There's little doubt that standing out from the crowd on LinkedIn has become more difficult than ever.
With 420 million members in 200 countries, and with two new members being added every second, it's no longer enough to hope that creating a killer LinkedIn profile will automatically catch a potential customer or employer's attention.
Instead, you need to make yourself memorable, relatable, and likable with every comment, piece of content you publish, or status update you share on the network.
The Big Secret to Creating Viral Content on LinkedIn
What's most interesting is that the very issue causing so much consternation on LinkedIn right now (too many "personal" posts that "belong on Facebook," according to critics) is key to building a powerful personal brand and generating viral content and engagement on the network.
In fact, one of the most personal posts I've ever penned on any social network (let alone a "professional" one like LinkedIn) generated hundreds of page views, likes, and comments--much to my surprise.
Even just a quick status update with a photo and a few personal thoughts has resulted in dozens of likes and comments--far more than a typical LinkedIn status update generates in most instances.
What Type of "Personal" Content Makes Sense
To be clear, I'm not talking about you spewing out a nonstop stream of puppy photos, bible verses, or personal opinions on LinkedIn.
Instead, I'm talking about sharing something personal from your nonwork life (a vacation photo, a funny story about your kids, an inspiring video you just saw, your thoughts on your favorite sports team) once or twice a day as part of your LinkedIn status updates.
Even more, I'm talking about tying personal stories into the business-themed content you share on LinkedIn.
Again, it's a balance, to be sure, of mixing the personal and professional on LinkedIn, but when done correctly, it builds an incredible bond with potential clients and customers.
Why Personal Posts Matter So Much
It's simple--nobody wants to do business with a stranger.
Instead, we always want to do business with people we know, like, and trust.
This happens all the time in real life, and we don't even realize it.
For instance, we recently had a contractor come to our home for a bid on some landscaping.
After he left, my wife said, "I like him. He's like us--he has three young boys, he played hockey growing up, so I feel like you and him will get along well ... "
Notice how my wife didn't start with the bottom line (his price), but rather the relational aspect of our interaction. Sure, price can be a huge factor, but it wouldn't have mattered how cheap the guy's bid was if the "know, like, and trust" factor didn't get addressed first.
Make Yourself Likable on LinkedIn!
Things work the same way on LinkedIn. When you're looking for a vendor or business partner, you're going to first tap into the relational part of your brain when figuring out whom you'd like to work with.
Whom do you know, like, and trust?
And the more personal or relationship-based the project might be (such as business coaching, consulting, branding or marketing, investing, legal services, etc.), the more important knowing, liking, and trusting the vendor becomes.
So, if you want to generate more sales using LinkedIn, get more personal.
One last caveat: Avoid political or religious rants (just like at the dinner table), because all that will do is alienate and annoy your audience.
Instead, share more about who you are--your life, your family, your hopes and dreams, your hobbies, and so on.
If you do, you'll find that not only does your content on LinkedIn go more viral, but you'll also secure the know, like, and trust element with potential clients and customers faster than ever.