How To Approach LinkedIn As An Entrepreneur

Dos and Don’ts to create your personal brand as a LinkedIn member.

In recent years and after a rebrand, LinkedIn has emerged as the social media of choice for professionals. It has been successful in building a community of white-collar professionals who are interested purely in constructive interactions with one another.

However, because it falls in the category of social media, LinkedIn is often mistakenly understood to work the same way as the Big Three – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This limited view of the platform can lead to lost opportunities in terms of all the valuable connections that could have been made on LinkedIn.

This is especially true of entrepreneurs who make the mistake of thinking that their personal brand starts and ends with the company page, or worse, that they don’t need a personal account because the company page suffices.

The truth is that the more genuine your account (and by extension, your personal brand on LinkedIn) is, the more legitimate value you have as an entrepreneur. Luckily, it’s not rocket science – here are some quick dos and don’ts to get you started.

DOS

Engage with community posts and updates

Interacting with content on LinkedIn shows that you are keen on interacting with and contributing to LinkedIn’s knowledge ecosystem. There are many ways to engage with user content on LinkedIn, whether its commenting on a post, hitting the reaction button on an update, sharing additional insight on an article, or endorsing a connection’s skills.

Respond to LinkedIn messages

Reply to messages that you receive via LinkedIn, even if it is just to say ‘no, thanks.’ This is a good sign of professional etiquette and overall approachability, and gives your personal brand a more humanized feel.

Share your own content

The crux of value creation on the LinkedIn platform is sharing knowledge that users understand, and find worth sharing. Make it a point to routinely write LinkedIn articles that highlight your expertise in a field of your choice, share updates and opinions on recent developments, and share some lighthearted posts that the larger community can relate to.

Have a complete and contemporary profile

One of the most amateur mistakes you could make on LinkedIn is to have an incomplete or dated profile. High school debate team achievements, for instance, are commendable, but unless that information is really relevant to your profile (e.g. if you are just starting out in a public speaking role), it’s best to leave it out. List only the most powerful highlights of your academic and professional career.

Keep the language professionally casual

Aim to strike a balance with tone and language. Millennial slang is best reserved for your Instagram, but it’s also recommended to steer clear of densely academic language. The sweet spot is between these two extremes: use words that your target audience can relate to, and back up whatever you say on LinkedIn with facts wherever possible.

DON’TS

Don’t use it only for your immediate requirements

LinkedIn is not the same as Upwork or Indeed.com. The very nature of it being a social media platform means that you will see maximum success when you engage with content, and perhaps more powerfully when others engage with your content. If all your posts have a ‘Job Requirement’ or ‘Looking for Leads’ tag, users are more likely to dismiss you as a credible user.

Don’t treat it as a marketing platform

Users on LinkedIn are not there to buy something, so why sell? Avoid outright marketing your brand or your company on your personal page, and don’t behave as an advertiser would. If your content on LinkedIn provides actual value to users, they will visit your website themselves – so link it to the bottom of your posts wherever applicable instead.

Don’t treat your connections like close buddies

LinkedIn users generally look down on unsolicited personal comments or messages. The point of using the platform is to build worthwhile professional networks, not for small talk. Keeping conversations strictly professional will lessen the possibility of being removed as a connection.

Remember that the ultimate goal of using LinkedIn is to participate in community interactions meaningfully, and doing so may or may not ultimately materialize in some kind of a mutual benefit or collaboration. Whether that happens depends entirely on the need of the hour, but if the opportunity arises, you want to come across as a genuine lead, and not just another business solicitor.

Header image by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

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