Have you ever wondered how LinkedIn could change your professional life, business or startup?
My story with LinkedIn began in 2012 when I had a career change and moved from the classroom to the startup room. When I left higher education, I spent much of my time on LinkedIn and within groups talking with those who were in my field. I enjoyed the conversations and networking so much, I decided to put together a short deck about my experience with LinkedIn from 2011-2012.
I took a leap of faith and shared my new career path deck with LinkedIn. The deck is titled, “How LinkedIn Changed My Life In One Year.” In September of 2012, I shared the presentation with LinkedIn’s team, and within about ten minutes, LinkedIn gave me a call at home. Within the next month, LinkedIn shared my story on their career member blog and again later within their 200 million-member press release announcement. I’ve been actively part of their platform for the past few years, and have enjoyed watching it grow to an active, professional space with millions of members.
Since 2012, LinkedIn became a critical part of my life as I transitioned from the classroom toward education startups. And, this year, LinkedIn named me #1 Top Voice in Education. I’ve published various articles on their blogging platform, and today I have a targeted following of over 200,000 members. My followers are members who are interested in education and innovation. From my experience, I believe it is critical to focus on building professional relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Before I go into how you can become a LinkedIn Top Voice, here are some interesting statistics about the platform:
- There are over 562 million members on LinkedIn
- 92% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.
- 91% of executives rate LinkedIn as their #1 choice for professionally relevant content.
- According to Brandwatch, 64% of social referrals to corporate websites come from LinkedIn.
- According to the site Foundation, 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions. They also found the platform drives 80% of B2B leads.
- According to Forbes, 86% of Americans say business transparency is more important today than ever before.
- And, finally, Foundation states, “Every single week, content in the LinkedIn feed is seen 9 billion times. That’s about 36 billion impressions per month and 468 billion per year. The opportunity to be seen most definitely exists if you share content consistently.”
Since LinkedIn has scaled substantially over the past two years, they have offered every business, entrepreneur, and professional a chance to share what they know with millions of people, while also providing a place for companies to share their stories. However, standing out from the crowd is not the easiest thing to do if you don’t know how to use LinkedIn effectively.
What’s A LinkedIn Top Voice And How Do They Choose Members?
According to LinkedIn, the editors bring their data scientists together to sort through various articles and updates that span over the past year. The goal of the process is to create an annual list of “Top Voices.” Top Voices are the writers who currently shape the critical conversations in and around their industries. These writers also gain a substantial amount of engagement from their readers. Also, they rank writers across different categories and highlight Top Voices from other countries outside of the States. For example, some of the different industries they include are health care, education, marketing, social media, and management. There are many more, which you can see via their announcement.
This is the first time LinkedIn named me a “Top Voice” on their platform. Daniel Roth, LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief, shares the methods and strategies they use to create the lists each year. Roth states,
“Today we’re launching our 4th annual LinkedIn Top Voices list, a look at the members whose posts, articles, videos, and comments are driving engaging conversations in their industries and countries. These are the professionals who, by sharing their unique insights, spark the kind of conversations that make everyone better informed. To find standout voices, we use a combination of data and editorial signals. We screen for engagement among professionals sharing in their area of expertise, looking at what kind of conversations — measured by engagement, including comments and re-shares — their original content is creating.”
Most importantly, Roth says, “Regardless of their industry or location, the Top Voices have followed a similar formula to cultivate powerful communities: consistency, depth of insight and a desire to deeply engage with others.”
If you would like to use LinkedIn to scale your business, get your startup’s name out there, to land a new job, or to create more B2B sales, I highly recommend you take the time to read his article and follow some of the other Top Voices in your industry. Although Roth shares this critical information, I’d like to share what I’ve done over the past year, so you can consider using some of these strategies.
Write About What You Know
It’s much easier to write about areas in which you’ve either worked, have a passion for, or know quite well. For instance, Roth says, “Your depth of insight in your area is a critical factor in determining whether other members will read your work. You should be considered an expert in your niche-where you’ve derived your ideas should come from your areas of expertise, typically from your professional life.”
For example, I’m a certified teacher who is interested in how education and entrepreneurship is taking shape in this country. I’m also fascinated with learning more about introversion. Therefore, I write and interview leaders within those areas.
Also, consistency (writing, sharing, commenting, and engaging) is vital to growing your network on LinkedIn. If you know a great deal of information about technology, writing about it on a weekly basis will help you expand your audience. In between the days when you’re not writing or publishing, take time to share articles or commentary from other authors in your field. Your comments, articles, and updates should be authentic and genuine—sharing ideas that you’re passionate about makes the process manageable.
Ask Your Audience Questions
Asking your audience questions about your niche can create a substantial amount of engagement. For example, before the school year began, I asked my audience: “If you could change one thing about the public education system, what would it be?” This one question garnered a massive response from readers all around the world. Be sure to come back to the updates or inquiries you share, and comment and engage with your readers.
By engaging with other members, you are telling your audience, “Your opinion is important to me, and your voice matters.”
Engage With Your Readers
Writing consistently, staying within your field of expertise, giving back, and asking questions are crucial ways to attract and keep your readers coming back to learn more. However, to get your name, business, or startup out there, you should also engage with other members’ work.
When commenting on other updates, you should be sincere and polite in your comments. There is no reason to be rude or condescending—and don’t waste time arguing with others on the platform. LinkedIn is a professional network, and it should remain that way. Agreeing to disagree or passing on something you don’t care for is the best way to remain professional on the platform. And remember, you never know who may be reading your comments—they can lead to better growth and opportunities, or you may miss out on a potential opportunity or lead should you behave in an unprofessional manner.
Also, regarding engagement, Roth states, “Ask a question, share a quick thought, post an interesting statistic or show people what’s inspiring you. There’s a community out there ready to give their own perspectives; all you have to do is put yourself out there to connect.”
Sounds scary? Don’t be scared and remember that not everyone will agree with you—and that’s okay.
When you engage with your readers or other writers, you are not only helping yourself out, but you’re also giving other members a boost as well. You’re giving back and that’s what networking is all about.
Whether or not you’re using LinkedIn to land a “Top Voice” place, it should be part of your entrepreneurial journey or marketing strategy starting today. You have the ability as an entrepreneur to stand out, grow your network, and build your business. The platform can lead to endless opportunities. I’ve been working in the startup field for the past five years, and every role I’ve landed was because someone noticed my work and reached out to me on LinkedIn.
Disclosure: When I worked in higher education, I helped graduate students with LinkedIn. I’ve also helped some new members over the past five years.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Forbes and is featured here with Author Permission.