Advice

How To Build a Professional Brand on LinkedIn

From a business owner’s or CEO’s perspective, LinkedIn is a goldmine.

The platform can help you find key individuals that will help your business thrive while also helping you find clients that will keep the lights on.

While it has been quite some time since LinkedIn has established itself as a superb platform to find jobs and candidates, the relatively recent addition of sales features to the platform have transformed it into a powerful tool.

LinkedIn has even created a dedicated page filled to the brim with case studies proving the effectiveness of its sales tool, the Sales Navigator.

With all that said, at the end of the day, LinkedIn is simply a platform that offers tools. Achieving success on this platform using the tools it offers is still your own responsibility.

One of the best ways to achieve ‘success’ on LinkedIn, to effectively benefit from the tools and features offered by the platform, is to establish a professional (personal) brand.

Sure, LinkedIn does allow companies to create their pages, and you should definitely create one if you already haven’t. However, company pages cannot send connection requests and directly connect with prospects. Other limitations associated with company profiles on LinkedIn include the inability to join groups, to send messages, or to even identify who follows the company page.

Besides offering a lot more freedom, using a personal profile is also advantageous because people are more willing to interact with other people (as compared to businesses).

With their personal profiles, CEOs and other top-level executives have the unique opportunity to build more credibility and trust around their businesses using their own personal brands.

While a personal brand can deliver incredible benefits, regardless of whether you are a CEO or an aspiring professional, or even a freelancer, building a personal brand involves some serious hard work.

Before you can start working hard on your personal brand, you need to know what needs to be done to establish a personal brand on LinkedIn.

That is exactly what we will be discussing in the upcoming sections of this article. So without further delay let’s begin:

Profile Optimization

Just like having an optimized and visually-appealing website updated with quality content is a bare necessity for businesses looking to turn into brands online, an optimized profile is important for individuals hoping to establish their personal brand on LinkedIn.

A LinkedIn profile has many parts and here’s how you can optimize each one:

  • Profile Optimization For LinkedIn Search: Just like websites can be optimized with keywords to ensure they appear in the search results for relevant queries, LinkedIn profiles can too be optimized with keywords.

LinkedIn offers all its users access to a powerful search feature equipped with a ton of filters. Naturally, a lot of LinkedIn users, probably including some of your prospective clients, utilise this feature very often. So, it is important to ensure your profile appears high in the search results for keywords related to your expertise.

So ask yourself, what keywords do you want to be found for? What keywords are your potential clients using to find professionals on LinkedIn?

When you figure it out, add the keywords to your profile. While there is no definitive data available to support this, in my experience, keywords can seriously impact visibility when added to a profile’s headline, job title, summary, and job descriptions.

Unlike websites, there is no rank tracking tech available to track the rank of your LinkedIn profile in the LinkedIn SERPs. However, it is still advisable to do it manually to ensure your optimization efforts are bringing in desirable results.

  • The Visuals: A LinkedIn profile usually only has two visual elements. A typical profile may also feature images associated with featured posts and the posts in the activity section but we will talk about these in a bit.

Coming back to optimizing the profile image and cover image of your LinkedIn profile, doing this is quite straightforward. The objective is to use these two visual elements to appear professional and approachable to the visitors of your profile.

To do this, make sure you have a friendly and professional-looking profile picture. Meaning, it is best to use a photograph that features your head and your shoulders. While full profile photographs work great in some cases, the safe choice is to stick to a close up. It is also a good idea to stick to a professional attire for this photograph.

Additionally, make sure that there is adequate lighting and try to avoid wearing sunglasses or hats in your profile photo.

The objective of optimizing the cover image is also the same. Some good ideas are to use the logo of your company and its brand colours in your cover image. If you don’t want to do that, you can also use any other appropriate photograph that is reflective of your expertise.

  • The Descriptions: A LinkedIn profile has two spaces dedicated to describing the user. The first one is the LinkedIn bio, and getting this right is extremely This is because besides having a strong influence over the keyword-visibility of your profile, your bio is also one of the three elements of your profile that are visible all over LinkedIn (custom lists, search results, profile previews etc.).

Your LinkedIn bio is the short description of your profile. Ideally, it should feature at least one of the keywords you are targeting with your profile. Moreover, it should contain terms that explain what you do.

Here’s what my profile’s bio looks like:

The ‘About’ section of your profile, on the other hand, is dedicated to a longer description of who you are and what you do. Different people approach this section in different ways. Some use it to truly introduce themselves. Others use it to give a brief about their experience with the objective of establishing themselves as an expert. Some others utilise this section as an elevator-pitch.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to write your LinkedIn ‘About’ section. What works for your profile will depend on your goals and the preferences of your audience.

