LinkedIn has a reputation as a digital Rolodex, a.k.a. the place where you connect with coworkers or industry colleagues. If you were on the platform a decade ago, you might have faced the embarrassment of inadvertently spamming all your email contacts. But those days are over.
In 2014, LinkedIn opened its publisher platform to encourage members, thought leaders, and innovators to share opinions on work in a centralized location.
Over the past 4 years (with help from Microsoft’s 2016 purchase of the platform) LinkedIn has transformed itself into a social network for those looking to further establish their professional identity as they change careers or increase their business prospects.
So has a fresh coat of paint and a few tweaks made LinkedIn a platform for building influence?
The Newish LinkedIn
In 2015, LinkedIn sat idle at 364 million users. In October 2017, that number swelled to 467 million. This jump in users can be attributed to feature updates that have attracted business leaders to the platform. And where business leaders gather, other business leaders will follow, as will those looking to do business with or work with them (i.e. most working professionals).
Beyond better user experience, what else is new?
- Native video uploads directly to streams
- Instant Conversations, a Facebook Messenger clone
- LinkedIn Learning to improve your skills or learn new ones via online training
- Easy long-form publishing via the LinkedIn Publishing Platform
- Invite-only LinkedIn Influencer designation (badge)
- Stats of shared posts and article views/comments/likes
- Different functionality for Premium Subscriptions (i.e. for job seekers, sales, and talent professionals), including a LinkedIn stats dashboard
LinkedIn Influencer Program
If you spend time on LinkedIn, you may have noticed the LinkedIn Influencer program badges on certain profiles. It’s an invite-only program and is “… a global collective of 500+ of the world’s foremost thinkers, leaders, and innovators.”
Users will immediately see your badge (see Oprah’s below) when looking at your profile and your content is recommended to the wider LinkedIn community.
Establishing Yourself As Influential
Even if you can’t score an invite for an official Influencer badge, you can still build your influence (and visibility) on the platform.
To establish Linkedin influence, you’ll want to make sure you have a complete profile. This includes having an up-to-date and professional looking photograph and at least one, though you really should have many more, professional connection. Next, create a custom URL, so that people can easily get to your profile.
After you’ve finished with your profile, consider writing a few recommendations for colleagues. And, if you’ve had positive working relationships, ask those connections for professional recommendations. If you don’t have time to write recommendations, make sure to give props to connections on their skill sets.
From there, it’s time to use the LinkedIn publishing platform to publish long-form content. Hopefully, your content will spur others to engage via comments, liking, or sharing your post on their stream. Since the LinkedIn community is geared towards a business community, remember to publish content that has an informed opinion relevant to strategy or business goals.
LinkedIn has one major advantage over other platforms – quality. Throughout the platform, you can find thought-provoking content from Influencers like Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, on how he transformed his company’s culture, Richard Branson, on his many ventures, and Caterina Fake, on why she is now starting a venture capital fund.
They know that publishing on LinkedIn can help influence by:
- Positioning you as a thought leader on specific topics, in a particular industry
- Engaging your network
- Growing your network as others engage with your content and increase your reach
- Expanding the visibility of other content you or your organization has previously produced through cross-linking posts
- Showcasing your ability to write thoughtfully about your industry, your work, or other relevant topics
PR Takeaways: The Right Business Platform Right Now
LinkedIn is now the place where thought leaders have intelligent conversations with other thought leaders, and since it’s public, the rest of LinkedIn can listen in and engage in the exchange. This capability makes it an effective PR tool for building C-Suite thought leadership, as well as a channel to increase your professional network and industry influence.
Since commenting or liking a post is shared on your stream, as well as the original poster’s, comments and likes you post are seen beyond your connections with a larger LinkedIn community.
Your participation in LinkedIn Groups, via posting blog or other brand content, as well as commenting and liking posts can also increase visibility for both you and your brand.
The ultimate takeaway is that LinkedIn can help you build industry influence with influential people in your field or industry. Jim Rohn once said, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”
Spend time on LinkedIn and you’re in good company.