Personal branding expert Sam Winsbury explains the benefits of personal branding for individual professionals and business owners. He gives out some of the best success strategies for building a sustainable personal brand on LinkedIn.
Sam Winsbury of That Personal Branding Guy
Website: That Personal Branding Guy
LinkedIn: Sam Winsbury
Instagram: Sam Winsbury
Do you have a personal brand? If yes, is it a successful personal brand? If not, is it something you’re interested in? Maybe it is time for you to take personal branding seriously. Personal branding applies to business owners, employers, employees, professionals, basically anyone that can offer value.
In this episode, we speak to Sam Winsbury, of That Personal Branding Guy. He turns business owners and coaches into powerful personal brands so that they can grow their businesses on LinkedIn. He also hosts a weekly podcast and contributes to one of the top 10 business blogs in the world. Outside of all that professional stuff, he’s a bit of a nerd, loves meeting other entrepreneurs, and wouldn’t turn down a beer in front of the football…
He shares some of his sure strategies to creating a successful personal brand on LinkedIn; listen in to hear the benefits of a personal brand for your business or enhancing professional reputation. You will learn the key things that distinguish personal branding from company branding.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:26] How people in 2020 are identifying more with the person behind the business rather than the business itself
- [2:40] How to learn about personal branding through observing others and showing interest
- [4:00] How to define your personal brand to serve your agenda
- [5:30] The importance of complementing both your personal and company brands
- [9:06] The long-term consequences of using your personal brand to promote your business
- [10:56] The benefits of building a strong personal brand as an employed professional
- [16:08] How to create and grow your personal brand as an employee outside of your workplace
- [17:58] Quantity vs. quality of content you put out on your social media
- [19:25] Strategies to find the type of content to create and how to manage your time as you build your personal brand
- [22:20] The four things LinkedIn takes into account when displaying your content
- [24:55] Factors to consider when choosing a social media platform to build and grow your personal brand
- [29:58] How to create a selling LinkedIn profile that people have a reason to visit
- [33:52] The importance of having a website, so you aren’t totally reliant on a third-party platform
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 51: How to create a successful personal brand on LinkedIn - with Sam Winsbury of That Personal Branding Guy
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Do you have a personal brand? Do you even know what a personal brand is? Should you have one? And if so, how do you get started? That's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:27
Hello and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Now you may remember back in Episode Two - I can't believe it was so long ago! - that I spoke to Collette Philip Keen of Brand By Me. Collette is a branding consultant who set up her own consultancy who works in particular with charities, and in that episode, we touched a bit on personal branding. And that was a topic which I was keen to revisit and that's exactly what we're going to do in this episode. My guest this week is Sam Winsbury of That Personal Branding Guy. He helps coaches and business owners with their personal brand. And he's also the host of the In Conversation podcast, which is all about branding and marketing. Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Winsbury 1:14
Jeremy thank you very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jeremy Cline 1:17
So first of all, can you tell me what it means to help coaches and business owners with their personal brand, and perhaps tell us how you got into as well in the first place?
Sam Winsbury 1:26
Yeah. The way it came about really was I was trying to set up a more traditional marketing agency doing things like Facebook advertising, and I was using my LinkedIn profile to try and get clients for that, but what actually started happening whilst I was using LinkedIn is that people started coming to me for help with their own profiles, rather than for things like Facebook advertising. So it was kind of a natural transition for me to go into into personal branding and what I sort of realised throughout the whole process, and this is something that I think is becoming much more popular view nowadays, is that people want to know who's behind the business, and they want to do business with people, rather than corporate machines if you like. More and more so as we progress into 2020 people aren't as up for interacting with the businesses that they maybe used to be, they're kind of becoming a bit more suspicious of company advertising and that sort of thing. So I think that's where personal branding comes in. It's really identifying people behind the brand and building up a bit more trust with your audience, with your customers or with your clients.
Jeremy Cline 2:31
So where did you learn to do your own branding, such that they got to the stage where people were looking at what you were doing and thought, I wonder if he can help me with my branding?
