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How to Become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

by LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn Training

In this article you will learn how to become a thought leader on LinkedIn by leveraging many of the free LinkedIn profile and publishing features.

When I talk about being a thought leader on LinkedIn. I am referring to the importance of having an opinion on pre-determined topics and sharing useful information with your LinkedIn community. You do not have to be an academic or writer to be a thought leader on LinkedIn. You do need to have a clear sense of your values and purpose. You don’t have to get comfortable with sharing a ‘humble brag. If you’re one of the quieter and more thoughtful subject matter experts and game changers I love working with, and you’re thinking about being more active on LinkedIn, I’m so glad you have found me.

Today’s article will show you how to leverage the free features of LinkedIn to help you raise awareness for the issues you’re advocating for. LinkedIn is more like a professional networking platform and less like social media. If you’re ‘not really a social media person’, that last sentence is probably good news!

Being active on LinkedIn as a thought leader means being part of a community where you can lead and contribute to conversations in your areas of expertise. Yes, thought leadership is about the content you create, but it’s also about the content you re-post and comment on. As a LinkedIn member you are part of a professional community and will be most effective where you contribute to conversations as well as share your own perspective.

how to maximise your thought leadership on linkedinLinkedIn is currently recognising your contribution with Community Top Voice Badges. This can be done by reviewing and then commenting on LinkedIn’s collaborative articles in your areas of expertise, and ensuring the skills listed in your LinkedIn profile are aligned to this focus. At the time of writing this article I had secured three Community Top Voice Badges for Thought Leadership, Small Business and Executive Coaching.

What do others says about thought leadership?

The latest Linkedin-Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report describes thought leadership as

content that is made available for free and shares insightful and unique perspectives in your field of expertise to help solve customer problems.

How to Maximise Your LinkedIn Profile for Thought Leadership

Optimise your LinkedIn Profile

As a thought leader on LinkedIn, you can highlight topics you focus on via your LinkedIn profile. When you activate Creator Mode (a free feature) you can choose up to five topics, which will then appear as hashtags in reference to what you talk about on LinkedIn. When you post or re-post content, you can use these hashtags at the end of your updates. You can also identify your expertise by nominating the main skills (again, up to five) in the About section of your profile and align skills to your experience and education. The alignment of skills to the topics you comment on in collaborative articles is a key way to earn a Community Top Voice Badge.

how to maximise your thought leadership on linkedin

If you’re new to LinkedIn, the idea of choosing topics, hashtags and collaborative articles may feel overwhelming. The list below highlights other key areas I recommend you optimise (or fill in) on your LinkedIn profile. An optimised LinkedIn profile showcases a more complete story and helps you leverage the free thought leadership features available.  There are many sections you can display on your profile. Here are the main ones we encourage you review and update:

  • Name
  • Profile photo
  • Background image
  • Headline
  • Link in intro card (Creator mode)
  • Featured Section
  • Current position
  • Education
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Contact Info
  • About Section
  • Add Goal: Providing services, hiring and [finding a new job, which is more relevant for job seekers than small business owners].
  • Experience: Professional positions and experience, including jobs, volunteering, military, board of directors, nonprofit, or pro sports.
  • Education: School and educational information.
  • Recommendations: You can request professional recommendations from your peers.
  • Certifications: Industry specific certifications or licenses you’ve attained.
  • Honours & Awards: Showcasing milestone achievements.
  • Organisations: Show your professional memberships and involvement with communities that are important to you.
  • Skills & Endorsements: A relevant list of skills acts as social proof and can be associated with specific roles.
  • Volunteer experience: Highlight your passions and how you’ve contributed to the community.

Creator mode enables you to unlock the additional suite of features I mentioned for your LinkedIn profile. Please note – activating this feature requires a strategy to achieve your LinkedIn goals.  Read more here about How to Decide if LinkedIn Creator Mode is for You.

