Building an Authentic, Organic LinkedIn Presence

LinkedIn is the largest global networking event, and it’s happening 24/7/365.

Many people still view LinkedIn as a job search site. While that’s fine (and it is) I think it’s one of the biggest opportunities for both individuals and businesses to increase their brand visibility and drive revenue.

But there are also bad-faith actors to steer clear of (these are the dreaded LinkedIn engagement pods, which I’ll discuss below). Beyond the bad actors, there are other good habits to form on LinkedIn, which can help it become an endless source of fun and information.

What are “Pods” and Why Should Everyone Avoid Them?

Some people with very large followings on LinkedIn created groups called “pods.” Pods, so the promise goes, create rapid follower growth and a ton of engagement. Generally, joining these pods costs thousands of dollars per month. Unfortunately, as soon as you stop paying them, guess what? You’re back to square one. Your engagement and followers plummet; the remaining followers never engage with your content again. (Which means you’re not actually back to square one; you’re actually in a worse spot than when you started.)

So in short, do not join a pod EVER.

So, okay, Tim. Pods are steroids that don’t serve the long-term health of your LinkedIn profile or your business. What to do if you’re still building a presence?

I’m glad you asked! And, no, no one has to become a professional creator for the platform to deliver value to you, your clients, and your career.

Find Your Crew

There are great creators on LinkedIn who offer fantastic value to their followers. And you can usually tell the good from the bad pretty easily. Do they engage with their comments? If yes, you likely are following someone who built their audience authentically and organically.

Write How You Talk

The most important thing about getting started is not overthinking your posts. I fell into this trap when I started. I followed a bunch of growth hackers (do not do this), and tried to emulate their style. You know what happened? I got no engagement, and I absolutely HATED posting.

So I got fed up with that and said screw it, I’m just going to write what comes authentically to me. I’m not going to listen to the folks who say you have to write this or that, post at the same time every day, blah, blah, blah.

Not only did I like posting a lot more, but more people were more interested in what I had to say. The reason? I only posted content people expected from me on subjects I consider myself to be an expert in. Once I started that approach, my engagement and followers went up. Today, I estimate 80% of my company’s new business comes from LinkedIn.

Search for Accounts Who Are Interesting to You

LinkedIn is the most useful when your feed is populated with content you want to read. Use the LinkedIn search bar! Pro tip: search by topics to find people and conversations. It’s fun!

Comment on Other People’s Content

This is big. Commenting on other people’s posts is crucial and will get your profile in front of tons of people who do not already follow you. It’s critical to developing those new and rewarding relationships.

You do not need a large following. You need the right followers.

LinkedIn, like all social media platforms, provides an opportunity to connect with a large global audience. That doesn’t mean you need to try and connect with everyone.

Building a small, dedicated group of followers is far more important than having a ton of followers who never engage with your content (see above re: pods). Your goal should be finding followers who will help you achieve your objectives. Don’t worry about vanity metrics like follower counts. Find the right people and engage with them regularly.

And yes, you can be yourself on a professional networking platform. Storytelling plays a major part in growth on LinkedIn. Be honest about your ideas and thoughts, and you’re bound to hear from other professionals going through similar experiences or having a lot of the same challenges.

Those topics will create a flywheel for you on LinkedIn. You can’t hack a personal brand, so be yourself, fit your own niche, and you’ll find success.

Fill Your Feed with Content That You Want to See

A quick reminder that community and audience are two different things. Audience feels good in the short term, but it’s not how you build lasting value on LinkedIn (or anywhere on the web, for that matter). Focus that lens on your personal brand.

You have to put in the work to build connections with other people. LinkedIn is a very “reap what you sow” platform. Virality is unlikely to happen there, unlike other platforms. That can be frustrating for a lot of us.

However, if you “do the work” you’ll discover a global community as supportive and interested in you as you are in them.

  • Respond to other people
  • Build connections (that means spending time searching for accounts)
  • Follow other people
  • Cultivate relationships (here’s where patience is key)
  • Be generous

Most of all? Be curious.

Imagine what you’d do if this expert or new connection were standing in front of you. Would you have an endless one-way conversation with them about you, your work, your career, and your accomplishments? Probably not (we can hope not!). You’d ask them questions, and a lot of them.

Establish Goals Beyond Engagement

A lot of followers is fine, and a ton of engagement is great. It’s candy, though. A healthy LinkedIn profile should serve your professional objectives. It’s okay to start small with one simple thing you want to accomplish.

Are you looking for a job, looking for clients, educating yourself, etc? That one objective is a great way to build healthy, long-term relationships.

Eventually, let’s say you’re looking for a job, and you get a gig. It’s okay to slowly tweak your presence over time to meet you where you are…and that’s fine. Maybe it becomes a place where you get tips for work, help with a subject, or an RSS feed for new professionals to help improve your skills.

When the time comes, you can tweak your behavior slowly to suit whatever you need at the time.

As always, if you need help with a grassroots LinkedIn strategy to help you and your brand, let me know!

Bonus content

I hosted a LinkedIn Live on how to build authentic engagement on LinkedIn. Check It out below!