How to Leverage your Personal Brand and LinkedIn at Work

June 29, 2022

Podcast Episode 15: How to Leverage your Personal Brand and Linkedin at Work with Cher Jones

Our personal brand is a powerful business tool to establish trust, credibility and belonging in a world where face-to-face is not always an option. Cher Jones specializes in personal branding for the hybrid workplace, and she joined us on this episode of the Campfire Circle to tell us all about it! 

Her mission is teaching leaders who love their jobs and the companies they work for how to develop a strategic personal brand so they can take charge of their own success at work. In this episode, Cher walks us through the mindset of showing up online, leveraging social media for work, and achieving a socially active presence. 

“Most people are under-branded. They’re over delivering and under branded. What people need to recognize is that if you don’t give people the language to talk about you when you’re not in the room …  you’re doing yourself a disservice because people won’t know.  And if they don’t know, they’re not going to give it to you.” – Cher Jones

Highlights from the podcast episode: 

We discussed:

[02:20] What Cher grew through to become the guide she is today

[02:20] What Cher grew through to become the guide she is today

[10:15] How employees’ personal brands build workplace culture and belonging

[14:30] Handling mindset blocks about personal branding and visibility

[17:51] Breaking cultural norms to build standout personal brands as women of color

[22:26] How Cher produces her epic LinkedIn lives

[27:23] How to practice going Live on LinkedIn

[31:05] Cher’s vision for the future

[02:20] What Cher grew through to become the guide she is today

I love that question because there are so many iterations to share. Eventually, I went into PR and communications for the City of Toronto, doing government PR. Obama had just won the elections, and we had a mayor who was really prolific on Twitter (when Twitter was the hotness for everything.) Most of the communicators in the city – there were about 130 of them total – weren’t very comfortable with social media. 

I worked in the Social Development Division and they did a lot of work inside neighborhoods and their communities. We opened community centers and other infrastructure-type projects, but didn’t get as much media attention as other areas. So, we started using social media under my guidance. I developed the communication strategies for the entire division, and if you said ‘Cher Jones’ you said social media in the same sentence. 

I started to realize that there was an opportunity to help other divisions and communicators use social media. I developed the city’s first training on social media and developed their policies for employees. Only 25 people had access to social media, and I was one of them. I wanted to be at that table and bring perspective. Our senior communicators were on the web, but they weren’t on social. So, I had to bring perspective on actual users using social media and what that means. 

My internal clients started recommending me to their external community partners, “Hey, can you speak to youth about using social media for jobs, and not wrecking their entire futures by posting drunk pictures or whatever?” 

But I realized, “Why are we telling them about the negative but not how they could leverage social media to get work?” I was like, “Listen, let’s take it from an asset-based perspective. How can you build a brand where people want to hire you because it’s hard to ignore awesome on the internet!” 

Over the last ten years, my brand has morphed from a social media trainer that specializes in personal branding, to a personal branding expert at work talking about how to leverage social media for work at work, because we’re recognizing that people look you up before they call you. Even more so in this hybrid world of work to grow the know, like, and trust factor. 

You’ve got to build a personal brand where people can trust you as a leader, as an expert, or just as someone who’s working day to day with the right partners and customers and community providers. If you’re an entrepreneur, same thing, especially if you’re a consultant or subject matter expert in the space. 

[10:15] How employees’ personal brands build workplace culture and belonging

One of the things that I don’t do, as a choice for my brand, is that I don’t work with active job seekers. But it is a legitimate concern, and I don’t want to devalue that. But what are you doing to keep them? Employers have to work a lot harder or step up to the plate as far as making sure that they’re providing a great place to work. It’s more than just money. It’s more about belonging and inclusion. And when you start to incorporate the brands of your employees into the bigger brand, you will see that they have also created a sense of ownership, especially when you start to co-create with your employee creators. I think that’s the next wave of where we’re going to see the growth of personal branding in the workspace: leveraging your employee experts and putting them out there. 