How to Decide if LinkedIn Creator Mode is Right For You

Embrace the Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is like a virtual room, and your profile is you, networking as you. The behaviours are different to those expected of you on more ‘social’ platforms. It’s less about being a prolific content creator and more about being a community leader and strategic content curator.  The LinkedIn Profile can be leveraged as your 24/7 online ambassador. Your LinkedIn profile is a professional landing page for you to manage your own personal brand.  It’s a great way for you to let people know who you are, what you do and how you can help by showcasing the relevant components of your professional experiences and achievements. I recommend you use your LinkedIn profile to add a personal touch to give people a sense of your unique approach and perspective, as well as your subject matter expertise.

Make LinkedIn your First Choice for Online Networking

To get maximum value from LinkedIn you need to commit to this platform as your first choice when you open your phone or look at your desktop each day. Why? Because showing up consistently and liking, commenting and posting value adding content is part of being a thought leader on LinkedIn.

Edelman identifies thought leadership as one the most effective tools an organisation can use to demonstrate its value to customers during a tough economy – even more so than traditional advertising or product marketing, according to B2B buyers. The good news is that cultivating your personal brand on LinkedIn also has personal benefits. Establishing your thought leadership online helps you be clearer about the impact you want to have on others and the difference you want to make for your community and, dare I say, the world!  High performing thought leadership strikes a balance between being authoritative and thought provoking yet human in tone.

Stay Informed with the LinkedIn Newsfeed

Your LinkedIn newsfeed contains updates from your network, companies, and interests that you follow, recommended content, and sponsored content. You can customise your feed experience to ensure you’re engaging with conversations that matter to you. Unfortunately you can not influence the promoted posts in your newsfeed.

Take control of your LinkedIn newsfeed by reviewing My Network and curating which connections and companies you follow, newsletters you subscribe to and groups you contribute to. Your LinkedIn activity is what you follow, like, comment on, and who you message. This activity impacts the types of content seen in your feed.

5 Ways to Maximise Your LinkedIn Profile for Thought Leadership

Here are some ways to control and customise the content that appears in your feed:

  • Follow, unfollow, or mute people and companies: If you want to get updates from a member or company on your feed, you can choose to follow them. You can also ‘ring the bell’ on the profile of an individual you follow or are connected to (see image above) to ensure you see all of their updates. You have the option to unfollow or mute an individual or company if you no longer want to see updates from them on your feed.
  • Sort updates: You can control if your feed shows recent updates or top updates at the top of your LinkedIn homepage. This feature is only available on the desktop experience.
  • Communication settings: Some of your feed updates may be delivered as push notifications and/or emails. You can control these by customising your email settings and push notification settings.

Share and Re-post Updates from Your LinkedIn Profile

Sharing a post from an authoritative source is a great way to establish your thought leadership by demonstrating you are part of a bigger conversation and have a perspective to add. Your LinkedIn homepage provides daily opportunities to learn about your network and share professional updates and content. You can post and share content on LinkedIn using the share box at the top of the LinkedIn homepage. What you share will depend on your focus for LinkedIn.Consider a mix of curated and original content.

Consider the role of the following content posting features to help build your thought leadership on LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn article (or LinkedIn newsletter, if you’re in Creator mode).
  • PDF guides or reports.
  • Polls designed to start a meaningful discussion
  • Videos (or LinkedIn live, if you’re approved and have access to this feature).
  • Photos of events you attend, lead or speak at (make sure you have people’s permission to share these so you can tag them and use alt text in images to ensure your photos are accessible to members with visual impairments). Thank people rather than brag about what you have achieved.
  • Re-post updates from your organisation’s company page along with a commentary. Mention people and organisations if relevant.

If you’ve activated Creator mode I recommend you share content consistent with the 5 hashtags you commentate on. In this mode you also have the option to publish a regular newsletter and apply for LinkedIn Live. 

Need help with LinkedIn?

Browse Think Bespoke’s website library and knowledge base for helpful articles about LinkedIn Training, LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn Marketing and Career Management.

Karen Hollenbach

Karen Hollenbach

As the Founding Director of Think Bespoke I help individuals and organisations unlock their potential with LinkedIn. Sign up to my E-insights for LinkedIn tips.

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