Linking In to Pay it Forward – Chapter 2 Excerpt

As promised, I am posting excerpts from my new book, LinkingIn to Pay it Forward – Changing the Value Proposition in Social Media. This Chapter covers personal and professional branding. The whole chapter is NOT below – but the highlights are included. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is DEFINITELY welcome. Please feel free to repost, as long as you include a link back to this site!


How important is branding building to your success? Is building your brand a costly proposition? What about tying your company/service into your personal brand – is that suggested, or for that matter wise? I will answer these, and many other questions in this chapter.

While I didn’t start out using LinkedIn and other social media channels to build my own brand (I was looking for a job first and foremost) I did find that as I built up my online presence my brand was being bolstered at the same time.

LinkedIn is, just like other social media sites, first and foremost a community of people. There are real, living and breathing individuals behind the profiles. They have conversations, interact, and rely on the trust that is built up through these interactions.

Can you build a personal brand overnight? Not hardly. It takes time, just like any relationship – business or otherwise – to establish a presence in a community.

My brand has been built over the last 2 years. I have contributed to forums on LinkedIn, posed and answered questions on the Answers section of the site. Connected with people, meeting them online and in person. As daunting as building a brand on LinkedIn may sound, there are a few easy steps to make it happen. The old saying – the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time – comes to mind. Take it slow and follow a few simple steps, and you’ll be on your way!

Be Transparent. Does this mean you talk about your love life or how you yelled at your kid last night because they broke curfew? Hardly! But it does mean simply be yourself. Don’t put on a “persona.” I had a conversation with someone recently about how they were developing what they would portray themselves to be online. Wow! Not someone I want to hang out with! If you aren’t real online, how can I trust you to do business with me in an ethical manner?

Be Part of the Community. Join a group that interests you. Answer questions, and ask them in the Answers section. Invite others to connect with you after reading their profiles and finding commonality. In short, join the conversation!

Practice the Small Good. This theory – a parallel to Pay it Forward – is one of my favorite. If someone comes to you and needs help – and it takes less than 10 minutes to do so, by all means do it! The result is a huge blessing for the person who was stumped and couldn’t find the help he needed. Easy to do, very valuable to receive.

Go into any connection on LinkedIn not expecting to get anything in return. IF you go into a new connection and immediately expect them to be helpful, then that can ruin the trust you are working to establish. If, on the other hand, you go into a new connection with the attitude of how you can help them it will be a richer, deeper relationship.

Always treat your connections like they’re standing right in front of you. While I’ll get more specific in the next chapter about this, I wanted to mention it here because I believe it’s that important. If you go to a business function – say a Chamber business after hours – do you approach new contacts with canned speeches and personas? Do you walk up to them and say, “Hi, I’m Chuck. I work for Acme Life Insurance, want to buy some?” No, you take the time to get to know them, learn about their businesses, perhaps even their families. What’s more you follow up with them after the meeting if you want to build the on the connection and continue to the conversation.

It’s the same with social media. NEVER connect with someone, then turn around and ask for them to recommend you. Take the time to get to know them, find out how you can be of SERVICE to them. It will pay off in the end.

I am a firm believer that the person you connect with is probably not the one that will mean new business for you. It’s that person’s other connections – or even the connections of their connections.

Bottom line on personal and professional branding: be yourself, be a resource, build trust and treat your online connections like their real – they are!

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5 Responses to “Linking In to Pay it Forward – Chapter 2 Excerpt”

  1. Albert Maruggi says:

    I need to say something here about Chuck since I know him. This is the first I’ve seen the term personal brand associated with him. While I have know doubt of his credentials to talk about personal branding, I’ve always know him as Chuck. He’s a good natured person that is always looking to help.

    Yet, his digital presence doesn’t hit me over the head with it, it was always his actions that I admired about him. I’ve associated him with his knowledge about LinkedIn and his unending belief in people.

    OK if some people want to call that a personal brand, so be it. Plenty of reasons to read the book if you want to know the details of LinkedIn, weave your way around creative PR ideas from being part of LinkedIn, or making the most of every conference you attend.

    I’m a simple guy, I watched Chuck around people and that’s plenty good enough for me, he lives the Pay It Forward way. Here’s some more about Chuck Hester and LinkedIn from a conversation I had with him. Marketing is not who you know, it’s who knows you, and Chuck is a person that is ready to know you.

  2. Paul Gillin says:

    Looks good, Chuck. I know this is an excerpt, so you’re intentionally leaving out some details, but personal anecdotes would be helpful here. Accent your recommendations with stories. It’ll bring them to life!

  3. Cris Cohen says:

    Good points. I especially liked your comment about being real and not just hitting people with a sales slogan.

    I think often the elevator pitches and personas espoused in business books and self-help books will present you as a soulless zombie.

  4. Chuck,

    Your advice is solid and practical. So why do so many people cluelessly violate you basic tenants? I’m amazed at the poor online social networking etiquitte exercised by business people you’d think would know better. They need your book.

    Thanks for your willingness to explore how our complimentary books on the subject can support each other.

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