LinkedIn For Executives

‘LinkedIn is just for job-hunting or marketing your consultancy services isn’t it?’This is what my friend 'Cindy', a senior executive in an investment bank, said when over coffee, I asked her why she wasn't paying any love to her LinkedIn profile. 

Research by DHR International says that well over 80% of executives use LinkedIn often or very often, with over 70% saying that LinkedIn is their preferred social network. It is easily outstripping Facebook and Twitter as the preferred social media platform for this group. And the same research found that 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, even for the top management jobs.

I could have rested my case there, but wanted to dig a bit deeper to explain why Cindy should be using LinkedIn better. 

Building two brands at once

Senior executives are accountable for the presence their organisation has in the marketplace and community. So having a presence on LinkedIn is part of effectively representing the organisation. If the public sees a banking executive who is well connected in the industry, has strong commitments to community and has a reassuring photo (yes, important!), it enhances trust and loyalty towards the bank.

But it’s not just about the organisation. If a senior executive has a good LinkedIn profile it’s also about their personal brand – whether you like the idea or not! Your profile on LinkedIn can also build a strong personal brand. This is achieved through crafting a career narrative that shows who you are, what your values and commitments are, and where you’re going. It’s about showcasing thought leadership and connecting with both your internal and external customers.

That’s all very well but give me an example

I pulled out my iPad and searched Mike Smith, CEO ANZ. And there he was, with a solid and dignified photo, just what I want from my banker (albeit my bankers boss....). 

Mike’s background details showcase a solid and impressive banking history, as well as memberships of important international prudential finance institutes. Just enough detail to reassure us we’re in good hands. Checking out what groups he is following shows me his commitment to Women and Leadership. Another tick. And finally he posts regular articles about issues such as gender-balance in business, business and finance in Asia, and leadership – topics that are consistent with the rest of his profile. 

OK so what do I have to do?

Cindy at this point was obviously convinced.

Start slowly

‘I suggest that that you start slowly. There’s no rush and you want to get it right’.

So the first thing is to check out a few profiles, of people who are in the same industry, at the same or higher level, people who are playing in the same space as you. But also look at some people who are completely different. You want to get an idea of what’s possible, and what’s going to fit – and not fit – with your career narrative and your own personal brand. 

And a bit of advice

‘There are a few do’s and don’ts.’ 

For example, career highlights are good: however cutting and pasting your entire resume history makes for very boring reading. Consistent messages are important. If your career is all about organisational leadership but the only groups you are following are foodie groups then there’s a disconnect. Regularity is important when posting. If you posted one brilliant thought piece in 2012 and nothing since then, it screams ‘no longer active on Linkedin, not social media savvy and possibly very disorganised’. Check out Mike Smiths profile again. He posts on average every two months. That’s enough to look current. 

It’s dead easy to start and fill out the basics of a profile yourself, however you may like to spend an hour or more with a LinkedIn expert – someone who lives and breathes the medium.