Is LinkedIn a business-focused, professional networking site? A recruiting tool? A social network? LinkedIn has evolved into all of these things, making it an interesting place to network, develop a career, share photos/video, professional updates and more. A recent trend that you may have noticed is an increase in sharing of personal information, which may have you wondering how personal you should get on LinkedIn.
The debate is still raging, but we think adding some personal perspective gives your followers a better, deeper understanding of who you are. What and how you post should depend on your audience and goals. Are you a business owner, a job seeker, part of the business development team for your company? Or do you want to be viewed as a thought leader in your business? Regardless of role, we believe there is an appropriate level of personalization for everyone’s LinkedIn posts.
Here are some tips for posting personal content on LinkedIn:
Build Trust Through Personal Branding
LinkedIn provides a platform where you can speak directly to decision makers and influencers, and personal posts are an easy way for them to get to know you. A strongly defined personal brand can help your audience develop a level of trust with you. If your audience can trust you, they’re more likely to want to do business with you personally, and by extension, with your company. If you want to use LinkedIn to spur conversations with prospects, consider your personal brand and positioning. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you a thought leader?
- Are you looking to advance your career?
- Are you looking to network and grow your business outreach?
- Are you the face of the business?
If you start with clear goals and positioning in mind, you will be able to develop a strategy that helps you very intentionally (and still authentically) reflect who you are.
“Sell” Without Being “Sales-y”
People don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to. Posts with a more personal angle can successfully get your name and brand out in front of your audience without blatantly peddling your products or services. Users are already being flooded with advertisements and direct solicitations. Instead, try to make your posts relevant to who YOU are as a professional. If you’re speaking at a conference, sponsoring an event or attending professional development, share your personal takeaways, photos and experiences.
Keep in mind that those personal stories need a point. Are you reinforcing your thought leadership credentials? Does the post tie back to your professional life or reinforce causes you support in a way that helps your audience connect over shared values? Aim for a softer “sales” approach that highlights your professional role and business in way that feels authentic and in line with your day to day activities.
Balance Personal and Professional
Don’t fall into the cycle of overposting personal content. If you want to be seen as a thought leader or expert, don’t allow personal posts to make up the majority of your posting strategy. Also, those posts don’t have to be all about you, your kids or your dog (even though we love how that might connect with other parents or pet owners).
Use personal posts as avenues for expressing values that align with your audience, which might include hobbies you have outside of work and experiences you are excited to share. Are you volunteering in the community? Are you on a board or committee? Tell your connections about things you are involved in and why they matter to you.
You might put yourself in your audience’s shoes and try to think about what your stream of LinkedIn posts really says about you. Would you hire this person? Does this sound like someone who’s going to fit well in a team environment? Is this person passionate about what they do?
Share These Opinions with Caution
You should seriously consider whether or not to bring up certain topics based on your personal beliefs before publishing them. These types of posts run the risk of alienating potential clients or colleagues, starting heated arguments or hurting your job search.
- Politics (unless you work in this field)
- Frustrations and Rants
Do you lead with these topics in a new business situation? Would you want to discuss it in a sales meeting or job interview? As a good rule of thumb, topics that cause a moment of doubt probably shouldn’t be posted. For many users of what has largely been seen as a professional platform, the rules are similar to a professional meeting or networking setting.
Check Company Policy
As a final thought, keep in mind that some posting might also conflict with company policy. Policies may prohibit you from representing the company online, they may require statements that indicate that opinions are expressed are your own. You may also be reprimanded for posting things that are not aligned with the values of the organization. It might make sense to check the the company policies if you are an employee.
Go Get Personal!
LinkedIn is a complex platform with a lot to offer. We suggest you try to use the opportunity to let your professional guard down and share a little about yourself. When we see clients begin posting consistently and adding in personal angle, the results are often significantly higher than what we see on the more typical business posts. It will pay off if you spend time developing your personal brand and stay focussed on your goals.