Some consider personal branding an egoistic exercise in self-aggrandizement. Others feel that personal branding is just social media snake oil – an elixir which so-called “experts” and “gurus” try to foist on the naive.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network. Unfortunately, it’s also probably the most misunderstood.
With a total network size of 467 million users (Jan 2017), LinkedIn has over 108 million active users per month. About 57 percent of LinkedIn users are male, compared to 44 percent female.
LinkedIn is also the “richest” social network in terms of demographics.
44% of LinkedIn users earn more than US$75,000 a year, and 41 percent of millionaires use LinkedIn. The average CEO has some 930 connections on LinkedIn.
Common Misgivings About LinkedIn
Despite its massive size and business potential, few have used LinkedIn effectively to build their professional networks, generate leads or grow their business.
Here are some of the common reasons I’ve heard from friends and acquaintances explaining why they’ve neglected their LinkedIn accounts:
LinkedIn is only for job seekers looking for jobs
LinkedIn is filled with estate agents, insurance agents, trainers and agencies trying to spam their way into my InBox
LinkedIn is the boring version of Facebook (snigger)
LinkedIn is just an online Rolodex to keep all my contacts handy
LinkedIn is full of wannabes posting gratuitous and ego-inflating content
I don’t have time for LinkedIn!
While some of the above may be true – especially point number 3 – I strongly encourage you not to give up on LinkedIn. As the world’s number one professional social network, it has a lot to offer.
My LinkedIn Credentials
I wouldn’t consider myself a LinkedIn expert by any measure of the word, but I have experienced how powerful this social channel can be in generating business leads, attracting talent, and forming professional partnerships.
Here are some of my “vital statistics” on LinkedIn:
2,913 followers and 2,679 connections
70 articles published
Over 40,000 views on my most popular article
18 recommendations received
Over 99 endorsements each for Social Media Marketing, Corporate Communications, Public Relations, Marketing Communications, and Media Relations
Approximately 80 percent of business leads from LinkedIn (averaging about 2 a month)
And the funniest thing is this – I didn’t pay for advertising nor did I upgrade to a “Pro” account!
So how did I do it?
Connect with Friends, Ex-Colleagues, and Acquaintances
Like some of you, I started my LinkedIn account out of curiosity back in 2006/2007 during its early years.
As a business blogger, I found it interesting to connect with my fellow bloggers, friends on social media, colleagues, and alumni contacts through LinkedIn.
I also realised that it was more efficient for me to reach out to my professional contacts through LinkedIn rather than dig out their name cards to email, call or Whatsapp them.
Over time, I encouraged my business associates to connect with me on LinkedIn. This worked well as LinkedIn is considered less intimate and afforded greater privacy to those who preferred not to mix business with pleasure.
Through LinkedIn, I also found that I could stay in touch with my contacts. I could congratulate them during their work anniversaries or when they found new jobs, and reach out to them if I needed help in a specific area.
Here’s a very small sample of the folks I’m currently connected with on LinkedIn.
Write, Rewrite and Re-rewrite Your Profile
It goes without saying that your profile on LinkedIn is the most important piece of content that you should create.
Everybody who has an inkling of interest in you would check it out:
Potential business partners
Potential employees (yes, talents are particular about who they work for)
Potential suppliers/ contractors
Thus, it makes a lot of sense to pour your heart, mind and soul into writing a kick-ass profile.
In my case, I paid attention to my headline, used keywords which best described what I’m good at (and why you should work with me), and also included as much of my professional achievements as I could.
As in anything on social media, the trick here is to both give endorsements and receive them. When doing so, however, it is important to be authentic – ie only endorse the skills of your associates if you’ve seen them in action (either online or in-the-flesh).
Writing LinkedIn Articles – My Best Investment
In March 2014, I experimented with writing articles directly on LinkedIn using the LinkedIn Pulse app (now defunct). Prior to that, I used LinkedIn primarily as a social sharing channel to promote my own blog posts.
(At that time, I was working in a senior Corp Comms position in a government body and only left my job in May 2014.)
That was when things started to move up a few notches for me.
As a blogger, LinkedIn Pulse provided an additional channel for me to promote my thoughts and ideas.
Initially, I wrote anything which inspired or triggered me. It could be on social media, blogging, personal development, or leadership.
Over time, I decided to focus my LinkedIn articles on the hot topics of interest, especially those related to career or HR issues. At the same time, I pivoted my own website Cooler Insights to focus more on social media and content marketing topics.
Here’s my most popular article to date – a piece I wrote to highlight why employers regardless of affiliation should consider hiring public officers.
Here’s a snapshot of how well this article did, and who my readers were. It is interesting to see that many of them came from GovTech Singapore and San Francisco!
Of course, not all my articles do that well. Quite a few have less than 500 views.
However, that hadn’t stopped me from writing – and neither should it stop you too.
The Art of LinkedIn Engagement
Now, as an introvert, I don’t particularly enjoy schmoozing at parties or networking in face-to-face events. I can’t really drink, and my hearing has deteriorated over the years.
(Having said that, I’m far from socially awkward as those who met me in the flesh would attest to.)
Fortunately, schmoozing on LinkedIn is a different thing altogether.
As a geek and a nerd, I like to read what my connections on LinkedIn are sharing – especially if they are thought leaders and influencers in specific fields. I can also chip in with my two cents worth of comments, and stay in touch with occasional messages.
Typically, this is what I do.
Read through my LinkedIn feeds, like a couple of posts and updates, and comment on one or two
Share an article on LinkedIn
Congratulate friends/connections who were promoted, got a new job, or celebrated a job anniversary
Write an article or draft one
Schedule my LinkedIn posts for the week
Reach out to like-minded influencers and connect with them
Visit some of the Groups which I’m a member of, and read the more interesting posts
More in My 3rd 4th LinkedIn Personal Branding Workshop
What I’ve shared above is just the tip of the ice-berg.