Running A Business

How to Build a Following on LinkedIn

Jun 05, 2021 • 10+ min read
Man using Linkedin on an Ipad
Table of Contents

      LinkedIn has been on the up-and-up for the last couple of years. What started as a basic job posting and networking site has transformed into one of the world’s most popular social media networks for everything business- and career-related.

      Here’s a taste of why the platform is doing so well:

      With stats like these, it’s no wonder professionals are looking to build their LinkedIn following with newfound vigor. However, when everyone’s trying to do the same thing, it becomes that much harder—much like a stereotypical trip to Disneyland.

      Despite the uphill battle, the struggle is worth it. Just as nobody has ever regretted a family trip to Disneyland (fact), investing time into building your LinkedIn following will always be a worthwhile endeavor. 

      Whether you’re trying to build a following for your personal profile or your business page, the process is generally the same, albeit with some nuanced differences. Follow these best practices and you’ll be on your way to creating a top-performing LinkedIn account.

      16 ways to build a following on LinkedIn.

      1. Focus on the right metrics.

      First, decide what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want hordes of followers or a small group of hyper-engaged advocates? There’s no right answer here, but it’s important to decide early on what your goals are.

      In the end, you don’t want to end up with thousands of followers who don’t interact with your content. You also don’t want followers who just “like” posts but don’t interact, comment, and engage.

      If you know what you’re after, go ahead and set some concrete goals. Decide how many followers you want and by when. Don’t worry too much about overshooting or falling short of this goal—any number will help to keep you accountable.

      2. Post consistently (not necessarily frequently).

      You’ll hear all sorts of LinkedIn gurus say that you need to post daily or twice a day or even 3 times a day. That’s all well and good—and there may be some truth to this advice—but what’s more important than frequency is consistency. You need a posting strategy that you can stick to, which will be different for everyone.

      You don’t need to figure it out from the get-go, but evaluate how you spend your time on LinkedIn over the coming weeks. Are you struggling to produce content daily? Is it becoming a chore? If that’s the case, tone it down a notch and maybe post 3-4 times a week instead of every day.

      Research shows that businesses who post just once per week see 2x more engagement compared to those who post less frequently. Only post daily on LinkedIn if you have value to contribute—don’t just post for posting’s sake. This leads us to tip #3.

      3. Contribute valuable content.

      The internet is full of enough so-so content—don’t add to the pile. If you don’t have something valuable to say, don’t say anything at all.

      Diversify your content with a mix of text-only posts, images, videos, infographics, and the like. Experiment with posting studies, soliciting advice, and asking questions of your community. Check how each post performs to see what kinds of content resonates best with your audience, and then double down on those pieces in the future.

      4. Be proactive with your outreach.

      Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come—sometimes, you need to go and find your audience. Build your following by searching for like-minded individuals in your network to connect with. A single targeted connection could be much more valuable than 100 random followers.

      “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” says Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, author, and speaker. We’d venture to say that includes who you follow and engage with the most on social media. Follow people who’ll inspire you and influence your posting for the better. 

      Be willing to engage and privately message your connections—after all, it’s about quality connections over quantity.

      5. Complete your profile.

      Add as much relevant information to your LinkedIn profile as possible. Here are a few things to make sure you get right:

      • Headline: Come up with a non-generic, professional headline. There’s a fine balance between being creative and practical. Get too creative with a headline like “Ninja Wordsmith,” and you’ll miss out on all of LinkedIn’s SEO juice—but get too dull with a headline like “Content Associate,” and you’ll bore your community to tears.
      • Profile Picture: Unless you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or a judge, you really don’t need the stereotypical white-shirt-and-tie or dress-with-a-necklace picture—and even if you are, there’s more wiggle room than you think. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show some personality, too.
      • Cover Image: Your cover image is a prime piece of real estate on your LinkedIn page—don’t neglect it. Have fun and add a call to action or display a hobby or passion. But whatever you do, please don’t leave it with LinkedIn’s default background. That’s just wasteful.
      • About: Your “About” section is one of the first places visitors will look when they visit your profile. Make sure it packs a punch and tells a concise story of who you are.
      • Experience: Add all your relevant work history and go into detail. Talk about what you did and what results you drove. Touch on your methodology and how you do things differently.
      • Recommendations: Ask for recommendations from your peers, mentors, and managers. Much like a 5-star review on a product page, a glowing review of your personal character can add a much-needed touch of social proof to your profile.

      The same goes for building out your company page. Companies with a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn page see 5x more page views, so it’s worth spending a little bit of time to ensure it’s all in tip-top order.

      6. Join relevant groups.

      Let’s be real—most LinkedIn groups are nothing but crickets, but a few provide valuable connections and conversations. Join a few (for quality over quantity) and engage with the community. Don’t just spam links to your own content or website—instead, add to conversations, request feedback, and build relationships.

      7. Use hashtags strategically.

      Hashtags help people discover topics and interesting content. However, keep in mind the difference between hashtags used and hashtags searched. For example, loads of people use hashtags like #entrepreneur, #WorkHard, or #MondayMotivation, but how often do people search for these hashtags?

      Consider creating your own unique hashtag for your personal profile or business. Add it to all your posts so that followers can quickly find your other relevant content.

      8. Cross-promote your LinkedIn profile.

      Don’t just rely on LinkedIn to build your LinkedIn following. Consider using other channels like email, blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, guest posting, and more. You likely have contacts, connections, and audiences on various platforms—ask them all to also follow you and connect on LinkedIn.

      Give them a good reason why, too. For example, you may tell them to follow you on LinkedIn to get behind-the-scenes career advice or insider knowledge on how the sausage gets made. If you’re asking your audience to do something, always give them a reason why.

