LinkedIn is often an underutilized influence channel. Many influencers limit their LinkedIn involvement to maintaining an up-to-date profile. However, they are missing out on an opportunity to expose their knowledge, ideas, and personal brand to large subsets of their target audience in a platform with tremendous engagement opportunities not to mention the ability to drive large volumes of traffic to their other influence channels.
LinkedIn has more than 150 million users in over 200 countries and across all major industries, making it the largest and most expansive professional community in the world. Since each individual’s identity is tied to everything they do on the site, it also makes for an extremely targeted influence channel. An influencer can communicate and engage with his/her target audience, determine the audience’s relevance and engagement levels, and predict the impact of sharing information with their network, participating in a group or community, or asking or answering questions in LinkedIn Answers.
To maximize one’s LinkedIn influence, an individual must have focus, high quality content, consistency in activity levels, encourage engagement, and maximize exposure to his/her target audience.
Below are 12 tips to increase your LinkedIn influence:
- Understand your target audience and focus your efforts on a limited set of topics/industries that are relevant to their interests and needs. See my previous entry on blog influence for a more in-depth explanation on how to hone in on your target audience.
- Complete and optimize your LinkedIn profile. This will drive visitors to your linked blog and/or Twitter accounts and expose them to more of your ideas and content. If they like what they see, they will likely sign-up for your newsletter or RSS feed, or follow and/or list you on Twitter. Both of these opportunities enable you to push content to these people and potentially pull them into your sphere of influence. For more on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, please see my post on LinkedIn Search Optimization Tips and Tricks.
- Keep your profile professional, as this will aid you in establishing credibility and expertise in your target industries and subject matters on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional network and getting too personal via this network will detract from your credibility and decrease the number of connections that review your updates. That said, adding a personal twist to your profile and your LinkedIn presence can actually make you more approachable. The key is to limit this information to the areas that invite you to share personal information like the interests section, and to not get carried away in filling these sections out.
- Identify the functional and industry groups that your target audience(s) participates in. These groups represent great opportunities to expose your personal brand, knowledge, and ideas to these individuals. You should dedicate some time each week to engaging with members of these groups.
- Engagement in LinkedIn Groups is not posting your blog posts into the forums; rather, it is actively participating in group discussions and adding value to the community through sharing ideas, answering questions, and asking questions.
- Be sure to share your blog posts with your LinkedIn connections — these shares are a way to get your content circulating within an engaged and targeted audience. By doing so, you will also be featuring your latest posts on your LinkedIn profile, exposing profile visitors to your newest content.
- Consider starting your own group that focuses on a target industry or function if there are not other groups serving the target audience and purposes you cater to. To do this correctly, you have to be willing to actively moderate the group and provide starter discussion topics and questions to keep the activity level in the group high. This will drive engagement with you and other members of your community and also provide a forum to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in a given subject area or industry.
- Search the LinkedIn groups and communities to see if any offer blog lists that are focused towards your target audience(s) and add your blog to these listings with a description. LinkedIn blog lists are becoming go-to places where individuals search for blogs.
- LinkedIn personal updates have a much higher likelihood of being read, but the number of posts that are tied to your profile are limited, so it is important to be selective in what you post into LinkedIn. Quality will almost always trump quantity. Also, make sure to optimize your post with a description and image that will attract visitor eyes on your profile page.
- By showing off your knowledge and actively engaging with others in LinkedIn Answers you can build relationships with members of your target audience, exhibit your ideas, knowledge and expertise in a given industry or subject matter, and also earn credentials as a subject expert on your LinkedIn profile. These credentials will establish credibility for you as an influencer, and drive higher click-through rates for your blog and Twitter links on your profile, which in turn should increase the number of people that you are able to expose to your content.
- Cross-promote your LinkedIn presence on your blog and social media profiles, so as to encourage people to visit your LinkedIn profile and also let them know that they can engage with you via LinkedIn Answers and in various LinkedIn Groups. This should drive engagement levels on LinkedIn, which should lead to an increase in your LinkedIn influence.
- Publicize your LinkedIn Q&A activity in your profile descriptions on other Q&A websites like Quora and Sprouter, so that people know that you also have a presence on these other Q&A platforms. This should also increase engagement levels on LinkedIn.
If you are interested in learning more about how to effectively incorporate LinkedIn into your company’s marketing strategy, please refer to my previous posts on How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Company Profile Page. Additionally, please follow me on Twitter at @bhickie to stay abreast of my current thoughts on startup and expansion stage marketing and business strategies. I post my weekly blog post to my Twitter feed each week.