You are more than your job. You are a “brand.” And how you present yourself to colleagues and peers will affect that brand — even if you work in IT, and whether you’re aware of it or not.
Your brand includes everything from who’s in your social media networks to how you voice your opinions, according to LinkedIn@Work, which surveyed more than 15,000 professionals in 19 countries.
On LinkedIn, for example, sharing a profile photo will make you 14 times more likely to be viewed. “Millennials have already mastered this — they change their profile photo on LinkedIn more often than any other demographic, making them the most viewed on LinkedIn,” writes LinkedIn’s Catherine Fisher in a post about the survey results.
“Whether it’s sharing a photo of yourself at a recent conference or a group photo from a team outing, the photos we share with our professional network firmly establish our professional brand and can make or break the first impression of potential employers, clients or partners,” she says.
This advice isn’t just relevant for employees who deal with customers or the public. Your users are your customers, and you’re accountable to the C suite.
The workplace is changing in other ways, too. The survey found that:
• 54% of respondents feel more comfortable challenging their boss now than when they first started their careers.
• Three in five don’t consider themselves to be “yes” employees.
• One-third said if they were unhappy with their job, leaving within a month would be okay.
While every workplace (and boss) is different, it’s becoming more acceptable to voice your opinion, challenge ideas and question authority. For IT pros, this might mean speaking up about new investments or technologies — why the company should consider a particular solution, or why the company should take a different tactic. It means speaking in layman terms and backing up your case with facts.
These days IT decisions have the potential to make or break a company. So if you’re building a business case for new investments or new ways of doing business (such as deploying software-as-a-service), it helps that decision-makers know who you are — and that they take you seriously.
This can be as simple as dressing professionally rather than showing up to work in a Metallica t-shirt, but it also means presenting a professional “brand” in the office and in the virtual world. My pet peeve is the “selfie” headshot; it’s well worth investing in professional headshots, or at the very least asking someone to take your photo against an appropriate backdrop.
And while you may not bother updating your professional profile on social media sites unless you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to keep your information up-to-date even when you’re not looking around.
If you get a promotion or accomplish a career milestone, update your profile, says Fisher. And when you read a relevant industry story, share it and comment on why you agree or disagree with the perspective.
Creating and building your brand is an organic and ongoing process, says Barbara Reinhold, a contributing writer for Monster (an employer website). “So consider yourself and your career a work in progress, and reach out to get and give as much help as possible as your brand shifts and matures across the expanse of your career.”
You never know who’s going to look at your profile (including your current employer), and it holds potential to help or hinder your career — even if you spend most of your time in a server room. A few years ago, you might have been known around the office as “the IT guy.” Nowadays, it’s important everyone knows exactly who you are.