4 Steps to Write Like a LinkedIn Content Creator and Build Your Brand as an EngineerApr 22, 2023
So maybe I was wrong. I've generally encouraged my mentees and others that read my posts on LinkedIn to not worry much about "learning in public" and downplayed the importance of networking.
But yesterday, I had a special guest attend a meeting for members in the Not Another Course community. Nicole is a bootcamp grad who I used to work with who now is a mid-level full stack engineer at a great company. She walked us through her path from teacher to full stack engineer and how she landed her first 2 roles.
To my surprise, it was NOT by cold applying.
Nicole posted what she was learning on LinkedIn, connected with hiring managers through these posts and was invited to interview.
It got me thinking...
I have been posting online for quite a while now and most of my growth has occurred in the last 12 months, going from 2k to 13k followers on LinkedIn. More important than the number of followers is the number of opportunities that have opened up as a result of writing:
launched my own small business to mentor early career devs
ability to attract talent as a hiring manager
meeting with people in positions I want to be in and learn from
my writing has improved... duh
Here's the thing: you don't need to be an "influencer" to unlock the power of posting online. Unfortunately, too many of you are nervous about what to post or how people will judge you. So you don't. Let's fix that.
No one really cares.
Maybe you're nervous that you don't know enough. Your friends will see it. Co-workers will judge. Some smarty-pants dev will correct you publicly.
I mean, all of these things COULD happen.
But who cares?
Also - I want you to remember the last post from someone you know that you REALLY hated. You thought it was so cringe that you spit out your coffee and unfollowed them.
Yeah, I didn't think so.
We are all so wrapped up in our own lives that we don't care much about the strangers online or what they post. People will scroll, maybe chuckle and then move on.
Now, let's dive into a practical LinkedIn strategy to attract the right people through your posts.
Step 1: Be anti-cringe
Posting platitudes is an easy way to get ignored or not taken seriously. Some large accounts only post this kind of stuff - you know the type:
"Software engineering is hard. But you can do it! You just have to believe 🌟🌈"
That's not only NOT helpful, but as humans we have an uncanny ability to smell when people are not being genuine.
Instead, post about what you're learning. The challenges you encounter when deploying a Lambda or learning Typescript and add a CTA (call to action) by inviting feedback from readers.
Don't just post a link to your project (first off, LI limits the reach on posts with links 😉) - describe what you're building, your approach and ask how others may have done it. Everyone has an opinion they want to share in tech... for better or for worse.
Step 2: Don't be boring... at first
You wrote an interesting post but nobody read it. Here you thought you'd be judged by the masses and yet, you barely see any interaction.
You must make your first sentence interesting.
The hook should draw the reader in to read more. This is why YouTube creators post outlandish thumbnails or "click-bait." No one will benefit from your post if they aren't interested to read more.
Some common hooks are:
"I thought [x] but learned [y] when I finally did [z]"
"Everyone thinks [x] is important but really, it's [y]. Here's what I discovered"
"[number] of things I learned about [x] which might surprise you"
Notice how I used the first person in these hooks?
Talk about what YOU discovered and what YOU think. No one can challenge your experience or thoughts, but posting general statements about "all software engineers or everyone" is a way to invite unwanted scrutiny or negative comments.
Step 3: Know who you're posting for
Take the emotion out of it.
If you're on the job hunt, you're not fishing for likes so don't focus on that metric.
You probably want engagement from other developers, hiring managers or recruiters, so post for that audience.
Write about technical problems you've solved and invite others to share how they would solve it.
Post a code sample and say "tear this up" - watch how many people want to correct your code.
Connect with the people in your comments and likes section and comment on their posts as well. This is how you naturally build relationships. This is how you successfully slide into someone's DMs without it being creepy.
Step 4: Don't freestyle it
I write pretty much all my posts for the week on Sunday. This way I'm not scrambling to channel my creativity before I start my work day or my kids start yelling at me to make them pancakes.
I make pretty damn good pancakes so I can't blame them.
I post first thing in the morning before I can talk myself out of it.
Yes, even with 13k followers and after posting M-F for a year, I still get in my own head and wonder whether or not I should post and what people will think.
My best advice is not to over-think it. You will write some cringe-y posts. Lord knows I have. The trick is to be consistent, learn what works and re-purpose it (write the same thing in a different way). Engage with people who seem worth it and genuinely seek advice and offer it when you think it will help others.
To get your noggin joggin' here are some posts you can rip off from me to use: Learning in Public Templates
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