Last Wednesday, I sat among some 200 Northwestern students and alumni at Fulton’s on the River in downtown Chicago to hear from Jason Seiden — Kellogg ’02 alum and co-founder of Ajax Social Media, the first and only company to offer training certified by LinkedIn — at “Marketing You: Standing Out in the Digital Crowd.”
During the event, co-sponsored by the Northwestern Alumni Association and the Northwestern Club of Chicago, Seiden imparted his 17 years of communications wisdom on personal branding in an hour-long keynote. There were many takeaways from his talk, but all served to drive home his central message: Tell one story.
What does this mean? To start, our personal and professional lives (something Seiden has coined “profersonal”) are no longer separate — we’re friends with co-workers, we’re friends with clients and employers can see the company we keep at the click of a mouse. With both worlds intersecting, we can only have one story. It can be multifaceted (a more professional story on LinkedIn and a more personal one on Facebook) and it can have subplots, but it needs to show the same person across the board — in person, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, and wherever else you might be.
Seiden offered an example of this “profersonal” life in the form of a PR professional (and amateur baker) who touts the baking business she has on the side. To a client, her side business implies that her time and energy are split between her career and hobby. However, if she instead says that she uses her baking business to experiment with new PR strategies, she has successfully used two facets of her story to tell one story that appeals to her customer.
Seiden also shared how to tell this single story through one’s LinkedIn summary — in 3 thoughts:
1) What do you do?
2) How are you better?
3) What is something personal about yourself that makes it easy for the person reading your profile to get in touch with you?
Consider also using LinkedIn applications. Seiden recommends the Amazon reading list (showcase the books you enjoy), the SlideShare app (share presentations related to your field), and posting status updates, to name a few.
Now that you’ve got your story straight, how do you stand out among hundreds of millions of others on social media? Easy enough: You stand out by being you, Seiden said. Allow your audience to get to know the real you. Ask yourself: What would you like to see that no one else has done – or, at least, has done well? Then do it to the level you’d like to see it done.