Personal brand
Credit: Unsplash

By taking the time to make these changes, you’ll improve your odds of success in the year ahead

It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is a just a few weeks away, and so is a new professional year. As the calendar flips to January, why not take a couple of hours out of your holidays to update your professional brand?

1. Refine the first three inches of your LinkedIn profile
As a LinkedIn Youth Editor, I come across hundreds of profiles that are fluffed with boring, outdated and irrelevant copied-and-pasted information that do people more harm than good.

The first thing I encourage you to do is refine the first three inches of your Linkedin profile. Not everyone might read your entire profile down to the references at the bottom. But if you can accurately showcase your authentic and professional self in the first three inches of the mobile or desktop versions of LinkedIn, when someone clicks on your profile, you’ll be off to the races.

This means a couple of things. First, you must have a high-quality background picture that reflects your industry or values. (Unsplash is great.) Second, you need an engaging professional photo. Not the one from your first job or from your Facebook profile that you cropped your best friend out of—a real-life, up-to-date and professional portrait so someone can recognize you when you’re waiting in the coffee shop for that first meeting.

Some other important features of those first three inches include your headline, the first two sentences of your summary, your educational background and external links. Make sure each of those position you with the right industry and the decision makers you’re trying to connect with.

LinkedIn
Credit: Unsplash

2. Update key projects and brand affiliations
Let’s be honest, you had a great 2018. You finally finished that key project at work you got roped into, you were featured in a Fast Company article, and you joined an advisory board for your friend’s charity. Now that all the hard work is done, you just have to reflect it in your social feeds and online brand.

Make sure to add those affiliations to your Twitter bio, Instagram summary or email signature. It will help your profile and/or portfolio be better discovered because Google notices your SEO with those keywords, brands or projects you’re adding. If you've worked with some phenomenal new industry leaders or influencers from a new campaign you organized, add them to your network or stay in touch over their social media channels.

3. Set one goal to strive for, and position your brand to achieve it
Last year I set a goal to give a TEDx talk. I told a couple of friends, and they held me accountable. As a result, I knew I had to take the proper steps to align myself with the process.

I studied local TEDx locations, connected for phone calls with past speakers and followed compelling industry leaders who were renowned speakers in relevant fields that I was keen to talk about.

Over the summer, the TEDx speaker confirmation email dropped into my inbox. I was accepted to speak at TEDxLafargeLake in Coquitlam after submitting my application and taking the time to surround myself with those who had done it before.

I was amazed by the ability of a personal brand to help provide the resources, relationships and skills needed to equip me to give that TEDx talk. And want to know the best part? You can easily do the same thing.

It could be launching a Shopify store, building that fundraiser for your social impact idea or taking a real estate certification class. Identify one of your key goals for 2019, and reorient your personal brand to position you to accomplish it.

4. Refresh your social media feeds
Periodically, I refine who I follow on each of my social media platforms. Your time is your most important asset, and your online feeds should reflect that. 

It could be that old university friend who posts a little too much about the new car he’s excited to rebuild, or a celebrity who really isn’t sharing enlightening updates that are relevant to you. Simply unfollow these profiles to refresh your feeds and save you time.

On the other hand, add or connect with people who are sharing incredible content related to your life. This could be a new political leader in your region, a recent colleague or an influencer focused on the same industry as you.

By applying these tips to your professional brand in the new year, there’s no telling how much more easily your resolutions, personal or professional, might come to fruition.

If you need a quick summary or want to send a screenshot to a friend, remember these four tips: 

1. Refine the first three inches of your LinkedIn profile
2. Update key projects and brand affiliations
3. Set one goal to strive for and position your brand to achieve it
4. Refresh your social media feeds

Got another suggestion? Send me a message on LinkedIn.

Happy holidays, and all the best as you prepare for 2019. Let’s make it the best year yet.

Joel Hansen is a business development manager for the Skidmore Group in Vancouver. He’s also co-director of the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference, a TEDx speaker and a youth adviser to LinkedIn and Adobe. Hansen regularly writes and speaks about building experiences that bring people together.