Trust is key to any relationship. And like they say, it takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. We can testify to this first hand; we still have flashbacks to the gruesome day we mistook a raisin cookie for chocolate chip. There are no words for that level of betrayal.
Trust is a major leadership characteristic and is more important than ever in a constantly changing digital landscape. If you’re not seen as a trustworthy person, you can’t form engaged relationships or run a high performing team for your brand. So how do you earn the trust of potential followers and establish confidence in the minds your existing ones?
LinkedIn has established itself as the professional network. It’s where everyone goes to make new connections for a purpose, whether that’s to drive leads or find a new job. And it’s exactly the kind of certifiable platform to build and nurture strategic relationships that activate trust for your personal brand.
So if growing your LinkedIn network and establishing your professional credibility has been one of your to-do’s for a while, take off your procrastination pants and put on your professional pants, you innovative, hip thought leader you. Here are four easy ways you can build trust and influence on LinkedIn.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is your internet brand, your thumbprint for the digital age. When people want to learn more about you, they seek out your LinkedIn profile in much the same way one Google’s someone before a first date. Only less creepy. Your profile represents your business reputation and serves as the critical, initial source of information for your personal brand.
Begin optimizing your profile through securing your Vanity URL with your company name included. This should be the same one you use on other social media platforms so your existing followers can find you online. You’ll also want to secure the right profile image; profiles are seven times more likely to be found in searches if there is a photo. You’ll want one that is professional (read: no duckface).
When creating your profile, you also want to be sure that you use the right industry keywords in your headline, job title, and summary. LinkedIn is one of the largest databases of professional contacts in the world, relying on keywords specific to your industry to rank your profile. What you place in your summary and header will help you remain easily searchable but will also differentiate you from others as someone with reputable influence.
Another great way to optimize your profile is by asking for Recommendations and Endorsements. People trust recommendations. It’s how we decide between Netflix and Chilling with a 2-star movie or a five-star movie. A well-written recommendation from peers, former colleagues, or supervisors, with specifics about your performance, will have a greater impact than all other factors combined. Similarly, Endorsements serve to provide social proof of your background and skills, as they are specific and tangible ways to add social proof to your profile.
Proactively Grow Your Audience
Growing your audience is one of those things that takes time, so don’t get frustrated if you don’t see the fruits of your labour overnight. Building meaningful connections takes serious attention and effort, but doing so not only keeps your network fresh and active, it establishes your genuine attention to building an authentic community, which breeds loyalty and influence. Connect with trusted friends, former colleagues, classmates, industry leaders, and other professionals. This is a great way to build your personal brand while also providing you with more information about your connections.
Don’t be shy about asking your contacts for an introduction to people in their network. This is the true power of LinkedIn: connecting with people you may not know directly. Contacts with common LinkedIn connections are referred to as the second-degree connections. You can ask for an invitation from someone in your network, leveraging your relationship with that person to indicate their trust in you. You can also include a personal note explaining why you’d like to connect.
Pro tip: Every time you exchange a business card at an event, take the extra step to look the person up and send a connection request via the LinkedIn mobile app. Bonus if the connection you reach out to is an influencer.
Publish Content on LinkedIn
We’re a digital, consuming society living in a feed-driven world; what you say and how often you say it, matters. Part of building trust and influence in your personal brand means you need to have something meaningful to add to the conversation. Sharing consistent and relevant updates that are engaging and intelligent is the easiest way to get started with a LinkedIn content strategy. It not only positions you as an influencer but having a voice on topics in your industry portrays you as a thought leader. It’s incredibly easy to share an update on LinkedIn. You’ll want to post at least once per day to ensure your content is getting in front of your current connections and followers.
Spend time researching content used by influencers in your field. See what others are saying, how it’s being consumed, and the levels of engagement. This will give you crucial insight into what content works and what doesn’t. Experiment with adding tags and categories to your content. Once you begin publishing content on your platform, you’ll begin to see a spike in your profile views.
Pro tip: publishing long-form content is the best way to make an impact on your audience. It builds credibility, which breeds engagement. The more you have to say, the more your followers will read. Just be sure the content is interesting; you’ll lose trust if your content is shapeless. Your followers are smart; share content that lets your them see your value and differentiates you from others.
Build and Foster Community
When you invest in your community through straightforward interactions, you invest in your personal brand. The genuine connections that you create not only speak to who you are, they emulate your authority: that you are someone who has something and people often listen. But it goes beyond just having a large community.
How you interact with your followers and others in your community is just as crucial. It’s not a numbers game; it’s how well you engage with those numbers. This not only shows your community you value them, it fosters a genuine, meaningful connection to you and your personal brand, positioning you as someone who is authentic. Sincerity goes a long way in our digital age. Paying attention to what’s going on in your industry and community helps to build connections to your personal brand.
Take a moment to personalize a message to your contacts when they receive a promotion or moved on to a new position. Join online groups within your industry and engage in conversations; your voice and active presence builds your brand’s influence and presence.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for individuals looking to make new connections, generate growth, and build their personal brand. As the key channel for thought leadership, it’s the end all, be all platform to position yourself and your brand as a trusted influencer in your niche.