How to Become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

Being a thought leader is a good thing! They make more money, get more business, have bigger mailing lists, and in general have more influence. In today’s Internet governed business world, I’d almost venture to say that you can’t reach your potential without becoming a thought leader. So, if that’s true, and I think it is, how does one do this? Well, the good news is that you can do this right on LinkedIn. And, guess what else? There is no bad news!

Here are a few things you need to get into place and consistently do in order to establish yourself as a thought leader.

1. Be yourself! Thought leaders are first and foremost leaders! People need and are looking for guidance in various parts of their lives, be those career, relationships, health, or finances. In order to lead, you need to be a leader not a follower, and being who you authentically are is priority number one.

2. Create a lot of content consistently. You need to be creating LinkedIn Pulse blog posts probably once a week. You need to be using YouTube, SlideShare and other platforms that integrate easily with LinkedIn. People need to feel like the “see you everywhere”. The only way to do this is to have a lot of content out there—everywhere.

3. Start a Group on LinkedIn. Groups are wonderful for corralling people with like interests. If you’re going to create what Seth Godin calls a tribe, you need some way for them to communicate, get excited, and generally identify each other and identify themselves as part of the tribe. You have to be careful with groups on LinkedIn. You don’t want them to become “spam fests”, but that’s easily doable. Just monitor the group, and if someone starts treating it like their own person referral machine, just boot them out!

Follow these three steps consistently, and you’ll start to see the glorious results that all thought leaders see!

What To Do With Your LinkedIn Profile If You’re Starting a Business?

I get this question all the time, and it basically goes something like this. “I’m working, but I’ve also started a business. How do I use LinkedIn for my new business without tipping off my current boss?” I really, really wish I had an answer to that, but I don’t! At least I don’t have the answer I think everyone wants to hear, that you can do this neatly and efficiently in the same profile, or that you should actually start a new profile and run two accounts at the same time. Neither of these will work. Let me explain why.

Having a profile serve a dual purpose just isn’t going to work. You’re either employed or you’re not at a given business. The only real way I know to approach this problem is as follows, and just so you know, this is less than perfect, but it’s doable! You broaden out and generalize your profile.

Let’s have a quick example. Suppose you’re an IT manager for a given business, and suppose you want to start a social media marketing business on your own. What ties those two together? Well, using technology for business is more of an “umbrella” concept that each of these can fall under. So, instead of being the IT manager for XYZ company, you become an expert at marketing technology. That way your profile will make sense to your boss as well as to prospective customers of your new venture. This actually works quite well, and I’ve seen many people do this with great effect.

The only other option is to create a new account for a second person, who just happens to be you. Unlike some social media platforms, Twitter for instance, LinkedIn discourages this type of thing. If they catch you, and they will in short order, they shut down both your accounts. You might think you can get away with this, but think of all the things that would have to be different on the second profile, work dates, for instance. Do you want to lie about all of that? Having a second profile is the least viable of both these options. Stick with what I call the umbrella method.