Executives can find—and offer—authenticity on LinkedIn

A real estate CEO discusses the merits of the professional network, along with suggesting ways to gain a voice on the platform.

You never know where your next deal or connection will come from.

As CEO of a modern commercial real estate company, I spend much of my day in two ways: (1) meeting with people in person, and (2) speaking with people online. 

After I meet people, we typically connect on LinkedIn. For many years, this was no more than a virtual rolodex, a place to turn when you needed a name or contact info. But over recent years, I’ve noticed that I’m popping in on the LinkedIn feed to see what people are up to and what they’re reading and sharing. It’s a resource to know what’s happening in people’s professional lives.

I started as only a consumer, but over time I began to post more there. I liked seeing the engagement and who was poking their head in on the discourse, which felt more valuable and more civil than what I’d grown accustomed to on other platforms. 

I realize now that I’ve pulled back almost entirely from other social networks. I still use Twitter on occasion to read the news, but there’s so much noise there that it becomes nearly impossible to find the signal. On LinkedIn, people are more focused, more attuned and more gracious.

As I’ve invested more of my time and myself into posting on LinkedIn, I’ve seen the impact. Pretty much everything I post there has done five-figure impressions, which is a direct result of the power of a “like” or a comment to propel my post into the feeds of so many more people. It’s a higher than expected caliber of content there, which I believe is what draws people to that platform in this age, and I know to post only when I have something of substance to offer.

Authenticity is the goal

Of course, we have a corporate feed for my company. Our social media team makes sure we update clients (prospective, existing) on what’s been going on. It’s a great repository for what we’ve been up to, what we’re most proud of, and messaging consistent with our brand promise and value. However, there’s additional space for executives to deliver their own authentic voices.

One way I can stand out from the competition is through the personal touch. People want to get to know you, and to understand what you stand for, before they sign up with you. I use my LinkedIn page to showcase some of what’s important to me when I’m off the clock. For example, I recently slept outside for a night, raising $6,000, as part of a fundraiser for a worthy cause, and I wrote about that experience leading up to and after the event. Those posts resonated with people.

More targeted

Other social media networks allow you to build your network one by one with people you know or you’ve met, but LinkedIn, because it’s a professional network primarily, comes with a reputation for decorum and good behavior. That might mean at times things can feel a bit slanted toward self-promotion, but I’m comfortable with that tradeoff. 

The people I reach there I feel I actually know. When I read about their updates, and get their insights, I take it to heart, and I’m proud of what I see there. While clicking away, I’m usually left in a good mood, which is more challenging to come by elsewhere.

Still, because I know that my posts could get shared in front of others I don’t yet know, I am mindful of what I put there. So I’m targeted in what I share, knowing that my ideas and insights could get looked at by others. It’s my hope that they, too, find something worthwhile. Expanding my network to include others who similarly belong is the hope.

Everyone’s got one

Whenever we have company news, we ask our team to help us get the word out. Not everyone likes and uses the same channels, but I’ve seen LinkedIn emerge as the preferred place for corporate announcements, and often my employees offer their perspective on the news of the day. We all want to celebrate together in the same space, if possible.

For those on my team who are less inspired, or feel less comfortable posting as often as I do, these announcements are moments when they can join the conversation. I don’t know if I could prescribe for someone what the best topics to post would be, or the best time of day to draft them, but I would encourage anyone to wait for the right opportunity. Don’t force it. For a while, I sat and read and waited for the right time to chime in. I keep going now because I see that my voice and vision are coming through loudly for my followers. I got there at my pace.

SquareFoot founder and CEO Jonathan Wasserstrum has worked for over a decade in commercial real estate. 

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