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LinkedIn Influencers: Who They Are and How to Become One

Table of Contents

What is a LinkedIn influencer?

A LinkedIn influencer is a thought leader within a particular industry who shares organic content to a large LinkedIn audience.

We’ll learn why being a LinkedIn influencer is so valuable. And why it’s often a much better investment than becoming a Twitter influencer.

Note that LinkedIn also has an invite-only, premium LinkedIn Influencer Program featuring the foremost thinkers and innovators in a field, such as Bill Gates or Richard Branson. Once you've reached a certain level of notoriety as a normal LinkedIn influencer, you may be invited to this exclusive tier.

Why become a LinkedIn influencer?

If you already know why you should become a LinkedIn influencer, skip this section and move to the next.

A more credible audience

With over half a billion users, LinkedIn is the largest social media platform for business professionals.

On LinkedIn, most people primarily connect with business people you’ve interacted with off-platform. Therefore, building authority on the platform translates to real-life credibility with the people you already know and their extended network.

Every connection on LinkedIn has a bit more weight than one on Twitter. And people know that.

Gameable reach

By default, posts on LinkedIn have an organic reach of less than 10% of your actual follower count. You can increase that reach by attracting engagement on your post: comments, likes, and shares.

If you get enough engagement, LinkedIn may feature your post under its Trending Topics section. This distributes your post far outside your immediate network and results in many new people following you.

trending topics
Trending Topics

The key algorithmic factor for accelerating your post’s reach is asking your followers to leave a comment on your post with their opinions. This is the signal LinkedIn highly values. They want content that sparks conversation.

“Comments are THE way to get organic virality on LinkedIn. Likes and reshares (surprisingly) don’t have anywhere near the viral effect of comments.” - AJ Wilcox of the B2Linked LinkedIn agency.

If you’re attracting B2B customers for your company, reaching new people on LinkedIn is typically worth much more than it is on Twitter. LinkedIn followings tend to convert much better into customers, and you’re often reaching higher intent people in your same industry.

How to become a LinkedIn influencer

1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile

linkedin profile
LinkedIn Profile

Do you have over 500 connections?

501 is the floor for how many connections you should strive for to start. Because having more than 500 masks how many connections you actually have in total. (LinkedIn simply displays “500+.”) This helps give the impression that you’re well-connected and that many people know you.

Be careful when adding people willy nilly. When you add people outside your field to whom your profile looks like uninteresting spam, they can hit a button saying “Reject connection request - I don’t know this person.” If a lot of people do this, LinkedIn can restrict your account.

To avoid this, it helps to write a custom message with each request. You can fully automate this outreach process using a tool like Dux-Soup.

Remember: Connect with people who’d actually want to connect with you.

Does your header image impress?

It’s the first thing someone sees when they land on your profile. You’ll want to use it to grab their attention.

effective linkedin header image
Effective LinkedIn header image

Some of the ways to use the space effectively include:

  • Public speaking photos
  • Team photos
  • Text and graphics with a call to action
  • Social proof

Use this space to impress someone enough that they keep reading the rest of your profile.

Do you have an effective About section?

Keep it succinct. Instead of an essay about your life story, list what’s most impressive about you. And keep it on topic: List the things that are relevant to why someone would want to work with you. For example, you can link to an interview you’ve given that shows off your knowledge.

Don’t ramble about your life history. This isn’t your Facebook bio.

Tip: People tend to gloss over large blocks of text. You can keep them interested by adding outbound link cards to your profile to make it feel richer and more engaging.

outbound link cards
Outbound link cards

Is your headline interesting?

Your headline is the first thing someone reads about you — even before clicking your profile. By default, LinkedIn populates the headline underneath your profile picture with your current job and employer.

linkedin headline
LinkedIn headline

Maybe that’s interesting enough. But you can change it to something better.

Perhaps a credential that others would recognize, like Forbes 30 under 30. Or a statement that encapsulates the unique path of your career, like “former monk, current business coach.” What makes you uniquely valuable?

If you’ve worked on a project that others would know about, this would be the place to highlight it.

The goal is to generate intrigue, so people click on your profile and keep reading.

2. Post high-quality, original content

Most social media posts are garbage. They’re self-promotional spam. Don’t do that. Or, at least, don’t make it look like you’re doing that.

Use LinkedIn search to find influencers relevant to your industry. Study their content and their posting habits.

Which of their posts get shared the most? Why?

Reverse engineer that.

Stand out by sharing insightful content about your niche that challenges the norms everyone else believes to be true. People love this type of content.

How do you come up with unique, contrarian talking points? One way is to find topics that others are talking about and twist them around. You can use Buzzsumo, Google News, or search Twitter for relevant keywords to find the popular articles trending in your industry.

Next, share those trending articles on LinkedIn and include a unique spin on it. This is how you develop thought leadership in your industry.

Add your own insights to trending articles
Add your own insights to trending articles

Share stories that others can connect to. Because LinkedIn is a professional social network, being vulnerable and sharing personal experiences stand out on the platform. Just make sure that the stories are appropriate for a business environment.

Make sure to publish posts with over 500 words. Long-form quality content that unpacks a topic has a higher chance at LinkedIn-wide viral distribution. Plus, it tends to get more clicks than shorter content does.

Unlike on Twitter, on LinkedIn it doesn’t pay to be super concise. Be concise, but don’t be brief.

3. Define your niche

To increase your likelihood of becoming a successful LinkedIn influencer, define the narrowest niche for your personal brand. Just don’t go so niche that no one’s going to be interested.

The more narrow the niche, such as email marketing strategy for e-commerce, the more likely your content is to stand out. People are dying for content that isn’t generic.

Take Susan Cain, for example. She authored a book on the power of introverts, and she regularly posts related content on LinkedIn. Her following of nearly 2 million people knows that she’s the person to go to on this topic.

Learn advanced techniques to grow your business using LinkedIn with Demand Curve’s Growth Program.

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Neal is co-founder and CTO of Demand Curve and Bell Curve. Crypto enthusiast, climbing addict, language nerd, and compulsive traveller.

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