A Guide To Linkedin Thought Leadership, For People Who Don’t Lead And Can’tThink
If you are a fresh graduate aged 18 – 25, LinkedIn can be a very scary place.
You need it to find a job, but you don’t know how it works. There are no funny memes where you can tag your friends, and no Instagram stories to make you hate your life.
Do not worry! Like social media strategy, brand storytelling, and other non-existent skillsets, LinkedIn mastery is something that can be acquired with time, effort, and the correct mindset.
Many business leaders seek my advice on how to unlock the full potential of LinkedIn, so today, I am going to share with you a few lessons I learnt during my 5-month journey from unregistered sex offender to Top 5 Most-followed LinkedInfluencer.
Step 1 – Personal branding
The first rule of Linkedin is to think of yourself as a brand. This is called ‘personal branding’, and I cannot stress how important it is.
What do Nike, Gillette and Donald Trump have in common?
- a) They are all v. successful.
- b) They are brands.
Hence, all successful things are brands.
Obviously, this will be very difficult because you have spent your entire life thinking that you were a human being with thoughts, feelings, and a soul.
But like all bad habits, this can be unlearnt.
One useful trick I use is to slow down before every decision and reconsider it from a brand equity perspective.
When you start the day, don’t wear what is available or comfortable. Ask yourself if this shirt is consistent with your brand positioning.
When you have lunch, don’t eat Laksa because you are hungry for laksa. Ask yourself if laksa consumption is aligned with your brand values.
When you wish to propose your girlfriend of 11 years, don’t do it because you love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her.
Instead, ask yourself if she complements your brand identity.
Step 2 – Personal Re-branding
Once you’ve adopted the mindset of a brand, it’s time to write your LinkedIn profile. The key to a successful Linkedin makeover is to make your brand seem dynamic, compelling and powerful, by using words which are dynamic, compelling, and powerful.
Your business selling plywood dildos did not fail, you are merely a ‘serial entrepreneur’, with ‘disruption’ in your DNA.
You are not a marketing executive, but a ‘creative brand storyteller’, who works on ‘data-driven insights’.
You don’t merely use the internet. You are ‘digital-first’.
Step 4 – Gaining Skills
Although I am great at writing about how great I am, a good LinkedIn profile is nothing without at least a dozen skill endorsements.
Luckily, getting endorsements and recommendations is really easy. All you need to do is endorse someone else for their skills in ‘Microsoft Office’ or ‘Communication’.
When you do, the person will receive a notification and they will feel guilty for not endorsing you sooner. Before long, they will then proceed to endorse you as the Michelangelo of ‘business analytics’ or ‘marketing’ or whatever your self-proclaimed area of expertise lies.
Thank them for their endorsement and repeat this process until you become the world’s foremost expert in App Development.
This might seem a little unethical but I can assure you that it is not. Trust me,168 people have endorsed me for ‘business ethics’, and 33 of them are highly-skilled at this.
Step 6 – Thought Leadership Pt. 1
To truly stand out , it is not enough to be a ‘Mentor 1 Performance Optimizer 1 Productivity Consultant 1 Marketing Guru’.
You must also be a ‘thought leader’.
A thought leader can be thought of as a LinkedIn influencer. But instead of showing his/her followers some honest side boob, the Thought Leader posts cutting-edge thoughts and opinions.
These forward-thinking thoughts are then liked and shared by people want to show the world how forward-thinking they are, without having to do any actual thinking.
Step 7 – Leadership Article Pt. 2
How do you become a Thought Leader? The answer is simple: you must write a Thought Leadership Article (™) about something of interest.
Popular choices include: AI, Machine Learning, User Experience, Growth-Hacking, How to Work With Millennials, or Why We Should Send The Millennials To Auschwitz.
But what if you don’t think and can’t write?
Fret not! The trick is to find a Forbes/Wired/Harvard Business Review article that is trending and rewrite it in your own words, taking care to replace the original author’s vibrant personality with corporate buzzwords like ‘transformation’ or ‘empower’.
Take for example, this sentence from Forbes:
“If you want to help your business achieve more, then embracing big data and AI is a must.”
This is obviously not wanky enough, so let’s add a few bells and whistles:
“If you want to transform your business and achieve more, then embracing the untapped potential of Big Data and AI is a must for all forward-thinking founders.”
And then add some:
“If you want to digitally transform your business and empower a culture of meaningful achievements, then embracing the untapped potential and synergy of Big Data and AI is an absolute must for all forward-thinking founders who pride themselves on their out-of-the-box strategy.”
Step 8 – Circlejerk
Once you have established yourself in the field of repackaging platitudes into profundities, it is time to make friends.
Because the only thing better than one thought leader is two thought leaders—locked in a mutually beneficial circlejerk.
Go forth to their articles and nod agreement in the most nauseatingly sycophantic manner imaginable. Tell everyone in the comments about how ‘insightful’ this ‘must-read’ article is. Share it on your own page and praise them as the Elon Musk of Fintech or the Warren Buffett of Data Science.
Stroke their ego so hard and so vigorously that it threatens to explode and transform the ceiling.
Most importantly, remember to tag them so they will return the favour in kind.
Step 9 – Profit
By now, you should have a respectable Linkedin presence.
The timid will stalk you and the brave will DM with impunity. Your counsel will be sought by all and your list of alleged accomplishment will be longer than Anna Karenina, even though no one—and absolutely no one—knows what you actually do.
This is the time to bask in glory.
Thank the annual digital marketing circlejerk for making you a conference panelist.
Shoutout to various co-founders who brought you onboard for ‘projects’ and bless them for this opportunity.
Post pictures of yourself at some kind of ‘workshop’ or breakout session.
Write a long, triumphant story of how, 4 months ago, you were a nobody. Now, you are ‘Thought Leader’, dedicated to nurturing your junior executives and considered by some to be the foremost expert in ‘business transformation’.
Write about how you overcame struggles and failures, and how you turned crisis into opportunity, and opportunity into synergy.
Write about how you couldn’t have achieved this without ____, _____, and ____ .
Marvel at the sheer absurdity of it all, and try not to laugh as the latest round of recommendations are reaped.