and MBO-specific updates.
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