By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

How to Build a Personal Brand on LinkedIn and Beyond

Looking at her LinkedIn profile, you might not imagine that Kit Huffman graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2022.

As she shared recently on LinkedIn: “Yes, I’m a 23-year-old recent college female grad, but I’m ALSO a published and proven personal branding strategist.”

Kit, who started using social media in the sixth grade, has more than 3,000 LinkedIn followers and runs an agency, SENECA, which specializes in helping C-level executives and senior leaders enhance their personal brand via social media.

Kit comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and she says it’s only natural that she would start a business of her own after earning her degree. Her father left a marketing executive position at The Walt Disney Company to spend more time with his family and run a bowling alley in Holland, Michigan, while her maternal grandfather is the third generation to helm a boiler parts business.

Kit says business conversations when she was a kid bit her with the business bug. “I feel like I’ve always just had a pull towards entrepreneurship,” she says.

Using the skills she gained in business school and from building up her own personal brand, Kit now helps other entrepreneurs use social media to bolster their image and form lasting connections that lead to career moves.

She shares her toolkit for clients — knowing your “why,” as defined by author and thought leader Simon Sinek, as well as defining your metrics for success and maintaining a consistent social media presence.

Whether your (or your client’s) goal is to win venture capital funding, get promoted, spur new projects or become a thought leader, here are Kit’s tips for building a personal brand through social media.

How to Build a Personal Brand on LinkedIn and Beyond A Five-Step Toolkit to Build Your Personal Brand

A personal brand is more than your current job and your career moves. Your digital record holds more power than any single project that you might work on now or in the future. “Your personal brand is such an asset you can carry with you beyond your company,” says Kit.

Kit’s engagement on LinkedIn shows that she’s built that resource for herself, developing her own professional community and elevating her status as a thought leader in personal branding.

Working with her strategies, executives can use social media to build up their personal brands and grow a business.

1. Know your “why”

There could be many reasons to build a personal brand and knowing your goals can help you target not only your ideal platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) but the content that you will share.

Kit talks about a client who is working towards Series C funding. Kit began posting interesting and engaging Twitter and LinkedIn posts about her client’s startup, and the client shared that in venture capital meetings, they received positive comments about both social media channels — a sign that the hard work of posting and engaging with their community was paying off.

2. Start small and with intention

Kit advises her clients to start out with one social media platform at a time to get into the social media “swing of things.”

While you don’t have to only focus on LinkedIn, it can be a jumpstart for other content in the future. Remember that content created for one platform can then be repurposed to post elsewhere.

First, look at the content that you already have — like a website — and that of others in your industry. For LinkedIn, think about adding a polished headshot and background image, and making sure your About section shows your personality and expertise.

A compelling LinkedIn ‘About’ section, which many people overlook, Kit says, should be an opportunity for people to truly get to know you. You can talk about why you got started in your business, what you are passionate about and why someone should connect. And always write in the first person.

In Kit’s About section on LinkedIn, for example, she talks about how she grew up in a small town, how that experience taught her the importance of community and how she applies the concept of an in-person community to social media.

“It tells you about who I am in my past, and how that relates to who I am now, as a social media professional,” says Kit.

3. Define your themes

When you are first creating your personal brand it can be overwhelming. How do you know what to post? Kit suggests focusing on three or four overarching themes to start, such as entrepreneurship, startups, cryptocurrency or technology.

If you’d like to be a thought leader, you can share blog posts about your area of expertise. To advance your career, you could highlight your work and network with companies that you might like to collaborate with.

The goal is to keep your audience engaged, while staying focused on your themes.

4. Be consistent

Social media content is like a heartbeat — regular content keeps the blood flow going and organ beating. By posting regularly, you have an opportunity to stay engaged with your target audience in an accessible and consistent way.

Kit says setting attainable goals will keep the momentum going. If your aspirations are too high, you’ll get bogged down and give up. If your aims are too low, your audience won’t be engaged. If you don’t have time to write several posts per week, try sharing other people’s posts mixed in with your own work.

Be flexible and open to changing your schedule, but start with a basic timeline to keep yourself accountable.

5. Make authentic connections

In the initial stage of building a personal brand, sharing on LinkedIn is a smart move because it is generally less saturated with content than other channels like Facebook and Instagram. Kit calls it “the most powerful place to network.”

You can access high-level executives by sending personalized messages that show you read their profile and content. This is where personal branding can help you network — and maybe find that next project or job.

Kit shares how some personal brands even surpass those of the companies behind them. Elon Musk’s Twitter following is several times that of Tesla’s; same with Bill Gates and Microsoft. Despite being tied to these companies, Musk and Gates have separated themselves from their corporate entities to become brands in their own right.

When you are building your personal brand, it’s about showing who you are, not just talking about your business goals. Because when it comes down to it, even in a digital world, Kit says, “people want to get to know people, they don’t want to get to know companies.”

This is based on episode 190 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.