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How to Transform Your LinkedIn Presence So It’s Not Just a Resume

If you’re like me, LinkedIn is a place to highlight your professional experience and achievements. I maintain a polished profile with endorsements and recommendations. I publish articles and posts, and comment when others tag me. For the most part, I sit back and wait for people to find me.

Michaela Alexis thinks bigger. LinkedIn is a place for her to stand out in front of an audience of 600 million business professionals. It is a multimedia publishing platform to help her achieve business goals – new jobs, clients, opportunities.

It has paid off.

A few years ago, Michaela was laid off from a job and became more active on LinkedIn. Shortly thereafter she was hired as the marketing manager for Grade A, a managed technology support and services provider.

She shared what she learned in an article published appropriately enough on LinkedIn – How I Landed My Dream Job in Two Weeks on LinkedIn. The 2016 article went viral (over 1,000 comments as of May 2020). She created more articles, posts, and videos for LinkedIn. Before long, she grew a large following and left that dream job to launch a business focused on helping businesses and professionals elevate their LinkedIn presence.

.@mickalexis authored a viral #LinkedIn post and eventually turned what she learned into a business, says @dshiao via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

At Content Marketing World 2019, she presented what she’s learned in How to Build a Mega Personal Brand on LinkedIn on a Mini Budget. Let’s look at some of the lessons she shared.

3 pillars to LinkedIn success

Michaela wrote the dream job article quickly. “I used all these silly memes and it was totally unpolished. But I had stumbled upon something really important – my aha moment that was going to lead me to build something bigger than myself.”

Her aha moment happened when she realized the three attributes that made the article successful. the article was:

  • Relatable
  • Conversational
  • Helpful

“People want to be inspired and motivated. They want to learn and grow. They want to connect and discuss common challenges and problems,” Michaela says.

Your #LinkedIn content should be relatable, conversational, and helpful, says @mickalexis via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

To be relatable on LinkedIn, never start with what you know, start with who you are. “Only after your followers understand who you are should you move on to discussing the things you know,” she says.

To be conversational, think about the language in your posts and the act of fostering conversations. Michaela shares how she banded with a few friends to create a campaign called Let’s Get Honest (#letsgethonest). They asked LinkedIn users to record short videos to share a challenge or vulnerability they overcame in their career. Over 26 million users participated in the campaign.

To be helpful, share content and resources that can answer questions or address challenges for users. It can also mean lending a hand to assist someone in need.

On her Michaela Alexis company page, I noticed a recent post that has all three attributes: relatable, conversational, and helpful:

Tell people what to do

While I’ve never been a fan of tweets that say, “Please RT” because I decide on my own whether to retweet, it’s a good example of communicating what you want your audience to do. Those two “words” spur people to action.

On LinkedIn, Michaela finds both types of users – those motivated to act unassisted and those who need to be told explicitly. “If you want to be a leader, you need to lead people to that next step. I used to avoid this out of fear of coming across as too salesy, but it really didn’t benefit my audience. So, I add a call to action to everything that I do,” Michaela says.

Try it yourself: Share one article on your page each weekday. Alternate between including no call to action and an explicit CTA. After a few weeks, review the click-through rate in the posts (this tip applies to people who manage Company Pages). Did the explicit CTAs have an impact on the click-through rates?

Find your Tickle Trunk

In a Canadian children’s TV series, Mr. Dressup, costumes were stored in the Tickle Trunk. The title character would retrieve a costume from the trunk and play the associated role. “I think that everybody should have a Tickle Trunk, even if it’s not a physical box. It’s just things that your audience can associate to identify you with,” says Michaela.

A key item in her Tickle Trunk is a coffee mug. One of her first LinkedIn profile photos showed her with a mug. Soon, the mug became tied with her identity. If she posted a photo without it, people would ask, “What happened to the coffee mug?”

Michaela says she opted to go along with using the mug for a couple reasons: “I genuinely love coffee, so it works for me to be part of my personal brand. But more than that, I really, really love the idea of professionals associating their morning mug with my mug.”

To reinforce the association, Michaela signs her LinkedIn posts with: “Love and coffee, Michaela.”

Are you now wondering what object you can use? Michaela says it doesn’t have to be outrageous. Select an object(s) that makes you approachable and reminds people that you’re human.

#LinkedIn tip: Select an object to incorporate consistently in your branding, says @mickalexis (she uses a mug) via @dshiao. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Try it yourself: Joe Pulizzi and orange-colored outfits, Ann Handley and patterned suits and dresses, Scott Monty and bowties, Jay Baer and plaid suits. Perhaps start with a clothing item. What do you frequently wear that might serve as your Tickle Trunk? Make sure someone else in your industry isn’t already known for it.

Let users see themselves in your stories

When Michaela reads a comment, “I feel like you wrote this just for me,” she knows she’s doing things right. Though when she first used LinkedIn she saw limited “likes” and comments, she eventually had a lightbulb moment and recognized the simple but winning formula: what happened + why it matters.

When Michaela implemented this formula, engagement with her posts took off. If she shares a success, she describes the reason behind the success. If she shares a failure, she explains how to avoid the same fate.

Try it yourself: Think about a work-related success or failure in the past 12 months. In a LinkedIn post, share a brief summary of what happened. Next, discuss why it matters to your LinkedIn connections. Include associated advice or lessons learned. A few days later, assess. What was the response?

Mind the algorithm

Let’s face it, the LinkedIn algorithm determines the reach of your posts. Just like search engine optimizers who keep abreast of Google’s search updates, LinkedIn users must adjust and adapt their strategies based on what (they think) LinkedIn is now looking for.

#LinkedIn users must adjust and adapt their strategies based on what (they think) LinkedIn is now looking for, says @mickalexis via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

As Michaela explains, LinkedIn recently changed its algorithm to change how posts are treated in your newsfeed:

  • Elevating content users who are most likely to join in conversation
  • Elevating posts from someone closer to a user’s interests or network if it needs more engagement
  • Elevating conversations with things that encourage a response or mention others
  • Elevating niche topics of conversation over broader topics

I found a post on LinkedIn’s Engineering that goes into technical details on recent algorithm changes.

As Michaela explains: “LinkedIn isn’t just looking at your content, it’s looking at your behavior as a content creator. And this is really important. It means that they are looking at how you are contributing to the LinkedIn ecosystem.”

Try it yourself: LinkedIn recently announced a polls feature. Think about a topic or a question that would interest your connections. Publish a poll and assess the level of participation. Next, start a conversation on a “niched down” topic. Instead of “content marketing,” start a dialog about “content marketing in the manufacturing industry.” Put a statement or question in your post, then ask others to weigh in.

Think outside the resume

Stop thinking about LinkedIn as an online resume. Sure, at a basic level, people come to learn about your current job, your past roles, and your experience. But that makes LinkedIn just another platform to distribute your resume.

Stop thinking about #LinkedIn as an online resume, says @mickalexis via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

But if you think like Michaela and use LinkedIn as a multimedia publishing and personal branding platform, imagine the bigger possibilities.

How will (or do) you maximize your LinkedIn presence?

Here’s an excerpt from Michaela’s talk:

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute