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Start with great content, then use social media to reach and expand your audience.

Remember when LinkedIn was a tool for networking and job hunting? Today’s LinkedIn is better known as a place to find and share content. A business-themed publisher. (And advertiser.) You can stand out and draw readers in by delivering benefit-rich content that people want to consume and share.

Is it easy? No. It takes big thinking, small details, and a unique viewpoint. Blatant self-promotion flops here. (Save the marketing pitch for your website.) This is the place to give away your best advice for free. The reward: a following that views you and your business in a glowing light.

Start by being real. For people to trust you, they need to know you. Sharing personal stories humanizes you and increases reader engagement. Have a unique point of view. Err on the side of being interesting and provocative, rather than generic. 

STORYTIME: Creating Your Content

Always deliver value

Every reader wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” People will return if you deliver information they can’t get elsewhere that is brimming with benefits that serve their needs. Don’t think, “What do I want to say?” Instead, focus on, “What gift – of knowledge, insight, action – can I share?”

  • Make the benefit so gripping readers feel compelled to share it with others.

  • Use an informative, yet casual, tone.

  • Share information or a viewpoint that only you know.

  • Add photos or videos to increase engagement.

  • Embed related links to increase Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

You’ll face a strong urge to plug your company’s products or services as a solution to a problem you present. Resist this urge. Being a thought leader is about proving the value you and your company offer that goes beyond a mere sales pitch.

Leave a memorable impression
Think of your content as a way to build relationships. Or as the wide opening of your sales funnel. You’re drawing people in with your expertise and generosity, and that generates positive feelings toward you and your business. Don’t underestimate feelings. They can be more powerful than data.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
–  Maya Angelou

You can build your content to deliver exactly the feelings or impression you want to leave with your readers over time.

For example, I want readers to feel…

  • Confident that I always share information that meets their needs.

  • I am easy and fun to work with.

  • My genuine concern for their success.

  • I have their best interests in mind.

  • That my approach to work and life is positive and energetic.

  • I am approachable and welcoming.

Show up and be seen

Stay in the public eye by appearing on a regular basis. Set goals to achieve this. For example, start with a commitment to create one original piece of content per month for six months. It doesn’t have to be long. 500-800 words is plenty. Quality matters more than length.

PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS: Making Connections

Engage with engaging people

Besides creating great content, you can connect with a wider audience (on or off LinkedIn) by engaging in an ongoing conversation. Start by commenting on content from others. (Remember, a “like” does not show leadership; insightful commentary does.)

Recognize the value of the original piece and add your fresh perspective.

Example: Fast Company has an article entitled “How to activate mentoring and career development when you work from home.”

You can “lift” some of their reputation by sharing the article and adding a fresh spin. For example, you could comment on the article with something like this:
“Companies with a dispersed workforce have always used virtual mentoring. These same practices work with employees who are new to working from home. Shorter, more frequent calls help us feel connected and involved and let me offer guidance when the need arises. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during times of change, but this is when mentees need us most. By example, we show what leadership looks like.”

This sample comment reveals a leader experienced with virtual mentoring, includes a tip for readers, and ends with a positive sentiment. (With no mention of products/services.)

Let influencers spread the word

Develop a list of influencers in your field. These recognized experts have strong followings via their blogs, podcasts, and social media. You’ll find them in colleagues, competitors, and commentators. They may be industry-specific reporters. Or mega fans who love a topic that might connect to your work. (There’s a wide world of connected train enthusiasts out there. Think how far they might spread your insight about supply chain challenges, if you give your story the right spin.)

  • Follow them. They may follow you in return.

  • When you publish, they can share, comment on, and extend your reach. This helps grow your audience and reputation as a leader.

  • When they publish, you can comment on their content.

Master the ripple effect

After all the hard work that goes into creating spectacular content, it’s disappointing to see only a few views, likes, and shares. That’s why promoting your content is just as important as creating it.

You need a campaign. “Campaign” may sound big and time consuming, but it can be as simple as sharing a link in an email with your network.
“Hi, friends.
I just published an article – 10 Ways to Improve the Online Shopping Experience – that I thought you might enjoy. I’d love to see you post your Comments to enlarge the conversation. And if you want to Like or Share with your network, I certainly won’t complain!”

Your request to them also frees them to ask for your help when they need a hand. That’s engagement. 

SHARING IS CARING: Giving Away Your Gold

Don’t be stingy
There’s long been some debate about whether it’s better to host your content on your company website (where visitors can poke around and see how wonderful you are) or push your content out into the world (where people are already gathering on sites with much more traffic than yours).

Posting on multiple platforms lets you widen your reach and find new audiences. The downside comes when it’s time to measure your traffic. You’ll have to visit multiple sites and do a little math. But that’s a small price to pay to build your brand as a leader people trust and want to follow.


To become a thought leader that people will seek out and follow, think big, include details, and have a unique viewpoint. And always, ALWAYS, deliver value your readers can use.