What Demonstrates ‘Depth of Knowledge’​ on LinkedIn?

By Nigel Cliffe

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The first stage to engaging effectively on LinkedIn is by attracting the attention of others.

Easy to say, but how do you go about doing this?

Look at this way, it is not simply about appearances: regardless of your profile (and your profile picture), what will attract others to you on LinkedIn is what you can offer by way of showing your credibility, your authority, and your potential to be useful and helpful to them.

What you must therefore do is demonstrate your depth of knowledge.

What, though, does this really mean in practice?

Defining Depth of Knowledge

In educational terms, depth of knowledge, or DOK, refers to the depth of understanding that is required for a student to be able to explain an assessment-based item or classroom activity.

As an educational concept, DOK was first developed in the 1990s by a scientist in the Wisconsin Centre for Educational Research, Norman J Webb.

You may be thinking, how is this relevant to me, and to my activity on social media?

But in fact, educating others is a key facet in attracting them to you and then engaging with them.

Educating does not automatically mean taking a very formal, instructional approach, however.

You can educate and engage through demonstrating empathy. Consequently, demonstrating your depth of knowledge shouldn’t be about reeling off facts and figures, or complex arguments, but making what you know relatable to your audience.

What you know, your accumulated experience and knowledge, will only work for you if others can see how it might benefit them.

It makes sense, then, to frame your depth of knowledge in such a way that people will find it easy to understand, informative and helpful.

Or to put it another way: no one likes a smarty pants, but everyone can see the value of a helping hand.

What Will Your Depth of Knowledge Look Like on LinkedIn?

What engages people pretty much instantly?

The answer is storytelling.

LinkedIn is the perfect platform for storytelling because you can post content on it, content which engages your audience.

Humans are hard-wired to respond positively to stories. Storytelling is integral to the human experience, going right back to when we were all living in caves.

How does this work for depth of knowledge?

Think of how you can illustrate what you know, and its potential benefits to others, in the form of a concise narrative.

There is something called a three-act structure:

  • Exposition
  • Antagonism
  • Resolution

The first act of your story, the exposition, is where you set the scene. What is the scenario where your expertise plays its part? Think in terms of a situation someone you’ve helped has faced.

The second act, antagonism, highlights the nature of the problem, how it might escalate, and the challenge overcome.

Finally, the third act is the resolution. This is what happened, through the application of your depth of knowledge, to resolve the situation.

The crucial thing here is not the detail – the intricacies of your method or the tools of your trade are not the issue – but rather the result.

To make your depth of knowledge count to your audience you need it to have a clear benefit for the protagonist in your story.

Remember: the most effective stories do not feature you as a protagonist, but rather the person, business or organisation who you have helped or advised. You are, in fact, the cavalry riding to the rescue, but the focus of the story is elsewhere. This is where empathy comes in.

Why Empathy Matters

Broadly speaking, empathy is what happens when someone reacts emotionally and cognitively to the observed experiences of another.

Your depth of knowledge should work to help your audience see that you can empathise with them.

Also, your storytelling should feature a protagonist, or situation, which your audience can, in turn, empathise with.

If you get this right, you can set up a powerful, two-way process, which will help enormously in helping you engage with others on LinkedIn.

Does this sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

Trust in your own experience, think of situations that demonstrate it in practical terms, and most of all, remember that the focus of your LinkedIn activity should always be on others, and not be about bolstering your own ego.

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