Whether you’re growing your social impact business, running a nonprofit, or are just a good corporate citizen wanting to grow your influence to spark change, LinkedIn is the place you can make that happen without spending a lot of time creating content or scrolling a feed.
LinkedIn for nonprofit leaders
I discovered this as a nonprofit executive, slowly but consistently, fitting relationship-building and storytelling on LinkedIn into the pockets of my week. Pretty soon after, we started getting PR opportunities without pitching, corporate sponsorships without knocking on a bunch of doors, and referrals by just thoughtfully staying top of mind – and without spending anything on paid marketing efforts.
We started to attract an aligned community to move our mission forward in a way that felt serendipitous. I remember being so relieved I didn’t have to worry so much about where the next influx of resources was gonna come from because we were attracting a sustainable stream of interested people that we could nurture into whoever they were meant to be in our world. I didn’t have to go out and find them because they were finding us.
This magic is available to us too. If you’ve been chugging away at your visibility, I know how frustrating it can be when our mission still feels like a best-kept secret. The solution is building a personal brand as a thought leader, to position ourselves as the approachable expert we are. By the way, I use the term thought leader because it’s known, but I really think of it as lived leadership – because it’s about sharing our lived experience. The word expert is tricky. When I say expert, I’m not talking about where you went to school, or how many degrees or credentials you have. And actually, for the MOST part, our potential clients don’t really care about that, either. What they care about is our ability to guide them through. And the best way for folks to see that? By sharing our own story of what we’ve grown through – plus the solutions we’ve figured out. Before we get into the episode, I’m introducing a new way to work together in March to share the solutions I’ve figured out. This is for my Lazy LinkedIn-ers. This is for the people who want to share stories that bring connection and sales. This is for people wanting 1:1 access to me on Voxer for all the questions and quiverings that come up as you step into your voice as a go-to guide. Plus, you’ll be in a small community mastermind of less than 10 social impact leaders going through the same journey, along with access to the proven Kindling Collective curriculum. Fill out the brief application if you’re interested, and I’ll reach out to start a personal, easeful conversation with you.
What is thought leadership and why does it matter?
My definition is thought leadership is a practice of consistently tapping into our passion, experience, and credibility to build trust and community as we imagine and shape the future together, for the better.
There’s an action-oriented quality to this, right? Thought leaders have a vision for the future that is better than the one we live in now. And, we have a mission – that’s usually what we’re doing through our consulting business. Maybe it’s supporting activists in the environmental or conservation space to communicate more strategically, or providing large-scale healthcare delivery transformation in safety net hospitals to achieve health equity, or maybe it’s supporting small shop nonprofits with their finances so they can stay sustainable for generations.
Whatever it is, what you’re doing is a big deal. It needs to be shared so that others can pick up what you’re laying down and lend their power, influence, network, etc. Again, LinkedIn is my preferred place to share.
Highlights from the podcast episode:
What’s your current comfort level using LinkedIn?
One – You’re using social media for your social impact business, but you’re not using LinkedIn. You’re using Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, to show up. It’s not that your people aren’t there. But just personally, as someone who hires other consultants to support my business – podcast management to bookkeeping to specific marketing support – when I’m scrolling Instagram I’m not really necessarily looking for those opportunities. I’m looking at memes. I want to laugh and kind of just dissociate a little, to be honest. I should take a screenshot for you, of my “Suggested for You” page on Instagram – it’s all dogs and pasta.
When I’m on LinkedIn, I’m there with a different mindset. I’m looking for something different. I’m scrolling with an intentionality to grow my professional network. To see what my colleagues are doing, to learn from them, to support and build community when they share updates. I’m watching and learning about current happenings that might impact my business and the things that I care about. I’m observing what trends, and conferences, and events my peers are going to. I’m seeing who’s changing jobs, and starting their own business. Right?
Two – You have a company LinkedIn page, but you aren’t showing up with your personal page and personal brand. It’s great you’re on the platform. But what I’ve noticed is that people don’t want to deal with a faceless company, they want to know the people, the face behind the work. The personal WHY behind the work. Or at least, that’s the thing that will build trust and community in a really … authentic and much more quick way. Especially if you’re a consultant, coach, service-provider or really a founder-led business. Because what your clients are buying, and what your supporters are supporting, is YOU. So let’s see you shine, ok?