Sam Winsbury 2:41
Yeah. A lot of it came through my own experience, just trying things out and failing a lot of times and learning from those failures. Things like books and resources, studying what other personal brands were doing as well. Probably the biggest thing for me was actually looking at these notable people in business on LinkedIn that had built up profiles and that were generating business on LinkedIn, or maybe people that had got lots of jobs on LinkedIn, or lots of job offers and studying what they were doing and seeing what things I could implement from their profiles into my own.
Jeremy Cline 3:11
And where did the interest come from in doing all this sort of stuff?
Sam Winsbury 3:16
I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I guess. It's been in me from from when I was a teenager. I don't know where that came from, but I've had it as long as I remember actually, writing blog posts around psychology. I used to have a massive interest in psychology, I went on to study it at university and I was writing blog posts whilst I was at secondary school around that with a friend. And that's kind of where my journey started. That developed into doing bits of marketing work freelance and writing other blogs for people ad hoc. And then when I was at uni, it started to progress into the agency that I mentioned.
Jeremy Cline 3:47
You've already touched on it briefly, but can you tell us what you mean by a personal brand, perhaps as distinct from a corporate brand or a business brand - what are those the hallmarks of a personal brand?
Sam Winsbury 4:00
There's lots of definitions of what a personal brand actually is. And people prefer different ones depending on their experience. Some people say it's what other people say about you when you're not in the room. Some people say it's the kind of values and beliefs that people think you have from looking at you. For me, I think the best way to define it is in terms of what it can do for you. If you have your own business, personal brand can generate clients for you, it can get you podcast appearances like this one, it can get you speaking appearances on stage, it can get you consulting gigs, it can essentially diversify your income sources. If you're working a job, if you're an employee, it can boost your career prospects if other employers have seen what you're posting and you've shown that you clearly have a passion for what you're doing. That's obviously going to be attractive to future employers. It might be even attractive to the company you're working at. So I think the best way to look at it is in terms of what it can do for you. I think the hallmarks of the personal brand, the things that you can kind of pick out and say okay, this person is clearly putting some effort into their personal brand and they've got a good brand are a clear set of values and interests - so you know what someone stands for. A clear idea of what they do. So they're probably going to be posting content around a certain area, whether that's marketing and entrepreneurship like myself, or whether it's around changing how we perceive work-life like you are. So I think those are probably the key things. If there's a clear idea that personality as well, I think that's what distinguishes personal branding from company branding.
Jeremy Cline 5:25
And how much crossover these days do you see between company branding and personal branding?
Sam Winsbury 5:31
Yeah, really interesting one, because some people obviously just push their company brand, and no personal branding at all, which is fine. You know, it works for a lot of people. I don't want to put in people's heads by any means that personal branding is the only way forward - company branding still works and people do use it effectively. On the other hand, you've got people just using personal brands, and you actually don't really know too much about the business behind them. You could pick out Grant Cardone for example as a good example of that, and then there's people that kind of merge the two and ideally, you want the two to complement each other. So it's not going to be very clear to your audience, if you're promoting one kind of person, but perhaps your company brand is completely different. So I think probably the best approach is to use the two in harmony and make sure they're complementary to each other.
Jeremy Cline 6:15
Is there - and this is perhaps going slightly beyond where I was originally going to take this conversation - but is there a sort of a place kind of beyond which the corporate brand just is inevitably going to take over from the personal brand? I'm just trying to think how some of the the enormous brands like McDonald's or Coca Cola or Nike, and obviously, these are massive companies - but do you think that as a business where a company scales and gets larger where they've got larger turnover, they've got a number of employees that it's still possible to retain a personal brand?
Sam Winsbury 6:48
Yeah. It's a really interesting point and the example you gave, things like McDonald's do very well without a personal brand. And I think particularly in retail space companies work well without a person at the forefront of them, but then you can look at companies like Gym Shark, its quite a good one at the moment. It's run by Ben Francis, who has a fairly strong personal brand. Actually Gym Shark, for anyone that doesn't know, they're a fitness brand that basically design gym clothes, gym outfits. And what they do really well is because of the culture they've got within the company, they've actually got most of their employees pushing some sort of personal brand - to different levels, obviously, the people higher up obviously pushing it slightly more - but the fact that they have loads and loads of employees that are actually bought into the company culture means that their social profiles represent and reflect that, which is great for a company like Gym Shark that has clear values and has a clear mission outside of just generating profit. So I think it depends on the industry, the sector and the kind of mission that the company is on, the values they hold whether it remains important. But I don't think it's as black and white as saying once you get past X amount of revenue, personal branding becomes irrelevant. I'm not sure it's that black and white.
