Last year I began a rewarding career in digital marketing after landing a dream internship with a national digital marketing firm in Northeast Florida. Immediately, I took to the culture of the social media industry and the challenge of social media marketing in the new digital landscape we live in today.
Growing with the company over the next several months inspired a personal journey of using experiential education to improve my already skills in the social media industry. Inspired, I began to establish my own social media assets with an objective of having them to reflect what I was interested in, and to establish opportunities of gainful partnerships with others in this industry. Around April 2015, I established LinkedIn as a major priority in my social media repertoire.
After about three months, I established a growing following on LinkedIn to about 150-200 connections, all of which I either knew intimately or by means of 2nd or 3rd connections. Exactly a year later, I currently rank in the top 6th percentile of almost 3,800 connections according to insights on LinkedIn that track my profile views, richness of content, and audience engagement.
After engaging in an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine about the energy and thought that goes into effective social media marketing, I gathered some information that I felt would be valuable to share as tips on how anyone can optimize their own LinkedIn profile to get noticed by prospective clients, recruiters and new members of your own evolving network.
Be Insightful, Post Something Nice
Several weeks ago, I shared a few habits to avoid if you are seeking to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry. Now I really want to dig into a few things you can do if you are seeking to improve your presence on LinkedIn. When establishing any social media asset, especially LinkedIn, it is important to establish a personal brand that will govern the content you publish on your page. In order to establish yourself as an authority in your industry, everything on your profile should indicate why you are an authority and why your voice is important in the ever-growing networks of your fellow LinkedIn connections.
One awesome trend I have noticed on LinkedIn over the past few months has been the consistent publishing of industry-centered content coming from the perspectives of my diverse list of connections. Sharing your knowledge of your industry is a great way to provide insight on not only what you do, but how well you do it. Here's another example of how I brought my experience in marketing to life with a post that detailed my own experiences in the network marketing industry.
Creating posts and publishing content that is insightful to the people in your niche's industry is a great way to materialize your knowledge and establish yourself as an asset to your colleagues and connections.
Have Fun, It's Still Social Media
To be as succinct as possible, LinkedIn is a social media platform and although a majority of us take our careers very seriously, all work and no play can be extremely dull. This ushers in the long-standing debate on the content that should be shared and featured on LinkedIn. As LinkedIn has begun to grow engagement with people who don't fit the traditional mold of "professionalism," a strong debate on the content that is deemed appropriate for LinkedIn is the topic of discussion in the comment section of my dashboard at least five times a week. In my career in social media management, I have found a fallacy in the idea that "LinkedIn is not the same as Facebook." After watching old-fashioned recruiters, traditional C-level managers, and a list of other disgruntled "professional" adults take time to respond to content they don't want to see, I have held a firm belief that LinkedIn is indeed a place for politics, puzzles and personal opinions.
Here's why... Your profile should offer your visitors personalized insight on who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you a leader in your industry. Establishing yourself as someone who is politically informed, embracing of a challenge and an "individual in thought" are great ways to set yourself apart from the growing list of people who hold the same title as yourself. I have even found that these are the type of posts that I get the most engagement out of. The content that you choose to post and engage with serves as an opportunity for you to share your individual ideas with the world. The only advice that I would suggest you always keep in mind when maneuvering through social media is this: other people have opinions too. If you are going to post your opinion, understand the risk that comes with the natural conflict of perspectives. Be prepared to engage both positive and negative comments in the way that most compliments your personal brand and in the event that no one has directly told you; it is very possible to see something you don't like or agree with online, and move on without spending time and energy on a non-productive rebuttal.
"Filler Followers are Important Too"
One interesting question that my attorney colleague posed was One interesting question that my colleague posed that really got my wheels turning was this: "Out of those 3,800 connections, how many of them do you actually know, or have relationships with?"
My answer to this question was a rough estimate of about 10 percent which makes up about 380 connections. So why is it important to have what I call "filler followers," or followers that you connect through approving or sending strategically random connection requests? I applied the insurance concept of risk pooling to answer this question: If I am producing content and creating work that I want to get seen, I want to build an audience that is as large as possible so that in the event that the followers that I do know personally, are not engaged, my content is still being noticed. As a testimony to the power of strategic random networking, I have had strangers in a number of industries engage my work and approach me as an authority in my brand without even having to say "Hi." As I stated in my last article on making an outstanding impression; "... the key to attaining longevity in any career would be through the establishment of quality connections." Quality doesn't always mean that you have to know someone to connect with them, quality in this respect would be the relevance of whomever you are looking to connect with and their ability to help you reach your established goals with LinkedIn.
Find Out Something You Don't Know
Although 'filler followers' are a suggestion I would make to improve the breadth of your LinkedIn profile, I still encourage and find much more value in creating real connections and establishing gainful partnerships. Use your LinkedIn profile as a vehicle to connect with people that have information that you do not. Some of my favorite posts come from recruiters who share useful tips on interviews and eye-catching resumes, techies who post the latest industry updates on the products we all love and use, and online media sources who share current events that are relevant to the causes and hobbies that I am in love with.
Using the access you have to the diverse information and professional perspective that LinkedIn has established is an enterprising way to connect yourself to potential resources and earn an advantage in your defined goals.
One of my favorite examples of this concept in action was back in February 2016, when I was asked to produce an article that would be a source of information on student loans for a millennial-centered audience with my team at Odyssey.
After months of following a student loan attorney on LinkedIn, I had an obvious first choice in an interview. Reaching out and doing this interview resulted in one of my highest-shared articles with engagement that spawned from a combination of both of our rich lists of connections.
In hindsight, this type of partnership with your connections on LinkedIn is a great, organic way to meet people and start an awesome conversation!
Maneuvering through LinkedIn was a choice for me that I will admit has had it's ups and downs. In a high-level opinion however, I do believe that the investment of time and energy into creating a strong LinkedIn profile is well worth it. Understanding your goals when it comes to your LinkedIn profile has to be one of the strongest pieces of advice I can extend to anyone who is looking for success on this specific social media platform.
Whether you're looking for a new job, a new partner, or a new client... tailoring your LinkedIn to match your goals is a great way to start. To keep up with other ways you can be social, follow me on LinkedIn and look out for my marketing industry tips and insiders for your own professional success!