My work — and the work of our team — is to make LinkedIn work for CEOs, particularly the CEOs of SaaS companies. Sometimes a new client comes to us for job-seeking support, but more often, our CEOs want to use LinkedIn to speed their pursuit of other goals — raise a round of funding, attract investors, speak directly to prospects and customers, hire and retain great employees, build a company culture, and keep momentum and alignment as they grow.
Working with these CEOs inspires us — they are super smart and innovative, usually charming and a bit quirky, generous and rarely negative, and always on the move. Each one comes with an interesting story to tell and a vision they’re chasing.
They also come already knowing that LinkedIn, with its rock-solid business focus and 1+ billion members, is worthy of investment. But sometimes, they aren’t sure how to start or where to put their energy. They want insight not only into best practices but how to avoid wasting their time (and money).
Though there are a few obvious best practices (tell stories, use keywords, engage, be consistent), execution is a moveable target. It changes as LinkedIn evolves the platform, of course.
But what CEOs need to do on LinkedIn changes as well. As a company grows from a good idea to a small business to an enterprise organization, the CEO’s role evolves – and the best ways for a CEO to use LinkedIn change too.
Here are some guidelines that incorporate the essential elements of CEO communications and examples of CEOs who use LinkedIn well.
Cash flow is essential to the survival of startups, so CEOs typically focus on lead gen and getting investors. At this stage, the CEO is the business. As a result, almost everything comes from people in their network: initial customers, partners, investors, and key hires.
Consistent activity is essential, and engagement is everything. This stage of company development is simultaneously exciting and exhausting. A strong LinkedIn presence helps these CEOs build credibility faster, maintain mindshare, and keep their network active and involved.
How to Use LinkedIn
Build Credibility: It’s a rare occurrence when someone sees a CEO profile on LinkedIn for the first time and says, “Wow! I need to buy [your product or service] right now!” On the other hand, it’s commonplace for someone to Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile before they reach out to you. Be ready to show them your best:
- Craft a profile that makes people want to talk to you, to know more about you.
- Share the founding story of your company.
- Talk about how what you’re doing is different from what everyone else is doing.
- Tell them why they need to know more — how can you help them?
- Back it all up with numbers and anecdotes.
Build Relationships with Key Stakeholders: A strong LinkedIn personal presence starts with a rich profile, but that’s only the beginning. Next, start raising your visibility by joining the community:
- You are probably already connected with your key stakeholders. For the people you want to impress most, click the subscribe bell icon to the right of their profile photo so you are notified when they post. That allows you to engage early, showing you are paying attention to them.
- Start with likes and shares (everyone likes to have attention paid to their posts), graduate to meaningful comments, and be ready for conversations to begin. This helps introduce you to their network.
Pro Tip: An impactful LinkedIn profile is dynamic — never stagnant. Even as we researched our list of Top CEOs in 2024, we saw them updating elements in their profiles — new background headers, hashtags, headlines, and media links in their Featured and Experience sections.
As the company gets bigger, a CEO’s responsibility for business development lessens, although, of course, they remain involved in big deals and partnerships. The CEO’s attention and efforts move into keeping everyone aligned — especially as the company scales, and more importantly, as it goes through periods of rapid growth. And because they no longer know every single hire, protecting and reinforcing the company culture becomes more about communicating well.
How to Use LinkedIn
Lead by Example: As the company’s public face, a CEO should model the type of communication and behavior that they expect from employees:
- Invite people to know you — be transparent and open in your communications.
- Be honest and gracious — take responsibility for any mistakes or missteps that may occur and give credit to your team and partners for successes.
- Post regularly and positively to not only build credibility and trust but also to establish a strong foundation to stand on when challenges arise.
Keep Everyone on Mission: CEOs must continually communicate the company’s vision and goals to all stakeholders:
- Post regularly about your company’s mission and goals, so all stakeholders internalize and work to accomplish them.
- Keep stakeholders informed with posts about progress and wins. Not only do these posts demonstrate traction and momentum for investors, but they also inspire employees and make them feel like they are part of the company’s mission.
Impact the Industry: To become and remain relevant and influential, CEOs need to share their insights, expertise, and perspectives with their industry — and beyond:
- Establish yourself as a thought leader by offering insights, solutions to industry issues, and helpful information in posts and blogs.
- Share your experience, show your sense of humor, and also talk about what’s important to you.
- Comment on others’ posts and articles, and when someone comments on your posts or articles, respond and engage with them.
As a company grows even bigger and more established, the CEO’s focus turns to the general public, the employees, and the analyst/investor community (especially after the company goes public). LinkedIn continues to offer opportunities for CEO communication on this bigger stage.
How to Use LinkedIn
Encourage Employee Engagement: No matter how close or far away they are from the C-suite, people want to respect and like the people they work for. Build morale and show appreciation by using LinkedIn to:
- Applaud team members’ accomplishments.
- Promote company culture and recognize when people get it right.
- Showcase the talent within your organization.
Manage Crises: The CEO truly becomes the public face of the company in a crisis, and they are responsible for not only managing the issues but also communicating effectively with stakeholders:
- Tell the story the way you want it told — and tell it directly to your stakeholders (and the public and media).
- Offer solutions, manage expectations, and get feedback from all invested parties.
- Keep everyone updated and in the information loop — and share the solution/resolution and next steps.
Pro Tip: As companies grow, they will develop both a CEO personal communication strategy and a company communication strategy. Though they will differ, be sure you keep overall alignment between the two. Work with your marketing to develop and coordinate posting — content and scheduling — to build momentum and reinforce both messages.
Top CEOS: What Does Using LinkedIn Well Look Like?
Done well, LinkedIn helps CEOs — and everyone else — reach their goals. With a clear strategy, cohesive message, and consistent execution, CEOs and their companies can build momentum, see results, and move faster. What does it look like? I’m so glad you asked!
Here are 20 CEOs who exemplify excellence in using LinkedIn to tell their stories and engage with stakeholders. Each has a profile that not only shows their incredible experience but also invites you to know them a little better — what inspires them, what they are doing, and what problems their company solves. And, all of them are active on LinkedIn — regularly posting and engaging. I encourage you to explore their profiles and see how their posting habits contribute to their influence and success.
Let’s Make LinkedIn Work for You
If you’re inspired by these top CEOs and would like to put LinkedIn to work for you, our team of experts is here to help. We specialize in crafting impactful LinkedIn profiles and strategies, customized for you and your goals. Contact us on LinkedIn or book a quick call, and let’s discuss how we can help you use LinkedIn to reach your goals — faster.