Jeremy Cline 7:59
And I guess you can look at companies like say, Ben and Jerry's. I mean, obviously, it's in the name. But certainly, since remember, relatively recently, their adverts would actually feature these two people in them, one called Ben and one called Jerry. So they were still kind of there.
Sam Winsbury 8:13
Yeah. From a consumer point of view, especially with a large company, seeing the person behind it, I'm realising that there is a human face to this brand. And that human is actually just like me, they're a real human and I can relate to them. I think that does wonders in terms of both making the company a lot more memorable, and getting people to actually buy into the ethos of the company. And I like to say once people buy into you, they're willing to buy from you.
Jeremy Cline 8:38
What about the risks of putting so much onto a personal brand? I mean, I'm thinking of people who were the real faces of the company, like Bill Gates at Microsoft. Now, obviously, he's still around but much less involved with Microsoft, or then you've got Steve Jobs who was so fundamental in being the face of Apple as well as its founder. What's the risk for the company where the brand is so much tied round a person?
Sam Winsbury 9:06
Yeah. And this is probably the biggest downside of personal branding. And I think it's one that I've just accepted is a downside. You know, things have pros and cons. And this is one of them of personal branding is that sometimes if that personal brand is such a fundamental part of the business, if the person goes often the business goes with it. Obviously companies like Microsoft and Apple push the company brand as well, so they haven't completely capitulated, since the personal branding has dropped off a little. But yes, it's certainly I wouldn't say a problem but a sacrifice you make. If you're going to push your personal brand, you obviously have to accept that once you take yourself out of it, the business maybe doesn't have the reputation if you've just been pushing your own brand.
Jeremy Cline 9:49
Particularly I suppose if you start out on your own as say a coach of some description, and then you know, everyone wants to work with you and then you scale and you take more people on and you've got to think quite carefully about how do I persuade people to want to work with my new colleagues and not just me?
Sam Winsbury 10:06
Yeah. There are people that do that quite well. I have reservations about using this example, but it is a great example, is Gary Vaynerchuk, he's probably one of the biggest brands, particularly in the marketing space. And he's obviously scaled a lot of companies to the stage where he's not doing a whole lot of work inside of them with clients. But I think because people have seen the personal brand he's developed and he's obviously working closely with the people within the company, they still kind of buy into the fact that they're receiving world class coaching.
Jeremy Cline 10:31
Let's talk more about employees and go into a bit more detail. People who are not necessarily looking to start their own business, but who are in a professional space. So lawyers - I'm going to use that example because of course, I am a lawyer - doctors, accountants, perhaps you could talk a bit more detail about what the advantages are for professionals like that in investing a bit of time and energy in building up a personal brand?
Sam Winsbury 10:57
Sure. So the first one is maybe not one that you'd see on the surface, but one that I think is really important is you actually improve your skill set when you're building your personal brand. Because you're constantly involved in conversations around your industry, you're learning all the time whilst you're doing it, speaking with industry professionals, people that are leaders in the space and you can learn a lot from them, which obviously increases your skill set, if you can then implement that into your own work you're obviously going to produce better results and your employer is going to notice that which ideally is gonna result in promotions or furthering your career down the line. The other is that it's very, very competitive nowadays, in most industries, you're competing with a lot of people for your job, even once you have the job, you're still competing daily, but I think most of the people you're competing with their proof that they are good at what they do is often contained in a CV or a resume or a cover letter. This is a case for younger professionals maybe, people at entry to mid level where you can stand out very easily simply by having an online presence around your industry, because it says a lot more than a CV can I think. It's quite easy to - I don't want to say fake - but forge a page of text that kind of bigs yourself up and says certain things about you. But it says a lot more about you, I think if you're constantly involved in conversation within your industry, and you're providing your own take on maybe news or recent developments that are happening. That from an employer point of view, I think says a lot more about your interests, your character and your skill set.
