A strong personal brand can really make a difference to your career. By unleashing your expertise, knowledge and personality on social media you can tap into new contacts, job opportunities and start to be a standout candidate in your field.
Of course, this is something that’s easier said than done. That’s why we’ve put together this actionable guide to help you build and manage your online brand within the accountancy and finance industry.
Overall goals and message
Before you start, take some time to think about what you want to get out of your personal brand. Focus on what matters to you, do you want to build more presence in your industry? Do you want to build a better network of contacts?
Set goals to help you form a direction and focus for what you post, engage with and spend time on.
Use the SMART framework to create attainable goals.
- Be specific by having a goal that is clear.
- You need to be able to measure/monitor your progress.
- Your objective needs to be achievable and within your reach.
- Be realistic with yourself about what you want to achieve.
- Add timescales to when you’d like to complete the objective.
Social media strategy
Your social media strategy will detail what and when you post, and highlight key dates of conferences, announcements and deadlines to prompt you into posting and interacting with others.
This will be a mix of your own content and content from other sources such as news, insights and thought leadership pieces.
You can sign up to Google Alerts to get notifications about news in the finance industry. Take some time out of your day to read up on the latest news from major accountancy publications, we like CIMA’s Financial Management Magazine and Accountancy Age as they cover a range of topics from both practice and industry.
You can then share these articles on your LinkedIn showing recruiters, hiring managers and peers you are up to date with the industry.
Getting the most of your LinkedIn account
Before diving into LinkedIn, we recommend that you make sure your privacy settings are up to date for the social media you don’t want to use professionally. You don’t want potential employers to see your Facebook or Instagram posts if they differ from the professional persona you’re building.
LinkedIn is a professional online network with 500 million users. Unlike your CV, LinkedIn has no restrictions when it comes to the amount of career information you can add and share with your connections. LinkedIn allows you to add accomplishment, employment history, skills and apply for jobs so it’s perfect for building your professional profile.
Headshot and Bio
Profiles with photos get 9x more connection requests. Select a photo that represents you professionally and makes you more approachable, candid photos in smart casual workwear work best.
Remember your headshot and bio are the first things people see on your LinkedIn so make it friendly and welcoming.
Under your profile photo, you’ll see a summary section. Adding a summary with keywords will make your profile more likely to show up in searches. You can be as creative as you want but here are some examples:
“Award-winning accountancy professional passionate about economics”
“Financial Manager specialising in the charity sector”
You can change your summary by clicking on the pencil icon on your LinkedIn profile.
This is where your social media strategy will come into play. What you interact with on LinkedIn is highlighted on your profile under your summary. If you like, comment or share a post, people who view your profile will see it here. It’s a good place to show employers that you’re active in your industry and community.
Put some time aside every day to see what everyone is talking about, add your own opinion through comments to further the impression that you’re really passionate about the industry.
Endorsements and Recommendations
The number of skills is unique to each person. Include a mix of high level and niche skills and be specific.
Add skills that your connections can endorse you for. This gives each of your skills a rating based on feedback from other users; it’s a great way to demonstrate to hiring managers not only your library of skills but the benefits they have added to the organisations where you’ve worked.
Having strong recommendations can help you stand out from others in your field. Some popular skills in accountancy and finance are:
- Financial accounting
- Account management
- Data analysis
- End of year accounts
- Strategic financial planning
Get into the habit of asking for LinkedIn recommendations from line managers, colleagues, clients and anyone you’ve had a meaningful working relationship with. Aim for quality over quantity and don’t be afraid to write recommendations for others as well.
Connections will play a key part in building a personal brand. It’s good to have a mix of influencers, recruiters, peers and hiring managers.
Create a list of people who hold this position and get ready to impress them.
Look up keywords and topics to find other people who are discussing the same topic as you to broaden your search.
Reach out to potential connections by sending a direct message introducing yourself and why you’re wanting to be part of their network. Try offering a solution to a problem they’re facing or exchange information for mutual benefit. If you help them, they’ll be more likely to help you. This can really help build your brand.
LinkedIn also offers thousands of groups focused on specific industries or topics. Use the search bar on the platform to find groups that are linked to your specific area of expertise, then you’ll be able to share your insights and build authority around your brand. Some of our favourite groups are:
- Accountancy UK
- Finance and Accounting Professionals People
- Accounting WEB – Accounting, Finance and Tax
Once you’ve mastered the basics of personal branding and started building your network you can develop your leadership and authority within your industry.
Thought leadership is a great way to share who you are, what you stand for and how you’d like people to work with you. Thought leadership can:
- Establish your expertise and reinforce your value.
- Help you become an influencer through knowledge and credibility.
- Show what you are working on or recent projects you’ve completed.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of industry trends.
Here are some examples of thought leadership articles on LinkedIn – https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/topic/best-practices-thought-leadership
Parkinison Lee run a CFO and Financial Leadership forum on LinkedIn. It’s a great place for Accountancy and Finance professionals to share ideas, job opportunities and news. Check it out here – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8551809/
If you follow the above, you will be well on your way to creating a strong personal brand that will make you stand out to potential recruiters.
Maddison Brown, Marketing Assistant at Elevation Recruitment Group. Read more Careers Advice from Elevation Recruitment Group here.