LinkedIn is an important professional tool that’s rarely used to its fullest potential. It can be hard to cut through the clutter and make yourself heard. I did a little research, looking for something unique and helpful for professional communicators. What I found (and what I’m excited to tell you about) is a 30-minute Lynda.com course called “Writing to be Heard on LinkedIn” by Daniel Roth.
Daniel Roth is LinkedIn’s editor in chief. Before that he was a senior writer at Wired and Fortune. Business Insider (2012) called him “the most powerful business journalist on the internet.” Roth knows writing and he knows LinkedIn. In this video he offers invaluable advice on developing the professional self, on becoming a thought leader and essentially becoming a better communicator.
Publishing Articles on LinkedIn
Roth introduces the course with a story about an average student with an average resume who was recently hired by Apple. The recruiter had reached out to the student and said “I found you through your article on LinkedIn.” The recruiter had liked the article and hired the student because of it. LinkedIn articles are different from posts. They require a little bit more work on the writing front, but are easy to publish and strengthen your profile immensely.
Roth suggests publishing an article on LinkedIn every other week and on the off week, writing a lengthy reply to someone else’s article. If you’ve never published an article on LinkedIn before, no fear, it’s as easy as creating a post: look below the post box and you’ll see a “write an article button.” Click the button, add your text and your image, and voila you’ve published an article.
Roth says, “When you get in the habit of writing and sharing you start putting the skin on the skeleton of your resume, you start explaining who you are and how you think, and it makes people want to get to know you. It opens up doors and creates opportunities.”
Deciding What to Write About
Everyone has something important to contribute to LinkedIn’s conversation and Roth suggests some of the following ideas to get you going:
- What is your story? Why is it that you’ve chosen your field?
- What are your personal challenges? What problems are you solving?
- Write a review of something you found helpful (like I’m doing here).
- Comment on something in the news.
Roth suggests keeping a list of all the things you can write about and as you think of things add them to the list. For me, I also like to add bullets to each item on this list so when I’m ready to sit down and write, I have a basic outline to follow. That’s not to say writing is ever easy; it’s alway a challenge. But Roth reminds us, writing is like a muscle––it takes time to develop and regular practice.
How Long Should Your Articles Be?
Roth advises anywhere between 800-2000 words, but write to the length that the content deserves. Also, when I read articles I find that headlines and bullets are useful in breaking up the content, making more skimmable.
Pay close attention to your headline
Here are four of my favorite suggestions Roth has for creating a headline.
- Put yourself into the headline. For example instead of saying “Advice from LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief” say “LinkedIn Advice I Think You’ll Be Glad to Have.”
- Everyone is doing lists these days, like “10 Mistakes Managers Make” and they’re losing engagement because there’s no way to separate your list from everyone else’s. So try and do something new like “The Worst Manager I Ever Had Made These Mistakes.”
- Colons can suggest dryness so instead of “How to Build Great Products: Getting to Yes” try “Truly Great Products are Built by People Who Say Yes.”
- Write 6 or 7 possible headlines for your article send them to your colleagues. Ask them what headline would they would click on.
How to Mention Others in Your Article
Mentioning others by using the @ symbol lets them know that you’re quoting their content and invites them to join the conversation. For example, by including @danroth, Daniel Roth will know that an article has been written with a mention to him. And you never know, you might be lucky enough to have him comment back.