The Keys to LinkedIn Success

By Nigel Cliffe

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I was very grateful to be invited to speak about how to succeed on LinkedIn at the CFN (Corporate Finance Network) Conference earlier this month by Kirsty McGregor. When I was unable to be there in person due to COVID19, I recorded this video so delegates (and now you!) could benefit from tips to unlock LinkedIn success.

Key Takeaways to Enjoy LinkedIn Success

Interestingly I believe that there are only 2 things we need to do on LinkedIn to be successful:

    1. Have a great Profile
    2. Engaging


Steps to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Brilliant

Profile Photo

Your LinkedIn Profile is the basis of any relationship you have with someone on LinkedIn. Is your Profile Photo representative of the moment when you would meet a new customer or client? Are you dressed smartly? Are you looking directly at the lens of the camera when you took the photo? Is only your face in the shot? All these things make for a great first impression when people view your Profile.

Background Photo

Make sure you maximise your background photo on LinkedIn (the image that appears behind your Profile Photo at the top of your Profile). Ensure it tells the story of what you do and the benefits you can bring to your audience. Does it illustrate the products or services you want your target audience on LinkedIn to associate with you WITHOUT being too salesy?

Your LinkedIn Name

Your name is your name. Avoid including your email address, telephone number or any other expression of the industry you serve in the name field. In fact, it’s against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions to have anything other than your name in this field. Why wouldn’t you have your name? It makes you more findable on LinkedIn and looks neater if you do so!

Your LinkedIn Headline

Don’t make the mistake so many others do of underutilising this feature. The piece of text that sits under your name on your LinkedIn Profile, those precious 120 characters (on desktop) is a perfect way to get your message across. It’s your personal strapline, it’s like your mission statement, your personal brand statement. It can be tricky but think, what are the keywords my audience wish to find me for and what keywords do I want to be found for? How can you convey how you can help the visitor to your Profile?

Contact Information

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your contact information on your Profile up-to-date. First-degree Connections will be able to click on your contact information to see your contact details so make sure your company web address is up-to-date and you have listed a professional sounding work email address as your Primary Email Address, suitable for the business-to-business platform that is LinkedIn!

Not keeping your contact information up-to-date could confuse or deter people from making contact with you and Connecting when they arrive on your Profile

About Section

Again, for LinkedIn success think how you can tell the visitor to your Profile what you do and how you can help in your LinkedIn About section. It’s NOT a CV. It’s about your personal story. Where have you been in life? What has your career to date involved? What are you doing at the present time and what does a successful future look like for you?

Bonus tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to add your contact details into your About section so people who aren’t first degree Connections but who land on your Profile know how to reach out to you.

Bonus tip 2! Don’t forget to maximise the opportunity to add Rich Media, such as a PDF resource and/or video to your About Section…people love clicking on things after all!

Volunteer Experience Section

Forgetting to fill this section out would be silly as it helps paint a move vivid picture of who you are, and you never know what causes or interests will resonate with people who visit your LinkedIn Profile!

Experience Section

“Should I include all the jobs I’ve ever had in my life on my LinkedIn Profile, Nigel?” I often get asked. And you know what? I’d say ‘Yes!’ The cumulative experiences of all those jobs are your life’s journey. Even if you’ve had a career change as many of us have, outlining all your job experiences on LinkedIn helps me, the visitor to your Profile, fully understand the essence of YOU. I’m not left answering questions about a gap in your job history.

Plus… I’m much more inclined to build trust with someone who has shared all their history and, as I will explain next, LinkedIn is all about TRUST.

Why not put 20 minutes in your diary and set time aside to go away from this video and check out your own Profile? Are there any improvements you can make based on the above?

How to Engage for LinkedIn Success

NEVER Sell on LinkedIn

Ask yourself, why are we on LinkedIn? In a sense, we are there to build relationships with the ultimate aim perhaps of winning business or employing people through recruitment, there may be a number of reasons why people are on LinkedIn in the first place but many of the reasons are around lead generation. Therefore, you could argue the main reason to be on LinkedIn is to sell.

But actually…the rule for LinkedIn success is NEVER to sell!

You, like most people, would instantly switch off if you receive a Connection Request from someone that looks a bit spammy on the surface and you just get that hunch that as soon as you hit Connect you’re going to get a message from that person trying to sell you something. Usually, without any hesitation, you’ll also get a follow-up email from them pitching their latest 2 for 1 offer. Another turn-off. You and the person have not afforded a relationship of trust so for them to be pitching their wares to you almost immediately is going to be a fail. So, don’t do it, don’t sell!

Engaging on LinkedIn

The way to be expressive and valuable on LinkedIn is to engage. Build your personal reputation and build trust in your personal brand.

Reverse the methodology. Rather than selling on LinkedIn and treating it as the place to go to push your message out (a mistake many make), be of value to your audience so that you’re building a reputational value and trust in your personal brand so that when they’re ready to purchase from you, they willcome to you.

