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Published by Hannah Hood on Jun 21, 2024 9:35:40 AM


Many people have two conceptions about what LinkedIn is. You probably think that LinkedIn is either a.) a place to update your virtual resume or b.) a place to network in a rigid, professional way. That second purpose isn’t exactly wrong. LinkedIn can grow your network. But it also doesn’t capture the personality and personal brand that you can infuse into your LinkedIn strategy.

“LinkedIn is about connections," says Donna Serdula, a LinkedIn branding expert who sat down with us to discuss how to make the most of the platform: "It's a network. It's professional. It is career oriented. Thank goodness for that. We don't want it to be a completely personal type of situation. But at the same time, I think we are seeing such a huge change in how we work and working from home brings in this whole new personal element. So, we have to embrace that.”

LinkedIn is also a place for personal branding, a medium to achieve firm goals, and a platform to tell your story. Below I am going to talk about the different uses of LinkedIn and what your steps should be to get the most out of the platform.

LinkedIn Is….

A Conversation Starter

Many people feel like LinkedIn is just a place to gain as many new contacts as possible. But what is a large network worth if you don’t actually build well-rounded effective relationships? Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to go out and meet every single person that you connect with on LinkedIn. For those of you that have thousands of connections, this might be difficult.

But posting content that really speaks to your connections is an effective and genuine way to build professional relationships. You become a conversation starter and get your network talking. Don’t be afraid to get loud and show your authentic self when starting these conversations. The point is to get people talking!

Personal Brand Developer

LinkedIn provides a platform for accounting firm owners at any stage in their growth journey to develop their personal brand. “Every person has a personal brand whether they cultivated it on purpose or not," Donna believes. "It’s how people remember you. Do people associate you with a certain story, interest, work ethic, or expectation?”LinkedIn for Personal Branding

Have you ever felt the need to try on a “virtual suit and tie” when on LinkedIn? That feels very limiting. The good news is that you don’t have to.

Building your personal brand means being your authentic self. Now, it’s important to have a goal for your LinkedIn account and build certain boundaries to help you achieve those goals. It might work for your goals to post pictures of your new kittens on LinkedIn. But for others, that might not fit in with their goals for the platform. It’s important to dial into what your personal brand strategy looks like.

Ask yourself, “How can I put myself out there consistently through my values, through my actions, through the descriptions that I use to describe myself?” “How do I communicate how I show up at work?”

Consistently showing who you are and making genuine connections with people that have similar interests helps you forge relationships. That’s the true power of a personal brand.

Storytelling Medium

LinkedIn is a storytelling medium. You can tell different stories depending on your goal. There are also different stories to be told depending on your target audience. For example, if you speak to women about the power of remote jobs for their career advancement (check out our very own Kelly Schuknecht’s LinkedIn profile if you’re interested in this topic), you might tell the story about your first remote role. Or maybe you tell the story about why you decided to start a remote career.

Once you know the stories you’d like to tell your target audience, you need to determine keywords and key topics your audience will be searching for. Placing these keywords throughout your profile and posts will help you appear in LinkedIn’s search engine, making you more likely to be found.

How to Get Started Using LinkedIn Strategically

Set a Goal and Optimize Your Profile

The first step to any accounting firm or personal strategy is to set a goal. Are you looking to gain more leads? Are you looking to grow your network for an upcoming job search? Are you searching for likeminded individuals in your industry that you can bounce ideas off? Make sure you have a goal in mind so that you can craft a strategy that helps you reach that specific goal.

Once you have that goal, consider how you want to present yourself. What skills do you need to showcase? What expertise should you add to your profile? I’d suggest starting out by defining your target audience based on your goals, and defining the content they’d be looking forward to consuming. Then, you can curate your profile to match that strategy.

I could talk for days about all the ways you could curate and optimize your LinkedIn profile. It would take far more than this post. The good news is that Summit Virtual CFO by Anders has two great resources for curating your LinkedIn profile and strategy. Check out our LinkedIn Guide and Donna Serdula’s podcast on the topic.

Make Time and Set a Schedule

To reap the many benefits of LinkedIn, setting time to work on your strategy is paramount. This time should be spent engaging with other users, making relevant posts if you have something to say, and optimizing your profile.

One tip that I have for you is scheduling posts ahead of time if you feel that finding time every day to be on LinkedIn is difficult. It’s still important to engage on the platform! But maybe you set 5 minutes to engage each day, and set one hour each week to schedule out posts.

When you make LinkedIn a regular routine, you will find that creating content becomes much more natural and begin bookmarking topics in your brain (or maybe writing them in a notebook) that you can share on LinkedIn. As with every other goal you’ve ever set, consistent actions breed good habits. 

Get Off LinkedIn

Continuing the relationships you build with your connections offline will help you reach your goals faster, Donna suggests. “I really do believe that success on LinkedIn is getting off LinkedIn. Yes, you might be meeting people on LinkedIn, but I don't want it to always stay on LinkedIn. I want you to pick up the phone. I want you to meet the person for coffee. I want this to extend beyond just the platform.”

For those of you that are remote, remember that a virtual coffee date is just as effective as an in-person one. Other options to cultivate relationships with your connections include: meeting up at conferences a connection might be attending, collaborating on a podcast or blog post, sharing a good book you’ve read recently, or recommending a book club. The options are limitless!

I hope this article has helped you gain some tips for improving your LinkedIn strategy. I challenge you to review your profile and see how you might optimize it for the audience you are trying to reach. Even setting five minutes a day to devote to the topic will get you far!

If you’d like more tips for growing and scaling your firm, check out our Virtual CFO Playbook!

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