Jeremy Cline 12:27
And what about if you are not looking to move but you kind of want to build up a brand but in the context of where you are employed? There are some people who stay at the same place for 30, 40 years - is it still worth them building up their own personal brand?
Sam Winsbury 12:41
Yeah. The first thing I mentioned still comes into that, is that you can build up your own skill set and that can lead to internal promotions and benefits and that sort of things. On the other side, I think if 2020 isn't a lesson for this, I don't know what is, is that your job probably isn't as stable as you think it might be. You might not be looking for a new job, but you could get forced into that at some point. And having that personal brand to fall back on is almost like a safety net that kind of insures you in your current role. I think having that safety net - as well as giving you a bit of peace of mind - can be a great way to just lessen the consequences of things like global pandemics and recessions or any other of life's events that might happen.
Jeremy Cline 13:21
And I get the impression with some businesses that they are quite keen on showcasing their experts actually. Now I reflect on it, certainly in my career in law, it's quite common to see in directories - as well as the top firms - the top people, and firms do kind of get behind you to build up your own personal brand, because particularly in the advisory space, people aren't working with firms, they're working with people and so the firms want to say, hey, we've got these half dozen experts and this is why they're so good. Come work with them as people rather than come to work for us at [name of firm].
Sam Winsbury 13:59
Yeah. From the buyer's point of view, if that company does have three or four people that are highly engaged in a conversation around their industry and providing helpful advice online around the service, seeing the fact that they are clearly passionate about what they do, and they are clearly experts in what they do goes a long way to actually convince them to actually work with them. From my point of view, I'd much rather work with a company that has that than one that just has their company as the face of everything and you don't really know what you're getting until you work with them.
Jeremy Cline 14:27
As an employee, now I'm convinced that I do need to do something to increase and improve my personal brand. Where do I start?
Sam Winsbury 14:35
Yeah. I think it's it depends whether you want to, as an employer, push your own personal brand, or get your employees to start pushing theirs as well. If you're doing the second - so you actually want your employees like we've just been talking about to actually develop a bit of a name for themselves - you really need them to buy into the company. They're not going to take it on their own hands and promote a company that even though they're working for them they're not really too fussed about the success of the company, they're just interested in getting their own paycheck month to month, right? So they do genuinely have to believe in the company and company culture is quite important in doing that. But I think once you've got that it's about creating synergy between each person so you're all engaged in the same sorts of conversations - you might each have your own take on it, or your own personal spin to put on things, but fundamentally you're not on social media or on LinkedIn or online contradicting what each other are saying, because that doesn't send a clear message out to your prospects, your potential clients or customers. I think ensuring you're all on the same page when engaging conversations around your industry is key.
Jeremy Cline 15:36
Okay, so that's from the perspective of an employer. What about an employee who regardless of what their employer is doing or wants to do wants to build up their own brand, which may or may not be in keeping with the brand of the employer. So it may be it's an employer who just doesn't do that much or whatever, or it's an employer that does and an employee is thinking okay, yes, I am quite happy to share these news stories on LinkedIn or that sort of thing, but I want to do more than that, I really want to work for me personally. So where does the employee start building out their own personal brand?
Sam Winsbury 16:11
Yeah. So you mentioned LinkedIn there and I think that probably is the place to go. Remember that your LinkedIn profile is your personal property, and an employer can't actually control what you do with it. So you are allowed to use that and post your own thoughts outside of work to that, and I think posting on platforms like LinkedIn and building up relationships with other people in the industry is probably the place to start, except that you're not going to suddenly create a name for yourself and have lots of people queuing up wanting to work with you within the first week. It's a process that takes time, you have to earn trust a lot of the time. You can't just expect people to like and trust you right away. You have to earn that by providing valuable information and if possible, make it entertaining at the same time. Now that's quite a difficult balance to get but if you're actually teaching people things whilst entertaining them, they're going to keep coming back for more. When they do that they start to see you as the authority within that space. So if you're maybe posting, it could be videos, it could be text, it could be clips from a podcast you've done with someone. It's not too difficult to set up a podcast nowadays, you can set that up like you've done, like I have, you can interview key people within your industry. And then you can post the podcast episodes, you can chop the episode up into maybe five or so one minute clips, and you can post those. And if you're consistently doing that, and providing value to people, they're going to come back time and again to see that content because you're improving their lives, and then they'll start to trust you as an authority within your space.
