The potential for business people on LinkedIn is ENDLESS. Whether you want to find a job, or wanting to find an employee, want to learn new skills, looking to generate leads, or grow your professional personal brand, LinkedIn is the perfect platform.
700 million users across the world, many of them engaging on the platform every day. The ability to connect with relevant professionals and have a massive potential audience for your content. This potential is remarkably easy to tap into… If you know how.
This article will discuss ten strategies you can use to harness this potential. It is the second half of my two-part LinkedIn blog. The first discusses the potential of the platform, how to optimise your profile and my background on the platform. If you missed that – I have been using LinkedIn for around five years as a marketing tool for my business and receive over 50,000 views a month on my content, and hundreds of people view my profile daily. These are my biggest tips.
Start conversations — post original content
If you want to grow your personal brand and increase awareness of what you do, you need to be posting content on LinkedIn. I do not believe there is a better platform for growing a professional personal brand. Sure, you may not have the reach of high-level influencers on YouTube or Instagram; but for the average person, you are far more likely to be able to grow an audience on LinkedIn.
If you are not already, Start posting original content. Focus on what comes easy to you, do not just do something because some ‘LinkedIn video guru’ is telling you that you “MUST be doing videos!”. If you are good at writing and not comfortable on camera, just focus on writing interesting content. If you are a natural on camera and not that good at writing, post video content. Just start posting content that aligns with your personal brand and what you are trying to achieve.
Different forms of content have their advantages and disadvantages, and people generally have a preferred type of content – so you will never cater to everybody. I do not watch a lot of videos myself, but I like to read interesting articles. Create content that you think your target audiences is going to be interested in. Think from their point of view — what would they like to learn or what would entertain them?
Articles do not get much of a push on LinkedIn anymore. It can feel like a lot of effort for little reward. But if you are already blogging and producing long-form content, there is no reason you should not repurpose it as LinkedIn articles. You are unlikely to get too many views (Mine usually get less than 100 views compared to 2500–5000 views on my average post), but if people are checking your profile out it can increase your credibility to have a few well-written and informative articles on there that position you as an expert in your industry.
It is also important to post any content directly to LinkedIn instead of posting any links. The algorithm does not like it if you send people away, and that piece of content will be penalised. Hail the almighty LinkedIn algorithm! If you must post a link to external content, do it in the comments instead of the main post.
Join conversations — engage in content!
One of the biggest unwritten rules of LinkedIn is to engage in the content of other people as well as your own. Comment on content relevant to your brand, whether it is your personal brand or business brand.
The LinkedIn algorithm favours those who engage. If you like or comment on somebody else’s post, they are then more likely to see your content. The algorithm is more likely to send your content into their feed. LinkedIn will assume that you know each other and that your content is also relevant to them. If you do not engage in anybody else’ content, they are unlikely to see yours. You could have high-quality content, but this does not matter if nobody sees it.
I have come to realise the importance of this over the last few years of using LinkedIn. If I am busy with work, and do not spend much time on the platform browsing content and engaging for a few weeks, I notice that there is a reduction in my reach. Fewer people see my posts. If I spend a couple of weeks of commenting and liking a lot more content, it will bounce back to previous levels.
As well as putting your content out to more people, writing well-articulated comments helps builds your reputation as a thought-leader, and more people will connect with you and find you credible to do business with. This will help you to start building a community around your personal brand. LinkedIn is full of people like you who want to connect and use LinkedIn for mutual benefit, but most of all to have conversations. It is social media. Also, it might seem obvious, but reply to comments on your post — do not just leave them hanging! They may never comment again.
Connect! Grow your network
Connect with people and form professional relationships. The more people you connect with means the bigger your network becomes, so theoretically the more potential opportunities of somebody seeing your content who might find it valuable. As well as being a content marketing platform, I believe people should think of LinkedIn as a relationship-building platform.
LinkedIn allows you to connect your email address book with your LinkedIn account. So first, send an invitation to connect with past clients, friends, and colleagues.
I suggest connecting with many people locally and with relevance to your industry. Even if their competitors or people in similar roles, this means they will have an interest in your content and may engage with you. If you are going to try and create a community around your brand you need to be visible. It is extremely hard to get your message out there if your network is only a few hundred people. I recommend trying and connect with at least 1000 people.
