There have been fierce flames from keyboard warriors and even a few entrepreneurs about the etiquette of promoting yourself or your business on LinkedIn.
Debate has raged over the relevance of selfies, the merits of posting about your personal life, and whether an occasional photo of your pet dog is a good idea.
Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, Matt Craven, founder and personal branding expert at Resume & Interview Advisors (Winners of the 2022 Contracting Awards Best Contractor Service), gives his opinion.
Like many things people like to debate, there is no right or wrong, just an opinion!
The real answer lies in how you want the world to perceive you and your business.
Almost all businesses spend time and energy cultivating their corporate identity and brand positioning, and entrepreneurs should think the same way.
Like it or not, everyone has a personal brand, and as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said:
“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
how the world sees you your personal brand, and smart people are the ones who manage that – you could call it managing your own PR. Everything you communicate to the world shapes how people perceive you, which in turn shapes your personal brand.
Social networks or not?
I have always maintained that LinkedIn should not be considered a social media platform. For me, it’s more of a database of talent and prospects to be leveraged by job seekers, freelancers and companies to attract jobs or clients.
That’s not to say I’m not a “message” advocate. Instead, I just prefer to look at the deeper value of the sheer volume of people that exist on LinkedIn, and how that huge database can be used to grow a business.
However, LinkedIn as a company has always thought of itself as a social media platform and the website’s posts/feeds have gotten more and more engagement over the years. This partly explains this LinkedIn etiquette debate. The point here to consider in how you use the platform is that LinkedIn itself views its offering as a social media platform. So who are we as users to argue! ?
The posts that most of us as companies write on LinkedIn support our business development efforts, and where they deviate from the mere commercial, perhaps they bring a human touch to what we do. . Sometimes, with LinkedIn, it can indeed be a bit on the edge – so a selfie with your pooch, potentially – that makes the difference and explains why a potential “connection” turns from a lurker to a follower.
On a rather heated thread about LinkedIn’s relevance to selfies, parallels were drawn to how people use other forms of social media, like Facebook.
For me, the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn is that Facebook is more whimsical and impulsive, whereas what you post on LinkedIn should be more strategic and thoughtful. If you’ve decided that your external persona will be very personal and you think your target audience will react well to seeing posts like “Portia gets her first poochie pedicure,” then definitely post some dog pics.
If you’re doing it because you feel compelled to share your dog with the world because you had 20 minutes free at lunchtime, then think twice. What I mean is that personal branding and social media marketing should be part of your business strategy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t include selfies. It also doesn’t mean it shouldn’t include references to your personal life or photos of you outside of the office.
Thought leadership is the deliberate act of developing expert status in a certain area.
I mentioned earlier that the posts we write on LinkedIn support our business development efforts and bring a human touch to what we do.
Well, in the same way, posts that demonstrate our expertise and knowledge can also tip the scales in our favor. Many organizations now use Thought Leadership as a tool for business growth, including CISCO, PwC, Deloitte, McKinsey and Dyson. These big brands want leaders and employees who embrace thought leadership. Should you and your business be different? In other words, did all these profitable heavyweights get it wrong? Probably not.
Let me take a selfie (sometimes)
In summary, there is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to the LinkedIn etiquette despite what people might tell you. After all, LinkedIn is a social media platform, so in my opinion, that must mean selfies are okay – at least sometimes.
Likewise, posts about pets can work. And if you have any knowledge and expertise to share or, even better, link to your seemingly random photo, go ahead, because it’s probably the right place. Nod to the social platform you’re on while subtly achieving your business goals. Generally speaking on LinkedIn, if you’re feeling a bit creative with your uploads or posts, remember – if you’re addressing the psychology of your target audience, cultivating a personal brand that they will respond to and/or being deliberate about what you are transmitting to the world, you are more than likely on the right track. Now if only I could find the flip function on my phone’s portrait mode!
Editor’s note: ContractorUK readers, if you would like a free assessment of your LinkedIn profile, Matt’s team would be happy to help. Please go to this URL www.cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk/partners/contractor-uk.