Since 2019, my content has been seen 475M+ times on LinkedIn. That content has helped me grow from 0 to ~450k followers and generate over $4.2M in income.
A question I often get is, "How did you do it, Justin?"
Growing on LinkedIn doesn't have to be a guessing game.
In this guide, I'll break down:
- Everything I’ve learned about LinkedIn since 2019
- 11 practical steps to increase your LinkedIn followers
I hope it's helpful.
But first, remember to focus on intentionality, not virality
In a sea of content and generic advice about LinkedIn, here's where most people get it twisted:
They obsess over everything besides intentional growth.
Don't be them.
While scrolling through your feed, you'll see countless professionals sharing tear-jerking stories and striving for quick wins. But chasing the fleeting high of viral content without laying a solid foundation won't do you any good.
Want sustainable growth?
Try a different approach:
Be the person who's known for something specific.
Connect with the right people. Focus on leads, not likes.
LinkedIn growth isn't going to be an overnight success. But when done right, you can build a legacy and brand that stands out for the right reasons.
So before we dive into how to grow, keep this in mind:
Value over virality.
Authenticity over anecdotes.
And above all, intentional actions over aimless activity.
Everything I’ve learned about LinkedIn since 2019
- Focus on LinkedIn
- Think like a marketer
- Find your niche
- Choose one medium to stay consistent
- Create something every day
- Check your mindset
- Keep your reader in mind
- Double down on what matters
- Understand copywriting
- Break people's scroll pattern
- Invite people to participate
- Systematize your writing
- Build meaningful relationships
- Connect with other thought leaders
- Help others
- Go deeper to share more
- Move people to your email
- Interact with me
1. Focus on LinkedIn
Want to be great at LinkedIn? Stick to LinkedIn only to start. It's incredibly difficult to be great at 3 platforms at once. Master one before moving to another.
2. Think like a marketer
Think like a marketer when you're building out your profile page. Your profile is essentially a sales page or landing page.
Here is the journey someone goes on when they decide to follow you:
- Reads your content online
- Clicks on your profile
- Reads your banner image
- Reads your tagline
- Reads your about section
- Checks out your featured section
- Follows you or doesn't
Optimize for these.
3. Find your niche
Pick a niche (fitness).
Then, pick a sub-niche (CrossFit).
Then, pick a micro-niche (CrossFit for marathoners).
Start there, and get good results by producing content every day. Expand later. If you need more information on choosing a good niche, here's my free guide.
4. Choose one medium to stay consistent
Choose a medium you love. You're more likely to produce content on a regular basis if you actually like what you do.
Like to write? Write.
Like to record videos? Record video.
Ignore all of the noise telling you that you must do 5 different things. It's all meaningless if you don't stay consistent.
5. Create something every day
Produce daily. Even if it's something small, put your thoughts out there into the world each day. It's the attention economy, and self-promotion wins. I call this playing "Moneyball".
6. Check your mindset
Worried about low engagement? Who cares. Nobody remembers the sh*tty singles — they remember the hit songs.
You can't make a hit without a lot of tries. Thicken up your skin and get creating. I produce every weekday, and it works:
7. Keep your reader in mind
Truth is, nobody cares about you. They only care about how you can help them.
So before you push out content, ask yourself 3 questions:
- Does this teach the reader something specific?
- Does this entertain the reader and remain relevant to my niche?
- Does this cause the reader to think about something in a new way?
If the answer to all 3 is "no," then go back to the drawing board. It's time to create something else.
8. Double down on what matters
Like engagement? Share a sad story or some news article that's a topical tear-jerker. You'll get a lot of "likes" and "comments" so you can get your dopamine fix.
Like success? Share your actual opinions. Produce original content underneath your own name.
Everything else is worthless.
9. Understand copywriting
If you really want people to read what you write, learn to write great copy. Don't know where to start? Try Google or YouTube or a copywriting book.
The people who write the best copy online aren't just winging it. They've read and practiced. Put in your reps.
10. Break people's scroll pattern
Having great information or advice to share means nothing if you can't get the reader to stop scrolling and actually read it.
So, how do you do that? Learn to write good copy and focus on what is "above the fold" (i.e. what the reader sees before "see more").
