If you follow my column, you know I'm a fan of LinkedIn. I found it to be an invaluable tool in building my company, forging my brand, and beginning a number of relationships that have led to priceless opportunities. (I also love connecting with readers; feel free to send me an invite.)
But you might be surprised to discover a number of celebrities and other well known personalities on LinkedIn. Although they might use the platform differently than you and I, there are some valuable lessons to be learned.
Take a look at five of my favorite LinkedIn celebrity profiles:
1. Conan O'Brien
If you're a Conan fan like me, you remember back in 2013 when the late night talk show host, who at the time had zero LinkedIn followers, set out to conquer the professional social media platform. Two years later and O'brien has well over 300,000 followers.
His profile highlights past roles such as "Temporary Consultant at The Tonight Show" and "Lighting Designer at Applebees International". His listed skills include talking, pretending to listen, "blaming my father"...and Microsoft Excel.
What Conan and his team know is that LinkedIn is simply one more channel to further publicize their brand. Additionally, Team CoCo uses the publishing platform to put out some great content: Although the number of posts have tapered off, they've still gathered well over a million views collectively. (Not to mention the fact that the most recent one, How to Conduct Performance Reviews, sucked me in; the 10 minute video is hilarious.)
Lesson: LinkedIn and its publishing platform are valuable tools in helping to define and share your brand. Learn to use them wisely.
2. Shaquille O'neal
Now retired, Shaq was one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time. He's now a key member of TNT's immensely popular basketball program Inside the NBA, as well as partner and ambassador to multiple brands. His LinkedIn title describes him as a "Business mogul, former athlete, and purveyor of fun".
Surprisingly, Shaq's profile is filled out to the tee, and would give anyone a run for their money for the title of best profile on LinkedIn. It's well written and balanced, and gives a well-rounded picture of the real Shaquille O'neal, including little-known tidbits like the fact that Shaq is the first NBA player to hold a bachelor's, a master's and a doctorate degree. Or that he's served as an officially sworn (reserve) officer in several law enforcement agencies across the country. Or that he's collaborated on everything from fashion lines to children's books.
Kudos, Shaq. Kudos.
Lesson: Use LinkedIn to tell your story. Make sure to showcase interesting facts that stand out and draw us in.
3. Emily Chang
A long-time television journalist, Emily Chang is currently the anchor of Bloomberg West, a daily live show about tech, innovation, and the future of business. I've followed her for a while, and am equally impressed with the simple yet elegant way she uses LinkedIn.
In general, Emily keeps her LinkedIn profile short and sweet. Her summary puts the shows that she hosts front and center, making sure we know exactly what they are, and where and how often we can find them. She also highlights the non-profit organization BUILD, where she serves on the board of directors. No need to cite every detail of her long, accomplished career--just what she wants us to see. (Not to mention some great blog posts, which you can read here.)
Lesson: Don't try to do too much with your profile. You've done some great things, we get it. But we don't need to know how much product you sold in 1983, or what your high school GPA was.
Keep things simple, and whatever you feature will stand out more.
4. Jeff Haden
As a friend and mentee of Jeff's, I know he would strongly object to being called a "famous person". But his posts here on Inc. and on LinkedIn were read by more than 45 million people in 2014. And with over 720,000 followers, he happens to be one of LinkedIn's most read influencers.
Why is Jeff so popular? His writing is smart, funny, and (at times) touching. But what really draws us in is his humble and down-to-earth manner. This is highly evident on his LinkedIn profile as well. After listing a few of his professional accomplishments, Jeff's summary concludes like this:
"Otherwise I'm a wannabe cyclist, fitness enthusiast of minimal repute, over the hill motorcycle racer. And if making lots of mistakes was the path to wisdom I'd be a genius. (Since I'm not, clearly it's not.)"
Lesson: Find the balance between sharing what you're good at and not taking yourself seriously. This will lead to increased opportunities.
5. Richard Branson
The most followed "Influencer" on LinkedIn, Richard Branson is best known as the founder of the Virgin Group and its more than 400 companies. His profile description is perfect: "Tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at Virgin!"
He's written over 70 posts on LinkedIn, but is it really him penning those words? Branson strongly asserts that it is. In one post, entitled Behind the Scenes: How I Write Blogs, he put it this way:
"One of the questions I am asked more than nearly any other these days is: 'Do you really write your own blogs?' As tempting as it is to reply to each person with a resounding 'yes!', I hope that what my posts actually say is enough to prove it is yours truly behind these words."
It's this authenticity, this accessibility to one of the busiest persons on the planet, that has turned Dr. Yes into the most popular entrepreneur in the world.
Lesson: Be yourself. There are apparently thousands of ninjas, gurus, and experts out there.
But there's only one you.
Have you spotted any more great LinkedIn profiles? Send me a note and I'd love to include them in a future column.