July 18, 2023

How to Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

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The pressure to stand out on LinkedIn is mounting as the digital sphere tightens.

But after connecting with 440K+ LinkedIn professionals in 4 years, I've noticed that the biggest hitters on the platform aren't always the most traditionally skilled.

They're the ones who've mastered the art of promoting their professional persona and engaging with other creators.

In this guide, I'll break down my proven 8-step blueprint to help you shape your personal brand, attract the right people, and draw in new career opportunities.

First and foremost, be yourself

The internet is flooded with articles, posts, and advice on how to build your personal brand.

But here's a hard truth that many won't tell you:

You're probably doing it wrong.

Most people are busy trying to mold themselves into something they're not — imitating others' journeys or rehashing the same recycled tips.

Don't fall into this trap.

The secret to winning at personal branding isn't about being a carbon copy of someone else's success. As clichéd as it sounds, the magic lies in being you.

Nobody else has walked in your shoes. Your unique experiences, insights, and stories are your superpowers.

Unleash them. This will set you apart as a thought leader and help you connect with your audience on a deeper level.

How to use LinkedIn to build your personal brand

  1. Find your sub-niche
  2. Optimize your profile for search
  3. Write a stand-out headline
  4. Invest in a clean and crisp headshot
  5. Design a relevant and professional banner
  6. Publish high-quality, value-packed content
  7. Connect with at least 5 new people every day
  8. Engage with your community

Step #1: Find your sub-niche

Before diving into any LinkedIn strategies, you first need to nail down something far more fundamental:

Your sub-niche.

This is the bedrock of your personal brand; without it, you're a ship without a compass.

Your sub-niche isn't just about what you do, it's also about who you're doing it for and what unique angle you bring.

Combine your obsession with your skills

The best personal brands reflect two things:

  1. What you're good at (this gets you started)
  2. What you're passionate about (this keeps you going)

Let's say you're obsessed with running. You love experiencing the adrenaline rush, shopping for the best running gear… the whole nine yards. And you've got a background in SEO and writing.

Combine these elements, and you could be:

  • A content writer specializing in the health and fitness space
  • A storyteller for athletes (think ghostwriting)
  • An SEO wizard for running brands

In a sea of generalist content writers, you've now set yourself apart. You're offering something unique — a deep understanding and love for running, paired with writing and SEO skills.

A stellar combo.

Get specific

Now that you've combined your obsession with your skills, it's time to narrow it down even further.

Hone in on that ultra-specific group of people who will see your content and think, "Wow, this person gets me."

Let's take our running-obsessed content writer example. Yes, you could target all athletes, but that's a pretty broad category.

Zero in a bit: Runners.

Better, but we can go one step further.

Marathon runners? Now we're talking.

Athletes → Runners → Marathon runners

By focusing on marathon runners, you're connecting with a specific community that has unique challenges, goals, and experiences. And because you share their passion, your content won't just be well-written and SEO-friendly; it'll be relatable and genuine, too.

The more specific you get with your sub-niche, the more you'll resonate with your audience. And the more you resonate, the stronger your personal brand becomes.

Step #2: Optimize your profile for search

So you've determined your sub-niche. Now, let's make sure the right people can find you.

Use niche-relevant keywords

LinkedIn SEO is a real thing. Just like Google, LinkedIn's search function operates on keywords and relevance.

Think about your sub-niche and ask yourself:

"If someone were searching for an expert in my field, what words would they type into the search bar?"

Those are the keywords you want to sprinkle throughout your profile.

Let's go back to our running-obsessed content writer. If a content manager is looking for a writer who knows their way around the marathon world, they might search for terms like:

  • Health and fitness writer
  • Running content specialist
  • Marathon content writer

Your job is to weave these keywords into your profile:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • List of skills
  • About section
  • LinkedIn posts
  • Job descriptions

Remember: The goal here isn't to stuff your profile with keywords. Incorporate them naturally into your narrative.

When done right, this SEO trick will help your profile appear in more relevant searches, making you more discoverable to the right people.

Make your LinkedIn profile public

If your LinkedIn profile isn't public, you're invisible to a significant pool of potential clients, connections, and employers.

Let's change that:

  1. Click on the 'Me' icon at the top of the homepage
  2. Select 'Settings & Privacy' from the dropdown menu
  3. Navigate to the 'Privacy' tab and scroll down until you see 'Edit your public profile'
  4. Click on that and get directed to a page where you can choose what to show the public

I recommend allowing anyone, whether they're a LinkedIn user or not, to see your full profile. This way, when someone Googles your name or a keyword you're optimized for, they'll see your entire profile, not just a snippet.

Enable Creator Mode

You've probably seen the term 'LinkedIn creator' floating around. It's not just a fancy title, but a feature that can dramatically elevate your visibility on the platform.

Turning on 'Creator Mode' tells LinkedIn and its users that you're serious about sharing and engaging with content in your field.

