Who is a LinkedIn Influencer - and How to Become One Yourself

Who are LinkedIn Influencers – and How to Become One

As most of us know, these days influencer marketing has become a major force in the world of social media. Changing algorithms have made unsponsored commercial content less visible than it was before, partially in an attempt to boost the use of paid advertisements. However, this isn’t the only reason why it’s advantageous to use a LinkedIn influencer. These people provide an authentic voice for the brands that they represent while often being able to influence a community of the influential demographic that defines LinkedIn.

Of course, influencer marketing on LinkedIn is primarily used by B2B brands. Occasionally the voice of an influencer can help with recruiting, but this isn’t the main goal here. With that in mind, who are LinkedIn influencers? And how can someone gain a following on this platform, over which they can enjoy a sphere of influence for whatever personal or professional objective they might have? Read on to find out.

What is a LinkedIn influencer?

Most people think of influencers on social media as people who are passionate about a subject. For the majority of social networks, this topic can be the job they work in, a cause they support, or some type of personal interest or hobby. As a result, most influencers on other networks talk about topics that aren’t their “nine to five,” at least until sponsorships pile up and they no longer need the daily grind.

However, LinkedIn is a professional network rather than a personal or hobby platform. To that end, LinkedIn influencers are often thought leaders in a particular industry who also regularly share content on LinkedIn to a large, engaging audience. The content they share is focused on their industry, though it can also include uplifting quotes and personally inspitrational items. Everyone needs positive thinking during their workday.

LinkedIn has its own influencer program.

It’s important to note that LinkedIn has their own invite-only LinkedIn Influencer program. This program allows major thought leaders to talk about what’s important to them. But rather than being a sort of self-promotion, the LinkedIn influencer program is intended to make other people better professionals. The idea is to let ordinary people learn from the “masters” of industry.

The LinkedIn program is also limited to 500 people, so unless you are a household name like Richard Branson or are extremely famous in your industry like Ryan Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, it will be hard to be accepted. This means that most LinkedIn influencers build their following by their efforts in putting out quality content.

The Benefits of Becoming a LinkedIn Influencer

While you probably can’t become an official LinkedIn influencer, there are plenty of reasons you can become an unofficial influencer. Some of these benefits are similar to those on other platforms, such as the opportunity to make sponsored content on behalf of other businesses. However, others are different due to the business focus of LinkedIn as a whole.

You can influence an audience of business leaders, who in turn wield influence.

LinkedIn is a great place to talk about industry trends and publicize innovation. In fact, many professionals check LinkedIn to find out what suppliers, competitors, and other industry players are doing. People also look to LinkedIn for advice on best practices and other employer issues. Besides this, professionals see LinkedIn as a go-to forum for marketing: over 90% of marketing executives feel LinkedIn provides the best quality content. This means that content found here is highly credible.

The more credible an influencer’s content is perceived to be, the more impact – and influence – it will have.

Being an influencer boosts your business opportunities.

Another reason to become a LinkedIn influencer is the greater opportunity to gain and nurture sales leads. As people read your content, they’ll come to respect you as an industry leader. In turn, this builds trust in your brand. This assertion isn’t being made in a vacuum. In fact one survey found that, among B2B brands, 80% of social media-related leads originated from LinkedIn.

Increased business from LinkedIn can happen regardless of your industry. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent in an area and demonstrate know-how through blog posts, people will be more likely to call you when that office lease is up. Similarly, a lot of financial advisors post their latest market analysis on LinkedIn. Here, they may be marketing to individuals, businesses, or both. Either way, it’s an effective lead generation technique.

A LinkedIn influencer has plenty of opportunities for engagement.

Most people don’t realize this, but LinkedIn content attracts a high level of engagement. For instance, according to Sprout Social, messages sent via InMail are three times more likely to get a response than regular email. While InMail is expensive to send, it’s highly targeted. Plus, the better response rate is often well worth the increased cost over traditional email.

In addition, because if your higher influence, you have a greater chance of getting your content featured in Trending Topics. This designation gives your content even more exposure on LinkedIn. With greater exposure comes more eyeballs, and often, more sales leads. Better yet, your reputation as an industry leader can only increase with this level of readership.

How to Become a LinkedIn Influencer

Just like becoming a social media influencer or an Instagram influencer, there is no shortcut to becoming a LinkedIn influencer. People must get to know you over time as you put out content and demonstrate your place on the forefront of discussions within your industry. Besides this, ideas need to be tested. Sometimes this is done fairly quickly, but in other cases there are complex issues that must be addressed.

The other issue to watch is the time commitment. Just like friends who have become influencers on Clubhouse spend several hours a day there, if you REALLY want to become a LinkedIn influencer, follow this advice and be prepared to make the same level of time investment.

1) Determine Your Niche

Choose

Niche down to both differentiate yourself AND be better remembered. As I have said with other platforms, it’s critical that people know you as an authority. For instance, an executive of a machine manufacturer will choose a niche within that sector. If the machines made are used for injection molding, then this person might talk about the latest injection molding techniques. It probably doesn’t matter if he prefers to discuss plastic toys or melamine dish ware, though.

In this case, the biggest mistake you can make is choosing a niche that’s too broad. When you do this, there’s a lot more competition due to the large number of keywords and subject matter experts. Instead, when you focus on one industry area you’ll find more room to showcase your knowledge.

2) Nail Your Profile

LinkedIn profile

Once you have your niche determined your journey starts with building an aligned and branded profile. Ideally, your profile will be branded with each image and keyword aligned with the industry that you want to influence. Diligence in this area will make your profile easier to find for people that are interested in your niche, but who aren’t connected to you yet.

