Learning how to LinkedIn properly is key to making yourself stand out in the current job market, specifically if you want to work in startups in Pakistan.
To help you improve your game on LinkedIn, we picked the brains of someone who is absolutely winning at it: Saif Ali.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
According to a report, in 2021, approximately 760,000 Pakistani students were enrolled in degree-awarding institutions and a further 1.9 million figured as part of universities.
Out of a population of 220 million, that doesn’t count for a lot. And that will remain even if you add the number of foreign graduates returning to Pakistan and joining the job market (and LinkedIn).
Therefore, since it’s a very concentrated pool of highly-qualified potential employees using LinkedIn to find jobs, some posting trends are regurgitated and, as a result, breed homogeneity.
Hence, it becomes really important to brand yourself uniquely.
Set Yourself Apart
“It’s ultimately just about distinguishing yourself and allowing the world to see who you are beyond your company, beyond your job role, beyond your title, beyond your degree, etc.”
In Pakistan, there are a handful of startups and corporates that most people flock to work for. There are also a select few universities, internships, and certifications that everyone will boast.
And unless you come from a creative background, there is really no tangible way to let recruiters experience ‘you’ as an employee and a human being behind all the companies you’ve worked for.
Other than your job description and title, there is a lot more to you. You may be into filmography and you may tutor kids on the side. These traits can be very important to a hiring manager. And at least to Saif, they are!
This is where LinkedIn has now improved. You can portray this side to you by:
- Putting up more pictures
- Putting up more videos
- Going live
And if we take a leaf out of Saif’s book, we should really utilize the video and picture features better. Speaking directly to your audience shows confidence, and trustworthiness, and lets recruiters put a face, voice, and demeanor to the individual.
Create a Gimmick!
A technique he doesn’t prescribe to everyone but when you come from a background of advertising, it just comes naturally to you: create a gimmick!
Saif has employed a few gimmicks that outline his voice, show his audience that it IS definitely Saif Ali they’re listening to, and eventually create the brand that is Saif.
“Hi friends, I’m back in a careem again!” alongside the prayer hands and heart emoji combination has become a hallmark of a Saif Ali post.
It is all part and parcel of finding your voice and helping your audience find you.
LinkedIn Isn’t for That!
Yes, it is.
LinkedIn is for that, this, and anything else its user interface allows you to upload. What LinkedIn isn’t meant to be is a digital CV. You’ve got your real CV for that.
“What most people will tell you is that LinkedIn has to be taken a lot more seriously than other social media platforms… I don’t necessarily agree.”
Saif Ali reiterated LinkedIn’s place in our lives by lamenting that not a lot of people will care about your job updates on Facebook and Instagram unless you’re a creative of sorts.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be completely serious all the time. Show the side to you that is a pet lover or is helping underprivileged kids on the side.
4 Ways to Improve your LinkedIn Game!
Other than just its conducive algorithm, there are certain specific user mannerisms that come with LinkedIn that one should ideally exploit:
1. Know When to Post
As useful as LinkedIn is, it’s mostly used by those looking for work, boasting about work, or looking to connect with others for work. And although time-based posting has been debunked on most platforms, it still holds true on LinkedIn in Pakistan.
The common denominator? Work. According to Hootsuite, the best time to post on any given day of the week is during office hours. So, roughly between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
And on the weekends, the best time to post on LinkedIn is the ‘I-need-to-do-more-with-my-life-hours’: 4:00 AM – 6:00 AM.
2. Share Yourself but be Relevant
Everyone who is employed is either a part of a specific vertical, field, discipline, or department. For instance, if you’re a finance professional, make your content more focused on helping your finance-centric audience.
A few examples would include:
- How I see the world for finance professionals
- What should finance professionals be focusing on right now?
- This is how AI is augmenting finance
- These are my favorite finance tools
Litter your LinkedIn feed with these kinds of posts. Doing so will eventually help you become an authority on the topic, which should be the end goal.
3. Leverage Your Expertise
Moving on from the last point, once you’ve begun to show yourself as an authority on the topic, start sharing what you’ve learned from the process.
