Building Your Brand and Network on LinkedIn

The following is the transcript from a live podcast episode I did for Andrea Pass on her show Access Success. If you want to sign up for her upcoming live shows, click here.

Thank you very much and welcome, everybody. I’m excited to share a little bit with you. As Andrea indicated, my area of expertise is influence and Robert Cialdini is the most cited social psychologist on the planet. He has been studying this for almost 50 years, and I had the privilege of learning directly from him. We focus on what are called Principles of Influence, research-based approaches from social psychology and behavioral economics that can make it easier for people to say yes to you, when you tap into them ethically and correctly. 

Principles of Influence

There are six universal principles. We’ll start with liking. We all know this; people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. Next is reciprocity, the feeling of obligation to give back when someone first gives to us. Then we have authority; we defer to people we view as experts. Social proof is that natural tendency we have to follow the lead of others, especially those we see as similar to ourselves. Fifth is the principle of consistency. This tells us people generally want to act in ways that are consistent with what they believe, what they’ve said, and what they’ve done. And finally, there’s scarcity; the tendency to value things more when we see they’re rare or going away. 

When we talk about building a brand and then really trying to promote that brand on LinkedIn, there are three principles which are most important to focus on. The first is authority. If somebody sees you have real expertise, they are more likely to engage with you. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that our expertise is out there so everybody knows about it. It does no good to be an expert if people don’t know about your expertise. 

The second principle is social proof. There’s this tendency for us as humans, when we notice a lot of people are doing something, we tend to think that it might be the right thing to do. If somebody sees that you have lots of followers and connections on LinkedIn, that’s a signal that you must be worth following. The association is most likely because you have expertise and that’s why people want to be connected with to you. They want to learn from you. 

The third principle is scarcity. Scarcity comes into play if you can position yourself in a way that people recognize they might not be able to get what you offer from anybody else or any other organization. So here is my example; Robert Cialdini is the most cited living social psychologist in the world, so I talk about that all the time. I gain credibility because of my association with him. When I let people know there’s only a dozen people in the world who’ve been personally certified and endorsed by Cialdini, that’s big! That fact narrows down the choices that people might be looking at if they wanted to learn about influence. My target market is insurance because that’s where I spent the bulk of my career. When I can say I’m the only person in the insurance industry who is certified by Robert Cialdini, that makes me something they cannot get elsewhere. 

This is what you want to be thinking about. If somebody has a need, and they look at all that you offer, and then realize they can’t get that anywhere else, you’ve set yourself apart. Then the question becomes, how do we utilize a tool like LinkedIn to start making that happen? I’m going to do a screen share, because some of the things I’ll be talking about you’ll be able to see on my homepage. 

Your LinkedIn Profile

When I work with people, and I’m encouraging them on different aspects about LinkedIn, first and foremost is a good profile picture. We are social beings, and we will feel more connected to somebody we see as a real live human being as opposed to an avatar. Having a professional picture with a nice smile, conveys something about you, hopefully expertise. Even though ties are not a big thing anymore, I still have the picture with the tie and usually I’m wearing my glasses. I know glasses and a tie convey something professional. 

Next thing to be aware of is your banner. My banner has my logo, my branding slogan (Helping You Hear Yes!), and it has a couple of my books. Right away, people are going to be able to make the connection in terms of what I do at Influence PEOPLE – it’s about “Helping You Hear Yes!” 

As we start moving down, when you get to my name, I have my designations tag to it. Right below that I give a very clear and concise message about what I do. I’m an author, a coach, and a consultant. I’m a Cialdini certified trainer, and what I do is I help clients use the science of influence for better business results. Now, somebody may have questions, but that’s a good thing, right? If they start asking questions, I get an opportunity to go deeper on what I do. The more questions they ask, the deeper I go. 

You can see below that I talked about sales influence leadership, persuasion, and I put the insurance industry. Even though it’s said, “The world is my oyster,” when you’re trying to brand yourself, you can’t be all things to all people. I have lots of clients that are outside of insurance, but typically they find me. That’s because of my association with Robert Cialdini and they want somebody who might be able to help them implement his principles of influence. 

However, when I do my marketing, I’m focused on the insurance industry. It’s what I know best. I have more than 30 years in the industry, so I have instant credibility in that space. Potential clients think, “Okay, the guy knows what we do and probably how we do it.” I’m able to marry my understanding of influence with things that are going on in the insurance industry. 

Everything you see on my LinkedIn page has been thought through meticulously and I update it regularly. I constantly go back as I’m learning, to see if there’s something I can change that would help me be more effective, that would convey my expertise a little bit better, or show more social proof. 

Now for social proof. You can see I have 19,333 followers. I’m just a regular guy and when I started on LinkedIn, I hadn’t written any books, or really done a whole lot. But I meticulously look to build my profile. I want to share a few things I do because, as people see more people connected to you and following you, that’s a signal that maybe they should connect with you too. 

Making Connections

First thing I do is I accept anybody who reaches out to me. If they don’t put a personal message like, “I found you because I read Robert Cialdini book, I send a message back and write, “How did you find me?” I do that because I want to know why traffic is coming my way. But it also allows me to get to be social. If we have a little banter back and forth, then the principle of liking might come into play. They might think, “Hey, he’s a real guy. He answered my message and we have something in common.” If they like me and feel connected, that’s going to make the person look more closely at the content I publish.

