As a personal branding strategist, people always want to know my thoughts about the best way to position themselves online.
Prior to COVID-19, one of the most common questions I received was, “What do I say on LinkedIn?” Today, as the pandemic’s grip begins to loosen, we find ourselves in the midst of nationwide civil unrest and the most frequent question I still receive remains, “What do I post on LinkedIn?”
We’re in a time for which there is no playbook, there is no pandemic + social outrage algorithm to decipher. The spotlight now is on humanity, and rightfully so. How we show up matters – to colleagues, clients, prospects, and potential employers. And where we show up most often today is on social media.
While it may not always seem like it, especially in an election year, the point of social media is to create a conversation, a dialogue. Though LinkedIn is not a social media platform in the traditional sense, it is an online professional networking platform, and you can’t network without conversation – at least not successfully.
Today, when people ask what they should post about on LinkedIn, what they really want to know is: “Is it ok to discuss business?” The answer is yes. Our economy needs us to talk about business, but our country needs us to approach it with sensitivity and awareness.
So, what are the rules around discussing business online during a time of upheaval? There isn’t one set of hard and fast rules that applies across the board, but I can offer a few guidelines to point you in the right direction.
My years in public relations taught me the danger of appearing tone deaf, particularly in times of crisis. It’s critical to be aware of how your target audience is impacted and how perception can vary widely.
This needs to be taken into consideration when commenting and posting on LinkedIn, or on any social media platform. For example, sharing an article about the negative impact of a state’s COVID-19 response might be met with validating comments from some but will likely trigger a negative reaction from others.
Here in my home state of Vermont, despite a low number of Coronavirus cases, our lockdown has been more stringent than in many other states throughout the country.
Someone located in the south might look at Vermont and see we’re still not operating at 100% and make a comment about extremism. However, when you take into account the fact that we’re located within a five-hour drive of New York City and Boston (two of the nation’s hardest hit hot spots) these restrictions take on a new light. Likewise, if I were to provide information based solely on my experience in Vermont, I could come across as callous to those in our neighboring states who have experienced the loss of so many lives.
While you may be tempted to stay silent for fear of saying the wrong thing, going dark is not the answer. Remember, reputation is shaped both by response and lack thereof.
Often, we forget that the goal of being active on LinkedIn is to actually network with other professionals. This requires putting yourself out there – just like in-person networking!
If you went to a conference and didn’t make an effort to engage with anyone, your chances of creating connections would be pretty slim (read: non-existent). You don’t need to create a lengthy post every day (nor should you), but it will serve you to let people know you’re there.
I know it can be overwhelming, especially if LinkedIn isn’t currently part of your online strategy, so I recommend posting once or twice a week. Supplement that activity by commenting on relevant posts and sharing information from other outlets that you found helpful.
Staying active is particularly important for job seekers. As the economy opens back up, an active LinkedIn presence will help you get in front of companies looking to bring on new talent quickly. There will be huge opportunity out there and you want to be prepared with a stellar LinkedIn profile and presence.
Does this mean you need to limit your posts to topics related to COVID-19 and racial injustice? No. While we certainly haven’t put these behind us, we do need to look ahead and that means broaching other subjects as well.
The best way to position yourself on LinkedIn as an expert in your industry is to bring value to the community and to your network. Showcase your expertise by answering questions in industry groups (even in Facebook groups, too), commenting on posts, and sharing helpful information that may or may not touch on current events.
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.