For example, if I head content at Katalyst Labs (and I do), I could begin posts by reiterating my standing as someone who has been curating content in the startup space for a while.
Taking another line from Saif, I could precede posts with phrases/statements like:
- Because I’ve been doing content for Katalyst Labs for 2 years, I’ve found that startup founders are…
- I’ve realized there’s a massive dearth of video content on LinkedIn, here’s a quick listicle on ways that you can improve your video creation skills
This way, you provide value to your audience and improve your standing on the subject matter.
4. Be Focused: Know Your Audience
Now that you know what discipline you’re catering to, you must lock in your desired audience. Are you trying to target C-Suite executives, Gen-Z newcomers, or those right in the middle of their careers? This will help you shape your tone and style.
Going back to the initial purpose of LinkedIn: to get a job, positioning yourself as an authority targeting any sort of audience will increase your chances of getting hired. Why? Because people would assume you’re among the best at what you do!
How Do You Build an Audience on LinkedIn?
Your audience-building strategy will undeniably be based on your professional objectives. It may be a little wishful to think that you can attract the C-Suites of Engro and P&G right off the bat, that won’t happen.
However, those who are ready to engage on the platform are thse who are using LinkedIn to find jobs: the Gen-Z. Hence, you begin serving their content needs.
And once you know that, you should then:
- Apply empathy
- Apply basic design thinking skills
- Provide value
- Answer their most pressing questions
- Bust their most niggling myths
This Approach Will Help in Other Ways
Saif has also claimed that being comfortable and ‘shameless’ has allowed him to share a lot of his personal life on Linkedin, which he says, has worked for him.
Having said that, he does not prescribe that to anybody else. To each their own. This is also not the only way to achieve LinkedIn success.
In fact, if you follow the tips mentioned, not only will you reach the milestones you want, you will also get into the habit of posting consistently, writing better, and brushing up on your communication skills.
And perhaps the best thing you will gain is confidence. Since posting on LinkedIn is a bit like presenting in front of everyone you’ve ever known professionally, it will help you get over your insecurities for when you have to do the same in person!
Do Numbers Matter?
“Numbers, in most things, are vanity metrics. It’s not about your follower count. It’s not about how many likes you’re getting.”
As Saif says, and we resonate with, it is now more about building the courage to put yourself out there, flexing your professional muscle, becoming a bit shameless, and a lot more comfortable on the platform.
Focusing on likes and shares will help you create content that other people are already creating and that is not what we’re trying to do. Focus on your audience and the numbers will come.
Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn
We can do a simple Google search and find out what the LinkedIn algorithm appreciates and what it doesn’t but we wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth!
Here are some do’s and don’t’s that Saif has personally experienced:
What Doesn’t Work
- Posts with over 10 emojis
- Posts with plenty of external links
- Posts with over 5 hashtags
- Posts with unique images
- High value content
- Consistent posting
Other than that, the rest is trial and error. Find out what works for you!
2 Pakistani LinkedIn Accounts You Have to Follow
Doing LinkedIn properly is no rocket science. You must simply make sure that you don’t try to maintain a stiff and disciplined voice all the time and try to let your personality shine through. With that said, here are a couple of Pakistani LinkedIn personalities who Saif Ali looks up to.
Check them out, you may learn a thing or two!
As far as consistency goes, Umer is second to none. Alongside providing really high value content on how to navigate your workplace policies, negotiating salaries, and applying for jobs, he uses his reach and platform to help people find jobs and other help.
Umer has now started a YouTube channel to augment his LinkedIn content.
Saif’s Tip: Go back to Umer’s older posts to understand how he built his LinkedIn presence.
This is not necessarily a Pakistani LinkedIn account but it belongs to someone who is at the forefront of providing Fintech solutions to the country.
Brandon Timinsky has also done a great job in making locally appealing content as the Founder of one of the most notable Fintechs in Pakistan. Sadapay is considered ‘notable’ because of the amazing job they’ve done with the brand, something Brandon communicates very well through his LinkedIn.
He offers advice to the entire Pakistani startup ecosystem alongside tips on acquiring jobs in his organization, the state of Fintech in the region, and much more!