As a redhead, I hate to use this term … but many people have come to view LinkedIn as the red-headed stepchild of the core social networks. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram dominate daily life on social media for everyday users. But when it comes to business, it’s hard to argue that LinkedIn doesn’t provide value. While largely beneficial for B2B-based companies and executives, an audit we did for a higher education institute found that LinkedIn was their third highest driver of social traffic to their website – and that’s without them putting much time into the channel at all.
There is something to be said for the opportunities that exist on LinkedIn – which is probably why we have been seeing a handful of recent questions from clients asking how their executives can raise their profile on the network. More specifically the classic question of, “How can they become an influencer on LinkedIn?”
To begin with, there is an actual LinkedIn Influencer Program offered by the network. However, it’s highly selective and no longer has an open application process. Members include a few names you’ve probably never heard of – Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, etc. In other words, I’d quickly persuade your client that this isn’t in the cards any time soon.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t steps they can take to boost their LinkedIn presence beyond network connections. Here are a few key ways to get started:
- Make sure their profile is in shape. The first step to any successful LinkedIn presence is a complete profile. It’s as common sense as it sounds – but you’d be surprised how many profiles are rather lacking. If someone stumbles upon your exec’s page, does it provide a good sense of experience & accomplishments? Does it demonstrate what they stand for? Encourage them to fill it out in-depth – including taking advantage of the Portfolio feature offered within each job role. It’s a great way to highlight work, interviews and anything else that can serve as validation of their hard work.
- Put LinkedIn Pulse to use. LinkedIn Pulse is the network’s publishing platform. It serves, in essence, as a blog. Everyone can publish posts, with visibility expanding beyond one’s network. This is where someone can showcase their thought leadership on industry trends, events, and more. The key is to offer up fresh thoughts – not those that have been repeated over and over. Stand out. Does your exec not have enough time on his or her plate? If they already pen blogs for a corporate site, consider re-posting on Pulse.
- Participate in Groups. Groups have been a longstanding LinkedIn feature. They offer a place for those with similar interests or those who work in a similar industry to gather together and discuss related topics. While some groups have very low activity, others are monitored & lead great discussions. It’s an easy way to network with peers. As your exec seeks out groups that fit his or her interests, they can join conversations that can further establish themselves as a go-to resource for their industry. Or, if they don’t see any group that fits their niche, encourage the to start their own.
- Cross-promote. Is your executive highly active on another network, like Twitter? If so – encourage them to share their LinkedIn profile there. Utilize that existing au1414dience to promote their activity. It is worth noting that if they don’t want a lot of random people connecting with them, it may not be a wise idea. If there are great discussions happening within a LinkedIn Group, that’s another possible thing to link to on Twitter & encourage others to join in.
Taking the above steps should begin to plant a firm foundation under your exec’s LinkedIn presence. Ultimately, it’s up to them to stay involved and keep things growing. ‘Influence’ does not happen overnight. It’s something to be earned.
Marketing Technology Manager