Jeremy Cline 17:34
So you're talking a lot about the content of someone's profile, and I get the impression that a lot of people, the way they use LinkedIn is really just to grow the number of connections they've got. I'm quite often getting connection or LinkedIn requests from people I've no idea who the heck they are. So would you say that content is more important or as equally important as the number of connections, or is the number of connections important?
Sam Winsbury 18:01
I see content is as important as quality of connections, not so much quantity. There are people on LinkedIn that are running hugely successful businesses and getting hundreds of job offers with a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand connections, there are others with hundreds of thousands that aren't doing anything, really. So I think the quality of connections is really important, and as important as your content, which comes from actually having conversations with people. Don't just spam off a load of connection requests and then never speak to the person again - you actually want to get to know them, you want to be talking to them both in private messages and engaging in each other's content. I think that's where the two intertwine is if you have your own content that's creating conversation. You know, if people are commenting with their own thoughts on it, you can have a conversation with them in the comment section of your content. And that balance between the two is is the best way I think to both build up a well-known brand and a well-respected brand.
Jeremy Cline 18:56
Creating content sounds like quite a lot of hard work, especially if you are in one of those traditional long hour professions where you don't have an awful lot of time, and indeed, as part of that you might be expected to produce content on a professional basis. So a bulletin that gets put out by your firm to its clients and that sort of thing. So where do you start on working out what sort of content to put out, especially if you've got limited time? How do you know how best to use your time?
Sam Winsbury 19:28
Sure. There's two things here. The first is knowing what to post, and the second is knowing how to create that post, or how to create that content in a way that doesn't take up hours and hours of your free time. So the first understanding what to post - there are loads of resources you can use for this to find out questions that people are asking in your industry. One of them is Quora. So if you search something like you could search law into Quora, and there would be a list of questions that real people have actually asked about law, and you can simply then create content that answers some of those questions. Because you know that's going to be helpful for people, because people are actually asking for it. There's other ones - Answer the Public is a great resource where you can type in any industry, and it's going to give you a list of things that people have searched Google for. So those are probably two give resources to find out what people actually want to consume. The second part is then creating that content in a way that it doesn't take up all of your time. I think one way to do it is simply provide insights on things that you experience day to day. If you experience them, chances are a lot of other people are. So if you maybe had an encounter with a client, and there was one lesson that you learned from it in a day, you could literally record a one minute audio or write 100 words of text about it, and just provide that lesson that you learnt and other people will benefit from it because chances are they're going through similar sorts of things. It could be a thought you've had reading an article on something, you know, whilst you're having your breakfast or having your coffee. You don't need to stress yourself out and really spend hours and hours stressing over what to create. The way I do it, and this is probably more applicable if you're more actively looking to build your personal brand is actually just block out a chunk of time. I do mine at the weekends, someone else might like to do it one evening, and batch create content in that time. So I will create all my posts for the next week on a Sunday. And because I've then done it all in one go, all I have to do day to day is just copy and paste it and post and that takes 30 seconds. So that's a massive time saver for me. I think just to add, one really beneficial thing is repurposing. So you don't have to reinvent the wheel. I mentioned this a little bit earlier with the podcast episodes that you can chop up into short clips - if you have one long form piece of content, so a podcast or a blog post, or maybe you record a 5, 10 minute video for YouTube, you can then take that piece and turn the same piece of content into five clips, a couple of text posts, maybe an image with a quote on it. You don't have to completely reinvent the wheel every time you create content. It's okay to repeat the same things a couple of times, because not everyone is going to see them each time.
Jeremy Cline 22:04
I was going to ask you, with a platform like LinkedIn, how does it work in terms of what gets shown to people? So I know that Facebook is completely mysterious, as far as I can tell, in terms of if you post something who it gets seen by when it gets seen by, whether it gets seen. What's it like on LinkedIn?
