People are social animals. We communicate like we breathe. Daily, consistently and unstoppably. We are irrevocably entangled with each other, in one way or the other. In our society, each of us is related to others through relations, either personal or public. We take in many social groups, attaining a certain role accordingly. With each role we take, our behaviour changes in order to adapt to the group’s social norms. We have to behave a certain way if we want to fit in. Ah, that iconic, eternal need to belong we have in our bones. Our behaviour is always adjusted by the role we momentarily take. Or as Shakespeare would put it:
“All the worlds a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits, and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.”
Shakespeare has described the essence of social roles that are an internal part of us.
Just stop for a moment and think of all the roles we get to play in a day. A parent, a professional, a friend, a child, a partner. Mostly some of them intertwine, and we get to be a friend and a colleague at the same time. Or a teacher and a therapist. Each one of these roles carries some expected behaviour which we take upon us almost unconsciously.
In the business world, things are no different. As a business professional, I get to play many roles a day. Business is a heck of a stage, and we all get to play our many roles.
I get to be a CEO, a tech support guy, a colleague, a consultant, an outreach specialist, a husband and a parent when I get home, all in a day. Saying it like this may sound exhaustive, but I am so used to the constant switching, it comes naturally.
Using LinkedIn is no exception. While trying to establish ourselves as thought leaders on LinkedIn, we don’t have to take on only the businessman role. The more diverse, the better. Your audience is eager to meet you as you are, robust, complex and fallible.
I don’t want to jump ahead of myself. Let’s take things slow.
The difference between using your personal and company LinkedIn profile
If you are part of the ‘business theatre’ it is of the essence to have both a LinkedIn company page and a LinkedIn personal profile.
Being a consultant and a LinkedIn outreach specialist, I often get asked these two questions:
1. “What should I do to get more followers on my LinkedIn company page?” and
2. “What’s the difference between a LinkedIn company page and a personal profile?”
There are many differences, to begin with.
However, if you want to present yourself as a true LinkedIn thought leadership and a figure of authority you have to master handling both profiles. Your LinkedIn company page is where your potential prospects learn about your company and all the ways you can help them overcome the issues or the challenges they are facing.
Your LinkedIn company page will never replace your LinkedIn personal profile in its ability for lead generation. And, in importance, in general. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why your business can greatly benefit from having one.
No worries, I will explain everything.
Posting from your personal profile gives the whole communication a personal touch. When your audience gets across your personal posts or sees pictures of your family vacation, they get that ‘familiar’ feeling. They begin to see you differently. They now see you as one of them, a human.
And communication with another human they can relate to is an interaction on a completely different level. It makes the worlds difference when you interact with a human being instead of interacting with a company’s logo, isn’t it right?
People enjoy talking to logos just as much as they do talking to automated message systems. Responses from a logo often feel canned, missing that human element we all desire.
However, it is not impossible to ‘be yourself’ while posting from your company profile.
While the ‘human touch’ is important for creating that feeling of relation and closeness, your audience still needs to see you as a figure of authority.
Your business is your reflection. How well your business is doing can often mean more to your potential clients than how well you are doing as a person.
Posting from your company page and being consistent about it can do wonders for your brand. Your LinkedIn Company Page is a place to build a community of LinkedIn members who are interested in your business, updates, and jobs. It serves to connect and collaborate on your shared interests in your company. Besides regular updates on what your company has been up to, you can use your LinkedIn company page to post interesting questions, behind-the-scenes information, and unique updates to engage your audience and build camaraderie on your page.
But we’ll talk more about that some other time. The focus of this blog post is your personal LinkedIn profile. Ready to hear our tips that will make your LinkedIn thought leadership road smoother?
LinkedIn Thought Leadership: The tips
Be your own authentic self
Chances are, LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social platforms for professionals. It’s where modern business and communication start. Having your LinkedIn profile all sorted and full of valuable content is an extremely valuable onset.
In order to leverage all of LinkedIn’s benefits, we have to make good use of it. And posting from your personal LinkedIn profile is the way to go. But what type of posts should you write? Well, it’s hardly a simple answer.
But no matter the posts you decide on, one thing is certain.
First of all, you must be your authentic self.
