The theory of group cohesiveness states that bonds between individuals are strongest when they share a common link to one another and to the group. For example, accountants share a common link with other accountants. This might be worth a hand shake and a business card exchange, but if you get two accountants whose sole professional focus happens to be bookkeeping for mid-sized oil and gas companies in the Dakotas, well those guys will be best friends before you know it. They are linked not only to one another through their shared professional pursuit, but also to the particular niche they are in as they are both affected by any market-wide shifts or trends and are equally familiar with the ups and downs of life in that field.
What does this have to do with Linkedin personal branding? Well, everything. In fact, this is why the medium became so successful as the “professional’s social network”. Linkedin groups focused around your specific niche will be full of members who have a common problem about which they are passionate and to which you are able to provide a solution.
Here is a short primer for getting involved in the right Linkedin groups so you can become an influencer and start building your platform. You can use this to use your niche-knowledge and become perceived as an industry expert.
I should begin by saying that any good Linkedin personal branding effort begins with creating your own content. If you are not creating content, you can’t really be an influencer. Ideally, this means publishing blogs on your own blog or a company blog. Whichever route you choose, write often and consistently. Blogging remains the most effective way to build your personal platform and social media is its chief support engine.
Aim to be a big fish in a small pond. Or at least a noticeably-sized fish in whatever pond in which you choose to swim.
In line with my #1 rule for social media effectiveness, niche down and focus your message on your exact target market. As I mentioned above, groups with a more narrow focus tend to be more emotionally connected to the subject. Much of that emotional investment comes from their feeling of exclusivity. This tends to be the case in smaller groups, as the barriers to entry are greater.
Check with each group’s rules. Linkedin group moderators are the ultimate gatekeepers of the social sphere. You would be wise to do a quick study of the rules of conduct, which are often posted. If not, you win extra brownie points for reaching out to the admins directly to make sure that you don’t step over any unwritten guidelines when interacting, especially if you plan to be a high frequency poster. You never know when it will come in handy to have a gatekeeper in your back pocket. When it does, remember who told you so.
Don’t be afraid to send invitations to connect to individual members of groups. If your only activity in a group is blasting your content and hoping others take notice, you are not actually engaging and you won’t be building your platform as effectively as you could be.
Be timely. Make a habit of lending your own helpful insights into relevant issues happening around the world or in your specific circle of concern. The more credibility you gain, the more your insights on important issues will be sought out and appreciated. This will, in turn, further increase your perceived expertise on the subject. We call this the virtuous cycle of social media thought-leadership.
Craft a compelling profile description that utilizes keywords in a way that makes sense, but doesn’t cross the line into “keyword stuffing” (adding dozens of related keywords only to improve searchability). This will do much more harm than good for your credibility. Create an honest, but well-written headliner that adequately conveys to the reader what it is that you do, using terms they understand.
Participating in Linkedin groups can be an excellent way to promote your Linkedin personal branding. Every time you post, make sure to offer some insight that is separate from what the author provides, even if you are the author. You may be able to persuade them to read the blog, but your goal is to persuade them to follow you on social media and to seek out your personal insights on relevant issues.
Have you had any success with your Linkedin personal branding? If so, let me know what tactics you have used.