The evolution of my 5,000-follower LinkedIn network

career change leadership confidence connection engagement impact leadership Oct 04, 2022
Lata in pink shirt with hand on hip, text: the evolution of my 5,000-follower linkedin network


On the weekend, I ticked over to 5,000 followers on my LinkedIn profile.


I am absolutely blown away and so very honoured to have the privilege of being a force for good and a source of inspiration for so many people.


It warms my heart to know what I share resonates and truly helps others :) :)



This epic milestone has been a decade in the making and because they say: "Your network is your net worth", I thought I'd mark this celebration by sharing how I started out on LinkedIn and what I've done to build such a large, varied and global network of followers. 


Whether you're employed, contracting or have your own business, you're a leader with impact and just a few simple tips can help you shine too in a professional and authentic way to recruiters, employers, peers, team members, and clients.



#1 Showcase YOU in your profile

When I first started on LinkedIn about 10 years ago, it was a very different place and a very different space. It was super corporate, all the profile photos were suits and shirts on neutral backgrounds, and profile information was quite factual and dry. Social media was still young and people (especially employees!) were still navigating how to show up professionally in such a public space.


In fact, for years my profile picture was me with GHD-straightened hair, in a black dress in front of a grey concrete pillar. A colleague at the Big 4 bank that I worked at lined us up one-by-one school-photo-day style to take our picture. I used that photo for YEARS, long after I stopped straightening my hair. The issue: I look completely different with my hair curly, and I'd actually have people tell me the person in the photo couldn't be me!!


Now - there's a kaleidoscope of profile photos and you really can choose what suits your personality, your profession and your industry. Golden rules: face the camera, have some light on your face, and have just you in the picture (code for: don't crop that group photo of you at a wedding...). We talk a lot now about bringing your whole self to work and when I switched from Straight-Laced Straight-Hair Lata to my current vibrant profile picture with a cascade of curls and a bright colourful dress at my home office desk, it really felt like the true me finally came out on LinkedIn! 


Then the text: make your profile complete! LinkedIn literally helps you - it'll give you suggestions on how to get to an All-Star profile. Use those keywords and key skills (for Change Management, grab my Intro to Change Management webinar here and add on the Change CV Template), share your achievements against each role, and remember to include in your bio summary who you are, what you've done, and what value you bring to your team, organisation and/or the world. 




#2 Actively invite people to connect

Early on, I attended an actual info session at LinkedIn's Head Office in Sydney. They themselves recommended to aim for 500 connections. But this was back in the day and there was a LOT of do's and don'ts about who you could invite to connect - essentially, people you worked with, knew personally, and you often had to have their email address. It took me YEARS to get to 500 connections because I was still at the start of my career and I totally admit to having invited completely random people I didn't know from a bar of soap, trying to reach that elusive goal of 500 connections. 


LinkedIn though has changed a lot and they now encourage you to connect more widely but differently: with followers. They have provided the option to switch your profile to a Creator profile and this simple little tool has really helped me connect much more authentically with my true tribe. I get new people following me every day because they don't need to know me personally: they might have resonated with a photo or a blog post, a comment or a video, as well as worked with me, been recommended to me, or come along to one of my workshops or webinars. Being able to hit "follow" rather than prove they know me via a connection request is more comfortable for them because I can seem like a bit of a celebrity (even though I'm just a regular person like you and very far from being anything celebrity haha).


The only challenge with switching to a Creator profile is that it makes it more difficult to find the actual "Connect" button (this still exists). So I'll often reach out with an invitation to connect to anyone who views my profile, follows me, or comes along to my LinkedIn events because there's a high chance they do want to connect but can't find the button now :)




#3 Stay up-to-date with LinkedIn enhancements

LinkedIn features change ALL the time. Like any social media platform they are always optimising and some features just disappear from view (remember LinkedIn Articles?) while others appear without fanfare or notification (like the Creator profile option above - I stumbled across it!). If you can find a few trusted sources that share new or changed LinkedIn features and check them out once or twice a year, you can take advantage of network-building options. I used to write loads of LinkedIn Articles but when they hid them, I moved to blogging. I never really got into the old-school Skills Endorsements, but I love the newer Recommendations feature. And of course - when I discovered the Creator profile option, I jumped at the chance to show up differently.




#4 Comment, create and collaborate

I know a lot of my followers absorb my content without popping a like or comment on it and that is absolutely ok - I love you all the same and soooo appreciate you being in my world. Whether you actively engage with my LinkedIn posts or not, your energy helps to support me and sustain me and keep me sharing more goodness. BUT, in contrast, the LinkedIn algorithm favours people who are active on the platform and that, my friend, is the secret to getting recruiters, hiring managers and clients coming to you. It's a virtuous cycle: the more you engage with content on LinkedIn, the higher you get put in the algorithm, the more you show up in feeds, notifications and searches, and the more job offers and career opportunities come your way. As you build confidence and progress in your career, you'll probably feel braver to engage with more content... and the cycle starts again. You don't even need to create your own content - you can literally just comment on other people's and reshare posts with your views or key takeaways or congratulations. I share this hack with my Leading Successful Change members all the time because it is so powerful: jobs come to me because I'm active on the platform, and even if you're not actively looking for a new role, you just never know when you'll need one due to redundancy, misalignment, or lifestyle decisions.




#5 Treat yourself like a business

The last thing I want to share is that when I started out on LinkedIn, I had no intentions or ambitions to ever start a business. But in coaching we say: "Treat yourself like a business", and I did: I worked to build a personal brand and profile to become more visible and vibrant as an employee.


Within a couple of years, I had started a side hustle, and last year I moved to my own business full-time. If I had just started building my LinkedIn network when I moved to my business full-time, I wouldn't have had the confidence and the courage to share my message more consistently and shine. Who knows what YOUR future holds - lay the groundwork now so that you have multiple potential paths for later. 




We talk about how to become more visible and create your own personal brand on our Leading Successful Change monthly coaching calls. The next one is tomorrow Wednesday 5 October so if you'd like to have a space to learn and share how you can shine in your leadership with confidence, come join LSC here and jump onto our next call.


Lata xx



P.S. If we're not yet connected on LinkedIn, feel free to follow me or hunt for that "Connect" button over on my LinkedIn profile here.

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