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Most of us are not natural authors, natural writers and yes, we can probably write a highly structured report or yes, we can put together some PowerPoint slides for an in-house presentation, but the thought of writing 800 – 1200 words on some kind of topic that is going to build my presence on LinkedIn can feel insurmountable.
So here are two quick hacks that I’ve used with a number of my Portfolio Executives just to get them started.
Finding something to talk about.
The first thing is ‘how do I find something to talk about?’. What I encourage them to do is write down a list of ‘10 things I wish I’d known before I became a senior Finance Director’ (or Marketing Director or fill in the gap). Just write down the list. Now you’ve got ten blogs or articles for LinkedIn. If you don’t fancy that then how about this: ‘10 mistakes you should never make as a Finance Director’ (or Marketing Director etc etc). Just write down the list. So now you’ve got 20 articles that you could write, each of which has drawn directly from your own experience.
But how do I move that from a one-word sentence to a 600–800-word article? Let’s break it down again.
Making it manageable.
800 words is 6 sets of 150 words. 150 words of introduction and 150 words conclusion. Then 150 words introducing ‘the thing’ and perhaps a story illustrating it. 150 words saying why it’s important and perhaps a story illustrating it, 150 words moving it from a specific example to something more general and 150 words with some kind of call to action about how you can do things differently.
Most of us can write 150 words.
But to make it even easier, leave the introduction until you’ve written paragraphs 2, 3,4 and 5 and leave the conclusion until you’ve written all of the other paragraphs. Don’t try and sit down and write it all in one go. Maybe just write the second paragraph, then the third paragraph. One paragraph a day for five days and on the sixth day write both summary and the introduction. That will get you an article a week.
Maybe you just don’t like the process of writing. It’s amazing what technology can do these days. If you’ve got PowerPoint, you can talk to a slide with a particular setting put on and it will write the stuff in. If you prefer to speak to somebody, then set up a skype call or a zoom call and just say it somebody. Maybe you’ve got an assistant who will type it up for you and then you can come back and edit it.
Do everything you can to lower the barrier.
Maximise the impact
Now you’ve got an article, you can plunder that article to provide you with three or four posts to support that article in the days before it’s posted. The idea from a paragraph can be put into a short LinkedIn post and that will enable to you do 1 LinkedIn post 4 days a week and one article on the fifth day. It can make a lot of sense to build up a backlog of articles and then your posts are not always on the same topic. You can go and plunder them from a range of articles and keep the variety in there. Perhaps, as you build up your LinkedIn presence, once a month do a poll and once a month comment on the results of that poll. Once a month celebrate a colleague who is in the same area as you or somebody you used to work with. We do this once a week for the Portfolio Executives.
But the key is writing something and then you can start to build that habit.
Just get started
I had complete writers block for a number of years where I just felt I couldn’t write anything creative and slowly I unwound it. Now I have been getting a LinkedIn article out every week for almost 90 weeks, and I still have a backlog of articles that need editing and putting out there.
So, build this habit, build your presence and just get started! I look back on my earlier articles and think they could be much better written. It doesn’t matter – I got started!
A final tip, I post my articles both to LinkedIn and also to the blog page on my website.
150 words is not a big target. 150 words a day almost anybody can do.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.