I have over 6000 connections, and when I first started using LinkedIn for my business, I was aggressive with building my network. I would connect with anybody in my area with more than 50 mutual connections. I assumed that if we have that many mutual connections then they likely to accept my request to connect. LinkedIn is not like Facebook where most people only have a few hundred friends; many people on LinkedIn have an open mind toward connecting with anyone, regardless of whether you have or will ever meet.
You can send a little connection notes to increase your chance of them connecting. To be honest, sending notes to people that is not something I did a lot of when I first started building my connections up. It was about volume, and LinkedIn makes it easy to quickly send requests on mass to people they think are relevant. I know a lot of LinkedIn ’gurus’ would tell me off for this. But I figured that if people took offence me sending a request to connect without a personal note, and refused to connect for this reason, then they are probably unlikely to engage in any content anyway. It seems a bit dramatic.
If people send a note to me with a request to connect, I will try and respond to most and say thanks for connecting. I highly recommend not selling to people when you first connect, without first establishing a relationship and credibility. If the first thing a person does when they connect tries to sell me something, then I typically will not respond to that kind of message. That's not the LinkedIn way.
Try and connect with “influencers” too. If they have a large audience, chances are it is because they have a large network. They must have an open mind towards connecting with people. They realise the importance. Do not assume they will not accept if you do not have a big audience. If they then engage in your content, it helps push it out to a bigger audience and increases your credibility.
Targeting the right audience
Before you start creating random content with no purpose, it is important to define exactly what you are trying to achieve and who your targeting with your content. Then create content centred around this strategy. There are a lot of people who use LinkedIn to have random conversations or talk about their families as they would on Facebook. You wonder what they are trying to achieve, and whether they care about attracting new clients, or if what they do on LinkedIn has an influence on their career. If your main reason for using LinkedIn is to build your professional reputation for your career, then you need a direction and a focus.
Create content that is of interest to your target audience. Follow and connect with people who already have a large following, with a similar target audience to your own. You can get ideas for what kind of content to produce and share yourself, but also to start engaging in their content to increase your brand awareness with more of your target audience through having conversations.
It is also important to connect with people in your target audience. Some people with more of a sales mindset will tell you to send messages to these people etc but I’m from the perspective that if you start providing value in your content they will start engaging with it and learn who you are and what you do anyway.
Focus on consistency, not metrics
Do not let the “likes” and engagement of other users discourage you to focus too much on metrics. A lot of the time they are meaningless. Somebody who spends 6 hours a day on LinkedIn will have far higher engagement than somebody who spends 5 minutes a day on LinkedIn. That is just the way the algorithm is wired.
Sure, you can use likes a benchmark for your content. But benchmark it against your own content, not other peoples’. If one of your posts got ten likes, and you usually get 2 or 3, then try another similar post. If a certain style of post never gets any likes, comments or any views, maybe ditch it and try something else. It is all a bit of trial and error.
Views is another way to benchmark, but again, is not absolute. Video views and article views are counted differently from post views, so do not let the low view counts discourage you. Typically, all my posts receive at least 1000 views, but video views can only be a few hundred, and articles less than 50.
Consistency is the key. Just keep posting content, regardless of whether you have people engaging. If it aligns with your purpose, then people will start to notice. Once you break over that barrier and start gaining engagement then it should consistently happen, if your content is interesting and valuable. You will slowly keep growing an audience as more people see it, and want to connect with you to see more of your content.
Make a point to spend an hour or so daily if possible, to spend scrolling through your feed liking and commenting on relevant content. Whether it is ‘leveraging’ (I do hate this word, but you can do this in a way you are still providing value) the networks of influencers and commenting on their content, or engaging in the content of local connections, or content relevant to your industry (do this by clicking on a hashtag to view content on that topic).
All of this will start to get the LinkedIn algorithm working in your favour.
Tips to get the most from the algorithm
You cannot just put random content out there and assume people are going to see it and engage in it. There are a few different tactics you can use to maximise the chance of people seeing your content.
As just discussed, there is a mutual benefit of engaging in the content of other people. The LinkedIn algorithm favours those who engage. You often see it when people start posting content for the first time. If they have been regularly engaging in other peoples' content over some time before posting themselves, then their content often they get a huge push from the algorithm. They have already earned a lot of LinkedIn algorithm brownie points.