That’s not easy, especially in today’s fast-paced world where people think they have already heard and seen everything. It’s hard standing out from the bunch.
But is that so impossible to attain?
Have people really seen and heard everything that there is?
Ok, so maybe the services you are offering are not some groundbreaking solution the world hasn’t heard of. That doesn’t mean that they cannot be presented in an authentic, well-shaped and smart way. It all comes to how you present yourself and your area of expertise to the world.
After all, you are using your own profile, with your own image displayed proudly on the top. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It might sound like a cliché, but everybody else is indeed taken. Our individual peculiarities are what makes the world so interesting and inspiring place.
Show your true colours. Your audience will surely recognise your honesty and integrity. And when you are being authentic, even if your opinions differ, people will be kinder and more accepting.
Just make sure you leave a personal touch to all your communication targeted towards your audience. Whether that would be through posting from your personal or company page, through your blogs, newsletters, or messages. Authentic and valuable leaves you unprecedented LinkedIn thought leadership, a person people go to when they need expert advice.
Don’t shy away
You’ve started posting content from your personal LinkedIn profile regularly. Well done.
Having something to say on any subject leaves you open to communication with your audience, whether big or small. Thus bringing some super saucy engagement.
And that’s what we all want, right?
So how to stay on top of it? How to stay an expert in LinkedIn thought leadership while avoiding sounding like a robot?
Truth is, people want to talk to people, not to automated message systems.
Lead generation does not equal message generation.
That’s why ‘the human factor’ is crucial.
What I mean by that is you shouldn’t feel shy about posting on personal matters.
A picture of your Christmas family get-together or saying a few words about your night out with friends won’t make you less the business expert that you are.
On the contrary, the personal posts are the wind that brings spring.
And spring brings the sweet leads.
These are the posts that will make you sound more human. And regardless of all the big words and all the glitter, underneath all, we are just human.
People like to see that even the greatest of leaders make mistakes and struggle.
That’s how they can relate to you.
Motivate and Inspire
Like everyone else, you also have your own story. Your own personal path different from everyone else’s. You have had your fair share of loss, and you have overcome many obstacles to get to where you are now. Being victorious and successful all the time is an illusion. Nobody can win all the time.
It doesn’t matter if you are still trying to make it into the business world or you are a world-known and respected entrepreneur. You will lose some battles.
You will hear that awful ‘NO’ from time to time, and you know what?
It’s going to be fine.
‘Cause, you can always turn things round in your favour and try again.
And sharing your feelings about that will only liberate and lift you up.
Yes, people like to read inspirational stories or motivational quotes. They give us the feeling that we are not alone. That someone else has already been where we are now, and if they made it through it, we can do it, too.
Hope is an incredible asset. It would be such a shame to waste it. So sparkle up your LinkedIn posts with some magic. Make them abound in motivation. Your audience will be not only grateful but engaged.
Take care of your profile
What does your profile have to do with your LinkedIn thought leadership posting?
A lot, actually. Chances are, the ones that will engage with your posts will check out your profile. Would they like what they’ll see? Let’s take care of that, shall we?
So, what makes a LinkedIn profile great? LinkedIn is not a social networking platform just for professionals. LinkedIn is your personal brand page.
Here are a few crucial aspects you need to take into consideration.
Your profile pic and your background go a long way. We all know you can’t judge a book by its cover. But the fact is that if a cover isn’t inviting, people aren’t going to open that book up to read what’s inside. So make sure these two are welcoming and thoughtful.
Humans are innately wired to make snap judgments based on appearance.
That’s why when trying to connect with a potential client or any other person, you have to pay attention to your headline, too.
Your headline is among the first things that a person sees, other than your profile picture when they get your connection request, so make sure it’s a statement of who you are. It should be a high-impact statement that will grab people’s attention.
Next on the list is the summary (or your ‘About’ section).
Your summary is your stage. The place where you tell your story and do your best. But be careful not to overstep the line and make it your sales pitch. People tend to be scared and driven away easily, so reading another sales line will only make them not want to talk to you.
Make this stage the place where you tell people more about your passion.
Another important aspect is the experience.
Make a chronological order of all the companies you’ve worked for and write a couple of (preferably bullet-pointed) lines about your role there.
