Becoming a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

A “thought leader” is someone who’s positioned themselves as an expert in a given profession, interest, or business. Being a thought leader has tremendous advantages.

  • You get more and better clients.
  • You get hired to speak at events.
  • Your business flourishes.

If you’re wondering how you could become viewed as a thought leader by your peers, you’re in the right place. LinkedIn is the perfect platform for you too!

Think about the thought leaders you know of like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek, or Brené Brown. Why do you think of them as thought leaders? Is it because someone just told you that they were? Probably not! It’s because every time you turn around you see a book or video that Gary or Tony did.

In online marketing terms, it’s because they have an amazing amount of content online that consistently builds the idea that they’re thought leaders and reinforces that idea.

You can do the same yourself, and you can do it on LinkedIn! As a matter of fact, LinkedIn is the perfect place to “thought leaderize” yourself, if you’re a business person. Why? Because it is the business platform par excellence! Here’s what you need to do to get the ball rolling.

You need content and a lot of it.

You need status updates, blog posts, LinkedIn pulse posts. You also need to be taking this content and cross-promoting it and reusing it on other platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. There’s a battle going on in cyberspace for eyeballs and to win that battle, you need content – and a lot of it!

You need quality content.

Your content can’t be junk or rehashed nonsense. It can’t be yesterday’s news or something that’s been repeated forty million times online. You can’t farm this out. You’re going to have to do it yourself from the beginning unless you have a huge marketing budget and can afford to hire a marketing company.


Try to pick a “niche”

…for lack of a better word, that has less competition. Go narrow and deep, not broad. And realize this is a marathon, not a sprint! Something like this isn’t happening overnight. Plan to take a year or two to get where you want to go. That’s a long time, I know, but the time is going to go by whether you’re building content or not.

So be the turtle and not the hare and with consistent effort, think of what you’ll have when you get there!


What To Do With Your LinkedIn Profile If You’re Starting a Business?

I’ve heard this question more than once, and it basically goes something like this. “I’m working, but I’ve also started a business. How do I use LinkedIn for my new business without tipping off my current boss?” I really, really wish I had an answer to that, but I don’t! At least I don’t have the answer I think everyone wants to hear – that you can do this neatly and efficiently in the same profile, or that you should actually start a new profile and run two accounts at the same time. Neither of these will work. Let me explain why.

Having a profile serve a dual purpose just isn’t going to work. You’re either employed or you’re not at a given business. The only real way I know to approach this problem is as follows (and just so you know, this is less than perfect, but it’s doable!) You broaden and generalize your profile.

Let’s have a quick example. Suppose you’re an IT manager for a given business and you want to start a social media marketing business on your own. What ties those two together? Well, using technology for business is more of an “umbrella” concept that each of these can fall under. So, instead of being the IT manager for “XYZ” company, you become an expert at marketing technology. That way your profile will make sense to your boss as well as to prospective customers of your new venture. This actually works quite well, and I’ve seen many people do this with great effect.

The only other option is to create a new account for a second person, who just happens to be you. Unlike some social media platforms, Twitter for instance, LinkedIn discourages this type of thing. If they catch you, and they will in short order, they shut down both your accounts. You might think you can get away with this, but think of all the things that would have to be different on the second profile – work dates, for instance. Do you want to lie about all of that?

Having a second profile is the least viable of both these options. So my advice: stick with what I call the umbrella method and make it work for building both your income streams.


Three Important Things Everyone Notices First On Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile. It’s your first impression. Those first moments someone spends on your page can be make-or-break for valuable business connections. We’ve covered the basic must-dos of your profile before, but it bears revisiting because the most important part of LinkedIn for an individual user is the profile. Your profile tells everyone who you are, and from there they can decide if they want to connect with you, answer your messages, and potentially do business with you.

If you screw up your profile, you’re dead in the water before you even have a chance to get going. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about what people are actually looking at when they land on your profile so you can make that look as positive as possible and maximize your results from LinkedIn.

Here are the big three that make or break your profile.

Number one is your picture. It’s trite, but a picture really is worth a thousand words. LinkedIn is a person-to-person networking platform, after all. So, it makes sense that people want to see what you look like, and rightly or wrongly, will judge you by your picture. Get a good picture, preferably one where you’re dressed like a business professional.

Number two is the headline just under the picture. We all want to pigeonhole people so we can understand them and figure out where they fit in our world. Your headline needs to succinctly say who you are and what you do. And, if you’re smart, it needs to say so in a language your target audience understands and is what they’re looking for. If you’re in IT, then having a technically oriented headline is fine, as long as you’re trying to communicate only with people who are capable of understanding the jargon.

