Sandra Long, is an independent LinkedIn consultant, instructor, and speaker. She is the author of the best-selling book, LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. Sandra was the first speaker to share her ideas about LinkedIn on the TED stage in 2019. She is also the President of Post Road Consulting LLC. The company’s clients include sales teams, companies, executives, HR teams, colleges, universities, and associations. Take a look at her LinkedIn here.

What has been the most valuable opportunity/connection that you have gained due to LinkedIn?

It’s truly hard to pinpoint only one most valuable opportunity I have received from LinkedIn, because there have been so many. 

To be more specific, I can categorize the opportunities as follows:

  • Speaking and training. I have been hired to speak at companies and universities around the world directly from LinkedIn. I started out 2022 by working with an international business school in Barcelona. The client found me on LinkedIn. From there, she watched some of my videos and read my book.
  • Partnering. I enjoy several collaborations that were fostered on LinkedIn. I partner with several industry leading companies, and a few other educational / publishing organizations.
  • Podcast and Live/Audio Guesting. Podcasters often find me from either LinkedIn or Amazon, and oftentimes a combination of both. After seeing or reading my book, they visit my profile and then message me. 
  • Writing. I have been asked to write articles, blogs, and to collaborate with another author as a co-author. My second book was a direct result of an effort with a new LinkedIn connection.
  • Career. Yes, hiring managers and recruiters are also part of the mix when it comes to LinkedIn opportunities. I do get these opportunities, but it’s not something that I am pursuing.
  • Consulting. I have several new corporate and university consulting clients from LinkedIn. They saw my profile or content and reached out for help.

I am extremely grateful to my extended network because that is one of the reasons that I have been so fortunate.  And the good news here is that ANY of us can develop opportunities if they have done these three things:  develop and display a personal brand; build out a strategic network; and stay visible on LinkedIn.

If people who read your book take away one idea, what would you want that to be?

Don’t be afraid. Take the time to invest in yourself. 

Too many people are nervous about their online presence, so they end up not doing anything. They leave their profile stagnant for months or years. 

They don’t make a comment, even when they have terrific insights on a topic. I have met so many incredibly talented people who come up short on LinkedIn. That’s who I write for and speak to. 

I wanted my book to share insights and lessons but also help the reader build confidence in themselves. I do this by including case studies and examples throughout the book. 

What are the biggest mistakes in Academia LinkedIn?

The biggest mistake in Academia is failure to develop and maintain proficiency with LinkedIn; thereby missing major opportunities for themselves, the school, and the students.

I work with very savvy higher education leaders and most of them tell me that they find that keeping up with all the newest LinkedIn strategies and evolving features can be challenging. 

Think about it. Today’s university career services teams still have the intense and ongoing pressure to support students with all kinds of career guidance including resumes, interviews, and networking. In the last few years, we now require that career teams know about LinkedIn ON TOP of all of that.  It’s a lot to do; teams are stretched; and the continually evolving nature of LinkedIn requires significant time. So many of them end up knowing only a fraction of what they need to best support students. 

Administrators and other staff members are also time pressed. If their efforts for school and individual branding on LinkedIn are minimal, they are probably missing out on interesting opportunities for the institution and themselves. 

So how does someone stay up on all the newest features and strategies? I spend ALL my time doing this and I can tell you that I learn more about LinkedIn every single day. My learning includes 

  • Reading blog posts
  • Participating in events
  • Reading books
  • Collaborating with other experts
  • Spending time on LinkedIn and trying out every new feature
  • Posting and writing about LinkedIn and engaging with comments

For me this is a full-time job. I can only imagine how difficult it is for university leaders who have so many other responsibilities, but also need to stay on top of LinkedIn. My advice is to hire an outside expert or dedicate a chunk of daily or weekly time (yours or your staff) for continuous learning and practicing on the platform. It’s worth it!