People like to work, communicate and engage with experienced professionals, so make sure you state your position.
While writing your education section, the same strategy should apply as in the experience section. Put just highlights, not all of the details.
And the finesse. The last thing is to add all of the relevant accomplishments, volunteer experience, interests, skills, licenses, and certifications. Last but not least, don’t forget to ask for endorsements. If you feel braver, you can even ask for a recommendation.
Use simpler words
Using complex and elaborate words will rarely make you sound smarter. I mean, this is LinkedIn posting, we are talking about. Keep your highly professional jargon for your scientific journals.
Even though the LinkedIn audience consists of educated individuals, that doesn’t mean they want to spend hours reading through your LinkedIn post. So be their friend. Make it simple.
Make sure that your posts are readable and correct. Your goal is that your posts sound reasonable and that your audience understands them. Not to confuse them. So if you are unsure if you are using too much industry jargon you can consult with a friend or an editor.
It’s no wonder there are so many apps nowadays dedicated to improving the readability level.
Of course, I’ll share my favourite, you don’t even have to ask. It’s the Hemingway App. It makes my writing catchy and clear. If you are ready to say bye to the long and complex sentences, give it a go. You won’t regret it.
And don’t worry. Lowering the readability level on your LinkedIn posts won’t make you less of an expert.
On the contrary, being an expert, your narrative should be concise, clear and to the point.
Long sentences bore people, and difficult words will only make your content sound confusing.
Keep it simple.
Have you ever wondered if you are over-posting or under-posting on LinkedIn? Is there a right amount?
The thing is, if you post too much, you risk boring people. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. On the other hand, if you post too little, then your prospects might forget you. Leaving them without a proper chance to meet you and build that so longed relationship.
It’s a decent dilemma, this. And as it turns out, we’re not the only ones having it.
You guessed it, posting regularly is the key.
Let’s dive into the stats. We should post on LinkedIn at least once a day, but not more than five times a day. In fact, the ones who post less than 30 times a month see more engagement than those who post 50 times a month. And we don’t want to hurt our chances of gaining maximum engagement, right?
This brings us to LinkedIn’s golden rule: A post a day won’t take your leads away!
Over-posting might hurt your presence. Increasing the cadence often means a drop in the engagement rate.
It makes perfect sense if you think about it. The combo of numerous LinkedIn posts per day, people’s shorter attention span, and their super busy feeds is hardly appropriate.
I consider the frequency dilemma sorted. What about the timing?
The optimal time is in the morning. To be precise, the best time to post on LinkedIn is 9:00 AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This might be tough if you prefer to work in the late hours or if you are not an early bird. But maybe this is what you needed to make the useful transition from a late-night owl to an early bird. Hey, after all, the early bird gets the LinkedIn engagement.
Engage with others
It takes two to tango. It takes hundreds to establish yourself with LinkedIn thought leadership.
We can’t possibly prosper on LinkedIn by ourselves. Relationships are a two-way street. And building professional relationships is what we aim for.
You simply can’t expect others to engage with your content if you don’t engage with theirs.
It all sounds nice and simple. If you are that kind of a person, of course.
But what if you are a more private one? What if you like to keep your business to yourself?
Saying things like ‘Go on, post details about your life,’ must sound like a complete nightmare.
So what can we do in such a situation? Well, take baby steps, of course.
Let’s begin with liking someone’s post. Yes, even if you haven’t met the person behind the post.
The next thing you can do is share your enthusiasm. Comment. Tell them that you agree with them or that you’ve found their post insightful, interesting or fun. The worst (or best) thing that can happen is getting yourself in an overextended discussion with same-minded individuals.
After you master the liking and commenting bit, you should consider curating the content you find insightful. Sharing is caring. And sharing content you enjoy from people you are trying to establish a business relationship with sounds like a win-win situation.
It might sound like hard work, if you have a plan in place, it’s really not. So why not dedicate 15-30 minutes in your day to your LinkedIn feed. Like, comment, share what your LinkedIn connections have posted recently.
And, trust us, your network and engagement rates will grow in parallel.
Engaging with others and their content is the first step. But you can take a step further down the LinkedIn path.
