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Teach your employees to

build their personal brand!

If you look at the "values & mission" section of company websites, you will find at least one factor that is appearing everywhere: PEOPLE! It can look like this: "Our employees are our most valuable asset" or "The secret of our success? Our people!"

What companies often fail to keep in mind though when thinking about their employees:

  1. The value provided by employees is more than just the job description that is written on their business cards. Most companies don't know anything about the secret superpowers of their people (network, transferrable skills etc.) simply because they don't care and therefore never ask. Opportunities on both sides are lost.
  2. The visibility of their employees outside the company can aid or undermine every employer branding effort.

Today, candidates are not only looking at a companie's website to find out more about the culture of their potential employer. They search for cues on social media and employer rating sites like Glassdoor and Kununu. And it does not stop there: Social media profiles of people working at your company are also under observation as they can provide the following insights:

  • How many employees of your company are on LinkedIn? If you have 500 employees, but only 10 of them are on LinkedIn, that certainly does raise some question marks. Of course this also depends on the industry you're in, but in general I would expect to see at least one third of your staff on LinkedIn (or Xing). Low involvement on career sites may signal a lack of career conversations between employees and the leadership & HR team.
  • Do they just state their current job title or also describe what they are doing and what impact their work has? Most people want to feel that they are creating an impact with their work that goes beyond just making money. When none of your employees are showcasing that on LinkedIn, I would ask myself whether the company is just not showing their people the big picture...
  • How well are your employees connected (with each other and outside of the company?) Do your employees give each other recommendations?
  • The outlined points are especially important for people in leadership roles and Recruiters. These are the profiles that potential candidates usually search for first.

More and more companies are experimenting with influencers to improve their employer branding, but they forget their most important influencers - their employees!

Now the objection I hear a lot when talking with CEOs about that topic is: "But how can I "force" my people to be active on LinkedIn or Xing? They just don't want to invest time in this."

I believe that many people are not active for three reasons:

  1. They don't have any experience working with these sites and therefore need some technical support.
  2. They don't see the benefit for themselves.
  3. They are not sure what to put on these sites and worry that it would take too much time.

Once you understood this, you don't have to "force" anybody. You just have to offer them very practical advice on how to do effective personal branding online. Host a workshop to educate your employees in personal branding best practices, offer them technical advice on how to navigate LinkedIn and most importantly: Show them the tremendous value a strong personal brand can hold for them! It's a wonderful gift you can give to your employees. A gift they keep even after leaving your company! And that's the spirit that employees will value in you as an employer, because they will feel that you actually care!

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