If you need more help, here's an article I wrote on how to do it.
11. Invite people to participate
Want even more engagement? Ask people to engage.
A CTA (call-to-action) or CTC (call-to-conversation) will help boost your content.
12. Systematize your writing
If you want to create content quickly and easily, you need a process.
I've been writing every weekday for 1,250+ weekdays, and I struggle just like any other person.
The difference? I have a system. It's called "The Content Matrix".
I use the following:
- A mantra (what do I believe?)
- Pillars (what supports my mantra?)
- Core concepts (what strong opinions do I have about those pillars?).
By having many strong opinions, I have many topics to write about.
I match those up with styles and voilà - content.
Feel free to steal it here.
Note: If you're struggling to create content that resonates, build an audience, network with other creators, and find your tribe, I highly recommend my course, The LinkedIn Operating System. Right now, in 2023, LinkedIn is the easiest place to build a massive audience and business online. Join 30 LinkedIn Top Voices and 15,000+ other students who have rated it 4.98 out of 5 stars.
13. Build meaningful relationships
Remember that early on, it's all about building relationships. If people DM you asking about your content, write back.
If you get comments on things you write, take time to respond.
I spend 45 minutes each morning from 8:15a EST until 9:00a EST responding to nearly 75% of comments I get on my content.
14. Connect with other thought leaders
Once you begin to get some decent engagement, reach out to relevant people and form real, actual relationships with them.
Don't be transactional.
Instead, get to know them like you might a friend in real life. Jump on a call. Help them out.
Pro tip: Consider joining a few LinkedIn groups in your industry to meet like-minded people.
If you vibe with someone, start to co-create.
Form a small community of creators all aimed at the same niche, but approaching it from different angles.
Create videos, interviews, webinars, guest blogs, live events, etc. Get creative. See what works, see what doesn't.
16. Help others
Don't ask for permission to help others. Just do it.
If you want to start interacting more meaningfully with large accounts, take some of their work and turn it into different formats or reshare it with some commentary.
I had a few folks turn my writings into drawings or carousel posts on LinkedIn.
It got my attention, my engagement, and in turn, helped them get more eyeballs on their content.
17. Go deeper to share more
As you get more and more experience in your particular niche, go deeper.
Write longer-form articles that teach your audience or provide behind-the-scenes looks at how you're doing what you are doing.
Build-in public. Share it openly. Ask people for their feedback.
Create more based on what they like and want from you.
18. Move people to your email
Once you have some good engagement, remember to stop renting and start owning.
Make simple, irresistible offers and get people onto your email list.
Remember...If LinkedIn changes its algorithm? Goodbye engagement.
17. Interact with me
Follow me, write me a comment in the first 45 minutes, and I'll interact with you in that time window.
You'll get more engagement, and so will I. Win-win.
Make sure you have the notification alerts turned on for my post each morning at 8:15a EST.
You can turn them on easily by clicking the bell 1x - it should say, "You'll now receive notifications for all new posts from Justin."
11 practical steps to increase your LinkedIn followers
- Optimize your profile for SEO
- Invest in a professional headshot
- Get your headline right
- Turn on Creator Mode
- Update your profile often
- Be a thought leader
- Engage with others
- Produce high-quality content
- Be personable and relatable
- Show up consistently
- Ask people to connect with you on LinkedIn
Step #1: Optimize your profile for SEO
Professionals, potential clients, and even recruiters use LinkedIn's search function every day to find the right people with the right skills.
Sadly though, many individuals have the skills and experience… yet remain hidden in obscurity.
Their LinkedIn pages aren't optimized for searches.
Sprinkle in relevant keywords
Think about it this way:
What words would someone type into the search bar if they were looking to hire a professional with your expertise?
These are your keywords.
Integrate them into your headline, summary, work experiences, and recommendations.
As with anything, moderation is essential. Stuffing your profile with keywords can make it look forced or insincere.
Instead, weave them into your narrative, making your profile both search-friendly and genuinely reflective of your abilities.
Set your profile to public
By default, LinkedIn might restrict your profile visibility to just your connections or the LinkedIn community.