Why not involve other people in your LinkedIn activities? Can you think of someone?
What about your teammates? If you treat them kindly, they can be your strongest allies in growing your LinkedIn following and LinkedIn thought leadership. Motivate them to spread the word with friends and peers who are interested in what you do.
Don’t be afraid to mention and tag them in your posts. Tell interesting stories related to them. Emphasise what a change they’ve made in your business life. The lessons you’ve learned because of them. Trust me. They can’t remain indifferent.
And how about the people you don’t know? Your dream 100 if you like. They must be on your list for a reason. So share the things you enjoy, and don’t forget to tag your influencers. Remember, you need to dig your well before you’re thirsty.
Make other people aware that you appreciate them and their work. Let the whole LinkedIn world see that you care. This way, when you are in need of their help, chances are, they’ll meet you halfway.
To pitch or not to pitch?
Yes, I know. I’ve been in sales for ages. It’s hard to resist the urge to use your LinkedIn profile for pitching. I mean, we’re obviously using LinkedIn to gain new clients. We do everything in our power to put ourselves out there. To market ourselves and our business. Is there a better way to do that than simple old sales pitching?
Well, as a matter of fact, there is. You guessed it, aim to establish yourself with LinkedIn thought leadership. Provide value to your prospects. Inspire and motivate, don’t just pitch them.
Most people will ignore you if you are constantly trying to sell them something. Or worse, unfollow you.
I don’t doubt that your solution is brilliant, and you’re eager to share it with the world. But the trick, as always, is to find the right balance.
And using the right means.
Providing value always works better than direct pitching. So focus on your industry expertise, offer a unique perspective on topics that relate to your business and audience.
Posting constantly about your product or services makes you no different than a regular salesperson. Nobody likes listening and reading to the same sales pitch over and over again. Instead, focus on initiating LinkedIn thought leadership conversations. The ones who agree will comment and engage in a discussion. Chances are, your discussion will inspire them to check your website and services.
Have your target audience in mind
Posting on LinkedIn is not as naive as it sounds. Still, there is one more thing you should always have at the back of your mind.
Your target audience.
If you know exactly what type of people you are talking to, great. If you don’t, it’s time to define your ideal client profile (ICP). Wondering why? Well, how else will you know what you need to say if you don’t know who you’re talking to?
Once you figure out your ICP, it’s time to work on your empathy. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what they would like to see on their feed.
Of course, you can’t tailor your posts to resonate with everyone personally. But having a general idea of their preferences works wonders.
For instance, you need to cover different topics if you’re targeting HR decision-makers rather than marketing or finance decision-makers.
Or different industries. Medical professionals will hardly be interested in the same topics as lawyers.
And no, you don’t have to decide on just one target audience. But you should adapt your content the best you can. Remember those personal posts we suggested? Yes, they speak volumes to everyone.
The “social” aspect in your professional social media interactions is about people sharing information and engaging with other people who are part of their network. When you like or share a post whether it’s from your personal or company LinkedIn page you are becoming an active member of a large community. This kind of social amplification will help get your company and personal page posts out to a much larger audience if done co-ordinately.
Creating and sharing content on LinkedIn is essential to get the most out of the platform. Every piece of quality content you share makes you more visible to industry leaders, potential clients and fellow executives.
In the B2B world, constant communication is of the essence.
And presenting yourself as an expert with LinkedIn thought leadership in a certain field can do wonders for your rates.
The only way of getting there is through regular posting from both, your personal and company LinkedIn page.
Not leveraging the benefits of posting regular valuable content, is a losing game.
Don’t forget that LinkedIn is a professional network that allows you to establish credibility, build a meaningful network, and boost your expertise from established experts in your industry. It’s a valuable tool in your social marketing arsenal, so make sure you’re using every opportunity it provides.
Dancho is a serial entrepreneur, founder & CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of two boys, and a ‘kafana’ enthusiast. He’s also the author of Amazon’s bestseller, ‘Sweet Leads.’ Dancho believes in building relationships with people and is inspired by growth. His ‘ZZ framework’ and formula for growth have brought 500+ clients the results they sought.
Eager to learn more? Follow Dancho on LinkedIn and Facebook.