Using LinkedIn to make your personal profile soar
Gordon White, MD of media marketing agency fatBuzz, tells Behiye Hassan why LinkedIn is a lot more than just somewhere to store your CV. Using the platform actively can make your personal profile soar.
Many professionals have a LinkedIn account. But, other than brushing up the CV when seeking a new job, how often do they use it? Gordon White, MD of Glasgow-based marketing and digital media agency fatBuzz, says by letting their accounts lie dormant, professionals, whether actively ambitious or merely open to new experiences, are missing out. Among the services White’s firm offers (such as search engine optimisation, podcast production and content creation) is a LinkedIn training module.
Curiously, one of the sectors that’s been slow to adopt LinkedIn is accountancy. In the past, this may have been down to the profession relying on “the old-boy network”, White believes. “But that’s now breaking down,” he adds. He’s a firm believer in the platform’s potential for building personal reputations. “When I’m doing presentations on LinkedIn, I occasionally use an image of a Rolodex, then explain that it’s much more than a Rolodex,” he says. “For a long while, people thought it was just somewhere you kept connections. But it’s much more powerful than that."
People are starting to realise that LinkedIn is not just a networking platform – it’s the leading business publishing platform as well.
White identifies a number of reasons for its rise in popularity, dating the start of the upswing to 2016. That’s when Microsoft bought the Silicon Valley firm. A new interface, which was already being introduced, integrated the mobile app and desktop versions and enhanced its compatibility with Office 365. “The result was a sizeable increase in active users, going from somewhere around 20% to closer to 50%,” says White. “Of those, approximately 40% now access the platform daily.”
Latterly, Covid played its part too, with lockdowns leading to a surge in user sessions as people sought replacements for in-person meetings and, more importantly, face-to-face networking.
LinkedIn has a huge reach. “If you create an article in LinkedIn, it will be indexed in Google,” White says. “So people are starting to realise its value and actually creating content and becoming thought leaders. If you understand how the algorithm works, LinkedIn will be successful for you. Your content will end up in the newsfeed of people you don’t even know.
“That algorithm can be leveraged by optimising your profile. The more active you are, the more content you create, the more you engage with other people’s content, the more successful you’re going to be.”
So, what’s the key to turning a LinkedIn account into successful personal branding? “Two words: authenticity and relevance,” says White. “Be yourself.” He stresses the importance of a good personal summary: “The algorithm looks at that very closely… it needs to be conversational and authentic. The last thing you want to do, having engaged with somebody for a month or two and got to the point of a meeting, is to put up a barrier because you’re nothing like your profile. Use a recent picture, use language you’d normally use in a conversation.”
White suggests imagining you’re describing yourself to the person sitting next to you at a business dinner: “You’re selling yourself, not your business. Think about why people would want to actually connect and engage with you.”
LinkedIn can also play a part in professional development. “There are a lot of benefits to having a well-optimised programme in LinkedIn,” says White. “If you create your CV in Word, you can bring in cognitive services from LinkedIn to help you develop it to its best advantage.”
While it is still possible to get organic reach from LinkedIn, he advises you may need paid advertising to find your target audience “because it’s such a noisy place”. Advertisers should start with a modest budget and a few trial campaigns to get the data from LinkedIn insights. “That allows you to make a much more informed decision about what you need to invest to get the results you’re looking for,” he says.
The main reason he recommends using a premium account is its advanced search functionality. “You can do very detailed searches for certain types of people in certain organisations,” he says. “With a free account, you don’t get the same volume of results to make any use of it.”
Above all, he says, you need a LinkedIn strategy. “It is enormously powerful, and it deserves one. Most people have a marketing plan, a marketing strategy and a content strategy. But you should also have many strategies for a platform like LinkedIn.” He stresses the need for regular posting and consistency of language and branding: “It operates on the principles of social selling. It’s not about selling, it’s about getting to know them and engaging with them.”
His own LinkedIn course includes lessons such as optimising your content to reach the maximum number of people. “But in fact, a lot of the course is about how I use LinkedIn messaging,” he says. “When you connect with someone or accept a connection request, if you do nothing, nothing is what’s going out. If you send them a message, you get them into a conversation. And then you can control a really good conversation. It’s all about building relationships.”
Gordon White is speaking at the ICAS Insights webinar on 26 October – book your space on icas.com/webinars.