Leveraging LinkedIn for Co-Creation and Community Building

I didn’t create goals this year. (*imagined gasping)

They felt heavy – a reminder of all the goals I failed to achieve in 2020. As much grace as I gave myself, I also still carried that disappointment around with me without even realizing it until I sat down to make new goals.

An awareness I uncovered in 2020 was just how futile it is for me to trudge forward with goal-based activities while feeling so heavy and serious. The pressure of the goals and the obligations I was holding myself under gave everything I did a negative charge. I was spinning my wheels when I was able to set aside time. I felt like I wasted so much time doing things that got no results, and I attribute the lack of results not to the pandemic, but to my state of mind. I backed off for a while, eliminated some toxicity from my life, and worked on expanding and making things lighter.

I am working on taking work seriously and not letting myself off the hook while also taking myself lightly – to be more in the state of flow. In a flow state, the efforts that I make have exponentially better results.

So, when goals felt heavy, I needed to reframe them. I know that having an outcome in mind is critical to staying motivated, and if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. I also know that having an outcome you believe is possible is also critical for motivation. I still needed to have achievable outcomes in mind, so I called them possibilities.

I also chose a theme for 2021: Co-creation!

The most successful parts of 2020 were because I had the support of others and many highlights were supporting others in their 2020 successes. I have a partner in Lawrence Henderson as Co-manager and Co-administrator of the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op group on LinkedIn, as well as a co-creator and co-host of our monthly Answer the Call to Conscious Leadership events, which have been mind-blowingly chock full of conscious wisdom, and I’ve met (virtually) so many amazing leaders thanks to our work together.

I have a great partnership with my Virtual Assistant, Cynthia Harder. If not for her… I don’t even want to think about what 2020 would have been like!

I fully endorse the power of co-creation and community for support of your 2021 goals (or possibilities.)

Guess where I found them both? Well, the article title probably gives that away.

I’m going to introduce some methods and tools (no investment needed!) that I have used to source amazing people and potential partners, and grow our LinkedIn group to 100 members organically in 7 months.

I don’t have a LinkedIn Premium account (at the moment or for most of 2020), so all of my tips can be implemented by anyone with a free account.

I advise you, before you take action on this list, to have a complete, branded LinkedIn profile.

A branded LinkedIn profile starts with identifying your unique expression of your top qualities, skills, experiences, mindsets, approaches, and talents and the value that they tend to or can create for your target audience. Epic Careering has a proprietary process for developing branding points, which are the foundation upon which all of your content and copy is crafted. This process produces a powerful psychological effect on your ideal profile visitor.

  • It creates instant resonance, which can lead to rapport.
  • It produces an incremental build-up of excitement at the possible value you can offer.
  • It induces a sense of urgency to take action (inviting you to connect).
  • It inspires more of the right people to accept YOUR invitation.
Here are the areas of your profile that you need to optimize with branded content to produce this effect:
  • The first thing people will notice about your LinkedIn profile will most likely be your photo. That is why a profile picture is a must. I recommend using a professional profile picture and a custom banner to immediately introduce visitors to your brand.
  • Your Headline is the second most visible aspect of your LinkedIn profile. It defaults to your most recent experience title, but you have 120 characters to leverage. Definitely make your role known and put it first. I say role instead of title because sometimes companies give you titles that are only understood internally or don’t accurately reflect what you actually do. Use a title that is more universal and is likely what someone would search for if they were looking for the solution that you offer. Then use the other characters to convey who you help and the outcomes you produce. If there are characters left, consider including a fun fact or hobby that will spark curiosity and let people know who the person is behind the professional, e.g. Ferry Fest Founder.
  • The About section (formerly called Summary) allows for 2500 characters (formerly 2000). Only the first 300 or so show without someone having to click “read more,” so the key is writing something that makes people want to read more! Stories, especially when they include details that appeal to the senses, are great ways to hook a reader, so think of it much like the first line of a book – the book of you. What would the first line of your memoir say? You might also start with a bold statement, compelling question, or a pithy quote. If it’s more in alignment with your brand to just get right down to business, then tell people right off the bat who you help, what they might be experiencing, what you do to help them, and the outcomes you produce. Think about the keywords that people might search for when it comes to the solutions they’re looking for and incorporate them into more detailed summaries, explaining further about emerging themes of your professional journey. Allow your personality and passion to come through. The best practice to use the first person with pronouns is based on the fact that the more approachable and relatable you are, the more invitations you send will be accepted and the more invitations to connect you will receive. (There is no obligation to accept them, of course.)
  • Your Experience section is a great place to tell stories of your triumphs. Tell the stories that demonstrate and prove your branding points. This is an opportunity to tell more of the back story, describe the challenges you had to overcome, and flesh out the results and impacts that don’t fit on your résumé. In this way, your LinkedIn profile becomes supplementary and complementary collateral that promotes your brand consistently and continues to enhance your trustworthiness and authenticity.
  • Add sections to your profile to highlight awards, publications, organizational affiliations and leadership, volunteerism, and projects. When you add projects, you can associate them with your roles, if there is a role association, and even add/tag co-creators. This is a great way to boost your and your colleagues’ visibility and give credit where it’s due.