      9. Publish LinkedIn articles.

      LinkedIn Articles aren’t quite the same thing as posts. Posts are the general updates you’ll see on your feed, while Articles are blog posts native to LinkedIn.

      If you’re already publishing on a blog, consider repurposing that content on LinkedIn. It’ll spread your work to a bigger audience without cannibalizing your content.

      Also, LinkedIn posts are limited to 700 characters—not always enough to convey an idea. Instead of cutting your message short, post it in a LinkedIn article instead. Search engines crawl these articles, so there’s even a chance for it to rank on Google, Safari, or Bing.

      10. Encourage employees to participate.

      Remember that stat about 30% of a company’s engagement on LinkedIn coming from employees? Harness that power and direct it. Don’t just leave it up to chance that your employees will follow your business page and CEO profiles—ask them to. Give them content to share, and tell them how to share it. That’s often all your employees will need to start sharing your content.

      However, you can go the extra mile and start an employee advocacy program. This could be formalized with software like GaggleAMPHootsuite AmplifySmarp, or Dynamic Signal—or it could be informal, with regular social advocacy updates in a Slack channel or internal company newsletter. Regardless of how you do it, leverage your employees to boost your social engagement dramatically for a fraction of the time and money.

      11. Get involved with influencers.

      This could be your CEO, CMO, chief of HR, or customer support agent who happens to be a popular Twitch streamer. Get creative. Ask them to follow and share company updates to boost your reach. 

      12. Respond to every comment and message.

      Whether you’re operating a business page or a personal profile, it’s best practice to respond to every comment and message. Of course, this will become impractical if you scale your following too large (there’s no way Gary Vaynerchuk is responding to all 553 comments he gets every day), but do it for as long as you can.

      This not only extends the reach of every post—it also helps you build relationships in your community. Remember, it’s more beneficial to have 10 advocates than 1,000 unengaged “followers.”

      13. Analyze your LinkedIn page insights.

      Business pages have more insights than personal profiles, but both provide useful data to learn more about your content and audience. On your personal profile page, you can navigate to “Post Views” to see a comprehensive view of your content and engagement.

      With a business page, you’ll get more insights into your followers, updates, page visitors, and more. Use this data to learn what kinds of content resonates with your audiences. Look at your posts to see which ones performed the best, then do your best to figure out why.

      Did that post cover a unique concept? Was it short and sweet or long and detailed? Did you use a clever GIF or throw in a couple of emojis at the top? It’s hard to know the exact reason without proper A/B testing, but do your best to figure out why certain pieces of content perform better (or worse) than others. Use that knowledge to replicate your successes and avoid your failures.

      14. Add a call to action (CTA).

      Don’t just throw out information and content into the LinkedIn wild—tell your audience what to do with it. If you’re providing free advice, ask your audience to follow you and connect to stay up on the latest and greatest. If you’re talking about your business’s new product release, make sure you link to the free trial and ask your followers to sign up.

      Every post and article you publish should have some sort of CTA—and that goes beyond LinkedIn to include all of your content.

      15. Join in the conversations.

      Your posts are valuable for feeding your followers content, but a great way to expose yourself to new audiences is by joining other conversations. If you see an interesting post on your feed, don’t just click “like” and move on—add your insights or feedback to the publisher.

      This builds your relationship with the author of the post and helps you to engage with their followers. Every single one of their followers who reads that post will now see your comment, too. If it’s insightful, they may be tempted to visit your profile to learn more about you—and if you’ve set up your profile page right, they’ll likely follow your account.

      16. Start creating LinkedIn stories.

      LinkedIn is the latest platform to jump on the “Stories” bandwagon. LinkedIn Stories operate similar to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter Stories—except they’re the newest feature to the LinkedIn platform, which means that you still have a chance to get in on the action before it becomes oversaturated. Think of it like buying Amazon stock 10 years ago.

      Benefits of building a following on LinkedIn.

      You’ve come to this post looking to build a following, but do you know why? What can an engaged LinkedIn following do for your business or your personal profile? Well, let’s look at the data:

      • 40 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs every week. If you’re looking to hire top-notch talent for your business (or if you’re contemplating your own career change), LinkedIn is the go-to destination. Every minute, 3 people are hired through LinkedIn—that should give you pretty good hiring confidence in the platform.
      • LinkedIn boasts higher lead conversion rates (3x higher) than any other major platform, including Google Ads. Hubspot research found that traffic from LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate (2.74%), which is 277% higher than Twitter and Facebook.
      • On LinkedIn, you can become a thought leader to a relevant audience. Rather than trying to get everyone and their dog (literally, their dog) on Instagram to follow you, grow your following with the big-time decision-makers on LinkedIn. 91% of marketers turn to LinkedIn first for professional content, and 4 out of 5 users are in charge of making strategic business decisions.

      Start building your following.

      Don’t wait to begin building your LinkedIn following—get started today. Many of the tips we mentioned can be completed in an afternoon, while others will take weeks or months to build significant momentum. With LinkedIn quickly growing month over month and year after year, it’s a good idea to get in on the action as soon as possible.

      You don’t need to build a 3-month content calendar to become an active contributor—just start posting once or twice a week. If you’re eager for more, get in the habit of posting and engaging with content for a few minutes every day. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment. A few interactions a day could lead to substantial growth in the long term.

      Start small. Start now.

      About the author
      Jesse Sumrak

      Jesse Sumrak is a Social Media Manager for SendGrid, a leading digital communication platform. He's created and managed content for startups, growth-stage companies, and publicly-traded businesses. Jesse has spent almost a decade writing about small business and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped startup. When he's not dabbling in digital marketing, you'll find him ultrarunning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Jesse studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.

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