As an entrepreneur, you have countless tools at your disposal to promote your personal brand and business. Among those tools are a slew of social channels, including LinkedIn.
By themselves, these tools can't elevate who you are, or communicate your mission and value - a tool is simply a thing you use, at rest, it does nothing. There's untold potential with a full toolbox, but until you make use of those tools they'll simply stay stagnant.
In order to maximize the brand building potential of LinkedIn, you need to actively use it and make it a part of who you are and how you want your audience to see you.
Here are 10 things you can start doing right now to put that tool to work and build a powerful foundation for your brand.
1. Get Recommendations from All Your Contacts
LinkedIn is the only social channel that provides a space for you to create social proof for your personal brand. Anyone you're connected to can leave a recommendation regarding your skills, capabilities, and experience. Social proof is a powerful thing when you need to build trust. It can help you close deals, grow your business, and expand your network.
Most people won't go out of their way to make recommendations unless you wow them, so make it a priority to ask. Reach out to everyone you've worked with, or done business with, and ask for one. Improve the odds by leaving a testimonial first, and ask them to respond in kind.
2. Promote Your Profile
As you beef up your LinkedIn profile to support your brand, you want to make sure people are paying attention to it - that way they see the recommendations, content, and achievements.
Promote your LinkedIn profile everywhere you leave your mark. This includes:
- Email signatures
- Author boxes
- Cross promotion on other social channels
- When connecting with new contacts
- Embedded in ebooks and resources
- Business cards
Make it the primary means of connecting and engaging with you.
3. Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Whenever I speak with clients about developing strategies for social media or content marketing, I always encourage them to create a schedule they can live with - then stick to it. That means consistently posting content, engaging with people, replying, and generally being active.
Sticking to the schedule is as important as having one. For example, if you block out time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to engage on LinkedIn, make it a weekly ritual and don't deviate.
Your followers will eventually come to rely on that engagement, and if you're providing value they'll look forward to your activity.
4. Focus on Providing Value
Don't make the mistake of trying to take from your network without giving a lot back in return. Any LinkedIn strategy you develop should be built around providing maximum value.
Make an effort to share content, solve problems, answer questions, provide insight, and contribute in ways that help those you're connected to. People may not always remember what you did for them, but they'll always remember how you made them feel and the general experience of your interaction.
5. Have Conversations Every Day
I've had a few clients question the effectiveness of LinkedIn when they weren't seeing the desired results. A quick inspection showed that the bulk of their activity was posting original content or sharing curated stories. While that content was relevant and provided value, there wasn't enough engagement.
You need to do more than just push content. Monitor your feed and find opportunities to start conversations: comment on their posts, ask them questions, praise their achievements and engage in conversations.
6. Publish Fresh Content
It's easy to share updates from your blog, but most professionals know deep down that your aim is to get traffic back to your site where they'll likely trigger some kind of opt-in or offer.
Show your audience that you're all about delivering unique value, and that opt-ins aren't your primary concern. Instead of re-posting content from your site or sharing links, publish some of your content directly to LinkedIn via Pulse.
Not only will your audience appreciate the original content, but those posts will generate notifications to your network when published. Each piece you publish also rests at the top of your LinkedIn profile, helping to establish authority within your niche.
7. Repurpose on SlideShare
Second to posting original content on Pulse, part of any marketing and branding strategy should involve repurposing content - in this case, repurposing content for publication on SlideShare. It's one more medium to distribute content, and the content within - even individual slides - is easily shareable and can be embedded as a resource in other's content.
You can setup a SlideShare with your LinkedIn profile (LinkedIn acquired SlideShare 2012) which ties your content and activity back to your profile. That also makes sharing your SlideShare content much easier across LinkedIn.
Don't know how to create your own slide decks? Find a graphic designer on marketplace sites like Guru or Upwork or on regional sites like San Francisco's Craigslist or Built In Boston to put together a Power Point deck you can reuse whenever you have new content to share.
8. Connect People
Look for opportunities to connect people to help them solve problems and expand their own networks. They'll remember and appreciate the effort.
9. Launch a Community
You should find groups related to your industry to take part in - but if you really want to maximize branding potential and set yourself up as an authority, then start a community of your own.
It doesn't matter if a group already exists for the topic, create a group and start building it out as the ultimate place to find valuable discussions and content around a particular topic, or niche within your market.
As it grows and people join, you'll be credited with the success of the group.
10. Leverage Mentions
When you share content - be it original or curated - don't just post and forget it. Think about the people who could most benefit from that content and tag them in the update when you share the link and let them know why it's relevant to them.
Not only will this make the content pop up in news feeds beyond your own network, it also tells your connections that you pay attention, that you're thinking about them and care about helping.
Make it a regular practice to build the reach of your personal brand and to keep your connections current.