Three – You’re OK getting visible on other platforms like Instagram, but something stops you from posting on LinkedIn, and it has something to do with systematically limited beliefs around maybe not knowing enough, not being professional enough, not being “enough” to share updates on LinkedIn. Like maybe you need to get another degree or have a few more years of experience before you start putting yourself out there on LinkedIn. Or it feels icky to have all your old coworkers see you put yourself out there with your consulting business. Like, what will they think about me? If so, just know that you are definitely not the only one who feels that way. So much so, that I recorded an entire podcast episode JUST about this. Episode 25, Four Barriers to Visibility on LinkedIn (and How to Overcome them). I’ll link that in the show notes, in case it’s helpful.
Or four – you are using LinkedIn but not really seeing results in terms of new leads or referral sources or clients compared to what you see other people doing. You see other colleagues who have tons of engagement and feel frustrated with your own lack of results. By the way, I just want to say that tons of engagement does not NECESSARILY mean they are converting them to leads. A lot of sales and I guess what you might call “conversion” often happens more behind the scenes, either in the DM’s on or on a call off of LinkedIn.
And five – you’re In Love with LinkedIn. You’re all about it, and you’re just reading this to celebrate the power of LinkedIn with me.
Wherever you are on this spectrum, I think of LinkedIn as like a 24/7/365 business-building gathering, that you can pop into any time, and the clients and supporters you’re looking for are all there. And just like an IRL networking gathering, you can show up to a random event and kind of grab some charcuterie and wine and hang out in the corner and think, “Gosh this isn’t working for me.” Or, you can take the plunge and start strategically showing up in aligned ways, and begin chatting with the people you want to meet. Chances are – you are already connected to a dreamy, hell yes kinda person who is looking for the transformation you provide, and doesn’t even know that you offer that specific solution right now.
Why spend your time on LinkedIn to grow your business?
Let me share some myths around LinkedIn that are out there and then let me share the facts or truths of how LinkedIn has changed to really be the most effective and worthwhile social media platform to grow your business.
There are some truths to these myths because LinkedIn WAS that way. I bet many of us, after we graduated from high school or college, created a LinkedIn and kind of just let it sit there. But recently, LinkedIn has been overhauling their algorithm. And they are continuing to invest in creators, with the intention of putting social back in social media.
LinkedIn is stuffy, boring, corporate, and sterile.
In fact, when I was on Diane Mayor’s amazing podcast, Coffee and Converse, she referred to it as TikTok’s Corporate Grandpa, something that I have definitely stolen because I love the phrase so much. The truth is, much like the actual corporate world, especially recently, there’s been more of a humanization of LinkedIn. They’ve put the social back in social media and are investing heavily in growing aspects of their platform to support creators, including releasing Creator Mode, newsletters, carousels, polls, LinkedIn audio rooms, and other new ways that people can build personality-driven brands.
Yes, you can be personal on LinkedIn, as long as it ties back to your vision. Sharing those personal stories will help change hearts and minds and attitudes, and drive the world closer to your dreamy, just future. For example, I did a helicopter ride while on vacation and posted the video on LinkedIn. Yes, it was technically a vacation video but I could tie it back to the importance of getting that 30,000-foot view when writing your personal story. So often, we can’t see the value and strength in our story because we’re too close to it, so that post was about that. That’s just one example, but there are so many different ways you can share a brand story that builds trust and community.
You only use LinkedIn to find a job.
A lot of people do use it to find jobs, yes. So, if your work has to do with HR or recruitment or career coaching, you definitely gotta be there! And just quickly, by the way, LinkedIn is building out their Services Marketplace, which is almost like Upwork or Fiverr in that you can be found by clients and get hired, directly from LinkedIn. Potential clients can send in a proposal that way, without ever having to go to your website. I’ve gotten a few proposals like this already, and each time I’m just like Wow. But, getting hired is not all LinkedIn is for.
A related myth is that LinkedIn is the place you copy and paste your resume into your “About” section. It’s not about posting your resume, it’s about serving as a helpful RESOURCE for those you serve. Right?
It’s about sharing helpful, valuable content that serves and moves the needle. And hey by the way, if you don’t know by now, I am a big proponent of being “Lazy on LinkedIn” or just posting once per week. I’ll tell you more about why that works later. But on LinkedIn, that one piece of content works as a 24/7 marketing team because if your client likes your post, their colleagues are going to start seeing your name and your content come up on their feed too. And your clients probably have friends who also struggle with the issue you’re helping them with. Right?
