How to be a thought leader on LinkedIn

Our 'Treat LinkedIn as a Conference' Analogy

Imagine the platform of LinkedIn as a virtual conference. You know, the one everybody in your industry attends every year. The one that people snap up tickets for without even thinking about it. That one.

Who are the people at the conference? And how does this impact you?

There are lots of different kinds of people who you might listen to or speak to at a conference. Let’s go with these options:

  • The Speakers
  • The Attendees
  • The Sponsors
  • The people you meet in the coffee queue

How do each of these relate to your behaviour on LinkedIn?

1. The Speakers

If you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry, this is where you want to be placed.

You want to be the person speaking on stage about your ideal topic, to your ideal clients.

When you speak at a conference, it should be in front of the people who will become your customers and referrers. What is the last conference you attended? Do you remember the speakers? What did they talk about?


Louise speaking on stage at Social Media Bootcamp Belfast, 2019

When you are on LinkedIn are you ‘speaking’ about your area of expertise?

This can take various forms:

  • Writing posts and articles
  • Writing a newsletter your network can subscribe to
  • Sharing video content
  • Going live on either LinkedIn Live or Audio

If you are not sharing your thought leadership on LinkedIn, how will your network know that you can help them?

If I attend a conference as a LinkedIn expert, but am not speaking on stage, will my network sign up to work with me? Or the other LinkedIn consultant on the stage who is delivering their 45 minute talk?

If you have someone else in your network who is showing up and hosting conversations around the topic YOU are an expert in, it doesn’t matter if you know more than them or if you are commenting on their post – THEY are seen as the expert by all the people who are reading or engaging with that content.

Tip: Start sharing content with your network that shows you as a thought leader in your space. You want to be leading the conversation a.k.a speaking from the stage.

2. The Attendees/Your Network

In our virtual re-imagination of LinkedIn as your favourite industry conference, I see the LinkedIn personal profile as you showing up as an attendee at the conference.

What does this mean?

When you ‘wander’ around LinkedIn, show up as you would if you were actually at the real-life event. You would be presenting your professional self. I would imagine you are dressed as though you might be if you were coming to meet me for a coffee to discuss business.

NB – you don’t need to be speaking at a conference in front of thousands – a niche room full of your ideal clients can convert into good solid leads

How does this look in reality?

Optimise your Profile. Make sure your headline (your conference badge!) reflects who you are and what you do.

How to write a Great LinkedIn Profile

I might ask you what you do, or look you up online. What will your profile say about you? Will it lead me to want to connect?

When you go to an actual conference, how do you behave? Do you head towards the speakers you want to hear from? Maybe you connect with old and new contacts in business. You might arrange to meet someone for lunch.

At our imaginary “LinkedIn-as-conference” how will this look?

You will start connecting with people you know. Commenting on posts from business contacts. You attend someone’s LinkedIn live and connect in the comments with people who are like-minded.

At your real-life conference, imagine you meet someone in the coffee queue who just attended the same session as you. You will probably strike up a conversation. At it is an industry event, you will probably swap business cards.


LinkedIn Example Situation

  • You see a post from Sue sharing a podcast she listened to.
  • You also listened to that podcast.
  • In the comments, Elizabeth mentions what she liked about the podcast.
  • You have never met Elizabeth. You like her comment so you go to check out her profile.
  • You find out Elizabeth is a copywriter and you have been looking for someone to help you with that.   So you send her a connection request.
  • Elizabeth shares a few more posts about copywriting in the next week or two. 
  • You send her a message and ask if you can have a chat about her services. 

In this example, 

  • The post is the speaker
  • The comments are  the coffee queue
  • Checking out her profile is you having the conversation
  • Sending a connection request is the equivalent of  exchanging business cards
  • The new contact is active on LinkedIn and writes about her area of expertise

You have a good lead to follow up!


3. The Sponsors

So where do the sponsors fit in?

Can you guess?

I see the sponsor booth at the conference equivalent on LinkedIn as your Company Page.



When someone views your profile, they can also see the Conmpany that you work in.

In the above image, the Company Page is found under the right hand side of your cover image

Your curious viewer will click on the Company Page to find out more about you and where you work.

At the conference,  you have a conversation or you have a company branding sweater or badge on – and the person you were just talking to, spots your Sponsor Booth as they head to their next talk.

At the sponsor booth or Company Page, they can find out more about the company, who works there, what the products and services are,  get a link to your website, maybe even sign up for your email list. 



Are you showing up on LinkedIn as best you can?

Are you really leveraging LinkedIn as the thought leader you want to be seen as?

Here’s your checklist:

  1. Are you sharing content
  2. Do you have an optimised profile?
  3. Have you got your Company Page created and fully up to date?
  4. Are you building an audience who are engaging with you?
  5. Are you converting your content and conversations into leads and sales?

If you answer no to any of the above, that’s where we can help.

Get in touch today to find out how – we offer done-for-you LinkedIn Marketing services, as well as our LinkedIn VIP Session and corporate training programme.