Before we delve into the 4 scenarios that represent the different levels of participation as it relates to your professional brand on LinkedIn, consider the following:
Who is your desired audience and what goals are you looking to achieve? Are you looking to attract:
- new employment opportunities?
- experts within your industry that can offer you growth and education opportunities?
- contacts/vendors that can offer services to your organization?
What strengths, skills, and accomplishments do you offer that will attract this audience?
Now that you’ve established an audience, a goal, and your strengths, you can now evaluate your current brand on LinkedIn, and what steps you can take to increase your visibility.
Dark Room Metaphor
No Profile: You are in the middle of a dark room. Surrounded by other professionals that share your expertise within the same industry. These anonymous individuals pose as your competition for the goals you have set for yourself within the LinkedIn platform. A new stranger has entered the room. We will call him Joe. Joe is your ideal prospect and is looking for a professional, such as yourself, to fill a need. A need that you are more than qualified to fill.
Although you are the perfect candidate, you stand amongst hundreds of other professionals that are also under consideration. Imagine the journey Joe must begin to find you in that dark room. He is walking blind with no clear direction, searching for the right candidate with no aid to guide him except for word-of-mouth recommendations from his colleagues. The odds in this scenario are not in your favor. It is more likely that just through ease of proximity, Joe will choose another professional that was closer to him in his journey. Or, Joe settled on a less than ideal candidate due to “search exhaustion”.
Step one is to provide a clearly defined roadmap for Joe to reach you in this dark room.
Profile Established: Now that you have a profile created, you have now equipped Joe with a flashlight to better navigate through the dark room. Joe no longer requires recommendations from his existing network because he has a tool to improve his line-of-sight as he filters through your competition. As he makes his way around the room, Joe can eliminate candidates with more confidence.
Keep in mind, although Joe now finds his way around the room with greater purpose and direction, there is nothing leading him directly to you…yet.
Building a strong professional profile for yourself allows your prospect to make educated decisions as they search for connections. In this situation, you may find that strong networking opportunities are few and far between but are extremely beneficial when they do occur.
A Profile is Established with Consistent, Original Content: You have graduated past the exhausting task of creating a well-choreographed profile that accurately represents your skills and values within your industry. The hard-part is over. The next step is to curate an activity feed on LinkedIn with original content that illustrates what drives your passions and curiosity. Once you have begun this process and are maintaining a consistent frequency of posts, you have illuminated a spotlight above your head within that dark room. You have set yourself apart from the crowd and have established yourself as a thought-leader within your industry. Joe continues his search throughout the room with his flashlight as he interviews and engages with your competition, but he can now see you in the distance. Joe now walks a direct path to you in the dark room.
Remember: Although you have found the confidence to show off your knowledge on the platform, many others that surround you have done the same. You have improved your odds of being found, but there is still more work to be done.
The Power of Endorsements and Engagement: Activating your own spotlight allows for prospects to see your strengths and achievements as you would like them to be seen. As you continue to grow as an expert in your field, you will find that your colleagues, clients, vendors, etc. will be more inclined to endorse you on your LinkedIn profile. Imagine that in addition to your one spotlight, each person that endorses you in your industry is now shining their own flashlight upon you. From Joe’s perspective, your reputation now illuminates brighter than any of your competitors. Not only is he more inclined to walk in your direction, he knows with greater certainty that you are the right fit for this opportunity.
Quick Tip: Elicit more endorsements and recommendations by posting original insights to your LinkedIn timeline. Whether you post perceptive quotes, detailed blogs, or video tutorials, you provide your network an opportunity to give you praise through content engagement.
As you embark on your journey to improve your professional brand, remember to publish your accomplishments to further identify yourself as a thought leader within your industry. This will organically attract like-minded individuals that can offer you new avenues to expand your experience and proficiency throughout your career.
Social Proof can be identified by the number of interactions a piece of content receives or the number of followers you have to establish validity and expertise.