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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

Level Up with LinkedIn: How to Become an Influential Thought Leader (and Lead Generator!)




In today's digital age, leveraging social media is pretty essential for entrepreneurs. Your profiles are the gateway to your personal and professional brand, and the first signposts to your biz. Are you making a good first impression?


Among the myriad of platforms available today, LinkedIn stands out as a goldmine of possibility for heart-led soulpreneurs. This isn't just a place for online networking; it's a mecca of professional wisdom AND vital leads for self-starters and founders looking to expand their reach and opportunities for connection.


In this post we'll cover how you can harness the power of LinkedIn to propel your small business to new heights, how to shine as an industry expert, and make the impact that you're meant to.


Why It Matters

Everyone tells you that you should post on LinkedIn more, but no one tells you why. What difference does it make? 


Vanity metrics like impressions and followers aside, you can accomplish A LOT by posting consistently. Here are just a few reasons...


  • To Increase Brand Awareness

  • To Build Professional Credibility & Authority as an industry leader

  • To Expand Your Professional or Personal Network

  • To Create Community

  • To Move your customer down the Buyer's Funnel

  • To Help, Inspire, or Educate others

  • To Get the Attention of Hiring managers, prospective clients

  • To open the doors to collaborations and connections


Those are some BIG rewards, for very little investment. Indeed, your LinkedIn profile can actually be a MAGNET for new career opportunities.


LinkedIn has amazing potential for rapid growth compared to other social platforms, especially in this modern job market that is focused on the creator economy.


Clarify Your Goals

Before starting, you should first define your specialty and focus. What do you want to be recognized for?


Create a sense of identity to start developing your personal and professional brand, but always keep in mind that your career journey doesn't define your entire identity or your worth. Not everything on LinkedIn has to resolve around a specific job or work accomplishment.


Finding clarity in your career path is a continuous, evolving journey. Embrace the unique facets of your identity and notice how all of these things come together like watercolors in a painting.


First, get clear on your core pillars of expertise. Commit to 1-2 topics/specialties and go all in. You can always pivot later (just make sure to change your profile and announce the shift to your followers). Make sure to also understand your target audience’s needs and wants too. The goal is to Solve their Problems!


Optimize Your Profile


Did you know that 561% of brand messages have more reach when posted from personal accounts rather than the company?


Clearly, people like to see the HUMAN behind the brand.


Your LinkedIn profile is your digital business card. It should captivate visitors and entice them to learn more about your services and reach out. A good profile is the number one way to convert views into DOLLARS.


Think of your LinkedIn profile as a landing page. There are two approaches, so the ideal is to find a balance

  1. Make it so captivating and funnel-based that the reader can't help but scroll and click

  2. Keep the reader journey as quick, easy and straightforward as possible so that they don't leave your page in search of something else - ie your competitor!


Research shows we only have 7 seconds to make an impact online before someone makes their own assumptions about who we are and what to do next (follow vs flee). That's why it's imperative to communicate all the info you need for people to make a quick and easy decision.


As such, your profile should answer the following questions in the most clear and concise way possible:

  • what you do

  • who you do it for

  • how you do it differently

  • what to do next


Your Profile Checklist of Essentials

Ensure your profile is complete and high-value with the following elements optimized:

  • PHOTO - high quality, professional quality headshot, solid background, upclose, approachable

  • BANNER IMAGE - stylish, visually appealing, includes CTA to direct people to your About section. Don't forget to test the visual on desktop AND mobile!

  • TAGLINE/HEADLINE - use keywords in your niche with some personality to grab attention and draw people to your profile. Emojis count! Also simplicity is key. Here are some templates for inspiration:

    • "I make [Activity/Task] easy for everyone"

    • "Helping [Audience] grow on [Platform] | [Title]"

    • "I got 99 [things] & [Unique Role] is one"

    • "Turning [Input] into [Desired benefit], and helping you do the same | [Credibility statement] through [Unique mechanism]"

    • "Master [Subject] before it masters you."