When you enable 'Creator Mode,' you get to choose up to 5 hashtags related to the content you post most often. This helps LinkedIn suggest your profile to people interested in these topics and signals to visitors what kind of content they can expect from you.

To turn it on:

  1. Go to your profile and click on 'Add section' below your profile picture
  2. Select 'Creator mode' and toggle the switch to 'On'
  3. Choose your hashtags and update your 'About' section as required

Step #3: Write a stand-out headline

Nothing screams 'first impression' on LinkedIn quite like your headline. It's one of the first things people see when they land on your profile or come across your comments on their feed.

What I see a lot of people doing is listing their current job titles like, "Content Writer at X Company" and calling it a day.

Ditch this default format. It's overused and doesn't say much about you.

Try a different approach:

Think of your headline as your elevator pitch on LinkedIn. Make your headline a value proposition. Spell out exactly what you bring to the table and who you bring it for.

For example, if you're a content writer, you might really be a "B2B tech content writer specializing in web accessibility." Or you could be a "health and fitness content writer helping running brands communicate their expertise."

See the difference? You're not just another job title. You're a problem solver for a specific audience.

Step #4: Invest in a clean and crisp headshot

In many ways, your profile photo is like your logo. It's instantly recognizable and speaks volumes about your brand. So, choose a good one.

Who would you trust more: Someone with a clean, sharp, and approachable headshot or someone with a grainy photo taken at a bar?

It's safe to say we both know the answer.

Hire a professional photographer

If your budget allows, hiring a professional photographer can be a game-changer. By going this route, you'll not only get a nice headshot but also a collection of high-quality personal branding photos that you can use across various platforms.

Professionally taken photos stand out. They communicate that you're serious about your personal brand. They tell a story about who you are.

A pro photographer knows how to capture that essence. They'll use the right lighting, angles, and expressions to create a visual narrative about you.

This will require investment, but think about it this way:

Every time someone visits your profile, you have the chance to make an impression. So, what kind of message do you want to send? Are you serious about what you do? Are you a leader in your field?

Professional headshots and lifestyle photos used in your branding will communicate this.

It's an investment that pays for itself.

Use your phone's portrait mode and Fiverr

Don't sweat it if a professional photoshoot isn't an option right now. Thanks to technology, we have pretty powerful cameras in our pockets — our smartphones.

Here's a quick and budget-friendly route to getting a decent headshot:

  1. Use your iPhone (or any modern smartphone)
  2. Find a spot with good natural lighting (outdoors works well)
  3. Set your phone on Portrait Mode
  4. Snap away until you have enough pictures to choose from

Portrait Mode blurs the background, focusing on your face, which creates a professional look. Try different angles, expressions, and even outfits. Once you've got a few shots you like, choose the best one.

Then, head over to Fiverr.com and look for a photo retoucher. For a relatively small fee (~$15), they can take your best shot and make it even better. They'll adjust the brightness, clean up blemishes, and make the colors pop.

If you have a chosen brand color, the photo retoucher can even isolate you from the background and replace it with that color. This works wonders in tying everything together, especially if you're already using a brand color in other areas of your profile (such as your banner, which we'll dive into next).

Step #5: Design a relevant and professional banner

Your LinkedIn profile banner is prime real estate. Yet, I've seen too many folks use it as a digital scrapbook, showing their favorite vacation spots or candid work photos that don’t convey much.

Your banner is a critical part of your personal brand on LinkedIn. It should provide value and make a statement about who you are, what you do, and who you do it for, all in one glance.

In my banner, you can see:

  • What I offer (in a few words)
  • Where you can learn more
  • Social proof

Explore and use Canva's templates

You don't need to be a professional graphic designer to make a beautiful banner these days. My go-to tool for banner creation is Canva.

It's a free (with premium options) graphic design tool that allows you to create professional-looking designs without specialist skills.

Create your LinkedIn banner today in 5 simple steps:

  1. Download Canva and create an account
  2. Search for LinkedIn banner templates
  3. Browse through the options (minimalist, bold, corporate, creative)
  4. Pick one that resonates with your personal brand
  5. Use it as a template or as inspiration for a new design

If you choose to use it as a template, simply replace the placeholder text with your own. This is where you'll include a short, sharp tagline. Briefly convey who you are and what you do. This isn't the place for your life story, so keep it focused and punchy.

Next, include a clear call to action. This could be an invitation to visit your website, subscribe to your newsletter, or check out your course — whatever aligns with your goals. Don't forget to match the template's color scheme to your brand colors for consistency.

The beauty of Canva is that you can tweak it until you're happy. Don't rush this process, as it's your chance to make a statement. When you're done, upload your custom-made, professional-looking banner to your LinkedIn profile.

Pro tip: For the best quality, upload the banner on your desktop instead of your mobile.

Step #6: Publish high-quality, value-packed content

So you've laid the groundwork with an eye-catching, optimized LinkedIn profile. Now, it's time to add value and show people you're not just talk.

That's where top-notch, value-packed content comes in. This is your chance to demonstrate your expertise, showcase your credibility, and share your unique perspective.