One of the cool things about thought leadership on LinkedIn is how large your impact and reach become. Out of all the people reaching out and starting to let you know how much your content inspired them to do things differently or that hire you, there are probably 10 times as many who also felt that way and just haven’t told you yet.
Are my people really on LinkedIn?
There’s a myth LinkedIn is built for different sectors, as in, none of your creative, brilliant people are on there. Like, you may pop on there but you see the same people posting all the time and it’s not your potential clients or supporters.
LinkedIn has over 830 million active users, and 12% of US users visit the site daily. You might be saying oh but Instagram has more than that. They have over 1 billion. That’s true. BUT. And this is a BIG BUT. Less than 5% of LinkedIn users actually post content regularly. So, we got a lot of Linkedin lurkers. And if you listened to the last episode of this podcast with Mariah Coz, you know that our champagne clients are “lurking in luxury” right?
So, these statistics are important for two reasons – It’s not about the # of likes you get, because trust me – people are watching, internalizing, consuming, and building trust in you. Whether they like your post or not – because remember – we’ve got a lot of lurkers. And two – With a greater ratio of users to content than other social media platforms, your posts linger in the feed longer and have a shelf life of a week, two weeks, or even longer. They have more time to get noticed. That’s why being Lazy on LinkedIn works so well. Bottom line, LinkedIn is STILL unsaturated. You can still get a massive organic reach for your content.
Since I’m new to LinkedIn or have a small following, it won’t work for me.
The LI Algorithm was designed for business development and growing your network. Let’s say an existing client likes your post or leaves a comment. The algorithm does a great job of showing their network your post, too, even if those new friends aren’t connected to you yet. It’s an easy way to meet more of your existing audience. And it’s an audience that can invest in your services. Over 49% of Internet users who make over $75k per year use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a trusted professional brand itself. LinkedIn has been rated as the #1 most TRUSTED social media platform. (Business Insider). The platform is not used to find romantic hookups. You don’t have to post videos of you dancing. I mean you can if you want to. But it’s just different. It’s used for building up our professional networks and our thought leadership.
And here’s an extra thing I learned from a recent discussion. LinkedIn gets its revenue from premiere, paid memberships. Not saying you need a paid membership to get a lot out of LinkedIn, that’s not it. But many other platforms, including Facebook, get its revenue from ads. And it behooves them to promote salacious, controversial content because people will keep showing up to fight each other. Vs. LinkedIn wants to keep its professional, networking members happy. It’s just a different vibe. People on LinkedIn are actually friendly and supportive. If someone does troll another person, that comment is attached to their name and profile and could impact their ability to get their next job or find their next customer. The whole setup of LinkedIn lends itself to actual, peaceful community building.
“I don’t want to create any more content for social media.”
I love that. And what I’ll say about that is LinkedIn is indexed by Google as a super trusted domain. Yes, you probably have a website for your consultancy or business. But in fact, if you google most professionals, their LinkedIn is one of the first things to come up. Maybe the first thing, or at least probably in the top 3. As your thought leadership efforts snowball, people are going to start Googling you. When you apply to speak at a conference, when you send a pitch to a potential client when your client refers their friend to work with you – chances are, they’re either going to look at your LinkedIn right off the bat, or they’re going to Google you and then find your LinkedIn profile.
You want a solid LinkedIn profile for when that happens – even if you no longer want to create content for social media. Just have a filled-out profile that simply lives on the internet, that’s my suggestion. Check it once a month, or once a quarter even. LinkedIn allows us to be as easeful as we want to be.
Showing up on LinkedIn can bring up a whole bunch of questions like, “How do I find my people?” “What do I even say to this person once we’re DM’ing?” or “What should I post about as I get ready to launch my new service?”
I’m creating a new way to coachsult up to ten vision-led women. You’ll have 1:1 access to me via Voxer for any and all of these types of questions, plus you’ll be in a small intimate mastermind of ten or less vision-led women who are all working on their LinkedIn visibility for social impact. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, fill out the brief application and I’ll reach out with an easeful email.
Connect with me:
LinkedIn: Tania Bhattacharyya