Sam Winsbury 22:23
Yeah, LinkedIn at the moment is doing a similar thing to what Facebook did in the early 2010s, where the organic reach - so that means the number of people that are seeing your post - is really high. So you can post something and it easily gets seen by tens of thousands of people. On Facebook, that's probably not going to happen unless you already have a huge audience. So on LinkedIn, how it will work is it will take your post and it will show it to a collection, not all but some of your first degree connections. So people that you'e actually reached out to, connected with and you are now connected to each other. And it will show it to a selection of those people. It will then take into account the likes, comments and shares. And more recently, they've also included the amount of time people are spending on that post. So the time spent reading, watching it. And it will take those four things into account. And if they're all really high, so lots of people are commenting, lots of people are liking, sharing and staying on the piece of content, it will start validating the post. LinkedIn's algorithm says, Okay, this is a piece of content that people are enjoying. And it will then distribute it to more of your first degree connections, and also second degree connections, so people that your connections are connected to, but you aren't connected to yourself. So it's more indirect people, friends of friends, if you like. And then it can obviously go out to friends of friends of friends as well. That's kind of an overview of how they spread your content.
Jeremy Cline 23:46
And in terms of the length of your content, if you're doing it, is it enough just to post a 20-word quote or something like that, or should you really be aiming for 300 words, 500 words?
Sam Winsbury 24:03
Yeah. I think it's important to take what I say here with a pinch of salt. A 20 word quote is going to be fine, but if you're posting them every single day, you might not see the returns you're expecting. If you were to post a quote one day, and then maybe a slightly longer post the next. I think it's important to say what you need to say in as few words or in as little time as you can. Don't waffle on and add extra information just to make up a bulk of text, right? If you can say it in 20 words, then by all means do, but often, you're not gonna be able to deliver the kind of value that you need in order for people to come back time and time again for you in 20 words, it's probably going to take slightly longer.
Jeremy Cline 24:41
So LinkedIn is obviously one way of doing this. Are there other ways in which people can improve their personal brand, particularly from a professional level? And particularly, I'm still thinking in the context of employees - is LinkedIn the way to do it are other alternatives?
Sam Winsbury 24:58
Yeah, it depends on the industry and the goals you're having. LinkedIn I use as the go-to because a) the organic reach at the moment, as I said, is really high. So you can quickly get in front of lots of people. And it's also a fairly professional platform. It's not really as much of a corporate hiring platform as it used to be in maybe the early 2010s. It's becoming much more social, but it is still at its core, a professional network of other business owners and employees. So that's why I've used it because it suits my goals and my industry. For other people, Instagram may be a better option. So if you're in maybe skincare, that would be a great place to build a personal brand around skincare as a random example. YouTube is a great platform if you're particularly good at producing video content, or it might be podcasting for you. You can podcast without a social media profile, and that's fine. Yeah, I think it's important just to take into account what you're looking to achieve and where your audience are going to be.
Jeremy Cline 25:55
And how do you measure success? How do you know that what you're putting out there is the right thing to be putting out there?
Sam Winsbury 26:02
Again, it's going to depend on personal goals and the goal of each post you're putting out. For me, the ultimate goal of my personal brand is to generate clients. So that is the core success metric. I think it's important to keep your personal brand very practical, and not just build it for likes and comments to validate your ego - it should actually have a result that you want to achieve. It might not even be related to you, it might be about bringing about social change, for example. And then you've also got post to post, I mentioned likes and comments there, which aren't actually bad things. A lot of the time comments are very good indicator of how successful a post was, because it shows that you're generating conversation, and if people are having a conversation on a post, as I said, that's gonna mean it's shown to more people. I think it's important to take into account the goal of each of each post and of your personal brand in general. If you put a post out that you want people to click on a link and donate money to charity, for example, the success of that post should be how many people have donated not how many people have commented. I hope that kind of makes sense in terms of just identifying the goal you have for each piece and kind of measuring the success piece by piece rather than with an overall metric.
Jeremy Cline 27:11
I can see one objection that someone might have, particularly if they work in a big organisation is a fear that they can't go too off piste as regards where they work. Is that a legitimate concern? Or is that really a mindset thing, and as long as you don't go on to LinkedIn slag off your employer, then you can pretty much go your own way?
Sam Winsbury 27:37
Yeah. As I mentioned earlier, your LinkedIn profile is your property. So it's not theirs to control but obviously, if you're posting things that don't align the company are probably well within their right to have a conversation with you about it.
