The Human Algorithm: How to Stand Out on LinkedIn and Create Meaningful Engagement

As I stood on the stage at the Archangel Academy’s event in Austin a few weeks ago, I shared my expertise on how to stand out on LinkedIn, build genuine connections, and create meaningful engagement. Being on any social media platform has its challenges, but specifically with LinkedIn. It’s not just about getting thousands of followers or likes; it’s about creating meaningful relationships that create real impact.

Joshua B. Lee giving a presentation at Archangel Event in ATX

Speaking at the Archangel Event in ATX

According to recent data from LinkedIn, did you know that in the United States, about 5.7% of LinkedIn users are really active on the platform? We’re talking about the heavy users who log in at least 2/3 of the time every month. You might be surprised to know that over 17 million influential leaders on LinkedIn have official accounts! This means that LinkedIn has become a go-to source for people who want to stay updated on the latest trends and insights in their industry. These thought leaders shape the conversations and direction of their respective fields, and having access to them can be really valuable. It’s no wonder, then, that LinkedIn is seen as a hub for thought leadership and industry expertise.

You might be wondering how do I stand out and create meaningful connections and engagement?

The answer is simple: shift from quantity to quality.

Stop sending those generic connection requests and spammy messages, create quality content, and be authentic. Let’s discuss it a little further …

The Human Algorithm: Why It Matters

Forget about the LinkedIn algorithm. I repeat; forget about the LinkedIn algorithm! LinkedIn is first and foremost: a professional networking app, which is why it prioritizes: THE HUMAN ALGORITHM. Behind every profile is a person with needs and emotions. Over the last 20 years, I’ve learned that human connection beats everything. Focus on understanding people, building trust, and creating meaningful interactions.

When was the last time you responded to a cold, robotic sales pitch? Probably never. But when someone genuinely engages with you, shares valuable insights, and shows they care, you pay attention. It’s the same on LinkedIn. Treat each interaction and post you make as if you’re meeting someone face-to-face. Be real, be human, and show genuine interest in the person.

Think about it like dating. You don’t go on a first date, propose to someone on the spot, and expect them to say yes. No, you build a relationship, get to know them, and show genuine interest in their interests and values. It’s the same on LinkedIn when you’re thinking about your content and connections.

The Power of Personalized Connection Requests

Mass connection requests don’t work. Instead, use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find people who align with your goals. Send personalized connection requests and explain why you want to connect. This small step makes a huge difference and sets you apart from the spam.

When I started using LinkedIn’s advanced search, it was a game-changer. I wasn’t just connecting with random people; I was finding those who shared my interests, values, and goals. This targeted approach not only grew my network but also led to meaningful collaborations and opportunities, just like the one I got for the Archangel event.

Treat connection requests with a dating mindset. No one really goes on a first date, key to their home on hand, ready to say “Hey, you seem cool! Let’s move in!” You can’t go from 0 to marriage straight away. Treat using LinkedIn the same way. Look at their profiles, visit their posts, and engage genuinely. Warm them up and show real interest in what they have to say.

Joshua & Rachel B. Lee circa 2016

Just for kicks, here’s Rachel and I in 2016 in our early dating relationship journey; she definitely wasn’t moving in with me on Day 1.

So, next time you’re sending a connection request, remember it’s not just about adding someone to your network. It’s about building a relationship and showing genuine interest in the person. Explain why you want to connect and personalize your request. Don’t be surprised when people start responding, conversations begin to happen, real connections are made, and opportunities are created.

The Power of Thought Leadership Content

I’m guessing you’re tired of drowning in a sea of meaningless content in your feed, right? I mean, with 2.5 hours per day spent on social media, it’s like we’re all trying to find connection, but nothing sticks. But here’s the thing: not everyone’s adding value to the conversation.

Everyone’s posting, but not everyone’s adding value.

As a thought leader, you’re not just trying to make noise on LinkedIn – you’re trying to create content that sparks conversations, makes people want to come back for more, and (dare I say it?) makes you stand out from the crowd.

So, how do you do it? You focus on what your audience cares about, and you deliver insights that make them go, “Damn, I needed to hear that!” Create high-quality content that showcases your expertise, shares your personal story, and lets your personality shine through. I mean, I used to just post for the sake of posting, but when I shifted my focus to creating content that resonated with my audience, engagement and connections went through the roof.

