How Startup Leaders Can Make the Most Out of LinkedIn

Savannah Mazanowski
How Startup Leaders Can Make the Most Out of...

Today, people will likely see your LinkedIn profile before ever meeting – virtually or in person. Having a complete and professional-looking LinkedIn is important for anyone in business, but especially for those startup leaders chasing thought leadership status. 

LinkedIn can be both a place where other members in the industry can verify your leadership status, and where you share thought leadership content that would get washed out in the news cycle otherwise. We’ve outlined key elements of LinkedIn to keep in mind as you solidify your status as a thought leader on the social media platform. 

Quality Profile Pic and Background Photo

A profile picture and background image is often the first impression people have of you. It’s essential to grab a profile viewer’s attention within the first five seconds they are viewing your profile. If the first thing they see is an unprofessional headshot and a blank background, their attention and interest in you as a thought leader may quickly vanish.

For a profile picture, make sure that the image is quality and that you are professionally dressed. The picture should be a headshot, therefore just your shoulders and head should be in the photo. In a full body shot, it’s difficult to see a person’s face and may turn people away from viewing the rest of your profile. If short on resources to acquire a professionally photographed headshot, a photo taken on a phone will work just as well. If using a phone, make sure the background of the photo is neutral and there is good lighting. 

In the background photo, include an image that represents what you do or what you love. A company’s logo is a perfectly appropriate background and even helps people quickly identify you in their search. With a logo, profile viewers will know immediately what you do and what industry you’re in. Other acceptable images you can use as your background photo include recent or major accomplishments, such as a recently published book or an award won. Oftentimes times award organizations will offer LinkedIn templates to award recipients that can be leveraged to show off their recent accomplishments. 

Intriguing Bio

After taking in the profile images and headline, people will be drawn to the About section of your LinkedIn profile. A well-presented About section verifies your claimed thought leadership status and solidifies your credibility as an industry expert. A strong opener to grab the reader’s attention is a must. However, keep in mind that this section is not about what sets your company apart, but rather about your personal accomplishments that make you an expert and a leader in your field. Your bio should convey that you are a thought leader without outright saying that you are. Plus, this part of your profile is a good place to showcase your qualifications, and what you do with those qualifications.

Kick off your About bio with one or two sentences that describe any awards you won, books you wrote, and current positions you hold. Right off the bat, you want to convey that you have experience, range, and credibility. The rest of your bio can dive deeper into projects and milestones you’ve hit throughout your career that contribute to your industry expertise and qualify you as a leader today. 

Pro tip: make sure to add personality and voice to this section and keep the paragraphs short for readability. Add a sentence about a personal hobby at the end – this will make you seem more human and trustworthy. 

Regular Posting Cadence 

Having a complete LinkedIn profile page is important, but not the whole picture when it comes to establishing yourself as a thought leader within the social media platform. A regular posting cadence is a must. Not only will regular posting activity show how engaged you are in your industry, but it’s also a great way to increase exposure. 

Part of being a “thought leader” is sharing your thoughts with your community, no matter how long or short those thoughts are. Don’t be intimidated by posts you see with long descriptions. A LinkedIn post can be as simple as resharing a colleague’s post or an article you found to be after recieving recognition from an awards organization, during or after attending an industry event, or when your startup has an announcement to share. 

One way you can help increase exposure for your posts is by including hashtags. Posts that include a certain hashtag are populated withing a group of other posts with the same hashtag. By using a hashtag you are ensuring that you are part of that particular conversation. However, be cautious not to use too many hashtags in one post. Two to four hashtags is a safe amount, any more than that and your post will come off as spammy and untrustworthy. 

Diversify Network

A key aspect of being a thought leader is having an audience to reach when you’re ready to share your expertise. As a social media platform, LinkedIn is a great place to form connections with people you normally wouldn’t have in your address book. This includes other thought leaders you meet at events or through your work. One way you can increase connections is by leveraging your existing network to find new and different contacts. If you have a conversation with someone in the comments of another post, send that person a connection request. 

While other members and leaders in your industry may come as a given, consider expanding your connection to people outside of your direct industry. Journalists may not work in the granular day-to-day aspect of your field, but connecting with them can help increase visibility for your personal brand and liken the chances of connecting with those media contacts when you have news to share. 

Leverage Long-form Content 

Securing media coverage to express your thought leadership expertise is not always as easy as it sounds. Media coverage is a delicate dance between finding relevant news hooks, navigating reporters’ availability and staying ahead of the news cycle. When a topic you’re passionate about proves too difficult to secure quality news coverage, consider leveraging long-form content on LinkedIn. 

Long-form content on LinkedIn has several benefits. First, you can guarantee you are reaching the desired audience because the audience exists within your connections. If your connections like or share your post, your post will likely also reach their connections, which further expands your thought leadership reach. Also, long-form content can help you rank for more keywords, especially long-tail and semantic keywords that are around the topic you want to talk about. 

In closing, LinkedIn is an excellent way to share your unique thoughts and ideas with your industry and the world. In today’s age of social media, a presence on LinkedIn is a must for thought leaders. If you’re having a hard time staying on top of your LinkedIn profile, try to hold yourself to a regular posting cadence. One post a week is more than enough to establish your reputation as a thought leader and share any accomplishments you and your startup are achieving. 

About Savannah Mazanowski: Savannah is a Senior Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft also has a small satellite office offering tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft has been listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas for two years running by the B2B services review site,

[Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash]

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