There are many different ways to share helpful content:

  • Text-only posts (my favorite)
  • Infographics
  • Carousels
  • Photos
  • Videos

Think about what you're good at and what you can realistically keep up with, and do that (it can be a mix).

Stick to a feasible content schedule

Whatever content type you choose, you need a realistic content calendar you can keep up with.

If you're new to the game, you may share content 3x a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I've seen many start there and ramp it up to 5-7x a week as they gain traction and get quicker at creating content.

I post twice a day, every day: Once at 8:15 AM EST and again at 1:05 PM EST.

But remember, quality over quantity.

Keep it relevant to your industry

This may seem like common sense, but many miss the mark here.

Don't post content just to post. Make sure everything you publish is related to your field.

For example, if you're a content writer offering blog writing services, it wouldn't make sense to create content about graphic design.

Instead, craft relevant content:

  • Share insights on creating compelling blog posts
  • Detail writing trends you've noticed
  • Give advice on writing efficiently
  • List your favorite writing tools
  • Drop your favorite SEO tips

Create and share consistently

It's been said countless times, but it's true:

Consistency is key.

Not just for the algorithm, but for your audience, too. When you post at the same time each day, people start to look forward to your content. Encourage them to follow your activity and hit the notification button to get updates when you post.

Building a loyal community is easier when you're consistent.

Repurpose your best content

"But Justin, how do you post every day without compromising quality?"

Good question.

I use a content strategy involving my Content Matrix, which you can learn more about in my course, The Operating System.

Besides this, I repurpose my best content. Every 3-4 months, I revisit my content with high engagement and repurpose it (Shield App is great for this).

Why does this work?

People forget. New followers join. Loyal followers (who may remember) benefit from a refresher.

Repurposing is an excellent way to get more mileage from effective content with minimal effort. You can simply copy and paste the content or tweak bits to make it a little different.

Step #7: Connect with at least 5 people every day

Let's shift gears a bit. You now have an optimized profile and are producing killer content.

But here's another critical yet often ignored personal branding step:

Growing your professional network intentionally.

A bigger targeted audience means more eyeballs on your content. More eyeballs on your content means more impact.

So, start by sending 5 connection requests every day. Include a short personalized message if you feel compelled to do so. This is a small commitment that doesn't consume much time, but one that compounds significantly over months.

Search for people in your industry

Just like your content, you want to focus on quality, not quantity, when it comes to connections. Don't connect with random people; seek out those who genuinely align with your industry and interests.

Let's use the content writer example again.

Connecting with other writers, content managers, and editors won't just boost your connection or follower count. It'll help you foster meaningful relationships, increase engagement on your content, and raise awareness regarding your expertise.

So, keep it targeted and relevant. By doing it this way, you'll stay top of mind when someone needs your services.

Step #8: Engage with your community

One thing you'll quickly learn as you build your personal brand on LinkedIn is this:

It's not about posting and ghosting. It's about fostering genuine engagement within your growing community.

Aside from answering DMs and cultivating relationships in the background, there are 2 key ways to solidify your brand's footing:

Reply to comments on your posts

The first 15-60 minutes after posting is a critical window.

During this time, try to stay active:

  • Reply to comments
  • Answer questions thoughtfully
  • Have meaningful conversations

Remember, people want to be heard. Recognizing their input motivates them to visit your profile often and engage with your future content.

Write thoughtful comments on others' posts

Besides engaging on your own content, it's just as important to add value to other people's posts. The best way to do this is by writing thoughtful comments on their recent posts.

Don't bother with bland comments like "great post" or "I agree."


  • Offer a contrarian take on the subject
  • Share your honest opinion in greater detail
  • Open up about a related personal experience

This kind of engagement adds depth to the conversation and puts your brand on the radar.

Pro tip: Get more eyes on your profile and content by being one of the first to engage with bigger creators' posts.

I reply to all meaningful comments within 45 minutes of publishing, so let's start a conversation. It's a win-win: you get new followers, and I get more engagement.

Start building your personal brand on LinkedIn

Personal branding on LinkedIn isn't as complicated as some make it out to be. It boils down to being real, sharing valuable content consistently, and strategic networking.

You've got the blueprint now — the steps to polish your profile, create compelling content, and nurture an engaged community.

Want to learn more?

I provide further guidance in my course, The LinkedIn Operating System. It's a full breakdown of the LinkedIn content strategy I've used to grow and monetize my profile.

That's what I've got for building a memorable personal brand on LinkedIn.

Now, it's your move. Create, engage, refine. Repeat.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. ​The LinkedIn Operating System:​ Join 16,000 students and 30 LinkedIn Top Voices inside of The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I used to grow from 0 to 470,000+ followers and $4.8M in income.

2. ​The Content Operating System​: A multi-step system for creating a high-quality newsletter and 6-12 pieces of high-performance social media content each week. Join 7,000 students here.

3. ​Promote yourself to 175,000+ subscribers​ by sponsoring this newsletter.

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