How String Nguyen went from 0 to 30,000 LinkedIn followers in 14 months


Shootsta video evangelist String Nguyen. Source: Supplied.

LinkedIn used to be all about recruitment, sales and finding jobs. It was your digital resume, out there for all to see.

But after embracing a content approach a few years ago, the platform has evolved. It’s now a hub for professionals to learn, engage and share. It’s growing quickly too. There are more than 610 million professionals on the platform, and just over half of them joined LinkedIn in the past five years.

No platform is better for sharing your expertise and building a powerful network of like-minded professionals.

But, how do you get started?

I grew my LinkedIn profile from 0 to 30,000 followers in 14 months. And I’m going to share three growth tactics that you can implement yourself.

Be an expert, create a channel

Creating content is a more time-effective means of drawing people (and opportunities) to your profile. How many cold InMail messages have you replied to? Not many, I’d wager.

Every professional on LinkedIn is an expert and have a unique perspective on their industry. With the right strategy, you can leverage this to your advantage with content creation.

Your goal here is to become a channel of information. This means:

  • You are accountable, and the information you are providing is accurate and useful to others;
  • You are consistent, and you publish frequently enough that you start to build momentum; and
  • You are memorable, meaning you aren’t just saying the same thing as everyone else, and that you have a niche, and are drawing on your own experience and perspective.

If you follow these rules, you’ll quickly find people will start coming to you for advice and guidance. You’ll accumulate followers by creating content they want to follow.

If you want hyper-growth, focus on creating content every day. As LinkedIn is a feed-based experience, you want to push content regularly to be on top of people’s feed and mind.

If you’re a busy professional, create a weekly program that includes both blog posts and status posts. Just remember to stick to it.

Your network is your target market

Your content is a hit? Great. Now the connections will start pouring in.

But before you go ahead and add everyone who sends you a request, there’s one thing you should know: your profile only allows you to add 30,000 connections. You can, however, follow as many people as you like and see their posts without adding them as a connection.

With this in mind, I’m brutal with who I add on LinkedIn as a connection. While I have a following of more than 31,000, I’ve limited my connection list to 4,500 people, who are all relevant to my industry.

I treat it more like a telephone book of people who I’ve met and are based in media and startups. I have a yes and no list of people that determines who I add.

You can add everyone and anyone, but your list will get messy and it may potentially impact the way your content is being consumed. Your first connections are your first wave of eyeballs when you release your content.

Imagine this: your list of 2,000 connections of marketers don’t engage in your post about a housing trend. Do you see you see the disconnect? It’s because this type of post is not relevant to this group. They care about marketing trends, not housing trends. Relevance is key.

When you post on LinkedIn, consider your audience. You’ll get the most engagement and add value to your network by posting relevant content such as:

  • Educational pieces about trends;
  • Insights in your industry; and
  • Points that we can all relate to as professionals, showing the ‘behind the scenes’ of your career.

Grow your connection list by being thoughtful and considerate to your market. Who are the people you want to do business with?

Use video to stand out

One of the main reasons I grew fast on LinkedIn is because I leverage video to stand out. Few have the confidence to show their face and expertise on video. But, it’s the fastest way to grow a following.

Video is a powerful tool to showcase your expertise and personality in one quick bite-sized package. As I’ve found, if LinkedIn users like you and like what you have to offer, they will come to you for business.

Video is a topic in itself, but I’ll answer the most basic questions here. The one I get asked the most is which type of video is better: polished or unpolished?

Polished can come off as too sales-like, and non-genuine. Whereas, unpolished can come off as super authentic, but unprofessional.

There isn’t a clear winner here. On LinkedIn, both have a place. Rather, it’s an attention economy game. What you should ask is what’s the best means of capturing and holding your audience’s attention?

One key detail here is your message, and how you deliver it.

Let’s talk about the delivery part of the video.

It’s best to convey a key lesson. Stick to the rule: one message, one video. And deliver it in two minutes or less, offering one key lesson.

You don’t need to do this, but for each video, I personally create a three-part storyboard detailing: the intro (the statement I’m making), the middle (an explanation, showing evidence on my points) and the recap or call to action.

You can write a script, but you should only use it if you have access to a teleprompter.

And if you’re a busy professional, planning to increase your video output, consider using other post-production tools.

Shooting video doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Here’s a basic equipment list:

  • A mic;
  • A tripod;
  • A camera mount; and
  • A good smartphone that shoots in 4K.

You don’t need to film in 4K. It’s more to indicate that your smartphone has the camera technology to film. I recommend filming in 1080px in landscape mode for LinkedIn.

Plus, LinkedIn Live is coming out, giving you another way to connect with your audience via livestream. While not everyone has access to it, you can prepare for it by getting the camera ready.

Perhaps the most critical thing to remember is that building a following takes both a plan and time. It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep at it and have the right approach, you’ll generate momentum and start to see results for your work.

NOW READ: All that glitters is not gold: The upsurge of paid followers and engagement on LinkedIn

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