There is a fine line between embracing someone else’s methods as a guide and reproducing someone else’s methods as a carbon copy.

By going with the latter, you run the risk of looking like a “wannabe,” or as through you’re trying to generate success by doing what the “experts” are doing.

The key is to not doing this is personalization.

Before you begin generating your own content, you must pinpoint who you are on LinkedIn. This is what I call your LinkedIn persona. Your LinkedIn persona isn’t necessarily all of who you are (you don’t need to verbally vomit all over the platform), but it must be genuinely you. If it isn’t genuinely you, users will see right through it.

Once you develop your LinkedIn persona, you will know how to use the posts of others as inspiration instead of as a means of replication.

There are three factors that make up your LinkedIn persona:

  1. Voice
  2. Opinion
  3. Comfort Level

1. Find Your Voice

Finding your voice relates to your personality. Are you snarky, sarcastic, kind, inspiring, or angry? It is important that you pick attributes that are uniquely you.

You may see someone else on LinkedIn killing it with hilarious videos. You want to do the same thing. Unfortunately, your humor leaves a lot to be desired. Probably best to leave the humor to the hilarious.

Another person may have a chip on her shoulder and post snarky or angry comments on a regular basis. You think her posts are amazing and would love to do the same. If you simply try to take on her voice, you will fail.

I understand that you may think your actual voice isn’t that exciting. You are kind by nature, but wish you could be funny. While it’s tempting to try and recreate what others are doing, you’re better off finding your own voice.

2. Have An Opinion

This can be a tough one, because having an opinion means you may ruffle some feathers. Creating conflict on LinkedIn (or — at the very least — being told you are incorrect) can be scary. It’s much easier to stay in a fluffy, conflict-free zone.

But not articulating an opinion is like holding onto the side of a pool because you don’t want to risk letting go and struggling to swim. You’ll be safe and (technically) in the water, but you won’t get anywhere, either.

Here’s the thing: you can have an opinion without creating WWIII, but you must articulate a worthwhile opinion.

Let’s avoid posts like:

I like to write with a pencil because you can erase what you write.

Agree?

That type of “opinion” post is a gimmick in an effort to manufacture engagement. While the No. 1 goal is, in fact, to generate engagement, the best way to do it is by posing a question (or opinion) that will spark fun and stimulating conversation for everyone involved.

3. Stay Within Your Comfort Level

This is nuanced. It is important to stay within your comfort level, but it’s also important to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Um, what?

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say that you see someone post a video of Pennywise drinking straight out of the bottle with a funny caption (this may or may not be an actual post by Adam Karpiak, but I digress). You think this is hilarious, and the following inner dialogue ensues:

I would love to do something like that! Maybe I should find a video of a clown drinking and post a funny comment. I have no idea what I would say, though, I’ve never done that before. I’ve only posted inspirational quotes. I also don’t really drink, it makes me uncomfortable. But I see that other person is succeeding with those posts, and I could really use some extra engagement … maybe I should do it.

This “example” is obviously an exaggeration, but it gets the point across. You may see someone succeeding on LinkedIn and want that same success, but don’t violate your own personality and comfort levels to do it.

You can, however, use that person’s post as an inspiration for your own:

That video is really funny! It’s not really my style, but I love the idea of using a stock video to get a point across. I can look into inspirational videos to license, and use this same post format, since it seems to generate a lot of engagement!

The latter example shows you getting out of your comfort zone by using a different post format, but staying within the parameters of your natural personality and engagement style.

The Key is Being Genuine

Users see someone as “a LinkedIn wannabe” when it’s clear that person is attempting to reproduce another person’s success. As shown in the examples above, it is important to stay true to yourself while you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Use other people’s brilliance as inspiration to rework your own LinkedIn presence instead of trying to copy what they’re doing to generate success.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is the President and CEO of e-Link Consulting, which works with businesses to increase LinkedIn visibility. To learn more about e-Link’s services, visit e-linkconsulting.com/services.