An In-Depth Guide To LinkedIn Personal Branding

When people think of Satya Nadella, they think of a leader who is visionary, cutting-edge, insightful, and a champion of diversity.

This is no accident. Over the years the Microsoft CEO has built this personal brand through content on social media and traditional media, engagement with his audience and public appearances.

Nadella’s personal brand has helped him stand out in the technology industry. Recognized as a thought leader in his field, he has earned trust and credibility by sharing his thoughts, ideas and insights with the world.

As the world’s premiere business networking platform, LinkedIn is an ideal way to follow in the footsteps of influential thought leaders like Nadella (who also happens to “run” LinkedIn, after its acquisition by Microsoft). In this post, we look at the specific tools LinkedIn offers that differentiate it from other social media channels and how you can use the platform to build your personal brand and thought leadership status.

Why having a personal brand on LinkedIn is important

Different social media platforms offer their own unique tools and are more popular with certain audiences. However, LinkedIn is the only social media platform with a built-in audience of fellow professionals and colleagues. Using LinkedIn’s unique features, you can reach the people who will benefit most from your perspective and build your personal brand, and that of your company’s, in the process.

How LinkedIn differs from other social media platforms for branding

Cat memes. That’s one of the biggest differences between LinkedIn and other social media platforms – cat memes. You are far less likely to see playful, goofy and personal content on LinkedIn. (Although, you might see posts about how cat memes can improve your marketing strategy.)

There are other differences too, though – beginning with your profile and extending to the platform’s networking capabilities.

Profile

Like other social media platforms, LinkedIn lets users build a profile page. But LinkedIn’s profile formatting is customized to let users highlight their business affiliations and experience and showcase recommendations from colleagues, clients and fellow thought leaders. You can also endorse your connections, of course.

Like other social media platforms, LinkedIn also suggests people to connect with. But these are professional contacts and are based on your current connections, profile information and activity — and not on friends you follow on other social media channels or friends of friends.

Content

Because of its professional nature, LinkedIn rewards and promotes posts that focus on business and corporate news, insights into business trends, reports and predictions, lessons learned, achievements and company updates, and how-tos and educational content. If this sound dry, that’s because it can be. One way to pep up your post is by using images and video –multi-media posts get more engagement. And a sure way to burnish your thought leadership credentials is by showcasing an employee.

For example, General Motors CEO Mary Barra recently posted a video of her team taking the new Equinox EV for a spin.

Connections

LinkedIn offers many ways to connect with colleagues, clients and fellow thought leaders that make it different from other platforms.

Direct messaging and InMail

Apart from commenting on other users’ LinkedIn posts, you can also reach out to your connections for one-on-one communications using LinkedIn’s message functionality.

Meanwhile, the premium InMail feature allows users to directly message another LinkedIn member they’re not connected with.

Besides direct communication, LinkedIn has many features to help you connect with colleagues, clients and fellow thought leaders.

Groups

LinkedIn lets you join or even create your own group – communities centered around industries, interests, or specific topics. Needless to say, this is an excellent opportunity to share insights, suggests and solutions with colleagues. Save your fantasy football league for Facebook.

Events

LinkedIn Events allows you to host or attend virtual events, webinars, and meetups. View a demonstration here.

Search and filters

LinkedIn’s advanced search filters helps you find people based on specific criteria, such as industry, location, company, and more. You can refine your search by using Boolean operators – that is, simple words like “and,” “not,” and “or.”

Career advice and mentorship

Members can connect with experienced professionals for career advice and mentorship through LinkedIn’s Career Advice feature. Fostering meaningful connections through mentorship is a little-known but effective method of not only building your brand as a thought leader but help you understand the kind of leader you want to be.

Improving your personal brand on LinkedIn

You can use LinkedIn to improve your personal brand and position yourself as a thought leader in a number of ways.

Profile Optimization

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is one that showcases your professional background, skills, achievements, and aspirations. Always use a professional photo and, ideally, a banner that showcases your company or business. Craft a compelling headline and summary that highlights your areas of expertise and accomplishments. Get endorsements from peers and colleagues and keep them up to date.

For example, Chubbiverse’s String Nguyen’s profile is eye-catching, playful and still professional.

In addition, use SEO best practices to make your profile search-friendly. Use hashtags in your summary and posts to reach a larger audience. Use keywords in your profile when describing your skills and experience. You can also create a custom URL that’s easy for colleagues to remember.

Content Posting

Post about the latest news, trends and research in your industry. If you can, offer insights and opinions but don’t force it – a hot take might land you in hot water. Post at least once a week – 2-3 times a week if possible. But remember that less is more if you have time only for one quality post. Don’t gum up the works with nonsense. Types of content especially suited to thought leaders include long-form articles, relatable professional experiences and lessons learned.

For instance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella regularly posts about advances in the tech sphere.

Networking and engagement

Participate in LinkedIn groups, discussions, and networking events. Engage with others through likes, comments and shares in the comments sections of their posts to expand your professional network and visibility.

Share other peoples’ content, such as articles, blog posts, industry news, and updates on professional achievements or projects, as well. Showcasing employees, clients and colleagues shows that you are confident enough to share the spotlight.

For instance, Arc’teryx CEO Stuart Haselden recently shared a post from the company’s VP of store development about the opening of a new store.

When commenting on other people’s posts or engaging with someone who has commented on one of your posts, do so in a genuine and thoughtful manner. Remember why you are commenting – because you can relate and recall a similar experience or can add something of value.

Consistency and authenticity

Maintain a consistent and authentic tone in your posts that reflects your professional identity and values. For example, Ryan Gellert, CEO of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, likely wouldn’t post about the return of the McRib.

Instead, Patagonia’s Gellert regularly posts about the renewable energy and other environmental concerns.

You can also use your profile and the way you interact with others on the platform to express your values and leadership style.

Thought Leader Ads

Thought Leader Ads are a recent innovation that lets you promote your personal LinkedIn posts through a LinkedIn company page. In the example below, LinkedIn member Matt Phillips shared a personal post featuring a “sales metrics cheat sheet.” To extend the reach of this post, he then boosted it with a Thought Leader Ad using his company LinkedIn page.

The ads amplify your voice (or that of a colleague or employee), build trust and credibility with key audiences, grow brand value, and save time and resources by repurposing content.

Analytics

By using LinkedIn’s native analytics or a third-party social media management service like Hootsuite you can track the number of visitors to your profile and see which posts are getting the most reaction, comments and reposts and who your audience is. Use this information on what is and isn’t working to adjust  your branding strategy accordingly.

If using LinkedIn to build your personal brand sounds like a lot of time, work and energy, then you’ll understand why many of today’s top CEOs are turning to outside sources for help. Thought leadership consultancy agencies like CSuite Content have the experience and expertise to help you turn your LinkedIn profile from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan of personal branding.



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