I talk a lot about small businesses because I am a small business owner – it comes naturally to me. I’m also really passionate about helping out other small business owners, so I like to talk about things that I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve been doing a lot of work with larger companies and corporations lately. It’s fun to create a unified look for employees that need to fit into their corporate brand.
Recently it occurred to me that even employees of larger companies need to have their own separate brands and identities. Employees need to establish themselves online, at least through professional sites like LinkedIn, as individuals unique from their employers.
What I’m trying to say is that even if someone works for Gigantic Company Z, he or she needs to develop their own separate identity on LinkedIn. He shouldn’t be Charles Tomlinson of Gigantic Company Z. He should be Charles Tomlinson, currently employed at Gigantic Company Z.
Why, you ask?
Well, corporations are made up of their employees. Employees aren’t made up of their employers. If you work for a larger company, it’s just as important for your career to have a killer LinkedIn profile as the freelance small business owner looking for work.
Let’s take the example of our fictional employee, Charles, and explain to him why he needs to establish his own independent brand.
- There’s a slim chance that you will be with your current employer for your whole career. Employees now stay with one employer an average of approximately four and a half years. It’s totally normal now to job hop frequently, if not yearly, in some positions. There are lots of reasons for job hopping, but we don’t need to get into that here. The important take-away is that there’s an excellent chance that you won’t always be employed with Gigantic Company Z. Therefore, you need to keep your eyes on the horizon for the next great opportunity… and employer. If you brand yourself as just another cog in the wheel at Gigantic Company Z, you aren’t going to stand out to recruiters. If you brand yourself as a savvy IT professional who happens to work at Gigantic Company Z right now, then you can.
- Individual people make stronger brands because humans gravitate to other humans, not faceless organizations. If you think about some of the great businesspeople of our time, many of them succeeded at creating separate brands that they then used to promote their businesses. Think Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. Or Martha Stewart. Or Sean Combs – aka Puff Daddy. These are all people who developed a reputation and then made money off of it. Reality shows are so popular because people like to see the more “human” sides of celebrities. We like to relate to others. We don’t try to relate ourselves to Apple or Disney – we relate to the lives of people like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney. Create a personal brand that is professional, relatable, and approachable. The more people can connect to you as a person, including all your skills and accomplishments, the more successful you’ll be in your career.
- You’ve got to stand out in today’s competitive marketplace. It’s no joke out there. There are lay-offs and reorganizations and mergers. All sorts of crazy things go on in the corporate world AND in the government/government-contracting world. It’s not enough to have a college degree anymore. Almost everyone has one. You need to show recruiters why your expertise is better, why your professionalism is better, why your experience is better, and why YOU are better. Period. There’s college grads out there making video résumés! Every great job opening gets tens, if not hundreds, of applications. Your next employer isn’t interested in hiring some random Gigantic Company Z employee – they want someone special. They want YOU.
I think we’ve convinced Charles to establish his own brand. Who knows… maybe Charles will start his own company one day? If he does, he’ll be able to leverage his personal brand to help launch his new company.
Of course, I can’t complete this without a little photographer suggestion…
Charles should use his own unique headshot for LinkedIn, and not just the one provided to him by Gigantic Company Z. Part of branding yourself is branding yourself visually, and there is no better way to do that than with an amazing headshot. Even if his headshot was really great with Gigantic Company Z, he needs to differentiate himself from their corporate culture with his own “look.”
Whether you are just like Charles or you own your own business, brand yourself. It’s the best thing you can do for you and your career.
Alimond Photography Studio specializes in creating strategic corporate headshot portraits for not only the individual small business entrepreneur, but also the Fortune 500 Company. Alimond Photography Studio is located in downtown Leesburg, Virginia, where they will create the perfect look for you in their 1300 square foot photo studio. If you have a large team or you have a specific vision you want to create, we can also come out to you on location of your choice. Please go HERE to get more info and set up your session.