Number three is your profile summary. Here are a couple of tips for that.

  • Use first-person tense. Third-person tense just sounds weird. It’s YOUR profile summary. You wrote it. Talking about yourself in the third person sounds like something weird you’d see in a science fiction or horror movie.
  • Next, don’t be cliche! Don’t use overworked phrases like “self-starter”. That’s been done so much that it just screams nothing at all! Just talk honestly about yourself. Pretend you’re explaining who you are and what you do to an intelligent and thoughtful person who’s not in your industry.
  • And lastly, like for your headline, don’t use a bunch of jargon. If your target audience regularly uses geek speak, then by all means, use it. But if you’re a tech and your target market is auto body shops, then talking about search engine algorithms is not going to speak to your audience.

So again, before you do any other type of optimization on your profile, make sure and get these three things right on your profile. You’ll be glad you did!


Three Steps to Landing a Great Job Using LinkedIn

Normally, I write about how entrepreneurs and businesses can use LinkedIn, but I also know there are a lot of folks (as in millions) who want new jobs, so I thought I’d take a moment and help the rest of you guys out too with 3 quick tips!

So, you want a new job, and hopefully you have an idea of what type of job it is that you want. Now’s the time to harness the world’s largest and most powerful virtual network to find that job! So, here’s what you need to do in a nutshell.

Step 1: Make sure your profile is “up to snuff”. Make sure it’s completely filled out. LinkedIn actually assigns you “All Star” level proficiency on your profile when you’ve completed the whole thing. While you’re doing this, make sure the positions, dates, etc. jive with what’s on your resume. And, especially make sure you have a great headshot. Look like the winner you are! Remember the old question…would you hire you?

Step 2: Identify the companies you want to work for, and see if you can find the hiring manager or at least the VP of whatever division you want to work in. Actually track down that person on LinkedIn and send them a connect request. Don’t use LinkedIn’s stock request, either. Make it a wee bit more personal, although don’t spam them with how great you are from the get go!

Step 3: Once you’re connected with them, message them and tell them briefly that you’re interested in working for their company. Don’t send them a long message! That’s the kiss of death! Just a few sentences are fine here. Ask if you can send over your CV or resume. Make double sure you get their permission before you forward that to them!

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful network and can connect you with more people and businesses than you can get to in a lifetime of doing this. So just make sure you do this plan consistently and make sure you follow up! Do that and you’ll have that new job before you know it!


The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations and How to Get More of Them

Today, we continue our dive into LinkedIn on the blog with the importance of social proof. Social proof is one of the big keys to any kind of marketing, on or offline. Businesses have been soliciting testimonials ever since the existence of commerce. On LinkedIn, recommendations are one form of social proof, and they are very, very important. Yet, most users have few if any of them! We’re in the same boat and social proof will be the next thing we focus on in building our LinkedIn presence. Let’s talk about getting more recommendations so that you can beef up your profile and start making LinkedIn work for you and your career or business interests.

In general, you need to first give what you want to get. It’s likely that you’ve heard the saying: if you want friends, you have to first BE a friend! That’s great life advice, and it’s great advice on social media – especially on LinkedIn. But, what does this mean? Well, it means that if you want more recommendations, you have to start recommending people!

Here’s the deal, though. Although LinkedIn might change this, at the moment, you can only recommend people who are your first tier, or direct connections. To do this, just go to their profile page, and click the “More” button. You’ll see where to recommend them. So if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to consistently start recommending other people.

I wouldn’t just recommend people you don’t know, though. Most of the people you’re connected with you probably don’t actually know that well so recommending someone out of the blue like that just isn’t, well, recommended! It looks fake, probably because it IS fake. This means that you’re going to need to either sort through your connections and find people you actually know and can actually recommend, or you’re going to have to go back to step one and get more connections. Either way, if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to do this! That’s the bad news. The good news is this…it doesn’t take many outbound recommendations in order to receive one back. And, quite frankly, you don’t need a ton. Just a few good ones!

So today’s assignment: log into LinkedIn and find just 1 or 2 (more if you can, of course!) people you could sincerely recommend and do it.

If you know them very well, shoot them a note asking if they’d recommend you back. Or, you could just simply let them know you did and give them a compliment by telling them why. It won’t be too long before you get some back and with a few good recommendations on your profile, you’ll be on your way to building that powerful social proof.


How to Market to Millennials on LinkedIn

So, it’s LinkedIn we’re talking about, right? I bet you might guess that all the users are over 40, mid-level execs, college educated—that sort of thing, right? And that if you sell products, run a business, or otherwise want to cater to a younger crowd, well, you probably should go to either Instagram or Twitter. If you were to think such a thing… well, you’d be kinda right and kinda wrong.