    • "[Title] | I provide [Benefit] for [Audience] | [Expertise and Services] | [Personal attribute] | [CTA]"

    • "[Role] @ [Company] | [Recognition] | I provide [Service] | [Title] | [Demographic] | [Accolade]"

    • "I post about [Topics]. [Past Achievement] | Now [Current Project]"

    • "[Job Title] @ [Company] | [Recognition] | I write about [Interests]"

    • "[Primary Focus] • Providing [Type of advice] for [Key areas]"

    • "[Profession] driving [Results] for [Client Type]"

    • "I lead [Type of team] who [Action/Benefit] | [Title], [Company]"

    • "[Action/Benefit]! Supporting [Audience] to master [Platform/Tool] for [Goals] | [Expertise] | [Title]"

    • "Helping [Audience] achieve their [Goals]

    • "I turn [Problem] into [Solution] in [Timeframe] | [Accomplishment] | [Service Offering] | [Credentials]"

    • "[Personal Mantra] | [Career Transition] | [Recognition] | [Advocacy] | Follow me for [What you share]"

  • ABOUT/SUMMARY - Concise yet descriptive overview highlighting your experience, expertise, and unique selling points and perspectives. Speak to your target customer and offer a solution to their biggest problem

  • LINKS - to website, portfolio, lead magnet, booking page, newsletter - include CTA. Don't forget to showcase your portfolio or past work to provide credibility.

  • FEATURED - add link, services and products to bring people into your funnel

  • SOCIAL PROOF - get recommendations and testimonials from past clients, coworkers

  • EXPERIENCE - within each role highlight your accomplishments, skills, and professional affiliations.


Remember to strive for ALIGNMENT between all of these elements. You don't want to confuse your followers with your identity and focus.


Additional Tips & Tricks to Increase your Reach

  • Turn on Creator Mode - Select appropriate hashtags and keywords

  • Set your profile as "Open to Work" and/or "Providing Services"

  • Enable Highlights - Pinned posts to answer FAQs, communicate your offerings

  • Turn off the “People Also Viewed” setting



Craft Your Content

Now that your profile is optimized, it's time to "walk the talk" as an industry expert. Success on LinkedIn (or any social platform, for that matter) is about providing useful content, consistently. The goal is to regularly share interesting, insightful posts that position you an authority in your niche and adds VALUE to your audience.


Showcasing tangible results and demonstrating your expertise in solving real-world problems reinforces your credibility and positions you as a trusted, reputable leader and advisor in your field. Share useful resources that provide actionable insights and solutions to industry-related challenges. Create posts addressing industry trends, offering solutions to common challenges, or sharing your thoughts on emerging topics. Consistency and RELEVANCE are key to staying top-of-mind among your connections.


The first step is to figure out exactly what to post about. It’s easier to stick to a habit (regular posting) if it comes from the heart, if it means something to you. If you genuinely enjoy the topics you talk about, not only will you be more motivated to post, but you will come across more authentic to your audience. So ask yourself, What are you happy to learn about or talk about everyday for months?



"Relevance is simply giving people what they need, in the moment that they need it most."

Dave Adamson



LinkedIn Posting Strategy/Framework


  1. Stop talking to EVERYONE and start talking to your one dream client, helping them solve their one specific problem


Outline your posts with the gist, pillar, and reader impact in mind. Each piece of content should:

  • Create value for readers

  • Align with your brand

  • Build your authority


Formula for a great LinkedIn post


  1. A simple, one line hook (that is not click-bait).

2. Optimal post length: 450-650 characters

3. Reader-friendly formatting with lots of white-space.

4. Explain the problem and offer a clear solution. Write for an elementary-aged person

5. Use real, fact-checked data over generic figures

6. Finish strong with a memorable takeaway


Posting Tips & Tricks


  • Be Authentic. Make sure to really let the true "you" out in the open. This may require some vulnerability! It's all about being Helpful, Humble and Kind.

  • Simplify. The best way to get started with ideas for thought leadership is to ask yourself "what did I do today or yesterday?". This is a lot more simple than sharing your worldview, purpose or big idea. When you reflect on your day there is always a story, a lesson, a surprise, an experience or some expertise.

  • Start with I, End with You. It's crucial to provide value! Don't make your posts all about yourself with no exchange or value for the reader. Avoid ending your posts in a flat way, with no invite to engage. Also, always include a CTA. If you want audience interaction, you need to give permission and direction. Let the reader know what you want from them “in the comment section below”, rather than expecting them to journey there alone.

  • Cut to the Chase. Don't ramble. Open with your takeaway, communicating what the teaching or message is and then expand on the story

  • Stand Out. Lean in to what makes you unique. How can you capture who you are in real life and translate that into your content? Give each post your unique stamp. Some examples include a signature emoji or post "sign off"

  • Make it Visually Appealing. You need to draw attention to your post. While pure text posts seem to work its best to make sure every post is built around a visual that has interesting content and looks good.

