Strong personal branding, when done right, is an act of service. It’s greater than your ego and bigger than your fears. It’s about your audience, your customers, and your network. Trust me when I say: they are waiting for you to show up.
But how do you find your community in such an oversaturated digital world?
You go to LinkedIn.
Yep, you heard that right. And here’s why.
LinkedIn has 675M users, but only 3M—a tiny drop in the bucket—are using it to its full capacity. LinkedIn is this wide-open white space ready for the taking, a place to build authority and thought leadership, and most importantly, a place to show up authentically in the context of your career. Despite the great opportunity LinkedIn provides, less than 0.5% of users are maximizing its potential.
Linkedin is today what Instagram was in 2012—our most underrated platform. In the last few years, the LinkedIn algorithm has generated a 50% increase in viral activity year over year.
LinkedIn is the only platform where career and authenticity merge. If you’re ready to up your thought leadership game, here’s how you can master LinkedIn for your own personal brand.
Optimize your profile.
Looking at other people’s profiles is the #1 activity on LinkedIn. That means optimizing your profile is critical. Update your cover photo, headshot, headline, summary, exemplary media, and work experience to reflect a full, 360-degree story. Think of Linkedin as a search engine and your profile as your own personal website. This is your ultimate business card.
The olden days of LinkedIn are long gone. This is no longer simply a place for job search. This is a place to connect. Sure, show your expertise, career history, and your resume, but also show who you are. If you’re building a brand of your own, yes, people care about what you do, but they will do business with you based on who you are and how you show up. You need to be extremely intentional about your humanity and your professional expertise. And if you’re able to blend both, you will cut through the noise.
Being real, approachable, and relatable isn’t always likable. In fact, if you’re disrupting any industry, you’ll come across some haters. The aim isn’t to be likable; the aim is to be true to yourself, and THAT will gain you the right clients, business, network, etc.
Publish quality over quantity.
Every platform serves a purpose, and LinkedIn has established itself as the leader in top-quality long-form content. Publishing natively to the platform has proven to be a successful marketing strategy and an effective way to position yourself as a thought leader. If you’re worried about sounding self-promotional, focus on telling real stories and sharing in a way that can be of service to others. You’re trying to create value versus adding to the noise.
I’ll say it a million times—no one cares about what you do, people want to feel something. They want inspiration, education, and entertainment. They want to feel uplifted, less alone, and more empowered! Know your audience, but also know this: if you’re willing to open up and be human and real, that’s where the good stuff lies.
Own your niche.
One of the biggest complaints I hear is that LinkedIn is only for the corporate world and that it’s not for creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, or disruptors—that it’s not for you—but that’s wildly untrue. People of all industries, not just corporate, play here. LinkedIn is not industry exclusive; in fact, its algorithm favors “small” creators. It’s a place to showcase your niche and own it.
Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. LinkedIn is by definition a social networking app. You have to be willing to join the party, not just when you need a break, but consistently to connect, learn, and support your community.
The making of a truly powerful personal brand sits at the intersection of your humanity and your expertise. And there is no better social media platform to bring it all together than LinkedIn.
About the Author: Jessica Zweig is the CEO of SimplyBe. Agency, a premier personal branding firm based in Chicago and serving clients across the globe. Named a “Personal Branding Expert” by Forbes, a “Top Digital Marketer to Watch” by INC, and honored with the Gold and Silver Stevie® Award for “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2018 and 2019, Jessica facilitates sold-out workshops and speaks on the power of personal branding to corporations including Google, Salesforce, Virgin, Nike, Motorola, Red Bull, and Bank of America. She also hosts the top-ranked marketing podcast The SimplyBe Podcast. Jessica’s debut book, “Be: A No Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself,” launched in February 2021 with Sounds True, an imprint of Macmillan.
This story was originally published on July 7, 2020, and has since been updated.