Building your professional brand as a thought leader on LinkedIn

Building your professional brand as a thought leader on LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn and have used it to grow my own business from scratch to a 5-figure monthly income by actively prospecting for leads using my ‘4C Method’ for Prospecting Like a Pro’ However, it’s important to remember the importance of building your professional brand — in fact, for many professionals, it’s often one of their key objectives when using LinkedIn.

By showcasing your expertise, helpfulness and likeability, prospective clients will see you as a thought leader and may remember you when they need support.

Start by creating a professional, credible profile

Before you go any further, it’s important to pay attention to your professional profile and to make sure that you include meaningful content for your readers.

It’s really helpful to think about this from the perspective of your ideal clients. What problems or pain points might they be facing? That way, you can talk to them directly about how your services can be a solution to their problem. You can explain how you might be able to help them overcome and eliminate their main fears and worries.

I place a lot of value on this process as I’ve seen it really yield positive results for my own clients. One of my top tips is to look through each stage of your profile and ask yourself:

‘Would I hire myself if I were in their shoes?’

Start by making sure that you have a professional-quality headshot photo. You want to portray yourself as competent, experienced and professional. Create a captivating headline and summary in the ‘About’ section. Your headline is the most crucial part of your profile along with your photo as it creates that all-important first impression.

Ensure that your experience section is credible. Before anyone will hire you for your professional expertise, they will want to see what you have actually done to justify their choice. Focus on your most recent and relevant experience and take the opportunity to include appropriate keywords relating to your expertise. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your professional brand on LinkedIn.

Ensure that you optimise your profile for search

To boost your discoverability on LinkedIn, I recommend that you customise your LinkedIn URL to make it more memorable. If you check out my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that mine is https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickbagga/. It’s much simpler and easier to remember than the default combination of your name and a string of random numbers. I’ve created a step by step video guide as part of my Knowledge Base which is definitely worth checking out!

Secondly, I’d advise renaming your profile photo file with your name and primary keyword/title, and then re-uploading — for example, mine is ‘nickbagga-marketingconsultant.jpg’.

It’s also vital to use powerful keywords in your Headline, ‘About’ section and experience — keywords that your ideal clients are likely to search for.

These simple changes only take a few minutes and will help your LinkedIn profile to score more highly in search results, improving your SEO ranking.

I’ve been contacted directly by prospective clients who found me organically via Google Search — thanks to both my LinkedIn profile and website being optimised for my keywords. I’ve gone on to convert them to regular and valuable clients — proof that getting your profile right can help you establish your professional brand and generate business on LinkedIn.

Skills, endorsements and recommendations

Showcase your skills and tell your ideal client about your specialisms! Make sure you list the top three most relevant skills first. Then ask for endorsements from people with whom you have good relationships, who are highly skilled within your field and have first-hand experience of your capabilities. The LinkedIn algorithm favours credible endorsements, so go for quality rather than quantity.

Finally, ask for (and give) recommendations. These provide great social proof of who you are and can often be a deciding factor in whether a prospect will reach out to you or not. If you can get 2–3 video testimonials from clients, even better. Include them in the Featured section at the top of your profile to help boost your credibility and visibility.

Don’t forget to give recommendations to others too, as this is just as helpful to your professional brand.

Interact regularly

Once you’ve created an optimised, professional profile with your ideal client in mind, you need to start interacting. Build your connections, send personal messages and regularly engage with the content you respect and the content of potential clients.

Whenever you post content on LinkedIn, ask yourself — ‘How does this add value to my ideal client’? If your connections are encouraged to click on your LinkedIn profile, they may be positively surprised to see you giving away free information, advice, and expert opinion. It immediately shows that you are a valuable resource, and helps them to know, like and trust you.

It’s also important to engage with other people’s content strategically — liking, commenting and sharing. A great way to do this is by joining relevant LinkedIn Groups. You can connect with active members, engage with posts, message group members for free, and share content strategically.

When one of your connections has taken the time to share content on LinkedIn, they will appreciate it if you interact with that content by liking, commenting on, or sharing their posts. It’s a great way to build rapport, and they are much more likely to engage with YOUR posts by liking, commenting on and sharing in return.

Your Social Selling Credentials

This approach can boost your Social Selling credentials. Being seen as a helpful and authoritative contact will build your kudos and status as a professional with whom respected individuals want to interact and build a relationship. If you want to monitor how well you’re doing, you can check out your Social Selling Index (SSI) score at:

https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi

Remember that your connections will be able to see what you engage with. While other social networks are much more private, almost every interaction you have on LinkedIn may be visible on the news feeds of those you are trying to impress. Don’t forget that your professional brand depends on it!

Show you can offer value

Build trust by providing valuable content, advice or offers to your prospective clients, and they are more likely to reciprocate. This could be referring you to one of their contacts or buying something from you.

A great example of this was when I offered the managing partners of about 100 accountancy firms in London a copy of the book I had written (with them in mind!). My strategy was to send them a paperback copy in the post and then follow up with them later. This helped me earn the trust of several managing partners, so they were happy to have a phone conversation.

I was then able to convert a percentage of these conversations into sales. The more people I spoke to on the phone and in person, the more I converted into real paying clients. They got to understand my professional brand, and to know, like and trust me.

Summary

By following these tips for building your professional brand on LinkedIn, you’ll be seen as a credible and valuable connection. You’ll be seen as someone trustworthy, authoritative and who your connections and prospective clients want to engage with.

If you’d like to find out more about how I’ve used LinkedIn to grow my own business, please feel free to head over to my website, drop me an email at nick@thesmestrategist.com, or message me directly on LinkedIn for further support.

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Nick Bagga

Nick Bagga

I’m Nick, The SME Strategist. I’m a marketing consultant specialising in helping businesses to grow by leveraging social selling & lead generation on LinkedIn.