Use relevant hashtags in your content, but not too many. LinkedIn recommends using three. If a post does well, it might start trending in a certain hashtag and go out to more people. As well as this, people can find your content if they are looking through posts with that hashtag. Aim for one broad hashtag such as #Marketing, use one more niche hashtag such as #contentmarketing and you can also use a unique personalised hashtag to help people find other posts from you. I have one called #50weeksofmarketing.
In a post, the maximum number of characters is 1200. Try and use as many of them as possible. The algorithm gives more of a push to content that uses up more characters, as its easier to identify as quality content. Try to add an image to your written content, as more people are likely to notice your post and stop and read it.
The LinkedIn algorithm push posts out to a bigger audience if the initial engagement is high. A post might initially only go out to 1–5% of your connections and if nobody likes it or comments, it dies. However, if five or ten people for example like it within the first 30 minutes, the algorithm identifies it as a good piece of content that people want to engage in and sends it out to a higher proportion of your connections.
The time of the day you post can also influence how well a post does. If you post between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., or 4 p.m. at 5 p.m. during the week, this is usually when the highest number of people are browsing the platform. Therefore, you have more chance of people seeing the content when you first post it. In saying this, I posted some of my popular content between 8 and 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning and sometimes, 8-9 p.m. can work well. People often have more time to browse after work hours as LinkedIn has become more like Facebook. It is not just a work thing anymore.
Many “influencers” use engagement pods to make sure that their content gets this initial push. They try and cheat the algorithm by posting a link to their latest content in a private group and there is an obligation to like and comment on one another’s posts. Most of these pods you have to pay for, and does not guarantee the right people are going to see your content anyway; as most of the people in these groups are on the other side of the globe, and their network is the people most likely to see your post. Not your local network.
It takes a lot of time and effort to engage in all this random content (I imagine) and it also means you do not learn what kind of content works best for you. What your sweet spot is. There is no quality control, they like everything. But hey, if you want an ego boost and pretend you are famous, go for it.
7. Do not have a sell first mindset
The biggest issue that many people face who get little engagement on their LinkedIn content is their sales mentality. Think of LinkedIn as a relationship-building platform rather than a sales platform. I know the term customer relationships is often another way to describe a sales job, however, I believe too much of a sales mindset harms your ability to build relationships.
People tend to switch off from the content of people who keep trying to sell — we do it without thinking. I talked about it in my article about persuasion knowledge. If we do not have any need for a product or service RIGHT NOW, we are going to have no interest. But we might have an interest in a “how-to” guide or quirky story.
I have seen many people post content about nothing else besides the products they sell or how successful they are. Nobody engages in their content, and then they just end up saying “LinkedIn doesn’t work…”
Being a real estate agent for over four years, it is something I noticed often. The best real estate agents have no idea what to do on LinkedIn because they have a sell first mentality, and that does not work well on this platform. Nobody cares about how many houses you sold, but they do care about what is happening in their neighbourhood. That is why I stood out as an agent on this platform. If one of my ‘for sale’ or ‘sold’ post got 20 likes, that was a great outcome. Any of my content about infrastructure or growth would tend to sit in the 50-150 likes category, and obviously, a lot more people saw this content. And it still had a real estate feel. But I was not selling anything.
8. Provide Value — Be Selfless
Instead of aiming to sell something in your content, aim to create value to certain groups of people on LinkedIn. Your target audience – the people you are creating content for.
Focus your strategy around providing value for people who could potentially be a customer one day. You could do this by creating infographics, or a video showing how to do something related to your profession. It does not always have to be business-related. It could be an opinion-piece on local politics or sharing a piece of news that makes people happy or excited.
Provide this value to people selflessly and without the intention of doing things “just” to leverage it. Do it for the sake of genuinely helping people, as if you have this mindset, people will notice. This will establish trust. People love authenticity and do business with people they like and trust. People start to see through those who are consistently self-promoting themselves doing these good-deeds, just put themselves in the spotlight.
You want to make people smile, make them laugh, make them think deeper about something, help them learn something or share a relevant news piece. Create content to educate and entertain people. Pose thought-provoking questions. This kind of content is interesting and provides value to people.