With that said, it is still important to ensure you are adding relevant keywords to the content you add to your ‘About’ section.

Speaking of adding content, LinkedIn has published their own advice about establishing a brand on their platform and they warn against using overused terms like “creative” or “team player” in your profile descriptions.

  • The Featured Section: This is where LinkedIn allows you to display almost any piece of content that you publish on the platform. This means, you can utilise this section to showcase your best posts, or the content that helps you position yourself as an expert in your field. Some profiles also use this section to list the various services or products that they offer.

Once again, there is no right or wrong way to use the featured section. You can experiment with different types of content and figure out what resonates best with your audience.

  • Recent Activity: The recent activity section of your profile does exactly what the name suggests. This means that the section is (kind of) directly under your control. This also means that LinkedIn users use this section to check whether a person has been active on LinkedIn or not. Inactivity is usually associated with lower credibility.

We will be discussing each type of content that appears in the recent activity section (posts, comments, and shares) in the sections that follow. For now, just ensure that you aren’t putting out any content or comments or sharing any content that you are not absolutely proud of sharing.

  • Custom Profile URL: LinkedIn allows users to customize the URLs that lead to their respective profiles. Doing this is fairly easy and adds an additional layer of professionalism to your profile.

Ideally, you should be able to change the URL of your profile to your name. Something like:

LinkedIn.com/John-Doe

However, if your name’s URL is already taken, you can try variations like:

LinkedIn.com/John-M-Doe Or LinkedIn.com/John-Doe-Copywriter

Make sure you are using hyphens to separate different words. Google’s algorithms consider hyphens as spaces and Google recommends using them over underscores. Doing this will also ensure that your profile appears in the Google search results whenever your name is searched.

  • Additional Profile Optimization Tips: Besides implementing the above suggestions, it is also important to ensure you have made your profile public. Similarly, it is also important to ensure your profile features enough recommendations and endorsements, even if it means actively reaching out to your past and present colleagues and clients.

Understanding Content Production On LinkedIn

Like anywhere else on the web, your content will play an important role in building a personal brand on LinkedIn. Fortunately, unlike most other social media platforms, LinkedIn algorithms still reward quality content.

How, you ask? Every time you publish a post and someone likes it or comments on it, their engaged followers get to see this content in their feed. If someone in their feed likes or comments, your content will also become visible to their engaged followers.

That said, the task of producing brand-building content on LinkedIn has many aspects. Let’s see each one in detail:

  • Content Types On LinkedIn: Like most other platforms, LinkedIn offers its users the ability to produce a variety of content formats. This includes text-posts, image posts, carousel posts, video posts, and long articles. Out of these, text-posts are currently the most popular content type.

However, just because they are popular, doesn’t mean that text-posts are also the best performing content. In fact, according to LinkedIn, videos are five times more likely to start a conversation between LinkedIn members than any other content format.

However, it is not advisable to stick to any one content format. Instead, aim to produce a healthy mix of different content formats as each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, and this may come as a surprise, in 2017, long form articles were shared more than other types of content on LinkedIn. Specifically, posts with length ranging between 1900-2100 words outperformed all other content types in terms of number of shares.

What content format should dominate your own feed is once again, dependent on the kind of brand positioning you desire and the preferences of the audience you are targeting. The only way to find the best content format for your personal brand is to test different formats and figure out which one sticks.

Even after you have found the content format that your audience loves, you must continue producing content using a mix of different formats. If you keep using a single format, things will become mundane and repetitive for your audience.

  • Consistency: The golden rule of producing content on LinkedIn is to be consistent. The platform rewards consistency in content production by opening the floodgates of views to your content. If it garners more engagement, it gets even more visibility.

Knowing that, it would not be wrong to say that next to quality and relevance of content, the consistency of publishing content on LinkedIn is the next most important factor influencing visibility of your content.

For this reason, it is recommended to not pay too much attention to frequency and try to create a publishing schedule that you can really stick to. If you cannot produce content everyday, that’s okay, most people cannot. Maybe you can consistently produce content once a week? That’s also good enough.

Seeing results may take relatively longer but if you are consistently producing engaging content, LinkedIn algorithms will reward you.

  • Quality: Produce quality content. That is perhaps the most commonly given marketing advice on the web. However, most people forget to elaborate on what they mean by quality content.

On LinkedIn, content’s quality is measured by the kind of value it is delivering. This means, every piece of content you publish on LinkedIn should add value to the lives of your audience. This value can take several forms including education, information, and even entertainment.

So how will you know that your audience is finding your content valuable?

