How I Grew My LinkedIn Following by 20,000 in Less Than 9 Months
I’ve been in business for over 5 years. And over those 5 years I had marketing guru after marketing guru tell me I NEEDED to be on Instagram. That THAT was where I was going to find clients, where literary agents would want to see growth, where I needed to have a presence.
And in those 5 years, do you know how many people I ACTUALLY got as paying clients for my coaching programs via Instagram?
It was so much effort, for so little return. Plus, I found that as more and more businesses, coaches and entrepreneurs jumped on Instagram….the ability to gain traction and a following became harder and harder.
So, at the beginning of this year I decided to keep my Instagram account on maintenance mode (update: I actually recently deactivated it), and instead to double down on where I could gain real traction and real clients: LinkedIn.
When I came into 2020, I had about 10,000 followers. Over the next 9 months, I exponentially increased my following by over 20,000 in less than 9 months.
Before I hop into exactly how I did it, let me share a bit on who LinkedIn is for, so you can discern if you need to put focus there.
WHO IS LINKEDIN FOR?
Gone are the days when LinkedIn is only for job seekers. More and more thought leaders, consultants, coaches and online entrepreneurs are seeing the benefits of building your personal brand on this platform.
If you are a person who has a message or expertise that isn’t best represented visually, LinkedIn probably is for you. For example, if you’re trying to be a fashion influencer, you probably want to stick with Instagram. But, if your work is more intangible (like mine with career advice), LinkedIn is a great place to start building a following.
If you’re a leader who isn’t a full-time entrepreneur and you want to be known for specific subject matter expertise, LinkedIn would be a great place to build your brand. I’ve seen these types of thought leaders use LinkedIn to attract speaking engagements, book deals, partnerships and potentially employees.
If you own a business that serves a B2B client or a professional audience, LinkedIn is quite frankly the ONLY place to find those individuals and organizations effectively. The targeting capabilities are amazing and because LinkedIn is a networking site, it makes it so much easier to connect with your target market.
The entrepreneur who is realizing that the social platforms they are using are not as effective as the gurus claim them to be. It’s for the entrepreneur who wants to have a clear ROI on their time, energy and resources. It’s for the entrepreneur who is tired of having picture-perfect Instagram photos and captions.
Or just for the human who is a little wary about the noise and divisiveness on Instagram and Facebook. 😉
WHO LINKEDIN IS NOT FOR
The entrepreneur who is already exhausted by all the content they are putting out and can’t even stomach the idea of trying a new one.
The entrepreneur who already has a huge following on another platform and it’s working fine-thank-ya-very-much.
Someone who is scared to put themselves “out there”.
Someone who is going to lose their job (if they aren’t a full-time entrepreneur) if they start posting to LinkedIn.
Now that you’ve decided for yourself if LinkedIn is for you….here’s how I grew my following by 20,000 in less than 9 months:
Optimized My Profile
I would say that on a monthly basis I tweak my profile. I’m constantly updating it to tell my business’ story better and get more conversions to my email list, free training or to convince a potential client to reach out via DM. I am constantly analyzing to make sure I’m showing up in search results and that my ideal customer can find me as easily as possible.
Things I recommend entrepreneurs and thought leaders tweak on a monthly basis:
- Cover Photo
- Links to Media
Having a solid profile is the foundation to gaining traction and having your LinkedIn profile work for you while you sleep. Another reason I love LinkedIn vs. Instagram is that LinkedIn gives you WAY more places to convert an audience member. You get ONE link on Instagram, where on LinkedIn you can share links as media, in your summary, in your experience, on your cover photo and even in your headline!
If you need help getting your profile optimized, you should check out our course LinkedIn by Lunch. We make it stupid simple to finish, optimize and launch your profile for your business.
The profile is only one part of the puzzle. Posting is the other half.
For me, I dealt with a lot of resistance before I went all-in on posting consistently on LinkedIn. I was scared of what old employers or coworkers would think. I kept asking myself the question, “Do I really have anything to offer?!” And I kept thinking, “This feels like a lot of work.”
So if that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
I had to muster up a lot of courage and get in the habit of consistently posting. One of my favorite tools to do that? Buffer. I would pick one day of the month, get in the zone and pump out a ton of content. Then I would use Buffer to schedule out for the rest of the month.
Not only did it help to build a habit, it helped me better plan for the rest of my month in my business. I had to coordinate when podcasts were going live and take into account any other promotions for that month.
For a large portion of those 9 months where I gained 20,000 followers, I was posting 2-3 times a day, 5 days a week. That’s a LOT of content and I don’t recommend that for most people. (And actually don’t feel like it’s necessary to exponentially grow your following.) Now, I’ve gained enough content that I circulate through our most popular posts every 6 months so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time.
For people who are just starting out in posting, I would recommend to get in the habit of posting 1x a day 3 days a week and then build up your stamina for posting 1x a day 5 days a week. The key here is consistency. Some posts may flop. Others will gain traction. Many will slowly build trust with your audience.
Here are some of my favorite styles of posts with examples:
Once you post...then what? One of the ways LinkedIn “rewards” its content creators is if they have high engagement on the post. The more people that like, heart or comment...the better traction your post will get. I noticed then when I started interacting with more of my commenters, my posts performed better and I was able to convert those folks into email subscribers or customers.
Now, it may come to a point where you can’t respond to everyone. (I have one recent post that 800+ comments. WHATTTT!?) This is where having a Virtual Assistant can be really helpful in keeping you up to date AND also to filter out any unnecessary negative comments that may come your way.
There is a beautiful side to engagement, but there is also a dark side. I’ve experienced both. If you plan on building a following anywhere - and yes even on a professional site like LinkedIn - you have to build a tough skin and get okay with dissenters. With trolls. With haters.
Make sure you’re safeguarding your heart and mind so it doesn’t send you down a tailspin of “not enoughs” and get you distracted from your main goals. I’ve been there and it’s been so frustrating and debilitating.
Connecting With My Ideal Customer
Finally, one of the last things I did to increase my following is being proactive. While most of my following was 100% organic, I did actively pursue people who I knew were in my ideal audience: mid-to-senior level career women.
I would do a search within LinkedIn for people at specific companies with specific titles and then just requested to connect. I would NOT include any salesy pitch or “Here is some content about me”. It would be a blank connect with my only goal to get them in my content-sphere. Then from there, if they thought we were a good fit and they needed my services, they could reach out.
I believe I could be WAY more consistent with this type of connecting and I could actually grow my following even more, but it is labor intensive.
Woof! That was a lot of information. Can you tell I’m passionate about LinkedIn for Entrepreneurs & Thought Leaders?! I think it is one of the most underutilized social media tools that is about to get a large amount of traction in the coming weeks!
If you take nothing else away, I want you to know...it’s not rocket science. There isn’t some crazy formula or sleazy requirement to gain a following. It’s showing up consistently, with quality content that serves your ideal audience. Do it on a platform where your ideal audience lives...and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.
How I Grew My LinkedIn Following by 20,000 in Less Than 9 Months
November 19, 2020