The second thing I do if I want to move into an organization, before I ever make any kind of pitch, I’m going to start connecting with people in that organization. And it’s usually easy because I can say, “Joe, I’m reaching out to you because we have so many connections in common. I’ve been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. If you’re open to it. I’d like to connect with you.” Every request to connect has a personal message. And that ups my odds of getting that yes. I do that because I’m establishing a beachhead with that organization, so when it comes time to start promoting myself and marketing to them, they see that I have lots of connections with their employees. 

Another tactic I use happens when I go to conferences. If there’s an app conference organizers use that lists conference attendees, I will reach out to every single one of them. I’ve been to conferences where there have been 400, 500, or 600 people, and every person I could find on LinkedIn, I reached out to with a personal message. 

I know that sounds like a lot of work and you’re right, it’s time consuming. But once you find a rhythm, you can move pretty quickly through 40 or 50 connection requests at a time. When I do this, I reference something like, “We were both at the ABC conference” or “If you attended my talk at XYZ, I hope you enjoyed what I shared.” That gets a lot of connections, and it also gets a lot of comments coming back my way. When those people start writing, “Wow, I loved what you shared,” they’re thinking more highly of me and become more likely to engage with my content. Another benefit, the odds of us potentially connecting for business down the road increases because I brought top of mind because of the personalization. 

What if there’s no app? If you can get a hold of a list that works too. Some organizations will publish a list in advance. If they do that, I might say, “Bob, I’m going to be speaking at the XYZ conference. I’m going to talk on this topic. I hope we get an opportunity to meet but if we don’t let’s at least stay connected here.” I use that same message for each person, but I always put their name in the request to connect. That’s how I effectively have been growing my network. 

Growth begets growth, like a snowball going downhill. Once people start seeing the connections, they want to start connecting with you and it becomes easier to keep building your network. 

Again, tap into authority, clearly displaying your expertise and how you can help people. Next, use social proof by getting people to recognize that lots of other people are engaging with you. That’s a signal to them that they should probably engage with you too. And don’t forget to position yourself using scarcity. Even if you’re in an industry where lots of people do what you do, you might have a scarcity opportunity on things like, your certifications, your experience, background in various roles or with different companies. There may be a host of things that, when you bring them together, give the impression that nobody else can give exactly what you offer. This becomes another compelling reason for people to want to engage with you. 

As noted earlier, being social on social media is important. I send lots of personal messages, whether I’m connecting, or whenever someone connects with me. I also make it a point to respond to comments on my social posts. I make sure at a minimum I like and write, “Thank you for sharing your thoughts.” People want to know they’re interacting with a real human being. That’s on us to make it happen. 

Post Content Regularly

The final thing that I’ll share about utilizing LinkedIn; I post every weekday and occasionally on weekends. I’ve been blogging weekly for more than 14 years so after my blog goes live on my website on Monday, I drop the post into LinkedIn as an article because I know some people won’t want to leave LinkedIn to go to a website. As a result, I’m get many more eyes on my articles. 

On Tuesday I post what I refer to as “social media marketing.” It might be a picture of me with a quote and then I’ll expand on the sentiment in the post.

Wednesdays I typically repost the blog posts from earlier. I do this because, with people in different time zones around the world, they may not have seen it when I originally shared it on Monday. 

On Thursday I put out a podcast, video, or something else that’s media driven. 

Friday is for repurposing old blog posts as LinkedIn articles. If I wrote something 10 or 12 years ago, it’s not likely a lot of people read it or remember it. 

All of the content that I regularly put out creates an impression; this guy knows what he’s talking about. He’s continually talking about how to use influence and an ethical way to improve business results and personal life. 

Final Thought

My final thought on content has to do with repurposing what you create. I started to realize after many years, I could use old blog posts to create a book. That led to my first book, Influence PEOPLE. With my second book, I had a great start because I’d written lots about selling. It became the foundation for Persuasive Selling. My encouragement is to think about how you can use your content, not just in the moment, but down the road. 

There are lots of creative ways to make sure what you’re an expert on is continually getting out in the world. If people are looking at your content and thinking, “Wow, you’re putting out a lot of content, you seem really busy, and see you all over LinkedIn, that creates a sense that this is a person who knows what they’re doing. That increases people’s desire to want to connect with you or potentially bring you in. 

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to use influence at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

2 replies
  1. Huda Sameer
    Huda Sameer says:

    This article provides valuable insights into building your brand and network on LinkedIn. I found the principles of authority, social proof, and scarcity compelling. How do you manage to strike a balance between personalizing your outreach and reaching a larger audience at the same time?

    • Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
      Brian Ahearn, CMCT® says:

      Huda, when I reach out to larger audiences via email I try a few things:
      1. Personalize the email by using each person’s first name. Sometimes I do this manually but most of the time through mail merge.
      2. I do my best to incorporate something unique to the person.
      3. I usually ask a question because that does more than anything to elicit a response.
      I hope these tips hepl.


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