Yes, they’re at risk of being poached. Let’s not pretend that doesn’t exist. But at the same time, well-branded employees who seem to love their job and the work they do also attract new All-Star talent to the team. They get better results with their clients, as far as the relationships and loyalty that come with relationships. So you’ve got clients wanting to stay with this company because of the relationships they have. 

You’re able to showcase the culture and what it’s like to work there. And if we’re looking at  Gen Z and younger millennials, they’re really wanting to attach their personal brand to a corporate brand that cares and has people who look like them, who they can connect with. 

So, there’s more pluses, as far as leveraging the brands of your people. And usually, when they leave, it’s not because they have a great personal brand. [It’s something else, related to the workplace culture.] 

[14:30] Self-limiting beliefs and mindset blocks about personal branding and visibility

Most employees are under-branded. They’re overdelivering and they’re under-branded. What people need to recognize is that if you don’t give people the language to talk about you when you’re not in the room, if you don’t tell people what your expertise is, what it is you do, and what it is you love to do, you’re doing yourself a disservice, because people won’t know. And if they don’t know, they’re not going to give it to you. 

Also, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. People are getting ahead because they’re visible. They’re credible. The work that you do in your brand, the language that you associate with your brand (so people have the language to talk about you, whether it’s your clients, a sponsor at work, or someone championing you) – you need to give them something to talk about. 

As a personal brand, the burden of proof is on you. People look you up because they want to know who you are. So what you tell them is all they know at this point, right? If you don’t get in the mindset of letting people know how you can help them … I think the mindset shift that you’re asking for is most people around 35, all the way up into their 60s, the concept of bragging about themselves is a turn-off. But they’re not. Because what they’re doing is not “Here’s what I’ve done, look at me” to “Here’s how I can help you. And this is why you can trust me because this is what I’ve done.”

[17:51] Breaking cultural norms to build a standout personal brand as women of color

One of the biggest differences [in how historically underestimated individuals and white, hetero men’s comfort levels in building their personal brand] is that we’ve been culturally, at home, told to just do a good job and you’ll get noticed. But it doesn’t work like that anymore. 

So what we are battling is societal norms of how things have worked in the past. And yes, there is progression, yes, there is change around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. And that’s amazing stuff. But you still have the [internal] home training and the whole idea of “Don’t brag, don’t bring attention to yourself, just keep your head down. Work is not for friends, you just go there, do your work, go home” but that doesn’t work. You need to raise your hand and be able to articulate your value. And that goes against the grain. Right? 

We also have been taught over the years that anybody in a supervisory position – those with leverage or power over us – that we’re not to challenge them. Those are things that come into play. Speaking up for yourself and owning what makes you awesome, has been something that’s not natural to us, whereas other white heterosexual men have been socialized to tell people about themselves and own everything they bring to the table. And you know what, I can appreciate that privilege. I noticed that my children both walk with a different sense of expectation and privilege than I did. They have more power and authority in who they are and what they’re willing to own. 

We’re rewiring a lot of stuff that has been socially ingrained by our parents and people who love us. We need to unpack this and rewire my brain to be like, “No, I need to build these relationships, I need to speak out. And I need to let people know what I’m good at. So that they can use me more in those situations where I can add the best value.”

[22:26] How Cher produces her epic LinkedIn lives

I’m really excited that you asked this question because I think [LinkedIn Live] is such a powerful tool. And it’s going through the final approval stages, but I did a LinkedIn learning for LinkedIn lives. It’s all about creating your show and what you can do to engage your guests. 

When you’re doing a LinkedIn Live, you’ve got to remember, your audience is your third guest. So, you need to have an interactive conversation with them and make sure that you’re acknowledging your audience on the replay. What people don’t recognize is that most of your viewers will actually come when the LinkedIn Live is over. You have to make it an event for those that show up live and literally bring them in. People feel so good to be acknowledged and part of it. 

