Would you believe that on numerous occasions when discussing LinkedIn training needs with potential clients for their team, I have been specifically told not to focus on personal profiles and to only talk about company pages.
I would say that I spend at least 50% or more of full day training getting through all the elements of personal profiles from privacy settings, 10+ elements of standout profiles, shaping & crafting personal brands, finding & connecting confidently, and then the entire A-Z of personal content and analytics.
Personal profiles are way more powerful and complex than the company page! And for me, all those elements of the personal profile forms the entire core foundation of building trust and selling effectively on LinkedIn, all while using the FREE LinkedIn plan to drive career and professional success.
And so, I am always slightly speechless when I'm instructed *ahem* to only cover the company page.
And so, I ask, "Why do you not want to cover personal profiles", and it all comes down to 2 main reasons.
Issue 1. Don’t be afraid of your employees having strong personal profiles on LinkedIn
If someone wants to leave a company, having a ‘good, polished, and up to date LinkedIn profile, is actually the least of your worries! If they want to leave, they will find a way regardless of how good or bad their LinkedIn profile is.
Recruiters are searching on LinkedIn all day long for potential candidates. And nothing you can do will stop that from happening. The recruiter licences for LinkedIn cost around €10,000 a year, per recruiter, and so they have huge KPIs to justify that spend. Sending in-mails, connecting, and getting CVs are just some of the KPIs that they must meet on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. All of us are regularly approached by recruiters on LinkedIn. It does not mean that all of us will jump ship.
But to actively encourage poor personal profiles on LinkedIn is a dangerous strategy for any business to adopt, and especially for team members who are involved in selling, marketing, and dealing directly with clients, customers, and stakeholders. As I will show further on, personal profiles on the FREE LinkedIn plan are a goldmine when used correctly.
And so, perhaps instead of focusing on preventing strong employee LinkedIn profiles to prevent high staff turnover, consider reviewing exit interview feedback and start with fixing those internal issues that crop up again and again and who knows what positive things might happen.
Issue 2. Stop treating LinkedIn like Facebook and Instagram.
If it wasn't issue 1 above, then it would be issue 2.
Whoever managed the LinkedIn company page, was also managing the business page on Facebook. And they kept their personal Facebook totally separate from work Facebook. They would never dream of posting any work stuff in their personal profiles.
And so it went like this:
Essentially, a dividing line was drawn between work and personal on these platforms - never the two personas shall meet.
They then brought this approach to LinkedIn, and completely disregarded their personal profiles, instead focusing entirely on the LinkedIn company page (and usually had zero budget - more on that below). Because in their minds, that’s how it worked on Facebook and Instagram business accounts, plus the work Twitter account - everything was kept separate.
However. LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram (or Tik Tok, or Snapchat). (But it can be similar enough to Twitter in that some people have blended their content to show both their work and home lives on the one account).
And so the crux of the issue is this - LinkedIn is a work platform. Regardless of whether you are using your personal profile or if you are an administrator on the company page, it is all about work.
Why LinkedIn Personal Profiles are so valuable
Your online portfolio
Essentially, think of your own LinkedIn personal profile as your online portfolio landing page that accompanies you throughout your career from the day that you create our account, whether that's during university, when you leave school, graduate or are a few years into your job.
Your LinkedIn profile is fluid and moves with you as your career grows, develops or (like me) goes off on a few tangents with stops and starts and odysseys along the way. It reflects your career journey, expertise, accomplishments and tells your story.
And not only can it be quite a powerful influencing tool when done properly, but it also has significant influence over the LinkedIn search engine too through SEO and keywords.
Build your personal brand, drive your career and professional goals
And so, we have this amazing opportunity on LinkedIn to build up a fantastic personal brand to drive our career and professional goals by building trust using all the FREE elements in our personal accounts such as:
(1) 10+ elements to show our personal brand, mission statement, work history, recommendations and why we are awesome at what we do
(2) Growing our network & community through actively searching and seeking out the right people to connect with
(3) Content. But not just posting content, but engaging, commenting, and sharing on other people’s content and then posting smarter with better content, posted for the right people at the right times.
*Note - you do not have to post photographs / selfies or videos. An insightful and helpful newspaper report can be even better than a photo.
Utilising the FREE LinkedIn plan
By cleverly utilising all of the elements in our FREE personal LinkedIn accounts we can easily achieve the following:
(1) build trust with our target market
(2) show our knowledge and passion for our industry
(3) establish credibility
(4) build our community, network, and tribe
And once we do the basics really well, there is no need to upgrade to any of the expensive paid packages such as Premium or Sales Navigator (which in my opinion offer very little in return for how expensive they are. It really is about getting the basics right on a consistent basis.)
Company pages work harder to build trust
Add to this that it's much more difficult to build up a trusted company page than a trusted personal profile and personal brand on LinkedIn.
One of my favourite statistics is from the Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2020 which surveys over 34,000 respondents across 28 markets globally each year to get a picture of trust globally.
Respondents were asked, “In general, when forming an opinion of a company, if you heard information about a company from each person, how credible would the information be—extremely credible, very credible, somewhat credible, or not credible at all”. They were then presented with 11 roles to choose from: academic expert, a person like yourself, company technical expert, regular employee, CEO, board of directors, NGO representative, journalist, government official, successful entrepreneur, and financial industry analyst.
And who was most credible? A company technical expert at 68%.
And the least credible? A government official with 33%.
*A person like yourself was 3rd most credible with 61%
*CEOs were 5th most credible with 47%.
*Board of directors were 8th out of 11 with 44%
Compare this to a finding for trust of organisations in the same report. 67% of respondents said that they agree that “a good reputation may get me to try a product but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will soon stop buying it”.
To become more than just an ‘entity’, company pages have to work so much harder than personal profiles to build trust on LinkedIn. They can feel very inauthentic and distant at times - almost just like a logo with a bunch of information, and constant one-way conversation with endless posts.
Use the valuable FREE resource that you have!
And so, unfortunately, when employers are afraid of LinkedIn personal profiles, or when LinkedIn is treated like Facebook and Instagram - all of those really valuable elements of the free LinkedIn plan and personal profiles get lost. But always remember that there's a reason why people are called ‘connections’ on LinkedIn and not ‘friends’ like on Facebook - it’s all about work on LinkedIn!
So if you are an SME with very limited resources, and if people buy from people, then why focus all your time on energy on driving the company page, when you have such a valuable resource in your team’s individual LinkedIn accounts?
So, what can I do on the LinkedIn company page?