How to Become a LinkedIn Thought Leader


LinkedIn is one of the most powerful platforms you have at your disposal.

With a quarter of a billion active users, it is a literal goldmine of leads that are just waiting to be tapped.

However, LinkedIn requires a different breed of marketing because there’s a lot of thought leadership involved.

In this guide, we want to take a look at how you can improve your LinkedIn marketing through proper thought leadership on the platform. 

What’s the Deal With LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking platform in the world.

Everyone from the likes of Bill Gates to teachers you once had in high-school are all on the platform, making it an ideal place to do lead generation.

But, here’s the thing.

LinkedIn also works on the principles of trust and professionalism. Marketers can’t just jump in, type up some generic content or outreach and expect to be recognized. You still need to build a reputation on the network.

That’s where LinkedIn thought leadership kicks in.

The better people’s professional perception is of you, the more likely it is that they’ll engage with your content, reply to your outreach, and be receptive to your message.

However, there’s a lot of foundational work to be done.

Let’s cover the basics.

Optimize Your Profile

Your first step is profile optimization.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your landing page.

If a prospect is interested in the content that you’re putting out, they’ll want to check out your profile, and based on your profile, they’ll make an assumption of the amount of trust that they want to attribute to you.

If you have a good post, but own a profile with no CTAs, links to your main website, or means to contact you apart from InMail, you’re missing out on a potential lead.

A well-optimized profile works as a passive lead generation machine.

Regardless if people find it on Google or on LinkedIn search, it works to bring in leads.

Here are a couple of tips to properly optimize your profile:

Houston Golden LinkedIn Profile

Cover/Header Image

If you have a generic background photo or an alternate photo of yourself in this space, you’re wasting it. This is the largest piece of visual real estate on your LinkedIn profile. You can use it to showcase your products, add marketing copy, stick in a CTA and social handles, add in the logos of your old clients, and so much more. Pay attention to this space.

Profile Photo

Does your profile photo look like your Facebook’s profile pic? LinkedIn doesn’t work like that, make sure you have a professional photo of you taken, wearing whatever it is you wear to a meeting (t-shirts are alright). You can even add in some color elements from your corporate branding.


Everybody puts in their position and the company that they work for, but think about it does that really convert? A quick way to fix this is to use this space to talk about what it is that you do in smaller phrases.

Let’s use my profile as an example, what would you rather see?

Founder and CEO of BAMF Media


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We both know that the second example will probably convert better than the first, because it gives people a glimpse of who I am and everything that I do in less than three lines.


I’ve seen a lot of people use this area as a place for them to copy-paste their resume into.

Your summary should not only answer “what do you do” but also “why do you do it”.

Make sure your summary contains a link going back to your website or a method for prospects to book a meeting with you.


This section is probably more critical than your skills section because this is where your prospects form an opinion about the things you do.

You want to organize your work, volunteer and entrepreneurial experience neatly in this section so that people can easily view your qualifications.

Featured Section

Display pieces that you’ve written, posts that you like, a link to an off-LinkedIn landing page on your website, and even a company video here.

It will help you with your engagements and conversions.

You can even take your optimization to the next level by activating LinkedIn creator mode. This allows you to have a follow button and open profiles, just like a LinkedIn influencer. That’s a whole guide in itself, so we won’t worry about that for now.

Once you’re done with basic LinkedIn profile optimizations, you should now have something that shows off who you are, while being a passive lead generation machine at the same time.

Related: Update your LinkedIn Profile for a Better Lead Generation

Your Posts

Thought leaders share value

This is why it’s critical that in your journey towards LinkedIn thought leadership that you also post things of value, and not post for the sake of posting.

Here are a list of things you should be focused on sharing:

  • Plain text founder stories (which you can read more about on our blog)
  • Tutorials
  • Guides
  • Templates
  • Infographics
  • Repurposed video with your own commentary
  • Slides
  • Industry news and updates
  • Facts
  • Your take and opinion on the industry
  • Appreciation posts
  • Promotion of third-parties that inspired you and your organization

What’s common about most of these suggestions is that they give value to the people reading them.

Once people find that you’re giving away value for free, they’ll immediately start flocking to ask for your opinion or do business with you.

They’ll also realize that you’re not just an ordinary LinkedIn member, you’re someone that they can trust, and you’re someone that can enable them to do something more with their organization.

Here’s the other thing about LinkedIn posts.

They can also go viral.

Posts that manage to gain traction with engagements are shown to people that are outside your immediate network. This helps get more eyeballs looking at what you have to offer, and also means a lot of curious potential prospects landing on your LinkedIn profile.

Your Engagement

A real thought leader talks to the people who follow him, this could be in the form of comments and mentions, joining groups to help people with their problems, and even launching polls to find out about people’s opinions.

You have to understand one crucial truth about LinkedIn: you cannot blatantly self-promote.

You need to be helpful, respectful, and thoughtful.

Don’t join a group so that you can post marketing materials about your services, people can see that miles away and they’ll flag you for it.

Your Outreach

Outreach on LinkedIn isn’t about sending emails en masse.

It still follows the rules of lead generation.

Before you can even start with your active lead generation campaign, you need to set up target customer profiles, do your research, qualify leads, and prepare personalized connection messages.

You want to warm up your profile by sending out a couple of connection requests a day, then you can start ramping that figure up slowly.

The more connections that you have the more people that you can both actively do outreach for and view your value-added posts.

Once your number of connections goes up, it’s time to prep highly personalized messages for them.

A lot of lead generation experts use a combination of LinkedIn Sales Navigator and other third-party tools to get this going, then they throw everything into a CRM.

This allows you to also turn the campaigns into multidimensional ones, by adding a touchpoint on Facebook or email.

Related: 7 LinkedIn Lead Generation and Sales Prospecting Rules To Follow


LinkedIn is already powerful.

But, to become a thought leader on the platform is definitely something else.

You get to leverage the power of the platform and build a personal brand that can both help people and bring tremendous growth for your brand.

Remember, LinkedIn is all about the emotional connection.

It might be a professional network that seems to be all about the business, but people still want to relate to a person that’s like them.

They want someone that they can follow and someone that will lead.

This guide should be enough to get you started on your journey.

Be a LinkedIn thought leader or influencer today!

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