How to Build Thought Leadership on LinkedIn
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How to Build Thought Leadership with LinkedIn

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Learning how to build thought leadership with Linkedin isn't just for people who are looking for a new job. Thought leadership is a tricky phrase. In this instance, I'm using it to discuss building your professional reputation in a certain area of expertise. Repetition of discussion in a certain area builds trust, your knowledge base, and people will look to you for answers with time.

With over 300 million members, LinkedIn is a powerhouse of professional connections. LinkedIn has been quietly adding features to its site, and although tiny tweaks have been popping up over the past year, it seems that LinkedIn is primed to be the subsequent overnight success. While LinkedIn doesn't have the glam look of Pinterest or the speed of Twitter, it does have a considerable population of people ready to connect and grow their networks and expertise.

Have you ignored LinkedIn because you're too busy tweeting and posting elsewhere? It doesn't take a huge amount of attention to make your LinkedIn presence shine like an influencer. The most common reason people don't stay active on LinkedIn is that they aren't looking for a job.

It doesn't take a huge commitment to make your LinkedIn presence shine like an influencer.

LinkedIn can maintain your solid network, so if you ever are in a position where you need to look for a job, you are well-connected and optimized. LinkedIn connections can help you in current positions by building a referral stream, forging connections with people in the same position with different companies in groups, and, most notably, building thought leadership in your area of expertise.

Here are some basic ways to optimize your LinkedIn presence and show the world what you've got going on professionally.

Optimize your LinkedIn presence

1. Update your LinkedIn profile.

Ensure you use keywords in your headline, current experience, past work experience, and your summary. Don't oversell yourself. Be honest in your assessment of your skills and experiences. Everything is Google searchable these days.

2. Add current projects.

3. Write a recommendation for a partner or colleague.

4. Add video interviews or YouTube to your summary.

5. Check how you rank and boost your profile with suggestions from LinkedIn.

Take advantage of their suggestions for groups to join, people to connect with, or add text to your summary.

Peg Fitzpatrick LinkedIn Profile

6. Check your groups and respond to questions or comments.

LinkedIn groups are a great place to build a solid reputation. I have my notifications set at weekly email for groups so I receive updates but not too many to be annoying.

How to post updates

It's essential to post updates to keep your LinkedIn presence. You'll want to share relevant topics to your career and area of expertise. Hyperfocus is needed on LinkedIn; target your content to fit your expertise and narrow your discussion topics.

1. Be relevant. LinkedIn is the place to show your smarts. I don't recommend posting quotes as status updates here. I love them on Pinterest and Twitter, but I don't feel they carry enough weight for a LinkedIn update.

2. Be consistent. Post at least one daily update and up to four daily spread out throughout the day to remain active in the LinkedIn stream.

3. Quality counts. Share your content and the best content in your field of focus. The content you curate and share reflects your content and should be strong.

Learn how to curate content here: How to Feed the Content Monster

Publish original content on LinkedIn

LinkedIn selected 300 influencers to publish on their platform and eventually opened it up to 25,000 more LinkedIn users. I was lucky enough to receive an invite, and I've published a few posts that have done really well. My friend Helen Ryan decided to try it, and she's done an amazing job! Her last post has over 10,000 views and 1,700 shares on LinkedIn. She's grown to almost 1,000 followers on LinkedIn with only two posts, certainly faster growth than any other platform.

Read: Helen's post The Power of Letting Go of Fear

Thoughtfully connect with others

LinkedIn connections shouldn't be accepted without some thought. When you connect with people, it gives them access to your connections.

From LinkedIn, “the basic type of connection is a contact you know personally and who you trust on a professional level. Once you've “connected” to them on LinkedIn, you are considered a 1st-degree connection.

You also have an extended network of connections made up of people that your connections know. Your communication options for your extended network vary based on how closely connected you are.”

LinkedIn recommends only inviting people you know and trust because 1st-degree connections are given access to the primary email address on your account.

When inviting members to connect, you can add a personalized message to the recipient to introduce yourself or add context to your relationship.

Please take the time to add a message to an invitation to connect on LinkedIn:

  1. Visit the member's profile page and click Connect.
  2. Click Add a note.
  3. Add your message in the text field.
  4. Click Send invitation.

If the recipient replies to your message, it will appear in your LinkedIn messaging.

Adding a personalized message in your invitation to connect is available in the latest iOS and Android versions of the LinkedIn mobile app. Once you update to the latest version of the LinkedIn app, you can personalize your invitation.

