Using Thought Leadership to build your personal brand on LinkedIn

As a follow on from my previous article, I thought I might turn my attention to the personal brand. In today’s working world, your professional online brand in key. LinkedIn can help you build one. Here’s how.

Be authentic. The best online identities are real, honest, and focus’ on what makes you unique and what you can offer. Personal branding is not about sales or spin. It’s showcasing your values, your way of doing things, your work ethic, your intelligence and your personal experience.

Create a distinctive profile headline and great bio. Many people skip this step, which is a bit baffling. Your LinkedIn headline is the first description that people will see. Make it count. Good headlines are clear, confident, and use terms people search for. Then concentrate on your summary. Don’t just throw it together. Take some time to write a thoughtful, attention getting and interesting summary that truly represents you.

Avoid clichés. Words like “creative,” “extensive experience,” and “team player” appear on so many profiles that they’re almost meaningless. Find unique ways to describe your skills.

Be visible. Don’t simply create your profile and leave it at that, participate! You can start by using LinkedIn publishing to write and share great content with your target audience. This is a great way to ensure continued interest, and to establish thought leadership. You should also share daily updates. One great built in feature that LinkedIn has is that it will automatically inform your followers and contacts when you have posted new content. This is almost like having your own promotion tool. Stand out by updating your status with projects you’re working on, stuff you’re reading (and your opinions on them), and events you’re attending. Your brand is not just who you are; it’s what you do.

Get clients and people you respect to endorse you. What you say about yourself on LinkedIn is important. What other people say about you is 100x times more important. Reach out to your contacts, and ask for recommendations. Of course, you’ll want to be generous as well and reciprocate with sincere endorsements of your own. When you successfully complete a project, don’t be shy. Ask satisfied clients to connect with you on LinkedIn if they have not already, and give you their stamp of approval.  When it comes to building influence, there are fewer things on LinkedIn that are more important than getting recommendations from the right people. Remember that by being sincere and generous with your endorsements, you are more likely to be able to earn some of your own.

Manage your Featured Skills and Endorsements. You know those annoying messages that pop up on LinkedIn asking if you’d like to endorse your contacts for a variety of skills? I’ve always considered that feature worthless. After all, I’ve had people endorse me for public speaking who’ve never heard me speak and received endorsements for career coaching from people I’ve never met. But I’ve changed my tune. According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, users who display five or more skills are messaged 31 times more and viewed 17 times more than those who do not! So as meaningless as Endorsements seem, they do attract more eyeballs to your page. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes it easy to edit, rearrange and manage your endorsements. To manage them, move your cursor over the Me icon at the top of your homepage, click View Profile, scroll down to the Featured Skills & Endorsements section and click on any of your skills to rearrange them so your strongest skills are at the top. You can also block any endorsements you want to hide. Differentiate yourself by knowing your industry deeply. Read up on topics you care about (as a start, check out LinkedIn Today, Channels, and Influencers).

Share in LinkedIn Groups. Like most social networking groups, the primary goal of a LinkedIn group is to build a hub for quality discussions and feedback. LinkedIn is a professional network, focusing on B2B interactions. That means the quality of the contacts you’ll get for any business-related content is much higher than those from Facebook or Twitter. Naturally, the more questions and content you share that’s relevant to the interests of the group, the more quickly you’ll move up on the influencer scale. Every Group post you make and question you answer is an opportunity to marketing yourself and to build your credibility. Groups are also a great way to learn industry lingo.

Be personal. To be clear, I’m not talking about you spewing out a nonstop stream of puppy photos, bible verses, or personal opinions on LinkedIn. Instead, I’m talking about sharing something personal from your non-work life, I’m talking about tying personal stories into the business-themed content you share on LinkedIn. For example, This guy wrote a post about what getting my pants pulled down in public taught me about failure and reaching your goals. Another way to get personal and be likeable on LinkedIn, is to customise connection requests or any other message on LinkedIn to your recipient. People will appreciate the personal attention.

Be consistent. The masters to the same thing over and over and over again. All highly successful people, all professionals that operate at the top of their fields—the masters—are all consistent. Great salespeople are consistent, great real-estate people are consistent, great investors are consistent, and great athletes are consistent. Make sure all the pieces of your professional footprint are consistent and send the same message — from your LinkedIn profile to your resume to other social networks.

Give generously. Helping others is a crucial way to build your own personal brand. Give advice, share job leads, provide endorsements, and congratulate people on their successes. LinkedIn recently bought the SlideShare presentation platform and now integrates it within your account. This way, you and your work can be easily discovered through a specific SlideShare search or through Google. It’s another dynamic and interesting way to display your thought leadership and draw traffic to your profile, all the while being generous in sharing your knowledge. Finally, consider posting blogs on LinkedIn to build your personal brand as a Thought Leader. The posts you write will be displayed on your LinkedIn profile and as your connections like and comment on them, they’ll be seen by your wider second and third level networks as well as through Google searches. Win-Win!

Sue Mills is a marketing, sales and digital specialist to the financial and professional service sector, and the owner of Sassy Marketing & Communications.  With over 20 years of experience working for and with financial planners, accountants, brokers and advisors she shows her clients how to step up and out to be sustainable and thrive in their practices through adopting smart and valuable marketing strategies. Call Sue on 0477 468 888 for a confidential discussion or visit

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