Executive Education

LinkedIn for Leaders – hacks that will take you from competent to pro

By Amber Williamson, Founder of Digital Media & Marketing company, Digital Willow
Executive Education
Published: 7 June 2017

To be a leader in today’s digitally enabled world, LinkedIn is your biggest advocate and most sociable side-kick. As the world’s largest professional network, with over 420 million users globally, LinkedIn is a platform that’s helped cement many profiles and businesses.

From business tycoon Richard Branson and celebrated CEO Jack Welch, to media mogul Arianna Huffington – they’re all using LinkedIn to share and showcase what they know. Each boasts millions of connections and they post multiple times a day.

Why?
Learn how to get the most out of the platform and optimise your own LinkedIn profile page. This advice piece will provide specific and actionable guidance and hacks for time poor leaders.

1. Grow powerful connections – the Magic 1000
In my experience there is something very powerful about having 1000 contacts. With this number of connections, you possess the power to reach almost anyone you want to. The Magic 1000 allows you to bypass Gatekeepers and send messages directly to Decision Makers.

You will need to be brave and open up your privacy settings. Allow others to see when you have viewed their profile and receive that information in return. You don’t have to accept every LinkedIn invitation that comes your way. However the benefits of this extra data far outweighs the extra sales emails you might receive.

When connecting with someone you don’t know, be sure to include a short but personalised note requesting the connection. Don’t say – I saw you checked out my profile. Better to refer to someone you know in common or a past company you both worked at.

2. Stay connected and relevant
You may ask, what is the point of connecting with someone you barely know? You don’t have time to build a relationship with all of these people anyway. The reason is that one day you will need these people, or someone that they are connected to on a 2nd or 3rd degree. Look to LinkedIn as an excellent platform to both maintain relationships and create new ones.

Keeping in contact with your new network doesn’t have to be time consuming. If you see an interesting article: copy it, share it and in the text space write, “Thought you might find this article useful”. Including the ‘@’ symbol and the person’s name is a quick way to stay in touch.

3. Showcase thought leadership
Use LinkedIn Publisher to write regular, helpful content. This is different to just posting a timely comment, which doesn’t carry the same longevity or weight. To start, click the ‘Write an article’ button.

As a minimum, include a landscape image that encapsulates your thoughts and approximately 500 words of copy. Aim to publish on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, as there is more traffic to LinkedIn on these days than other days of the week. Your most recent publication will be featured on your profile page, alongside any articles you have liked.

Each time you publish, all of your 1st connections will receive a notification of your article. If these 1st level connections interact in any way with your content (like, share, comment), then their 1st level connections will see your article too. Use the platform to showcase your work, and that of your team.

4. Maximise your exposure
LinkedIn Pulse is effectively an online magazine that can be seen by all members. It delivers significantly more exposure than LinkedIn Publisher alone. If you publish articles on your website and/or other blogs, you are considered a publisher. This creates the chance for your thought leadership pieces to be included in Pulse.

If you write a brilliant and helpful piece of content on LinkedIn, be sure to Tweet it and include the @LinkedInPulse handle. This doesn’t guarantee you will be included in Pulse, but certainly puts you on their radar.

Another tip to increase the viewers of your article is to place the Inshare widget at the bottom of every article. This encourages readers who liked your material to share it. You can find the widget here.

5. Get more speaking gigs
If this is relevant to your personal objectives, add #Speaker and #Author into your profile description. If you have any video footage of recent conferences where you have presented, it is a great idea to add this too. Consider editing this down to a bitesize ‘highlights’ series for maximum viewing and recall.

Establishing yourself as a commentator and voice in your field carries significant kudos. Featuring this type of content within your profile goes along way to asserting you as a highly credible expert.

Remember that people enjoy watching video content as well as reading articles. Check out the latest TED Talks for further inspiration if you’re looking for a fresh approach, or simply need some tips on how to engage a large, new or niche audience.

6. Ensure You Can Be Seen
Recently I worked with a billionaire, who wanted to share his influence across a political topic. Whilst he had been a hugely successful player in his industry, outside of that no one had ever heard of him. When it came to influencing politicians, and influencing people, he struggled. We set to work building his LinkedIn profile.

Was a picture necessary? He asked. Absolutely yes. No matter what sort of leader you are, you must think carefully about your profile shot. This is not the platform for a quirky expression or a holiday spot in the background.

Don’t forget to optimise your profile to include key services or phrases that you want to get found for. Search engines love associating your name to phrases that appear time and time again. For example, my profile is heavily peppered with terms such as Digital Marketing, Digital Media, Digital Consultant, Digital Agency.

7. Stand out from your peers
There are a handful of easy wins that can be actioned to polish your profile. Firstly, update your public profile settings with your name. This makes it much easier to share with professional contacts.

Add a background photo to your profile, by clicking Profile >> Edit Profile in LinkedIn’s top navigation. LinkedIn specifies that your photo must be a JPG, PNG, or GIF file under 8MG in size and should have a resolution of 1400 x 425 pixels.

Rearrange your skills and endorsements based on what you want to emphasise. This is particularly useful if you wear a number of different hats!

If you don’t have enough skills or endorsements as yet, they can be built up quickly. Make sure you have enabled this feature in your settings.

8. Establish trust through transparency
Research shows that today’s buyers are so savvy that they are 70% through their decision-making process before they even contact a seller. You can almost guarantee they will have checked you out online: be that your company, product or you, the leader.

LinkedIn is the platform that gives leaders a public, yet professional face. It gives you a history, connections and a home to voice your point of view. The tools, used well, build trust. In turn trust helps open doors and increase demand.

One quick tool is to add a button to the bottom of any new sales email, saying ‘View my profile on LinkedIn’. By directing new contacts to you public profile you are confidently showing them you have nothing to hide.

9. Save money on recruitment fees
LinkedIn has long been associated with networking and career progression; hence it is a natural fit for recruitment, job posting and receiving initial enquiries. Prepare a detailed job spec and post this in order to attract potential candidates, without incurring hefty recruiter fees.

Be sure to have sufficient information on your profile, detailing what the company / brand does. An extensive profile and information is more likely to attract a targeted and high calibre of candidates.

The added benefit of using LinkedIn to promote job openings is that it asserts the perception of business growth. Many people will want to work for like-minded and ambitious individuals, as part of a company that is thriving.

For more information please visit www.digitalwillow.biz