LinkedIn is the de facto social networking site for business and an essential component of any digital marketing strategy.

As the site has evolved, it has become a vehicle through which professionals can tell their stories and accomplish any number of professional objectives, including the development of a thought leadership platform.

For anyone on the thought leader’s journey, managing an authoritative, multifaceted online presence is an ongoing challenge. Thought leadership cannot be built in a day. Rather, it is a title earned over time, bestowed upon you by those who you have impacted, influenced, and inspired.

At the intersection of LinkedIn and thought leadership, there is the LinkedIn profile.

Thought leaders build strong personal brands and convincing business cases for themselves. They invest time, effort, and, often, financial resources to develop a compelling narrative that they hope will influence favorable decision making.

The moment your LinkedIn profile page downloads, visitors will form an initial impression of you. In a matter of seconds, they will process numerous visual and lexical cues, while making certain assumptions, inferences, and judgments as to your professionalism, competencies, and relevance. You can manage these perceptions.


What Is Your Desired Outcome?

Within the confines of your LinkedIn profile, your goal is to position yourself as the logical choice for the business or career opportunity you seek.

You make realistic, believable assertions as to how you solve problems and create value for the people you serve and wish to serve. I call this: creating the business case for yourself.

Most LinkedIn profiles I review fail to state a desired outcome. That is why they fall flat. Often, users will copy-and-paste exact text from a resume. Bad idea.

There is no personal branding per se in a resume; it is a static document that merely chronicles past achievements without communicating any hint of future value.

Your LinkedIn profile is designed to educate a prospect, potential strategic alliance, or would-be first-degree connection on your merits. Are you selling a product or service?

Are you in the market for strategic alliances? With whom do you most want to connect? These are all components of a desired outcome and should be communicated.

Why You and Why Now?

Once you have crystallized your desired outcome, the focus of your business case shifts to answering the question: what makes you unique? Know that you are campaigning for the opportunity – to sell, to partner, to connect – and immediately open a dialog relative to your primary area of value.

It is easier to do this with a clear, actualized self-vision.

Effectiveness in thought leadership branding correlates to the words you use to describe yourself, your headshot, your body of work (written and visual materials), and social proof (strong testimonials from those who follow you).

The stronger your content, the easier you will be recalled in your area of expertise, and the greater your following.

Action Steps

  1. Write down your desired outcome for your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Check your profile to see if it answers the questions: “Why you? Why now?”
  3. Edit your profile to communicate your expertise.


Result You Will Achieve

A LinkedIn profile that communicates your expertise and advances you toward your desired outcome as well as objective insights and guidance strengthening your personal brand as you embark on the thought leader’s journey.

Mentor: JD Gershbein

CEO of Owlish Communications. JD has helped advance the collective awareness of LinkedIn and inspired opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business to step up and achieve on the site.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.