Community is something all thought leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs need to be investing in. Without community, you’re an island — isolated in your effort to build wealth and influence.
That fact has been pretty well established by this point. What’s less well-known is the fact that there are many resources you can utilize in building a community.
One of the most important? LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a powerful mechanism for community growth because it helps you foster an intellectual authority presence. Readers look naturally at LinkedIn community leaders as power players — people who know what they’re talking about and have earned a certain respect.
LinkedIn can also:
- Connect you with new contacts who might add value to your career by way of mentorship or support.
- Help you remain relevant.
- Solidify your intellectual presence in your industry or niche.
All of these things are critical. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly clear — at least to folks new to the platform — how exactly to use LinkedIn to accomplish any of this.
LinkedIn groups, for example, are effectively useless.
You’re better off directing your connections to a Facebook group if you want to utilize the more private group structure for communication and content sharing. That’s how bad LinkedIn’s version of groups are — yet they’re what we gravitate to first when we think of building community.
No, the best ways to build community on LinkedIn are not exactly intuitive. So here are the most valuable strategies you should focus on instead.
1) Using status updates as a way to connect your followers.
Most of us think of LinkedIn status updates as purely a means of engaging connections with content — which they are. But they can also be used to encourage action among your followers.
In fact, that should be your eminent goal. Your followers should be commenting on your posts, sharing them, and discussing within them how genuinely they relate to what you’re saying. That’s why updates which ask a simple question — “Hey everyone, how do you motivate yourself on Monday? Tag someone you know who always comes ready to bring it at the beginning of the week” — work really well.
Consider how you operate inside of groups on Facebook. How you engage with other members inside the group, asking for advice and communicating with folks directly.
Do that in your status updates on LinkedIn, and you’ll generate the sort of energy and engagement around both your content and your presence that will elevate your reputation in the eyes of community members.
2) Keeping a very curated list of who you connect with.
This second piece may seem surprising: most people on LinkedIn think of their connections as a list strictly to be grown as opposed to curated.
The amount of connections you have is evidence of your influence — right?
Wrong. It’s a mistake to try and connect with as many people as possible. Instead, be purposeful with the people you forge online relationships with. Only seek out new connections whom you can learn from, or whom you think might benefit from the content you have to share — people whom you think might be interested in your clear, specific value-add.
Sure, operating in this way might lose you followers. But it will gain you customers and colleagues.
3) Creating a LinkedIn messaging pod where people can connect directly and privately to strategize.
LinkedIn messaging or engagement pods are groups you create on Slack or Facebook consisting of LinkedIn contacts. You can use them to give your posts or articles an immediate boost.
Here’s what you do: Immediately after publishing something new on LinkedIn, share it in your messaging pod, and ask everyone to go engage with it or share it.
This is a remarkably effective way to bolster your posts and updates to ensure they don’t fade to irrelevance, getting buried beneath everyone else’s articles. But it only works if your group is purposeful about what folks are allowed to share. In the various pods that I run with my teams and clients at BAMF, we impose strict barriers to entry to ensure all the content we promote is something we’re comfortable co-signing.
It helps, to this end — do you notice a theme here? — to focus eminently on adding value.
Always, always, always — in your pods, through your status updates, in engaging with your connections — seek to provide unique value.
That’s what will cement your reputation as someone people need to know on LinkedIn — which will, of course, help you build a more formidable community.
And that, for most of us, is the ultimate goal of using LinkedIn, right?
If it’s not yet… well, consider this your call to action.