LinkedIn can be a fantastic tool in your content strategy, if you know how to use it effectively.
All successful businesses and thought leaders have a brand content strategy that is purposeful and aligned with their business objectives.
This morning I joined Karen Hollenbach of Think Bespoke in the first webinar of her online LinkedIn training series. If you’re not familiar with Karen she’s a LinkedIn specialist and has come to be affectionately known as the LinkedIn Lady. She is frequently engaged to speak at universities, conduct workshops and seminars with businesses and entrepreneurs, and polish profiles for people who want to take LinkedIn seriously. One thing I love about Karen is her unique approach to content marketing. Hers is a pull strategy, not a push strategy. That is, she has a thoughtful and respectful yet strategic approach which enables her to generate more leads over time and establish herself as a thought leader and authority in her area.
One of the most common questions she hears is: Is LinkedIn publishing is for me?
So, this question and the way to approach it is different for everyone. It depends on your brand and your content strategy, but it also depends on where your ideal audience hangs out. When you read through what we covered in this webinar, you’ll get a better sense if it’s for you. (It is also worth saying, since its redesign in November 2016, LinkedIn is now much more functional and user friendly.)
If you’re thinking about dabbling in LinkedIn, or ready to take it seriously, there are 4 key steps to take if you want LinkedIn to work for your business:
1. Find your voice and tell your story.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know my position on brand storytelling. This is a really key part of effective content marketing, and it’s equally important if you want to unlock LinkedIn for your business.
The first step is to get really clear on who are you trying to influence. If you could just click your fingers and make it happen, who would you like to see your brand in front of? Who would you love to sign up as a new client? This will influence how you write your profile and the information you include. When you write with your ideal client in mind, it will always be more powerful and persuasive.
Secondly, what do you want to be known for? What brings you the most satisfaction in your role? Why are you passionate about what you do? Include these elements, because we love to connect with real people.
It is important to understand that your LinkedIn profile is not your resume. It’s a professional network and content marketing tool. The secret to a powerful profile is to show yourself in your best light and write it in a way that connects yet provides a well-developed and crystal clear statement about how you help others. What is the benefit they receive when working with you?
2. Building your brand on LinkedIn
Before trying to build your brand, you want to ensure you have consistent professional branding across the board. This is what I refer to as brand integrity. On LinkedIn, show a strong professional headshot as your main image and use a header that’s consistent with your branding. If you add media to your summary and recent (relevant) experience sections, ensure this too is in line with your branding and brand objectives. Consistency helps to build trust and it shows you take your business seriously.
Next, set up a company page. This is a free feature which claims your company’s real estate and allows you to get your logo onto LinkedIn. It will then pick up your logo so it appears in the experience section of your profile. It also means you can drive content from your company page. Just keep in mind, it does take time to build followers but don’t give up. A strategic and purposeful approach to your brand content strategy on LinkedIn will help you to develop a deep and rich connection with the right followers.
You can also use your personal profile to publish (post) LinkedIn articles. These are generally the first thing people are drawn to when they visit your profile and helps build authority when generating leads, which I’ll touch on below.
Always remember to post, like or share content that is interesting and relevant for your audience, and suits your intended goals.
Another way to build your brand is through skill endorsement. There are 50 available skills, so think about the top 3 skills that you represent yourself for then move these to the top of your list. By having skills available for your network to endorse, LinkedIn has a feature that occasionally invites your network to endorse you. This shows your prospective audience that they don’t only need to take your word for it.
Finally, recommendations are just as powerful as a testimonial on your website. Draw up the courage and ask the most senior people you’ve worked with (who represent your ideal client) if they’ll provide you with a recommendation. Karen will be covering the right and wrong ways to do this in her later webinars—there’s a link below if you’re interested.
At the end of the day, when you’re spending any time on LinkedIn, you want to present the absolute best version of yourself.
3. Grow your network
If you don’t nail the first two points above, then you risk falling short on this one. Ultimately, you want to grow a network of engaged and relevant people who will effortlessly help you build your brand because they’ll like and share the content you deliver.
If you are looking to connect with people on LinkedIn, first consider whether you have some kind of relationship connection? Have they written good content or have you heard them speak? Is this someone you can do business with? Do they transact in the countries you transact in? Engage in a conversation, just as you would at a normal networking event.
If you’ve been to a networking event and collected a couple of business cards, follow up and connect with them within 24 hours. When you reach out, personalise the invitation or follow on with the conversation you were having. This is a great way to sustain business relationships and keep you front of mind.
The more optimised your profile is, the more you engage and the larger your network, you will begin to be rewarded. If you post good content and someone likes or shares it, your post will extend to their network and beyond. This is how you begin to establish yourself as a thought leader and authority. Aim to like or share 2-3 other articles that appear in your feed each day. People appreciate other people who engage genuinely with the content they deliver. Plus it’s a great way to build relationships over time. But again, always check in with these questions: What do you want to be known for, who do you want to influence, and what will be useful for your network to read?
LinkedIn doesn’t deliver the most recent posts to people’s feeds, it delivers what it thinks they’ll be interested in. So by being relevant and interesting, you’ll get in front of more people.
4. Capture leads
You may be wondering, just how do you capture leads in an online networking platform? Sure, it is a little different to meeting someone at a networking event, connecting and striking up a conversation. But believe it or not, LinkedIn can be used in a similar way and still be non-tacky!
It is like a virtual room, so treat people just the same way you would in person. Don’t try to be salesy when you reach out, it’s just about connecting on a human to human level. For example, if someone has commented on your content, engage with them in response. Not only is it a way of showing your appreciation, but other people who later read your content can see an element of your personality they wouldn’t have otherwise seen and they can get a sense of who you are, and why they’d like to work with you.
Another key way to capture leads on LinkedIn is through who has viewed your profile. We are notified when we’ve had someone view our profile, so if you click through to their profile and they look like a potential lead, you can send them an invitation to connect. Personalise your invitation with a greeting. See if you have someone or something in common to draw on for conversation. And then allow the content already on your profile through the thoughtful and consistent work you’ve put in, to work with you in building your authority.
If you want to take it one step further, LinkedIn also has a paid function (which you can access during their free premium trials) where you can use an advanced search to research possible leads. You can begin to interact through liking their content (if it’s relevant to your goals), or send them an invitation to connect. Or if you have someone in common, you can do it the old fashion way by picking up the phone and asking your connection to introduce you!
Karen’s upcoming webinar series will dive deeper into each of these areas. So if your ideal audience is on LinkedIn but you haven’t taken the next step, perhaps you’ve been a little tentative about accepting invitations to connect, or maybe you’re trying to decide on a LinkedIn strategy, I can highly recommend her fun and engaging content. Special offers are also available. #bonus
The next on is on 27 April, where she will offer advice on building your business, brand development and effective content planning for #LinkedIn. You can sign up or learn more here.
**I’m not an affiliate, I just love to support women in business and share fantastic opportunities that I know will help you to grow your business.