My keynote speech for LinkedInMay 04, 2023
Find Your Superpower newsletter 012
Read time: 4 minutes
Topics covered: Professional branding, LinkedIn, career development
[These are excerpts of a keynote speech I gave last week on April 26, 2023, at the networking launch event of the Leaders Collective, a program for the brightest senior marketing leaders from LinkedIn's customer community, to spark conversations and thought leadership, share business insights, and elevate their personal brand. ]
It is incredible to be here at the launch of the Leaders Collective in Singapore.
Thank you to the organizers for inviting me to join you and speak today.
The objective for my talk is to elevate our professional brands, and over the next ten minutes, I will be sharing three stories about professional branding with you.
Photo credit: LinkedIn
The first story is about a young, French pastry chef called Cedric Grolet. Some of you may have already heard of him.
Cedric wanted to be a pastry chef in Paris, which is a tough feat as Paris is filled with croissants and baguettes. Besides building up his craft over time, he also created simple videos showing how he made these croissants, winning the hearts of many people online, one by one.
Now, Cedric is famous worldwide and his bakery has queues from the time the shop opens, to the time the pastries and breads sell out. Even in the frigid cold. Even when he’s not in the store.
What is his secret? His professional brand.
The second story is about one of my favorite actresses, Jennifer Aniston.
Now, Millennials know who Jennifer Aniston is, as Rachel from the Friends sitcom. While Jennifer Aniston is a successful actress, there is just one problem here: no matter how famous you are, an actress only gets paid when they work.
Jennifer Aniston knows how famous her hairstyle is, also known as “The Rachel”. She first started taking sponsorships for hair products. She then progressed to investing and taking equity in hair care startups, such as Living Proof from MIT, and more recently, she even launched her own hair care line, Lolavie.
Now, she gets paid even without working on a movie set. All thanks to her professional brand.
If these stories – one from Paris and one from LA – seem out of reach, let me now tell you a third story of a scientist working at a medical school.
This mom of two had two kids under three (years old), and her professional brand was being an academic professor and lecturer. This story also happens to be mine.
In 2018, when I was 35, I founded Wildtype Media Group, a strategic communications firm that focuses on science and healthcare communication across Asia. I had no connections in media, PR, communications, venture capital. In my case, I didn’t just build a professional brand, I had to tear up one that I had built for 15 years, and create a completely new professional brand from scratch.
I had a complete makeover, and it all happened on LinkedIn.
With these three stories I hope to share some professional branding lessons with you:
First, you can always find a novel angle to explore for your professional brand. Even in a crowded industry like B2B marketing, you can still find a refreshing angle that nobody has discovered before. Cedric Grolet is probably one out of thousands of excellent pastry chefs in Paris, and yet he could still find a unique angle to stand out from the crowd.
Second, it is never too late. From all of my coaching clients I know about the inertia. What to post about, when, how to get started. I got started on LinkedIn during the pandemic. I had nothing on LinkedIn prior to 2020. And yet, I was able to reposition myself as a B2B marketer.
Third, LinkedIn is a place of huge organic reach. LinkedIn is perfect for our professional branding efforts as LinkedIn is a platform favored globally by C-suites and industry thought leaders. And from what I know, the algorithm favors thought leadership content. There are full-time editors working on the platform globally to help us with our content.
What are the outcomes we desire from building a professional brand?
As a business owner and entrepreneur, I post to hire and recruit top talent – as an SME I am at a huge disadvantage compared to MNCs, and so I talk about my North Star and mission instead. These days, people write to me to join my company even without an open job ad, which allows me to hire those who truly want to work for me instead of people who just need a job. I have hired for jobs without a JD, and people have joined my company without ever needing to send me a CV.
I also post to find clients – without strong brand recognition in the past, I could only win by low-balling on price and accepting gigs that the big players don’t want. But thanks to my professional brand, these days, clients approach me instead. I invest time into building my personal and professional brand, and in engaging with the community I have built on LinkedIn.
And in your case, it could be to gain visibility with global leadership – in a remote and hybrid working environment, we cannot assume that our work will speak for us, or that our contribution to a large project will be visible. In fact, this is not about taking credit; we can also give credit in our posts to our teammates and collaborators.
According to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
You may have heard of this quote before, but can I play devil’s advocate here? The first thought may be, “Oh dear, I hope they’re saying nice things about me.”
But what if, what if, they have nothing to say about us… at all? Wouldn’t that be worse?
Like Jennifer Anniston and Cedric Grolet, we want our brands to work for us even when we aren’t in the room. We want our professional brand to get us invited to speak at industry panels, to help us win industry awards and gain internal recognition and promotions.
Photo credit: LinkedIn
Thanks for reading issue 012 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.
See you next week.
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