  • Mix it Up. Make sure your content is different every day or week. Examples of varied content:

    • A story on Monday

    • A listicle on Tuesday

    • A carousel of actionable tips on Wednesday

    • A video on Thursday

    • An article on Friday

    • An e-book, guide or white paper on Saturday

    • An opinion statement of industry insights on Sunday

  • Share your Expertise & Experience. This is the whole point- to stand out as an industry expert. Don't just share other people's content. Your audience wants to hear about YOUR..

    • recent accomplishes

    • mistakes you've made/what you've learned

    • unique POV or perspectives on a certain norm or practice

    • your unique process or approach

    • your appreciation for those people, books or resources who have influenced or inspired you

    • your positive customer testimonials

    • the top tools or resources that help your productivity

    • career advice or tips for those starting out

    • books or articles that influenced you

    • takeaways from industry events

    • behind the scenes insight/views about your work process

    • your perspective on a new study or news headline

    • step by step tutorials or guides

    • infographics or data visualizations

    • the debunking of common myths and misconceptions in your niche


  • Make it a Habit. It takes time to become successful on LinkedIn. Therefore, you need to post regularly and consistently, at a minimum of once a week. Consistency is key to establish credibility and keep your audience (and the algorithms) engaged.

  • Try Batch Posting.  To appeal to algorithms, aim for a minimum four-hour gap between posts and trust that those genuinely interested in your content will engage, while those who don't prefer the frequency can adjust notification settings. While it seems like you'd be overdoing it, people probably won't notice as much as you think. Also, automation is key! Scheduling posts for the future can really help productivity.

  • Play the Long Game. This means you need A LOT of content to pull from. A few ways to do this:

    • Consider choosing an annual (or monthly)"theme" or focus area and making an annual calendar or list to keep track of it all. Don't forget to fill your audience in advance so they know what to expect!

    • If you have an existing blog repurpose content from that into bite-size pieces

    • Use a voice recorder to capture new ideas in the moment and on the go

    • Ask yourself every morning, "What is one new thing that I wish to learn today?" Then do some research, and post your findings and analysis

    • Peruse social media or your favorite industry newsletter for additional inspiration 

  • Don't Get Discouraged. Stay positive and resilient! Your lowest engaged posts (i.e crickets in the comments) could still be the ones that bring in leads. Others that go viral may simply get reactions. All have value in their own way.

  • Remember your Goals. Make sure every post is in alignment with your Headline/Focus and in support of your personal and professional brand.

  • Reply to Everyone! No matter what goal you have, be a good human being and respond to every comment, even if it's just a reaction. After all, you wouldn’t ignore someone at an in person event, would you?

  • Cultivate a Beginner's Mindset. True Success is learning something new every day, even after you think you've "arrived". Stay hyper-curious, document your learnings, avoid assumptions and ALWAYS keep expirementing. Don’t be afraid to test out different hooks and takeaways, post formats, and more.

  • Be Inspired. Create a folder of your favorite posts and creators that you admire and want to model your messaging and brand after. Study their voice, structure, rhythm, feeling and formatting! Use that as the standard of what "good" content is, then aim to raise the bar even higher.

  • Go Live. Utilize LinkedIn Live or share presentations, webinars, or live sessions where you discuss industry trends, share valuable insights, answer questions or offer guidance in real-time!

  • Collaborate. Partner with other thought leaders, collaborate on projects, or co-author articles. Associating yourself with established industry figures can elevate your own credibility and expand your reach to their audience.


Overcoming Fear & Insecurity

Sure, posting on LinkedIn may feel cringey at first. It takes a lot of confidence and courage. The imposter syndrome and fear of judgment sets in. But like anything else, it takes practice and the guts to just go for it.


Remember, if you're finding other's posts interesting, entertaining, and helpful then have faith that yours are too! Most of your insecurity and doubt is in your head. Your followers (and yes, strangers too) WANT...and NEED.. to hear from you.


Creating content feels risky, but is it worth it? Absolutely! The worst that could happen:

  • Your post gets no likes or comments

  • Someone disagrees with you

  • A stranger is mean to you


But the BEST possible things that could happen? See the first paragraph on "WHY it matters." Commit these to memory! Why? Because it's important to be Intrinsically Motivated to post. Do it because you genuinely want to make an impact and SERVE, not because you want likes or followers.


Just make sure to avoid comparing yourself to others. You are on your own journey, exploring, experimenting, learning as you go and finding your own unique path. This can take time and patience but after a while you'll look around and realize that BOOM... It's happened! The snow-ball effect.


Get ready to watch the momentum, mystery and magic of social media unfold.


