I want to talk to you about LinkedIn.
Oh, but I already know about LinkedIn, I hear you say. Old news. But do you? There’s a big difference between knowing about LinkedIn and using LinkedIn effectively.
I don’t mean that to be patronising – it’s more that we’re fed a perpetual stream of the same, and not necessarily the best, advice online:
“10 Ways to Master LinkedIn Overnight!”
“15 LinkedIn Tips to Become a Personal Branding Guru!”
Headlines vie for digital real estate, trying to grab a precious few seconds out of your day. We all have a million and one things to be doing, and the digital world has adapted to that. The result: a plethora of short, snappy, fundamentally shallow articles that promise you the world in 2 minutes and 500 words.
LinkedIn can’t be mastered in 1000 words, I’m afraid. You won’t be a Guru after reading this article.
What I can do is give you some practical tips to help get you started. I want to focus on building your authority online. Schmoozing at networking events is no longer de rigueur.
We’re in the digital age, which means hiring managers and recruiters are looking at your LinkedIn long before they ever meet you.
Having an online presence is pretty much a pre-requisite to getting a foot in the door for senior management and executive positions. A great LinkedIn profile instills confidence in your abilities. A weak one? Don’t wait by the phone.
I work closely with my clients to write their resumes and develop their personal branding strategy; LinkedIn naturally plays a big part in that process. A few things crop up regularly – so if you’re a senior manager or an executive, here are four practical tips you can take away immediately to start building gravitas with LinkedIn.
1) Craft Your LinkedIn Profile.
I use ‘craft’ for a reason – a great LinkedIn profile is nuanced and sophisticated. It’s the cover of the book that is your professional life.
Everything on your LinkedIn profile should be reinforcing your personal brand.
Decide on your headline first. Your headline is the most distilled value statement you can muster, so pinning this down first will help you focus the rest of your efforts.
Avoid the temptation to describe yourself in trendy terms which no sensible recruiter or hiring manager would search for.
If you’re a CFO, for example, don’t call yourself a “Financial Catalyst” – if you do, your profile will be relegated to the waste bins of LinkedIn, together with “ninjas”, “evangelists” and “overlords”.
Once you have your headline, craft a strong LinkedIn profile summary, which is your ultra-concentrated USP (unique selling proposition). It must communicate what you have to offer, what drives you and how you work with others.
2) Connect With Your Peers.
The old adage does still hold true – that it’s as much about who you know as what you know – but more to the point, connecting to your peers allows you to extend your reach and build influence within your industry.
Actively look for connection opportunities. LinkedIn’s People You May Know feature is designed to intelligently suggest connection opportunities and can help you intuitively build your network, so that’s definitely worth using regularly.
A lesser used, but powerful tactic is to comb the Who’s Viewed Your Profile section.
In marketing terms, you’d call people who have checked out your profile your warm leads – don’t let them go to waste! People are much more likely to accept a connection request if they’ve just been looking at your profile – send them a personalised invite and when they connect, use the opportunity to reach out and introduce yourself fully.
3) Engage In The Community.
Every industry is a conversation and within that there’ll be people who stand out as major contributors. That’s your aim – to get stuck into the conversation and build authority as an influencer yourself.
Around 500 users are designated ‘LinkedIn Influencer’ within their space. The comment section of their content is always a hive of industry conversation and adding your own comments, questions and takeaway thoughts is a great way to build gravitas.
Join and participate in relevant Groups, too. Choose groups that have plenty of discussion on their wall, as opposed to purely promotional content. Reach out to your connections and ask them which groups they’d recommend, and spend some time browsing each group before you commit to joining.
You can join up to 50 groups, but it’s better to be active in a few than passive in many so be selective – quality of conversation is more important than quantity.
LinkedIn Contacts is a must-know tool for nurturing your network, too, allowing you to add tags and segment your connections, as well as showing you recent updates for each that act as an easy prompt to stay in touch.
4) Create Content On Pulse.
Taking engagement a step further, actually creating content – as opposed to curating or commenting on it – is one of the most important things you can do to build gravitas.
The key to good content is to focus on delivering value to your audience – adding insight, solving their problems – rather than being self-promotional.
As a guideline, aim to post 1 self-serving update for every 10 that add value for free. LinkedIn is best thought of us as relational tool, not a transactional one – so focus on giving, not getting.
The best content you can write will add value to your audience, while reinforcing your expertise.
For example, if I was a Senior Finance Manager, I might write a piece with practical tips for navigating the latest regulatory changes. Great content is win/win – building your reputation, establishing credibility and adding value to your network, too.
Key Points To Remember:
- As I said from the outset, a single article can’t give you comprehensive advice on LinkedIn, or on anything else.
- LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful branding tool and it’s never going to be as simple to master as reading a few tips and tricks. Saying that, these 4 points come up time and again with the clients I work with, and they’re simple, practical ways that you can give yourself a real leg-up on LinkedIn.
- If you’d like to discuss your LinkedIn presence in detail, give us a call for an expert consultation or sign up to our weekly newsletter – this is our bread and butter.