Jeremy Cline 27:51
They can still see it and it's not going to be a great career move for you to sort of say, Oh yeah, this company's rubbish!
Sam Winsbury 27:57
Exactly! So I think in terms of how you representing your company, I would try and stay away from expressing views - if they're positive, fine, but I wouldn't bother expressing negative opinions. It's not going to help you or them, and I think any form of being disrespectful, or slagging anyone off is not productive. It's not practical. It doesn't help you really, and it doesn't help your company. So I think as long as you're being quite objective about what you're saying, and you're not making too many direct references to the company, then you're going to be okay. And if people are disagreeing with you, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I often say that if you don't have anyone disagreeing with you, you're not really pushing your personal brand enough. Because naturally, there's going to be people that don't see things how you are, and you need to express yourself exactly how you think it is. But yeah, as I said, being disrespectful or things like that - you just have to weigh out the practicality of it. And I think it's generally it should be pretty clear what's a smart thing to post and what's not.
Jeremy Cline 28:54
And that thing about people disagreeing with you, then I guess unless it is part of your personality and part of your brand, you shouldn't necessarily be deliberately stirring up controversy. And I'm sure that works very well for some people - I can't think of any morning TV presenters that that works quite well for...! But yeah, presumably, it's something you've got to be a bit careful of and make sure that it does actually suit you and fit with you.
Sam Winsbury 29:17
Sometimes you just need to take a step back from what you're posting and probably weigh up the benefits compared to the potential backlash. But generally, I don't think it's something too many people need to worry about. You know, even if people disagree with you, it's quite hard to get into an argument about that sort of thing, unless you're looking for it.
Jeremy Cline 29:33
So for someone who hasn't really done anything, someone who's got a LinkedIn profile, but they haven't posted anything, they've got 50 to 100 connections, but they otherwise don't use LinkedIn at all. What's an easy win that someone can do a good first step just to start the ball rolling.
Sam Winsbury 29:53
I'd probably start with your profile. And first of all, get yourself a reasonably high quality profile picture. You don't have to splash out thousands of pounds on a professional photographer when you're just getting started. Just something that shows a clear headshot, is reasonably high quality - you could take it on an iPhone, and it would be good enough quality to start with. Your head and shoulders, people can see your face.
Jeremy Cline 30:14
Company profile picture? So if you've got a picture of yourself on your company website, is that a good one to sort of nick and use that?
Sam Winsbury 30:20
Yeah, absolutely. Again, it's going to be dependent on your industry. So let's take a fitness coach, for example, would probably have them in fitness clothes rather than a suit. But if you're in the legal space a picture of you in a suit that was maybe on a company page would be fine, just something that shows your face clearly. Next thing is your tagline. So that's the bit of text that appears underneath your profile. And those two things, your profile picture and your tagline, are going to be the first things people see when they see your profile in the feed or in the My Network tab. So before they've actually clicked on your profile, this is what they're going to see. So you want something that's going to get people to actually visit your full profile and something that clearly expresses what you do. For employees, this is going to be slightly different to people running their own businesses. But yeah, give people a reason to visit your profile, I think is the key thing. And then the next important section, I think, is the About section. That's essentially an extension of your tagline where you can go into a little bit more depth about what you're doing. And in that, you probably just want to express the kinds of things you're going to be posting around why you're doing it and who you're posting for. So it really is a longer version of your tagline, if you like.
Jeremy Cline 31:26
Have you come across anyone who has been in the process of pivoting and had to advise them as to how they sort of go about realigning their LinkedIn profile. So say someone who they've spent 15 years as an accountant, and then they've actually decided that they want to go and open a restaurant - at this time that's probably not something that someone would contemplate, but they want to go and do something completely different! But it could be a process, it might be something that they start planning for and then doesn't come into fruition for a while. How does someone like that manage their personal profile, particularly on LinkedIn? Or is it just something you kind of park in stasis until you're out the other end?