Furthermore, your profile should showcase your subject matter credentials. For instance, if you have a management degree and want to become a management influencer, then the degree needs to appear on your profile. Likewise, work experience that makes you an expert is critical information for people if they are going to trust what you’re saying. Remember, on LinkedIn your profile is similar to a resume. This is especially true for a LinkedIn influencer.

Further Reading: 17 Must-Have Items for Your Professional LinkedIn Profile to Shine

3) Improve and Increase Your Connections

Networking

Having a large number of connections is critical to becoming a LinkedIn influencer. After all, people need to see and read your content for it to spread around the network. To start your sphere of influence, get 500+ connections that are relevant to your industry. If you want to become an influencer, you aready have lots of connections in your industry, no?

If you do not have very many connections in your industry, start networking on LinkedIn! This is easier to do than you think: hang out on industry-specific LinkedIn pages, follow other industry leaders, and see who your connections know. Over time, using effective networking techniques will add to your core connections.

Note that Connections are not the true sign of influence: Followers are. People can follow you without connecting. To find your followers or those of any LinkedIn profile, simply type in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nealschaffer/detail/recent-activity/ replacing “nealschaffer” with your own LinkedIn username. Over time, if you’re an effective content creator then your Follower count will increase. That’s because people typically Follow people whose ideas are worthwhile. They might be only passively interested in your content, but their engagement still helps.

Further Reading: Top 10 Ways How to Get More Connections on LinkedIn

4) You Can’t Become a LinkedIn Influence without Solid Content

LinkedIn post

Once you have enough Connections to get your content noticed, it’s time to start creating content. Be sure that you post original, high-quality content, though you can also share things from other creators while giving them credit. In the latter case, you probably should post a reaction of some sort. Typically, you should be reacting to their ideas. This shows that you’re capable of original thought and quality analysis. In addition, sharing and commenting helps people who follow the original creator to find you.

Need content ideas? Videos and livestreams typically have the most impact and will help you build influence faster, but images, text, and links when done right can also go viral. Here, the important thing is that you demonstrate your level of knowledge and ability to analyze industry trends. Make sure that your industry-leading thought leadership permeates your content. Otherwise, people won’t have as much incentive to Follow you or share your material.

Besides making your content relevant and authoritative, it’s important to make yourself memorable. One way to do this is by showing some personality, which also encourages people to consume the entire piece of content. On the other hand, if everything you do is dry and boring, there’s a higher chance that people will simply go elsewhere.

5) Networking Will Help You Gain Influence

Networking

Regardless of how many connections you have, networking in your target industry on LinkedIn it will help you become a LinkedIn influencer with each new engagement. Comment on posts, join conversations in Groups, host industry events or join others. There are many ways to virtually network on LinkedIn. Although there are stricter Connection standards on LinkedIn, creativity is still useful. In the end, the best way to build your network is by letting yourself be seen in industry circles.

Further Reading: How to Network on LinkedIn from an Inbound and Outbound Perspective

6) Bring Your Network to LinkedIn

Networking

Connect with others you meet on social media and invite them to your LinkedIn. People who build personal connections with you from other contexts might be quite happy to “meet” you in a professional capacity. This is especially true with professionals within your industry, though others might also be interested.

Likewise, don’t keep your content in one place. Share your LinkedIn events and LinkedIn content on other social networks. In particular, Twitter is a great forum for people to find links to your content. And if you’re active on Clubhouse, tell those people to send you a LinkedIn message, not DM you on Instagram. Bring the party – and influence – over to LinkedIn! Over time, the combination of network importation and quality content will cement your status as a LinkedIn influencer.

Conclusion 

One of the things I love about LinkedIn is its business focus. At the same time, the relevance of LinkedIn for B2B marketing and the exchange of ideas is priceless. From the standpoint of a potential LinkedIn influencer, there are also plenty of opportunities to make a lasting impact on others. And, if you follow the steps I’ve outlined in this article, you should be able to wield the influence you want.

Hero photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

LinkedIn Influencer FAQs

What is an influencer on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has an invite-only influencer program that is limited to 500 people only. LinkedIn influencers are the world’s thought leaders, experts, innovators, and thinkers of a specific industry who put out organic, quality content to a big LinkedIn audience. Naming Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Ryan Holmes, Arianna Huffington, and Mary Barra. LinkedIn influencer program aims to make other LinkedIn users be better professionals.

Do LinkedIn influencers get paid?

LinkedIn influencers like Bill Gates and Richard Branson do not get paid for writing and sharing contention LinkedIn. The incentive they can get from the platform won’t even matter to them. The real benefits they get from the program are the opportunity for engagement, increase their reach and extend massive audience, promote their products and company, and meet potential clients.

How many followers do you need to be an influencer on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn did not specify a specific number of followers required to be a LinkedIn influencer. It is more of a general consensus based on the profiles of existing influencers. What they are more focused on is a person’s relevancy. They pay attention to the users who post high-quality content regularly and highly engaging with other user’s content.

How do you become a LinkedIn influencer 2021?

These are the things you need to do to become a LinkedIn influencer:

1. Choose a niche to focus on.
2. Build your profile.
3. Increase your connections.
4. Create quality content.
5. Continue networking.

How many followers do you need to be an influencer?

You can be an influencer with just 1,000 followers. People with 1,000-10,000 followers are referred to as nano-influencer — the smallest category of influencer according to the follower count. Even if you don’t have a large following yet, if you can show your audience the value you can bring to them, you can have the ability to influence them in some ways. And brands will eventually notice you and your merit.

With LinkedIn continuing to be popular among professionals, it's time to consider becoming a LinkedIn influencer. Here's how.
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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