Pro Tip: Scheduling your posts in advance can really help overcome social media anxiety! Write what you're thinking NOW and then schedule the post to go live in a few days time.


Grow Your Audience

LinkedIn thrives on connections. Reaching 500 connections is an important milestone on LinkedIn. This amount of followers provides social proof that you are credible and engaged on the platform, and like a snowball that keeps growing, will only increase your visibility and reach.


These connections are more than a number, they are the key to securing new clients, customers, sales and other professional opportunities.


You can't sell to, market to, or convert an audience you don't have. The biggest objective should be building a community. You do this by creating a high volume of RELEVANT content.


How do you know your content is relevant? Because your audience is engaging with your content, and thus far more likely to invest in your product or service.



Build Your Network Strategically


1. The Foundation: Start with people you know, past and present (peers, professors, friends, alumni, coworkers, etc)


2. The Expansion: Branch out to potential clients as well as influencers and industry leaders or like-minded professionals, those with same or similar degrees, experience and background.

Pro tip: always personalize your connection requests, especially if you are sending them to well-known people in your field.


3. The Growth

LinkedIn is social media. This means you need to be social and INTERACT with others, at every opportunity! Building a network is all about building relationships, not lurking silently behind the curtains.


Consistent engagement helps increase visibility and fosters meaningful relationships. You can engage not only by sharing valuable content, but also in participating in relevant groups, and commenting thoughtfully on others' posts.


Meaningful participation within groups can amplify your visibility and authority among a targeted audience. Offer insights, answer (or ask!) questions, and initiate discussions around your industry.


If someone you don't know leaves a thoughtful comment on your post, foster a dialogue and know that it's likely to translate to a Connection.


Stay Consistent

To stay consistent on LinkedIn, consider adding "LinkedIn time" into your work calendar, just like any other meeting, call or big task. Keep in mind that you still want to be intentional and purposeful with your content though, not just post for the sake of it. There is already enough clutter and noise on social media.


Monitor & Test

Aim to improve 1% every day. To do this don't forget to review the data and metrics from your posts and adjust as needed.

  • Look at Reach, Likes and Reshares to see if it was interesting and resonating.

  • Look at Comments to see if it was valuable.

  • Most importantly, look at LEADS generated to double down.


To Boost Your Reach

  • Broaden your hooks. Use "you" more.

  • Share more story-centric content.

  • Spend more time commenting/engaging with others.


To Boost Your Engagement

  • Write comments on your own post

  • Add a "P.S." to the end of your post

  • Repost your own content (views)


To Boost Leads

  • Create "How I" content about your work.

  • Share case studies, testimonials and client transformational success stories.

  • Focus on 1 topic and 1 offer.



Convert Your Audience

A million followers is worth nothing if you can't convert them. This means you need to be able to get them from a "rented platform" (social media) to an OWNED platform such as your email list, website membership, etc


Wrapping It Up

Becoming an influential thought leader on LinkedIn requires consistent effort and active participation. By sharing valuable content, engaging authentically, and demonstrating expertise, you can gradually establish yourself as a trusted and authoritative voice and changemaker in your industry.


Do all these rules guarantee success? No. But, if you’re serious about growing as a business, they are a solid starting point. Also know that these guidelines and approaches can be used for many other social channels and platforms. Just pick one and commit to going all in!


Simply start sharing about what you know and see what happens. If you truly hate it, stop doing it and find help. But if you find it's effective or that it inspires curiosity and intrigue, keep going. You'll never know what good things will come from showing up every day and moving outside of your comfort zone!



Friendly Reminders


Be Patient!

Positioning yourself as a subject matter expert takes months or even years. Take note of your progress along the way, whether that's the noticeable increase in followers and engagement, or the lessons you've learned.


Rest & Recharge

Don't forget to rioritize self-care. Build in lots of screen-free time to avoid burnout, information overload, doom-scrolling, or the spiral of self-comparison.


Need Support?

That's ok! Sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to understand what needs to change and most importantly - to get started.


As a solopreneur navigating the complexities of LinkedIn, crafting compelling marketing content and copy can be overwhelming, confusing and time-consuming. Not everyone enjoys writing or engaging, after all. To ease this burden and ensure your message and brand voice resonates effectively, consider partnering with an experienced marketing professional.


I specialize in crafting engaging, results-driven content tailored to your business needs. From captivating social media posts to persuasive website copy, I am dedicated to helping dream-chasers like you elevate their online presence and drive business growth.


Ready to make your mark on LinkedIn? Reach out today!


 

Erin is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.



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