As a result, I look at my stats and I don’t get a lot of dips. Those who stay on stay on for the duration of the show. Another tip embedded into that is recognizing the length of my show, I try to go for 30 minutes and then I end up around 42 minutes. At the end of the day, it’s about engaging them as part of the conversation. It’s not TV, it’s like an intimate conversation that we’re having. You’ve got people going back and forth. 

Have questions that you immediately engage them in. Recognize that when you’re doing a LinkedIn Live, the first three minutes you’re talking to your replay viewers because everybody’s not there yet. You’ve got to remember that 90% of your audience is watching this first part, because that’s what’s gonna hook them in to watch the rest.

You could totally go Live without a problem. Of course, in the beginning, you’re gonna deal with the tech like everybody else. Like it’s like “What the tech?” but you figure it out, and then you’re good to go.

[27:23] How to practice going Live on LinkedIn 

The first thing I’d tell you to do is go broadcast to a private YouTube channel, or unlisted YouTube channel just to get the kinks out. Because really, it’s about leveraging technology and speaking at the same time, like you’re walking and chewing gum at the same time. 

So you don’t want to go live to LinkedIn, like your money network, the first time, right? So go practice. Grab a couple of friends and say, “I just need to practice switching the camera. I just need to practice putting up the graphics or starting the intro.” That way, you can just get the willies out. Once you do that, honestly your lives are similar to your podcast. There’s no editing afterwards, unless you want to grab pieces.

If you’re thinking about repurposing a LinkedIn Live,  make sure that you know what sections are in your rundown. You have a list of things, kind of an agenda – a run of the show. You can carve out spots in your agenda where you know that you’re going to chop it. At that point, you’re not going to interact with your audience in this one section because you know you’re going to repackage that piece for another network, or as its own standalone content later on LinkedIn that you can reuse and recycle. 

So definitely, take the plunge and practice. Practice with the tech and you’ll be fine. And I have so many shows where the tech messed up. I’ve splashed water on my computer. I had lipstick on my teeth. My mic was not working. All those things happen live and it’s not that deep. It’s not a big deal. You just keep it moving.

And you’re progressing the entire way through. Even though I know my starting level is higher than most just because of my broadcasting background, I still see this significant progress between Episode One and Episode 50. It’s about having comfort in the mess-up, because the mess-ups are gonna happen. It’s just how you roll with it. Do you know what I mean? And it’s just in the beginning, you feel like it’s the end of the world. But it’s really not that deep. 

[31:05] Cher’s vision for the future

It’s interesting because it’s morphing. The last few years of digital acceleration have been eye-opening as far as where the world is going with personal branding. In my immediate future, definitely, my book focuses on personal branding at work. There’s a bit of a glut there as far as personal branding for people who actually love their jobs, want to stand out and do well, own their awesomeness at work, become an employee influencer or employee creator, and leverage their brands to access those hidden opportunities. 

What’s the next iteration for what I do? I still might see myself as an entrepreneur. But I also see now as companies are recognizing that they do have employee creators and employee influencers at work, perhaps working for a multinational company that wants to really invest in the brands of their people and create a dynamic program that could change the way they interact and engaged with their partners, their investors, their clients, the industry at large, leveraging the people that are behind the brand –  a people-powered branding strategy – and leveraging that in a company. 

But I still will also want to take the stage on a large scale in accompanying my book. So, it’s all in the same personal branding space. And, also exploring the metaverse and what your brand looks like in the metaverse.  Basically, don’t sleep on what’s next and the metaverse is next. I’m seeing these immersive worlds and how, especially with this digital acceleration of life and business, it’s going to change how we interact and engage completely over the next ten years. It’s about being on the front end of that shift, too. 

Connect with Cher Jones: 

Website: trainwithsociallyactive.com

LinkedIn: Cher Jones

Instagram: @itscherjones

Twitter: @itscherjones

Resources from this episode:

14 LinkedIn Content Prompts: Build your personal brand and thought leadership, show up for your target audience and grow your know-like-trust factor with your professional audience on LinkedIn. 

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To become an approachable expert. To stand out as you stand up for your mission. Learn more at: https://lumosmarketing.co/linkedin-vip-day 

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