Using your LinkedIn profile to show thought leadership

LinkedIn is far more than an online resume. It's a way to demonstrate credibility and thought leadership, as a vehicle for listing and publishing content.

Maybe you think of LinkedIn as an online resume, or database of potential employees. Take it one step further — LinkedIn is rapidly emerging as a vehicle for demonstrating expertise and thought leadership, through displaying content that you’ve developed.

Before going further, let me say that I have no relationship with LinkedIn, other than that I have a profile posted.

Let’s consider an engineer we’ll call Aisha, who has developed a robust, low-cost solar power solution for domestic lighting in parts of the world that don’t have a reliable source of electrical power. In order to get funding to manufacture the device, and build interest from governments and NGOs, she needs to be seen as someone who understands developing-world issues and can build robust solutions.

Enter … Aisha’s LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn profile showcases accomplishments

If Aisha is like many people, if you Google her name, her LinkedIn profile is the first result that comes up. That makes it important. So, let’s scroll through what should be on a thought-leader’s LinkedIn profile.

Start with Aisha’s headline, appearing right below her name. Any really significant piece of content she’s developed, such as a book she’s authored, should be mentioned here. LinkedIn offers 120 characters, so use them.

Aisha’s summary should mention her accomplishments: professional papers and articles she’s written, books she’s authored or contributed to, and other evidence of thought leadership.

Keep the profile updated frequently

On to the “Update” section near the top of her profile. It should be renewed frequently — once a week, if possible. The Update section could have a link to the latest entry in her blog, or to articles she’s written, or to mentions of speeches she’s given. This shows that Aisha is continuing to move her profession forward, through knowledge she provides.

There is space for links to websites. Many people don’t know that if they click on “other” they can insert custom wording that invites action: “Subscribe to my blog” or “Follow me on Twitter.” 

List publications on your profile

Aisha should add a section on Publications. It’s one of those little-known “Add Sections” aspects of LinkedIn. The Publications section can describe and provide links to articles, books and e-books. If Aisha authors an article, for example, it should be listed in her Update but also in Publications.

SlideShare offers new ways to show thought leadership. A stand-alone slide show is an increasingly popular way to provide information on a narrow, focused topic, particularly one that lends itself to graphic representation.

Many people don’t know that SlideShare also supports many other formats, including videos and PDFs. So, by posting PDFs of the articles she’s published to SlideShare, Aisha can have thumbnails of her articles on her profile, leading to full-size versions.

Put your strengths at the top of your profile

Not many people realize that they can click-and-drag to move chunks of their profile around. This is good because it allows you to present key sections of your profile at the top, where searchers will be more likely to see it. If Aisha is a recent university graduate, for example, it would be best to have her “Education” section near the top. If she’s had time to develop impressive work credentials, her “Experience” section should get top billing.

 For more ideas on demonstrating thought leadership, see