Okay, you’re mainly right. But probably not in the percentages you think. Here’s a startling fact put out by Hootsuite. One-quarter of LinkedIn users are ages 18 to 29. Under thirty! One quarter. One in four users are essentially millennials! Who knew, right?

Let’s say that you do run that company (or at least work for it) that caters to a younger crowd. One quarter of the half a billion users on LinkedIn are, as far as age is concerned, right in your target market. And being that they’re on LinkedIn, they’re relatively easy to find, connect with, and message. One-quarter of 500 million (half a billion) is 125 million. That’s a lot of people under the ages of 30. Not only is that a lot of people, but if they’re on LinkedIn, they probably either have jobs or are at least looking for them. They’re serious about their careers. They might be exactly who you’re looking for. The only question now is: how do you market to them on LinkedIn?

Well, to figure this out, let’s take a look at platforms that specifically cater to this group. How about Instagram? According to SmartInsights, about 60% of Instagram users are under thirty. So, how are businesses marketing on Instagram? It’s more than just showing pictures. Here are a 3 ideas that I see on Instagram that could easily translate to LinkedIn.


Idea #1: Make your LinkedIn marketing more “fun”

Idea #2: Break the rules — at least the ones that won’t get you put in LinkedIn “jail”

Idea #3: Cross-promote to other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, drawing visitors back to LinkedIn


Take each of these ideas and roll it around. Choose one that you can implement fairly quickly and start creating around that idea. Get your team (or your millennial kids) involved and have a brainstorming session about what you could create for your market.

LinkedIn is a goldmine of millennial. Don’t let it go unprospected!


A Few Ways To Really Alienate People on LinkedIn

All right, I’m going to just start out with a pet peeve of mine so you can see what I’m talking about here. Then I’ll show you some other ways to become really unpopular and annoying on LinkedIn. But to get the ball rolling in the right way, let me just unveil my #1 annoyance.

Getting spammed with a 5-paragraph message about something I don’t really care about!

There, I said it! And, if you’ve spent any time whatsoever on LinkedIn, I’m sure you know what I mean.

Some days I log into LinkedIn, click on my messages and right there front and center is a huge, multi-paragraph thingy, usually about a biz op and full of meaningless hype. And to boot, it’s from someone who’s connected with me but someone I don’t really know very well. I can just picture them sitting at their desk copying and pasting the same inane message over and over again to their entire network. Nothing screams Annoying Spammer quite like this practice!

Quit it!

Here’s another one, which is basically the same but done through email.

It’s getting an email from that same someone that I don’t even recognize saying that we’re connected on LinkedIn and that here’s the world’s most important, best offer for this and such, and that I can get in on the ground floor only if I act now, etc. Seriously, I get this stuff all the time. Well, not ALL the time, but enough to where it makes me cringe every time I see something like this come in.

My other pet peeve is the polar opposite of this. This next one happens less frequently, but it’s still hyper-annoying! It’s getting a message with the single word “Hi!” or perhaps something like “Hi, how are you?”  The problem with this is that I have to try to figure out who the person is and why they’re saying hello to me. I know what they’re doing. They think they’re getting my permission to message me and I appreciate that, but wow, just give me a short clue as to what this is all about.

So bottom-line here: If you’ve been guilty of any of the above, today is the day to quit! You’re alienating and really annoying one of your greatest assets. Your network!

No more multi-paragraph, automated or copy-pasted promos all about you. Get in there and start forming real relationships. Send messages that are personal and relevant. It’ll give you better results and you’ll have connections that actually enjoy networking with you instead of dreading seeing your name in their inbox.

Here’s to your LinkedIn success!


A Short Course in How to Use LinkedIn for Business

LinkedIn is the top business networking platform bar none. As of the writing of this article, there are over half a billion LinkedIn users. Unlike some other social media platforms, Twitter for instance, virtually all of these over five hundred million accounts on LinkedIn are real. They’re not fake accounts or bots, for instance. If you want more business for you or your company, LinkedIn is THE place to be! All you need now is to understand how to use it properly, and then you can, as they say, write your own check. So, in the rest of this article, let’s talk about how to go about using LinkedIn the right way for business.

The first thing you need to do is to get a significant number of connections. What’s my definition of “significant”? Well, it’s got to be at least over 500! 500 is the magic number on LinkedIn, because LinkedIn shows the number of direct connections you have up to 500 and then when you top that, it keeps showing 500. So, if one person has 498, it will show 498. If someone else has 6,000, it will only show 500. This is also important because the number of people you can reach via searches on LinkedIn grows the more connections you have! Bottom line, start connecting with people! And don’t get depressed if you currently have only a handful. At this writing, we’re still working on making 500. And now that you know the magic number, you can too!

