When writing the “Build a Brand” newsletter, we explore a lot of content centered around the best steps to take when building a personal brand. But in the course of working on hundreds of personal brands on LinkedIn, there are glaring mistakes I see people making all the time on the platform that is eroding the effectiveness of the time and energy they are spending on the platform.
Here are our top offenders:
Assuming people know what your LinkedIn headline means.
When I say LinkedIn headline, I’m referring to this area of your profile:
Here’s the best part about LinkedIn. No matter where you show up on the platform, be it the main newsfeed or someone’s inbox, that handy dandy coordinating headline follows you. On no other social media platform (unless you build it into your name) do you get a sidekick explaining what you do showing up everywhere you are.
The problem is exactly that though: many people treat this as an area to share their “title” versus using it as an opportunity to share a “tagline.” This is a big missed opportunity. In marketing, taglines are put in place to clarify the main selling point or emotion of a brand (think Burger King’s famous “Have it your way”). They make it easy and fast to understand WHY someone would want to engage with you. So imagine how much unnecessary legwork you’re creating for someone when you have “CEO of ACME Corp'' as your LinkedIn headline. Now the person has to look up what ACME Corp is and does, and what the CEO of that company does, and I hate to break it to you, but nobody is taking the time out of their day to do that. So just make it easy. Stop taking up all 220 glorious characters of your headline by naming a position at a company that nobody really knows. Instead, lead with the value you bring to people. Be clear about exactly what you and your company do. Branding is about clarity. Clarity ALWAYS wins. Remember that.
Including messages with your LinkedIn connection request.
Unless you legitimately know the person or have an authentic link to them, best not to include a message in your initial connection request. Here’s why:
- People will assume you ultimately want to sell to them because, no offense to good salespeople, but bad salespeople have ruined this for everyone.
- It’s just one more thing for people to do/read when they are in the connection queue. In our experience, people were either going to accept you or not because they are either open to networking or not.
Speaking of being open to networking, the next mistake we frequently see people make is number three.
You’re not open to accepting requests unless you’ve already met the person before.
I know, I know, it’s absurd to me too -- people will sign up for a social networking platform only to not, ahem, network. But, we see people do it all the time. This is incredibly odd because if you want your personal brand and business opportunities to grow on this platform, you have to engage with MORE people. Some of my best business relationships found their start on LinkedIn before blossoming into lucrative strategic partnerships.
You’re not creating enough content.
Three to five times a week is the goal here, folks. To build a personal brand, you need to have a consistent stream of valuable content that teaches people something they don’t know. If you’re not creating content, you’re not building your brand on this platform. Period.
You’re not being authentic in your content.
Working on so many executive accounts, we often see what interests audiences based on engagement patterns, and overwhelmingly and reliably, I can tell you authentic personal posts win the day. Now, I’m not saying you need to exploit pictures of your children or treat LinkedIn like a diary to log all the thoughts of your day on, but ultimately, people connect with people based on shared experiences and values. If you are not talking about these more personal facets of yourself and you’re all business all the time, you aren’t going to see your following or engagement grow. People want to hear your real thoughts about real things. Think about conversations with clients and prospects in real life. Inevitably, you build rapport before you get into the business at hand. It’s no different on LinkedIn.
Not engaging in the comments section.
When someone reads your content and comments on it, they are denoting that what you said is valuable enough for them to read it, and it moved them enough for them to leave a comment on it. Why leave them hanging? No one likes unrequited love. Attention is the most valuable currency on social media; so you need to reward this behavior pattern by acknowledging it and then responding back (aka creating a dialogue). When we help executives and authors launch book campaigns, the first place we go to get the initial wave of support and purchasers is the frequent commenter section. These people are letting you know they have followed you and are invested in what you are doing. But they only purchase if our executives or authors routinely answer them back. Otherwise it’s like shouting into the void. Don’t leave your audience on unread. They want to support you, thank them and engage back. That’s the magic of social media!