I looked up my most popular Dopamine Dose Newsletter to date from January 2024 till June 2024, and guess what it is? 👇

Joshua B. Lee blog post: Beyond the Numbers Game
This is my most popular Dopamine Dose Newsletter as of 2024 (YTD Jan 2024 – June 2024)

It’s my Beyond the Numbers Game: Cultivating High-Value Connections for LinkedIn Success edition. It got 7,075 impressions, 400 likes, and 113 comments. Why do you think that is? People are looking for solutions, value, and thought leadership. They want to feel like someone cares about their overall goals.

Then I looked up my most popular post YTD January 2024 – June 2024 and it’s an edition of my Dopamine Dealer Newsletter from 6 months ago. 👇

Joshua B. Lee blog post: Supercharge Your Professional Growth

This is my TOP post so far from January 2024 – June 2024 YTD

Here’s what’s interesting. It had less likes and comments than my top newsletter edition, but it had way higher impressions and reach which made it my #1 post YTD. (Jan 2024 – June 2024) It had 146 likes, 71 comments, and 2 reposts. But the impressions were 7,444.

Just as a refresher: On LinkedIn, impressions are the number of times your posts, updates, or profile are viewed by others. Think of it like how many people are looking at your stuff. Reach, on the other hand, is how many unique people are seeing your posts. For example, if 100 people see your post, but 20 people see it multiple times, your reach is 100, but your impressions are 120. Got it?

Why does this matter and what does it mean? Generally speaking, if your post’s got low engagement but high impressions and reach, it’s a sign you’re building a strong brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader, even if the engagement numbers don’t match. Focus on creating high-quality content that adds value and sparks conversations, and you’ll likely reach a wider audience, even if it doesn’t always translate to immediate likes and comments.

3 Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Content:

🔵 Be Bold and Authentic:

Dare to be different and stand out from the crowd. Share your personal story, showcase your expertise, and let your personality shine through. This is where the magic happens, and you’ll start to inspire and influence others.

🔵 Focus on Strategy Over Quantity:

It’s not about posting for the sake of posting. Instead, focus on creating a consistent and intentional content strategy that showcases your unique value proposition. This will help you stand out and build a loyal following.

🔵 Measure Success by Engagement, Not Just Likes:

While likes and comments are important metrics, don’t just focus on the numbers. Instead, measure the quality of your engagement, including the depth of conversations, the relevance of your content, and the impact it’s having on your audience. This will help you refine your strategy and continue to inspire and influence others.

The Power of Authenticity: Don’t Be a Fake

In a world full of fake promotional content, authenticity wins. If I’m being honest, my best-performing posts for engagement and comments are about my family, personal life, and mental wellness. It’s because people can tell when I’m being genuine, and that I’m not just a CEO, Dopamine Dealer of LinkedIn, or the Top AI LinkedIn Voice. I’m a dad, a husband, and a human being that likes to connect with other human beings. People are tired of being sold to – they want real interactions.

The post that performed in 3rd place for the year (YTD January 2024 – June 2024) was my post about my daughter Skylar and Dyslexic Thinking.

Joshua & daughter Skylar

My daughter Skylar and I

Show who you are, not just what you do. Share your journey, successes and failures. This builds trust and makes people more likely to engage with you. Entrepreneur Magazine put out a great article and reported that Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s editor in chief discussed that “LinkedIn takes a very different view on the value of “reach.” The company’s goal is to “connect the world’s professionals to economic opportunity,” but in their eyes, that doesn’t usually mean reaching the largest number of other professionals. Instead, they want to help users connect to the few people in their industry who can make a meaningful difference.”

I used to think I had to present a perfect image online. But the more I shared my real experiences – the highs and the lows – the more people connected with me. Authenticity is powerful. It builds trust and encourages genuine interactions. LinkedIn is more than just a social network. It’s a powerhouse for building genuine, high-value relationships. Focus on real engagement, understand the human algorithm, and stay authentic.

Which strategy will you implement first to shift your LinkedIn approach from quantity to quality? Share your thoughts below and if you’re struggling, send me a DM.

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