But think bigger.
Imagine a potential client or talent scout who isn't on LinkedIn (yes, they exist) searching for expertise like yours on Google.
If your profile is set to private, you're instantly out of the running.
Setting your profile to 'public' extends your reach beyond the LinkedIn ecosystem. It ensures that your carefully crafted profile, embedded with those relevant keywords, is accessible on global search engines.
This simple tactic can make a massive difference in searchability.
Note: Making your profile public doesn't mean sacrificing privacy. You can still control what parts of your profile are visible to the masses. Just make sure your core skills, work experience, and insights are available for all to see.
Step #2: Invest in a professional headshot
Before anyone even reads your well-optimized profile or delves into your accomplishments and content, they'll see your headshot.
In a matter of seconds, they'll form a first impression.
Your headshot is more than just a photo — it's a silent ambassador of your personal brand:
It communicates your approachability and, more importantly, whether you’re someone people would want to engage with.
When uploading your headshot, put yourself in the viewer’s shoes:
Is this a face of trustworthiness? Is this someone I'd want on my team or leading my project?
Investing in a professional headshot doesn't necessarily mean splurging on the most expensive photographer in town. It means recognizing the value of presenting your best self.
You can hire a photographer or take the photo yourself. Just make sure the lighting is even, and the photo is crisp, clear, and represents who you are.
Ditch those vacation photos or the ones with cropped-out friends. Make sure your face is clearly visible, with a neutral or professional background.
At the end of the day, your profile picture is a digital handshake.
When you extend your hand to the world, make it confident, professional, and inviting. That's what opens doors and initiates meaningful conversations.
Step #3: Get your headline right
Your headshot draws people in, and your headline hooks them.
A common mistake I've observed here during my LinkedIn years is the tendency to be too generic.
"Graphic Designer" or "Marketing Professional" might describe what you do, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
LinkedIn is teeming with graphic designers and marketing professionals.
What makes you different? Who do you serve?
Instead of being another "graphic designer," why not be a "Graphic designer specializing in brand identity for tech startups".
Rather than calling yourself a "marketing professional," why not say, "B2B marketer amplifying SaaS brands in the crowded digital space".
Your headline shouldn't be just a title. It should be a succinct value proposition. Specificity and clarity in headlines win big.
Signal exactly what you bring to the table and for whom. By honing in on your niche, you position yourself as a specialist, not a generalist.
And in a crowded space like LinkedIn, specialists stand out.
Step #4: Turn on Creator Mode
Creator Mode is a must if you're producing value-driven content.
By activating this feature, you're not just tweaking a profile setting — you're staking a claim as a thought leader intent on sharing, educating, and inspiring.
Boost your content's exposure, ensuring your insights don't just exist but thrive on the platform. With your posts taking center stage, you convey to every profile visitor your commitment to enriching LinkedIn with meaningful dialogue and expertise.
Step #5: Update your profile often
Growth is never stagnant. You're always evolving as a professional, and this should be reflected in your Linkedin profile.
Updating isn't about frequent overhauls but consistent, intentional tweaks.
Landed a new role or wrapped up a significant project? Share the journey and add it to your profile.
Every addition serves as a beacon, signaling your active engagement and dedication to your profession. Think of it as keeping the conversation with your network fresh.
Beyond roles, don't underestimate the power of recommendations.
After wrapping up collaborations or projects, reach out to peers or partners and invite them to vouch for your skills and expertise. These testimonials breathe life into your profile, providing authentic social proof of your value.
Step #6: Be a thought leader
Success on LinkedIn isn't just about joining conversations — it's about starting them.
And let's be real:
Regurgitating the mainstream stuff rarely carves a mark. On the other hand, contrarian takes, backed by personal insights, command massive attention.
True thought leadership pushes boundaries.
It's not about simply digesting prevailing wisdom but challenging it.
Ask uncomfortable questions. Dissect popular notions. Venture where few dare to tread.
Remember, echoing the crowd might get you nods. But presenting fresh, even rebellious perspectives?
That's what turns heads and sets you apart.
Step #7: Engage with others
The power of your voice isn't just in your LinkedIn posts — it's also in your responses and interactions with others.
