Use Your Personal Story to Stand Out on LinkedIn

(This originally appeared on Spin Sucks.)

These days we hear a lot about the benefits of storytelling.

Or about one’s “personal story” as it relates to their profession or entrepreneurial experience.

People frequently ask if I truly think someone will find new clients and secure new business because the prospect knows their personal story.

I tell them, “Yes…and…while it may not be the sole reason you earn their business, it likely plays a significant role in their decision.”

Maybe they didn’t tell you that. Or, maybe they did. Either way, you stood out.

Taking the time to identify your personal story—finding just a small nugget, which makes you relatable—can reinforce your personal brand.

Today, we showcase our personal brand online (vs. the old days of print collateral).

But finding the most appropriate platform among all the internet and social media noise is daunting. Enter LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Is A Useful Tool

Technically, LinkedIn is NOT a social media tool in the traditional sense.

It’s not Facebook (thank goodness), Twitter, Instagram, and it’s certainly not SnapChat (an even bigger thank goodness).

It IS a professional online networking tool.

And, to be clear, while LinkedIn was created as a job-seeking platform, it is so much more in recent months.

Now, LinkedIn features a robust news feed and a well-regarded publishing and video platform.

You can share articles, video tips, and interviews with experts and influencers in various industries.

And it’s a go-to professional content resource.

If you aren’t taking advantage of the meaningful engagement you can have on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on valuable business and networking opportunities.

You may also be missing out on some prime PR possibilities, too.

Use LinkedIn to Stand Out

The numbers don’t lie: more than 130,000 posts are shared on LinkedIn weekly.

It’s not uncommon for those among LinkedIn’s 560+ million members to fail to differentiate themselves by strategic use of their profile page.

Is your summary section a regurgitation of your resume or CV? Do you talk ad nauseum about why you’re so great? Do you speak in the third person? Worse, are you not saying anything at all?

Why leave visitors (read: potential prospects, hiring managers, recruiters, fellow industry peers) wondering about you?

Here is where you can use your summary as a place to share your personal story and weave it into your professional story. (This is the key area in your profile to showcase your story.)

Users encompassing my three-part recipe for an outcome-based LinkedIn summary can achieve the following: Captivate reader attention with a slice-of-life story. Identify pain points or challenges. Highlight ways you’ll use your specific skill set to resolve their pain point.

The KLT Factor

Networking and referral expert, Bob Burg, shared his insights on what he dubs the “know, like, and trust factor” in his book Endless Referrals:

All things being equal - people do business with and refer business to - people they know, like and trust.

(Side note: referral business is gold! We all want more of that.)

By discovering your personal story, you build the “know” piece by showing your interests, professional background, and experience.

The “like” aspect is where you show your helpful side. This is where you offer value by being of service to others.

And the “trust” is your years of expertise, professional designations or affiliations, and peer or client recommendations.

I take the “know” part just a bit further here to include showcasing your human side. We all love stories, we live them every day, and they capture our attention.

Journalists Use LinkedIn Daily

It’s no surprise journalists use LinkedIn primarily as a research tool. But LinkedIn also has a group specifically for journalists.

The “LinkedIn for Journalists” group boasts more than 84,000 members who must qualify as “full-time editorial staff for mainstream news media outlets.”

I have a solid network of go-to journalists whom I pitch to fairly regularly. Anecdotally, they’ve shared with me how seriously they take LinkedIn as a valuable reference tool. More now than ever before.

Happily, they see that LinkedIn’s robust features allow them to learn even more about an individual. When looking for an expert in a specific industry space, they use traditional internet search methodologies.

And #Google or #LinkedIn search results provide reliable and expert results. They feel better equipped to reach out to those individuals and invite them to be their source. Some may argue a journalist could learn enough about you or an individual via their website or About Me page. That may be true, but is it enough?

I’d argue that a journalist wants to find even more value when they land on one’s LinkedIn profile; in fact, they expect it.

It’s permissible. Because your experience, expertise, and credentials live there, and it’s appropriate and relevant to house it there.

Position Yourself as an Industry Visionary

Compelling content on LinkedIn is still one of the best ways to position your thought leadership in a specific space.

Before I go any further, let me explain that when I use the term “thought leader” or “thought leadership,” I am in no way condoning you actually say you’re a thought leader. It’s a concept I hope you’ll embrace to exemplify how your industry expertise sets you apart in that particular space.

Because of the content and updates you share via your LinkedIn network, you’ll automatically demonstrate your thought leadership as a go-to influencer in your profession.

And by the way, you don’t have to be a C-level leader or business entrepreneur to showcase your expertise. Anyone can do this just by creating and sharing unique content.

There are a few ways to do this on LinkedIn: Post blogs or articles on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Create videos about a topic related to your skills or profession. Add digital assets such as slide decks, white papers, documents, photos, or links to appearances on TV, radio, podcasts.

Use the LinkedIn Publishing Platform

If you already write a blog for your website, you can repurpose it on LinkedIn’s publishing platform without getting slapped by Google for duplicate content.

While many of us have shut off the ability for readers to share comments due to trolls and spam, the comments and engagement you’ll see on the same article attached to your LinkedIn profile are much more meaningful.

LinkedIn has been successful in reducing the number of trolls and spammers in publisher. And the dialogue you create with readers and followers can be rich.

In August 2017, LinkedIn finally launched video, even though many thought it was a bit late to the party of video on social platforms. But because the videos are of a professional nature, they’ve been warmly received.

Post Video Content

It’s a known fact that LinkedIn’s algorithm places great weight on users’ posting video content. That means videos show up more often in the newsfeed.

Video also encompasses the “know, like, and trust factor” by giving people a snapshot of who you are and what you know.

But admittedly, videos receive more visibility because they’re interesting and can grab reader attention.

From a PR standpoint, it’s important to remember the protocol for LinkedIn video: length must be more than 3 seconds but less than 10 minutes. Many people are asking if LinkedIn will bring a “live” version of video similar to Facebook Live, but so far there are only rumors to that effect. (Author's note, June 2019: LinkedIn Live is currently being beta tested by a chosen few and by invitation only. LinkedIn Live may roll out to users in the coming months.)

Promote Your Presence

By including an aspect of your story to set yourself apart from your peers, and including other important details, you’re making a journalist’s job that much easier. When we do this, they appreciate our being thorough and ultimately see us as a go-to resource for them.

It’s a win-win to build and nurture the relationship.

Ultimately, consider your LinkedIn profile as a mini website that’s “all about you” (personal story, digital assets, expertise, industry influence). BUT, keep it from being “all about you” in the sense of “I did this” and “I did that” and, frankly, “I’m great!” That’s just yucky.

Promote your LinkedIn presence by adding the link to your profile page on your business card, or as a button asking to connect in your email signature. And place the link to your profile page in your social media platform biographies.

Remember, make your story on LinkedIn work for you.

Consider it an essential tool in your personal brand and PR toolbox. This uncommon strategy will set you apart and differentiate you from your peers and competitors.

Navigating today’s world isn’t at all cut and dry, but there is still an audience that needs what you offer and there is still a meaningful way to share your message. If you’re ready to leverage LinkedIn, reach out. I’d be happy to discuss ways I can help.


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