(P.S. – If you need more connections, send us a request at we’d love to hear from you!)

The next thing you need to do is to write your profile, especially your headline and your profile summary, so that it brands you in the best light. Like we’ve talked about before, so many people on LinkedIn have skimpy profiles! Don’t do that! Use all the space provided and fill out your profile as best you can. I’ve written several articles on the best practices when it comes to LinkedIn profiles. Use search to find them, or just message me. I’ll point you to them.

Finally, message people consistently. LinkedIn is a person-to-person networking platform. Most people don’t realize this. It’s made to be used manually. Their API, for instance, allows very little interfacing with the platform via software. The overall goal is to network with people the same way you would in a BNI or Chamber of Commerce meetings.

Get these three things rolling in your favor, and you’ll turn LinkedIn into a business prospecting machine the likes of which you’ve only dreamed of!


You Should Be Doing This Monthly on LinkedIn!

If you use LinkedIn actively, you need to be doing a few things monthly in order to maximize your benefits from the platform. These have to do with the maintenance of your contacts and your profile, as well as making sure your profile shows you in the best light. In this article, I want to discuss this all in some detail. Don’t worry! This isn’t going to take long. A few minutes per month should do it!

Monthly Task #1: Export Your Connections List

You should be exporting a list of your connections monthly. Look, if you’re spending time building up your connections, you sure don’t want to lose all this work if something should happen – like your LinkedIn account getting shut down, even temporarily. If you play by the rules, this shouldn’t happen, but why let an asset you’ve spent time building be in jeopardy?

Monthly Task #2: Download Your Profile

Another extremely important monthly task is to download your profile. Now you can do all of this at the same time. This is a handy change LinkedIn has made recently. Just go to your profile page, click “More…” and choose to Save to PDF.

You especially want to download your profile summary. As you grow and change, your LinkedIn profile headline and profile summary will change as a reflection. You’ll naturally want to emphasize some aspects and deemphasize others. As you modify your headline and profile summary, though, it’s tempting to just delete the old ones. That’s probably a mistake. There’s often information or ways of saying things in an earlier profile summary that you might realize later are better than what you currently have. If the summary is deleted, you’ll have to try to reconstruct it. This is a less than ideal scenario! Save time and the extra work by simply downloading and archiving your profile PDFs.

Monthly Task #3: Review Your Endorsements

Finally, the third task I think is very important is to review your endorsements. Visitors to your profile scan your endorsements in order to quickly figure out who you are and what your skills are. Again, that changes over time. If you had a certain quality or skill four years ago and you were endorsed a lot for that skill, should it still weigh heavily in your current profile? Personally, I don’t think so. You might have changed jobs, changed roles in your business or profession, or even changed professions totally!

Bottom line, you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects and brands who you are Right Now so it shows you in the best light for your current purposes.

Doing these three tasks just once a month will make sure the time and effort you invest in LinkedIn get saved and kept up-to-date.


What and What Not to Include in Your LinkedIn Profile

Ever hear the phrase, “TMI”? – Too Much Information. Every now and then I’ll read someone’s profile where I feel like they’ve included too much. Now, frankly, it’s usually the reverse. Normally if there’s a content problem with a profile, it’s that the user hasn’t included enough information. Their profile summary isn’t long or complete enough. They haven’t included enough skills and endorsements. Or they don’t have enough recommendations. Or, given their age, their work history looks incomplete. That’s what I usually see. Every now and then, however, I see the opposite.

When I see too much information on someone’s profile, it’s not the length that bothers me – after all, a profile summary is limited to 2,000 characters including spaces. What I mean is, what they’ve included shouldn’t be there. For instance, snide or defensive remarks about a former employer absolutely have no place on your LinkedIn profile! I get it. Your last boss or company you worked for were, how shall we say this, less than stellar. Call your sister, best friend or your mom up about it. Don’t spew that venom on social media. This is a sure way to never get hired for any but the lowest of the low jobs again.

Another “cardinal sin”: I see vis-à-vis content in LinkedIn profiles has to do with changing careers. If you feel you were underutilized in your former career, you don’t need to say so. Just emphasize how your talents are being used in your new career and you should be fine!

The bottom line here is don’t be negative! It’s kind of like your grandmother might have said to you (I know mine did), “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Employers and potential clients are allergic to negativity! It puts them on the defensive. And it tells a lot about what kind of person you are and who you’ll be as THEIR employee or contractor. Why spoil your chances at landing a new job or getting a new client just because you said a little too much on your LinkedIn profile? Put your best foot forward, keep your profile on-point and positive, and get those jobs!