How to remove a connection

Do you want to ditch a connection? Sometimes, you need to give someone the boot. Maybe it’s a colleague, a competitor, an ex, or someone you don’t want to be associated with. Getting rid of them is as easy as pie.

Even better, they won’t know you’ve given them the heave-ho. How do you wield this magic? When you’re logged into LinkedIn, Select Contacts in the main navigation bar. You’ll see two options at the far right: Add connections and Remove connections. Click Remove Connections, check the box next to the contact’s name, and click OK.

Hide your status updates

Sometimes, it makes sense to operate in stealth mode. If you’re connecting with new business prospects or making changes to your profile in preparation for job seeking, you may not want to broadcast that activity to your network. Click the drop-down menu under your name in the top right corner of the page, then select Settings. Click Turn on/off your activity broadcasts under Privacy Controls in the profile section. Uncheck the box that appears in the pop-up window and click Save Settings. Easy as can be, and now you’re flying below the radar.

One tip: remember to turn this setting back on as soon as you’re done; otherwise, you’ll be invisible on LinkedIn, which negates the whole point!

Get a custom URL

It’s much easier to publicize your LinkedIn profile with a customized URL rather than the clunky combination of numbers that LinkedIn automatically assigns when you sign up. Plus, using a consistent name across your social networks (and you should) is a great way to boost your “brand awareness.” Laugh, if you will, but it’s essential to networking. And when it comes to networking, do you want anything less than a custom URL on your business card? I think not.

How to get your custom URL?

Log in click Profile > Edit Profile in the main navigation bar.

At the bottom of the gray window that shows your basic information, you’ll see a Public Profile URL.

Click “Edit” next to the URL and specify what you’d like your address to be.

When you’re finished, click Set Custom URL.

Make yourself anonymous

If you’re gearing up for some serious LinkedIn stalking, whether for competitive research, new business prospecting or job hunting, you may want to switch your profile setting to anonymous so that individuals and companies can’t tell that you’ve been looking at their profiles.

To make your profile anonymous, choose Settings > Privacy Controls > Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile. From there, you have three options: Display your name and headline, an anonymous profile with some characteristics identified such as industry and title, or totally anonymous. Once you’re done with your sleuthing, be sure to switch your settings back — remaining anonymous on LinkedIn for an extended time won’t do you much good regarding networking and lead generation.

Weekly tasks to stay on track

1. Review connection requests. Thoughtfully connect with people who you've met or would like to learn from.

2. Send connection requests to new people you've connected with this week. Write a personal message to each person you'd like to connect with.

3. Respond to messages. I received press inquires as well as requests for interviews in my LinkedIn messages.

4. Update your profile on Sunday night so an update appears in the weekly summary.

5. Find a new influencer and learn from their content.

6. Schedule updates in Hootsuite or Buffer to post to your LinkedIn profile throughout the week.

How to Build Thought Leadership with LinkedIn

I hope this gives you some ideas to utilize LinkedIn to help build your social media presence and thought leadership. I'd love to hear how you use LinkedIn while you aren't looking for work.

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  1. Yes – going personal is very important: nobody likes those stereotype, standard connection requests!

  2. Guilty as charged – not using LinkedIn nearly as much as I should! #inspired

    By the way, Peg, seems to be missing the link to Helen’s post. Would love to read it; great to hear she had such great results!

  3. Hi Peg,

    Nice set of recommendations 🙂

    I am now using LinkedIn quite intensivevely because of my job, and I do always personalize my connection requests. Lately I have also commited myself to send always a quick message thanking those people who accept my connection request, or those others how reach me out.

    But I am quite worried about reaching the limits set up by LinkedIn on the ionvitations that each user can send out (3.000 if I am not wrong) so I am refraining myself a bit, and I don´t invite all the people whom I would like to connect with.

    In any case, keep posting 🙂 I will follow your future posts 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,


    1. Hello!

      Linkedin members can have a maximum of 30,000 1st-degree connections. LinkedIn recommends you only connect with individuals you know and trust, as outlined in the LinkedIn User Agreement.

      Great job maximizing Linkedin!

  4. Thanks Peg for the great primer on taking LinkedIn participation to another level.

    Carl Kruse

  5. Hello Peg,
    Thanks for the tips on using LinkedIn! I think i need to share my articles on my profile! Great job!

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog. You should definitely share your articles on your profile.

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