Maybe you think of LinkedIn as an online resume or a 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 have written and developed.
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.
A 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 has 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
Now, 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, 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 the 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 not only 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 LinkedIn profile that lead to the actual content.
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.
Photo credit: MR LIGHTMAN at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Carl Friesen is principal of Global Reach Communications. He is a public speaker and believer that engineers need to choose an area of expertise to develop and then get known for through publishing their ideas, public speaking, and online content and social media. For more ideas on demonstrating thought leadership, go to www.showyourexpertise.com.
This article was originally published on Engineering.com and is reprinted in its entirety with permission. For more stories like this please visit Engineering.com.