You’ll get engagement. If your content is both relevant and valuable to your audience, it will start attracting engagement and subsequently, visibility.

  • Hashtags: LinkedIn users follow hashtags to keep themselves updated with the latest relevant content. Naturally, you should also include hashtags in your content.

However, unlike Instagram, there is very little scope for hashtag research on LinkedIn. You can analyse content being produced by the people that you follow and probably identify a few good hashtags that you can start with.

Even if you don’t, LinkedIn auto-suggests hashtags based on the content of your post.

Engaging V/S Engaging Meaningfully

Engaging with other people’s content is a surprisingly big part of establishing a personal brand on LinkedIn. However, this has been a well-known fact for quite some time now. As a result, almost every LinkedIn ‘guru’ is telling everyone to engage with other users’ content.

For the most part, this is good advice. However, in many cases, this advice has led users to establishing an ‘engagement quota’ that they try to fulfill every day. To achieve this target, they sometimes engage with meaningless content or with meaningless comments.

Instead, your objective with commenting should be similar to your objectives with producing content. Find a frequency that you are comfortable with and be consistent. At the same time, aim to deliver value with each comment that you drop. Sure, there can be a few exceptions where you joke around with people that you foster a relationship with on the platform.

However, the major percentage of your comments should add value. They should be written with the aim of telling the author of the post that you are an expert in your field.

One of the most common challenges that people face with engagement is that they are unable to find engagement-worthy content on their feed. If you are facing a similar problem, you have to take two steps:

  • Go to the search bar and search for a topic related to your expertise. Then, filter the results by “Posts” and you will be presented with a list of high engagement posts containing the term you searched for.

Now, all you need to do is find one (or many) posts where you can add insightful comments.

With a little bit of brainstorming, you should have enough search terms to give yourself access to a virtually endless list of engagement-worthy posts to comment on.

  • This step is a lot more straightforward but offers a long-term solution to this problem. Start being more careful about who you follow. This doesn’t mean that you should start rejecting connection requests. It only means that you should edit your feed often.

Every time you see someone posting low-quality content, unfollow them. This may sound like controversial advice but it eliminates clutter from your LinkedIn feed. Over time, your feed will only be filled with content that you find valuable, from people that you actually look up to.

These two steps, combined with being careful about the comments you are adding, is the difference between simply engaging with content on LinkedIn and engaging meaningfully.

The Power Of LinkedIn Groups

From a marketing point of view, groups on LinkedIn are one of the best features of the platform. LinkedIn features over 2 million groups and it is estimated that about 8,000 new groups are created on the platform every week.

LinkedIn groups are dedicated to all kinds of business-related subjects, niches, and industries. Most groups are dedicated to sharing knowledge and value between professionals working in the same industry.

From a brand building perspective, each group gives you access to a highly targeted audience of LinkedIn users. If you choose the right groups, you can even assume that they are all willing to consume your content. For instance, the following group is sharing expertise about making money online.

For a personal finance consultant, this group offers access to over 400 LinkedIn users that are all interested in topics relevant to their expertise. With the right kind of content, your activity within groups can accelerate the process of building a brand on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows free account holders to join up to 100 groups but in most cases, there are not enough groups to exhaust this limit. This means that despite having 2 million groups, LinkedIn still has a dearth of groups that people actually want to join.

As a marketer, you have a unique opportunity to create your own exclusive tribe of people that love your content. This group, as it grows, will not contribute to your brand-building efforts but after a point in time, it will give you access to an audience that can be potentially monetized.

With that said, remember that participating in groups and creating your own group entails a serious volume of content production. If you cannot commit to a consistent schedule, it is best to wait to implement this tactic once you have more time or more resources.

Bonus tip: One of the biggest challenges associated with producing content is that it is a time and resource intensive undertaking. So much so that these requirements often prevent small businesses from producing any content at all. However, there is a solution to this challenge- outsourcing. While it may not be advisable to outsource brand-representing content like your LinkedIn content, you can outsource other aspects of content production. For instance, a blogger outreach agency can help you secure quality backlinks for your website without requiring you to get involved in the process.

 

Conclusion

Before wrapping up, I would like to remind everyone that brand building is a long-term undertaking, especially on LinkedIn where a lot of genuinely valuable content is already being produced. With that said, consistent content production coupled with experimentation should help you get the LinkedIn algorithms on your side and give you visibility.

I hope that the advice shared in this article will help you move in the right direction with your LinkedIn personal branding journey.

Did I forget to mention a great tip that has worked for you? Share it with me (and all the readers of this article) in the comment section below!

 

Guest post courtesy of Arianna

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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