Sure, sharing your thoughts is essential. But true growth happens in the comment sections and discussions where connections turn into collaborations.
Engagement isn't a one-way street. Don't just respond to comments on your own posts — venture out. Lean into other people's content and leave imprints of genuine value.
Resist leaving drive-by "great post!" comments. They're noise. Instead, ask a probing question, share a unique perspective, or offer words of encouragement that are specific to the content.
Each comment, like, and share should be a testament to your commitment to the community. These micro-interactions will boost your presence, allowing you to not only exist on the platform but instead make an indelible mark.
Step #8: Produce high-quality content
Every content creator on LinkedIn faces this pivotal moment — a crossroad of trial, error, and eventually, clarity.
In the beginning, it's smart to dabble in different content forms.
- Concise text-only posts
- Informative blog posts
- Engaging carousels
- Candid videos
Let your content choices reflect your voice, passion, and the way you wish to communicate your areas of expertise.
Once you find what works well (and what resonates with your audience), double down on it. Go all in.
When you sit down to write or share, prioritize depth.
Your followers crave real substance, so show off that subject matter expertise. Delivering thought leadership content frequently is the fastest way to build a loyal, engaged audience on the platform.
Step #9: Be personable and relatable
People don't connect with titles or polished resumes anymore.
They connect with stories, quirks, and personalities.
While the LinkedIn universe is filled with myriad voices and talents, the temptation to emulate someone else's voice can be strong.
But here's the kicker: Imitation only leads to noise, not differentiation.
Your fans clicked the follow button for a reason. They saw a spark, a unique perspective, a refreshing voice amidst the crowd — they saw you.
Embrace your failures just as much as your wins.
Lost a client due to unforeseen circumstances? Talk about it. Share your experience with others. It's these relatable moments that humanize your brand.
Social media often glorifies perfection, but the truth is people want to know they're not alone in their struggles. They want to know that others they look up to (you) go through highs and lows, too.
So be you. In a digital realm full of curated personas, raw authenticity shines brightest.
Step #10: Show up consistently
If you think you're going to amass a die-hard LinkedIn following by sprinting for a month and then taking a breather for the next two, I'm here to serve some hard truth…
That's not how it works.
Building a presence on LinkedIn is akin to training for a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get bursts of energy here and there, but you can't count on it. You must keep engaging, learning, and growing — even on days when inspiration seems elusive.
Find your rhythm. Create a content calendar that feels manageable, then stick to it.
Consistency's compounding effect builds influence.
Step #11: Ask people to follow you on LinkedIn
You've probably heard this a million times by now, but it's true:
If you don't ask, you won’t receive (this applies to LinkedIn, too).
Many mistakenly believe that just because they're sharing compelling content, followers will come pouring in. But the reality is people are busy living their lives and aren't mind readers. Your content might scream 'expertise,' but if you don't directly invite people into your world, they might just admire from a distance and scroll on.
So, market yourself:
Rally your friends, family, colleagues — even the barista you chat with every morning. Let them know you're building on LinkedIn and would value their presence there too.
Already on other social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Announce your LinkedIn presence in those spaces.
Include your LinkedIn profile’s link in your email signature.
Make it an invitation, not a demand.
Your initial community will comprise mostly of familiar faces. But as they engage with your content, their connections will notice.
Before you know it, you've cast a wider net. Your tribe will start to flourish, and you'll get higher organic reach.
Start growing your LinkedIn following today
Getting new followers on LinkedIn isn't about taking shortcuts or mimicking others. It's about building meaningful relationships and crafting a narrative that resonates.
LinkedIn's algorithm rewards clarity, consistency, and connection.
But, as with any journey, it's not about the destination — it's about the path you carve.
Ready to take the leap?
- Understand your unique value proposition and make sure your voice embodies that
- Supercharge your journey with helpful LinkedIn growth courses like mine, The Operating System
- Establish a rhythm of engagement that syncs with your real life — don't burn out trying to mimic someone else
- Engage, post, and iterate often
- Know your dedication will pull in a target audience that appreciates your insights
Now, go shape that LinkedIn legacy.
I'm cheering you on.