Once you have your LinkedIn profile branded and optimized, find people with whom you want to co-create, which could be a partner, a client, a vendor, an employee, or an employer. In my case, I was using LinkedIn to find leaders out there to transform and elevate corporate leadership to invite to the C3 community.

I did a few test keyword searches, finding terms in some profile headlines like “disruptor,” “servant leader,” and “leadership development.” Then, I searched for those terms and evaluated the first several results to see if “my people” were coming up. Once I got the search just right (and this was one of my best skills as a recruiter), I then drafted a template invitation that was warm, humble, and reflective of the times. This invitation explained that I was a coach and was looking to add value to my connections by making introductions, and what introductions would be the most impactful right now. I visited the profile of the people in the results and opted to connect when that option was available (most of the time). I entered my invitation message into the Note field so that it would be sent along with the invitation to connect. If the invitation was accepted, I sent a follow-up message requesting to ask questions to see how I could help.

Once I realized that I needed a higher volume of sent invitations to get the number of accepted connections that would actually lead to back and forth conversations, I did invest in a tool, Cleverly. So, technically, this is where my efforts were inorganic and required an investment, but no one was mass invited to the group (except my mailing list, which is still primarily comprised of people that I know personally). The growth of the group was still based on 1:1 conversations and selective invitations.

The investment in Cleverly is not required to make this work for co-creation and community building, however, for me, it did accelerate it.

I copied the search URL link into a Cleverly form, then entered my invitation message template into their form and selected the number of results I wanted that message sent to daily. Once the invitation is sent, it allows you to write a follow-up message and yet another follow up when that message is answered. I only wrote one follow-up so that I could actually visit the new connection’s profile and ask questions based on what I found to make it more of a personal conversation with greater rapport.

Not everyone understood what I was doing. Some people were downright skeptical and some were really annoyed.

They just aren’t my people right now. No problem. I’d sent them a note that I was currently only looking to connect with people who are on LinkedIn to network and co-create, so no hard feelings. I disconnected from those people.

Anyone who accepted my invitation but didn’t respond to my follow up message, which was a request to ask the contact some questions, I offered grace to. I know that in any year, let alone 2020, responding to LinkedIn messages might take a back seat, and reiterated my desire to connect and get to know each other. This was appreciated by some, and those were my people. If people still didn’t respond, I let them know that while I appreciated that they would accept my invitation, I really want my network to be full of people with whom I can make a genuine connection. No hard feelings. Don’t be offended – it’s nothing personal. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume that’s not you and disconnect.

Many people don’t engage on LinkedIn regularly, so I give it a good month. Once a month, I go through and disconnect with people I have not heard back from.

While many messages go unanswered, there are still a great handful of ongoing messages that allow me to find out if they are up to something I can add value to and vice versa. While engaging with other conscious leaders on LinkedIn over the past few months, I aimed to find out what the most important thing was that they were working on and if they were open to co-creating with other conscious leaders, in which case I would invite them to the C3 community.

Our live events in C3 and the opportunity to give these leaders the spotlight were the value that we offered that had them accept the invitation to the C3 community, and inspired them to invite others into the community as well.

In addition, once a topic was chosen by the community for the event, I would source a new expert to bring into the community, and they would invite others to the community as well.

I hope 2021 offers you rich relationships with new co-creators. Creating is, after all, what we’re made for.

Join the C3 Community today! Tell us what your expertise is and we’ll add it to our member survey. If it’s picked, you’ll have the opportunity to take the spotlight as a guest panelist!

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.

She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

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