You might find it easy for me to say as I’ve been a LinkedIn practitioner for a while (a long while!) but I genuinely try to not sell on LinkedIn and just be a provider of information and engaging in order for people to find what I say on LinkedIn and what I share attractive so when the moment arrives and they want what I do, then they will come to me and ask me for it, and that’s a wonderful position to be in but it comes as a result of not selling on LinkedIn!

The best Profile in the world won’t lead to success on LinkedIn. LinkedIn success will come from engaging with your audience.

Share Content

Share content you find interesting in the form of publishing Posts and occasionally an Article, but it’s also about engaging with other people’s content that you find interesting, where you can add your perspective into a conversation that somebody else is having.

Commenting on Other People’s Content

I try to use the notion of:

80% of my time on LinkedIn = engaging with other people’s content
20% of my time on LinkedIn = sharing content about me and the services I offer.

Shake this idea that LinkedIn is all about you. LinkedIn is not all about you. It’s about your audience and you offering value into your network of Connections.

Engagement on LinkedIn comes in two forms:

  1. Engaging with other people’s content via Likes and Comments
  2. Engaging by sharing what you can offer your audience in your own original posts

What is at the Root of Sharing Content?

Typically, I find that sharing knowledge, information and perspective around my own world is what people resonate with. The skills and knowledge you have might be glaringly obvious to you, but they won’t be to the audience you’re Connected to on LinkedIn. People don’t know what you know! Consider the questions you get asked on a regular basis. Why not answer them on LinkedIn? How will people know you’re a financial expert or an IT whizz or HR Pro if you don’t share your knowledge on LinkedIn?

These questions and tips should form the basis of a content strategy with which you share with your audience to attract engagement.


The very essence of LinkedIn is trust. People will not Connect with me or purchase my services before they trust my personal brand enough to have that conversation.

Every keystroke you make on LinkedIn is either enhancing or deterring from the trust value people have of your personal brand. Therefore, you should be careful when doing anything on LinkedIn and conduct your activity through the lens that everything you do is influencing trust in your personal brand.

You may not agree with everything you see on LinkedIn, but you should always offer any opinion you have in a highly respectful manner, so the trust continues to build in your personal brand.

The Importance of Having a LinkedIn Strategy

Often people will go onto LinkedIn without a strategy in place. They will spend time answering questions, going onto content that they might find interesting and Comment, Share and Like this content. Ask yourself, however, is that helping you to develop our personal brand and a strategy around LinkedIn? I find if you’re more refined around the content that you Share, Like and engage with, your whole experience on LinkedIn improves as a result of being more strategic with how you use the platform.

Someone once told me if you spend enough time on any social media platform you will probably end watching a video of a cat (or a dog!) and I think that’s probably true. It’s very easy to waste time on any social media platform, LinkedIn included and therefore if I’m going to spend minutes on the platform each day, I want to make sure I’m maximising those minutes spent. I want to ensure that I’ve got a target audience in mind and that I’m building trust around the things that I know.

My LinkedIn Strategy

If you peel back the layers of Nigel Cliffe, you’ll find:

  • I’m about LinkedIn, of course
  • I’m interested in digital technology
  • I know about marketing technology
  • I’m knowledgeable about the concept of digital disruptive

Those are the worlds that I occupy and what I’d like to be considered an expert in. So, if Donald Trump Tweets something ridiculous on a given morning, I may find it interesting or entertaining, but would I share it on LinkedIn? Would I Comment on it on LinkedIn? No, I wouldn’t! Why? Because it isn’t helping me form the right relationship with my audience that expect to hear from me on the subject matters that I’m an expert in.

Be mindful of having a strategy on LinkedIn. Not having a strategy on LinkedIn means at best you could be wasting your time on LinkedIn and at worst you could be damaging your whole trust-building presence by engaging with things related to subjects you don’t really wish your audience to associate you with. It’s like going to the sports section in a newspaper and finding its political commentary that’s held there. You’d quickly put the newspaper down as you wouldn’t understand it or have the patience to deal with it!

Ask yourself what are the subject matters you’re interested in? People begin to find you interesting and respect you as a consequence of the things you share. So, if you haven’t built a strategy on LinkedIn take some time out and consider what it is that you want to be known for on LinkedIn.


Too many people expect instant fixes from their time spent on LinkedIn. LinkedIn shouldn’t be an urgent place. We build our personal brands slowly. Trust is never built in a moment or in a day, it builds over a period of time. Therefore, be patient in building that respect that that audience will deliver to you over a period of time. Be consistent with your activity on LinkedIn. Go on there and spend a few minutes every day – it’s not something you leave until Friday afternoon when you happen to have a few spare hours. Be on LinkedIn every day for a little time and be patient about the relationships you build up over time and I’m sure you’ll benefit from that in the long term.

In Summary

To sum up, when it comes to LinkedIn success we have talked about:

  • How to build a great LinkedIn Profile
  • I’ve expressed how selling on LinkedIn will NOT do you any favours
  • The key to LinkedIn success is about engaging, about building trust and sharing knowledge
  • The importance of having a LinkedIn strategy and being patient!

Find Out more

On how I can help you turn your Linkedin profile into multiple opportunities in a few hours.

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