Think from the perspective of your target audience. If you do not know who your target audience is, create five buyer personas for the types of people you are trying to reach. Is it business owners? CEOs? Future members of staff? Once we understand who our target audience is, it will be easier to think from their perspective when creating content for them.
If you are struggling for topics for content, use tools such as local news websites and Google trends to find topics relevant to your industry to talk about. Use your expertise to have a constructive conversation about the topic. Read my article about content marketing to get more tips.
9. Be Brave, Original and Authentic
Do not be afraid to be yourself. Honesty can polarise some people, but many other people will respect you for it, even if they do not agree. It builds trust with people. Speak your mind and be authentic to who you are and your beliefs but do it constructively. People on LinkedIn have a pretty open mind towards people expressing their opinion. It is not like Facebook, where trolls who just want to pick a fight and abuse people, lurking in the comments.
If you are authentic and speak your mind, this also means you will be original and stand out amongst the crowd. Many people on LinkedIn will stand in the shadows a bit and will not do anything too daring.
I would not recommend trying to replicate the strategies of other people who have a large following on the platform. Sure, take inspiration, but do not directly copy everything they do. Chances are that they built their audience based being unique and original, so that same strategy will not work for you. Stick to your bread and butter.
Do not post all kinds of random things that do not align with your personal brand and the image you want to create. I centre my content strategy around being passionate about my city, my networking events, marketing (before, real estate), and fitness/sport as part of my personal brand because I am passionate and find it easy to talk about. Occasionally I will say something political, but I try not to too much, as it can be polarising to large groups of people. Save it for when you want to take a stand and have something to say.
For example, this recent post where I discussed the possibility of using a place in New Zealand called Queenstown, as a Quarantine town (Quarantown), had over 25,000 views.
Users of LinkedIn like to connect with the “person”. Posts with selfies in them often do surprisingly well. You might think, what is this, Instagram? But it is true. I have never been comfortable taking photos of myself, so it is not something I do a lot of. Instead, I will post a photo of a coffee meet up I went to. Consider how you can incorporate your unique human element into your LinkedIn content.
Grow a community
I think one of the ultimate aims of using social media is to create a tribe and community around your personal brand or business. If you can take your community offline, it will be even stronger. However, do not try and make the community about you. Instead, make it about a common cause and provide value through the community. There is a huge ability on LinkedIn to build a local audience.
People are passionate about the city they live in. Just look at your local sports team and the passion their fans have. A way to establish your personal brand in the local market is to create content around relevant news in your local area. When I was a real estate agent, my posts about a house for sale might get 5 likes on average. A piece about the local real estate market might get 10 or 20 likes, where a post celebrating a new piece of local infrastructure often had over 100 likes.
Because I had established local reach, this allowed me to set up LinkedIn Local Hamilton, a local networking event that has become popular. Now ten events in, I host them quarterly and around 1800 people have attended. Might not sound like a huge amount, but 150–200 odd local businesspeople coming to a networking event enjoying a drink creates a pretty cool atmosphere and people love it.
When I started the events, I just wanted to meet some more local people so I could sell their house one day. I had no idea they would become so popular! Building my personal brand around sharing content about my local city was probably the perfect platform to launch the events, as I had a local audience. I had previously aggressively connected with local LinkedIn users – I could only sell houses in my city, so local geographic targeting was high up on my strategy list.
I have been doing the events two and a half years now, but only created a LinkedIn page for the event around ten months ago. I was quite hesitant because I knew it gave my personal profile coverage and I did not want to risk losing any reach. Now, I share a lot of the event content from the event page, and I think my personal page has become less saturated with content. This is a good thing, as I have not lost any reach and I can post more content focused around my paying job.
Organising an event like this also allows you to set a page for the event on your website, as well as a form up to take email details for an events database. This will help with SEO, increasing your brand awareness and gives you the ability to contact these people via email. Do not use it to spam people with email however you will lose credibility quickly. You can see the LinkedIn Local page I set up on my website here.
Those were my ten tips for growing your audience and brand on LinkedIn to increase your professional opportunities. If you start implementing these strategies, I am quite certain that you will start to notice a difference in the engagement that you get on the platform.
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