Sam Winsbury 32:12
So I think the first point is to use the transition to your advantage. So if there's a reason why you've been in this career for 15 years, and now you're transitioning to something else, make that kind of storyline really clear, because that's going to resonate with people and allow them to get behind you a bit more. The other is actually being very authentic and realistic about the situation. Don't try and dress anything up, just show people exactly the stage you're at. And as that changes and as you develop, post things so that people are well aware of the stage you're ar. Don't be afraid, don't think you kind of need to cover it up or cover up the transition, I think embrace that and show it for everyone to see.
Jeremy Cline 32:50
Do you think people need to be a bit cautious and I'm just thinking about my accountant whose employer might have no idea that he's planning on starting a restaurant and he's doing stuff behind the scenes?
Sam Winsbury 32:59
If your employees are heavily active on LinkedIn that's obviously something you've got to consider. I think probably the best way to get around is to be real with your employers as well and maybe let them know that this is happening, because it's a conversation you're going to have to have at some point. But I think I personally have never been in that position where I've been employed by someone and I'm building a personal brand outside of that. So maybe I'm not one to give too much advice on that because I haven't actually been in the situation. But if I could say anything, it would be have the conversation early on.
Jeremy Cline 33:28
And just one final thing about LinkedIn. There's a certain amount of wariness to putting all your eggs in one basket. Now obviously there's there's only so much time people have got and it probably does make sense to start on one platform and really develop that platform. But is there a new thing that people can think about doing to ensure against LinkedIn evolving and becoming something completely different? Or who knows even shutting down? I mean, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.
Sam Winsbury 33:57
Yeah, absolutely. If LinkedIn goes down for a day or two which it does quite often, you don't want your personal brand or your business to be wiped out completely. So I think it's also important to balance that with not spreading yourself too thin as you mentioned. The way I do it is by having what I call home ground as well. So that could be a YouTube channel, podcast, a website - things less likely to go down. Probably your website is the biggest one of those. And that's a place where you control the content. On LinkedIn you're competing with a lot of other people. On your website, you control everything that a visitor is seeing. So have a home ground where it's really there for you to fill. A podcast is another good example. You control the content they're seeing, and you control whether that podcast or website is online or not and available for people to see. And then you can use that in line with your LinkedIn profile. And it's not something that has to require a load more content creation or effort. If you can have something where you control it and it complements your LinkedIn then that's perfect.
Jeremy Cline 34:56
And aside from your own website and getting in contact with you - and I'll ask you in a moment how people can do that - are there any other particular tools or resources that people might look into if they want to start thinking about developing their personal brand, or things that you recommend to clients or things that you found useful yourself?
Sam Winsbury 35:14
There's a book called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg, I believe is the author's name, which is one of the best books I've ever read. It kind of changed my whole philosophy around personal branding. Yeah, if there's any resource I recommend people read, it would be that.
Jeremy Cline 35:29
And in terms of finding you and getting in contact with you, where's the best place to find you?
Sam Winsbury 35:33
Yeah, best place is on LinkedIn. My name is Sam Winsbury on there. So feel free to reach out and shoot me a message. I'll be happy to chat.
Jeremy Cline 35:41
Brilliant. I will put a link to that in the show notes for this episode. Sam, really interesting topic, so thank you for sharing with us.
Sam Winsbury 35:48
Jeremy, thank you very much for having me on. It's been a pleasure.
Jeremy Cline 35:51
Okay, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Sam Winsbury. It's interesting what Sam was saying. I can see how if you've got your own business or you're a self employed person, how having your own personal brand is really going to be valuable. I hadn't really given much thought to the value of having a personal brand as an employee. I mean, yeah sure you can share things on LinkedIn that your employer wants you to share, be it articles or whatever, but actually going to the trouble of building up your own personal brand, putting up your own content there wasn't something that I'd really thought about and the value in it. But there was a lot to what Sam was saying about how yeah it can be really valuable for you. Employers are using LinkedIn more and at a time when people are much more worried about job security, then yes, I can see that having something which showcases you personally, and your skills would be something that's pretty useful to have. Links to Sam's contact details and the resources that we mentioned in this episode are on the website changeworklife.com/51, and if you enjoyed this episode, and you haven't subscribed to the show, well, there's gonna be some other great content on there, which you're really going to enjoy. So take out whatever device you're listening to this on and hit subscribe. As always, there's a great episode coming next week and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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