Being Authentic on LinkedIn with Lea Turner
She's ambitious and kind, tough and vulnerable at the same time. She's different. Meet Lea Turner, a powerhouse LinkedIn creator with +150,000 followers at the time of writing. She has taken everything that made her different and turned it into her strength. She has used that to stand out from the crowd and successfully built a business training hundreds of clients on how to build their personal brands on LinkedIn.
We had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Lea Turner. She talks us through her journey of building her business through the power of authentic content on LinkedIn.
Let's hear from Lea.
Life before LinkedIn
Who was Lea before LinkedIn fame?
«Before I started using LinkedIn, I ran a small transcription business working with mainly surgeons, doctors, lawyers, building consultants, and market researchers. I spent most of my days juggling being a lone mother and spending 10+ hours a day tip-tapping away at a keyboard with my headphones on listening to voices drone on about mostly disinteresting subjects.»
Why did you start creating content on LinkedIn? Someone or something triggered it?
«My son was due to start school in 2020, and I knew I couldn’t keep working 10-12 hour days typing. I needed to find more work, recruit some other transcribers to help me, and reduce my own hours so I could be more present for my son and only work while he was at school. I had no marketing budget, no clue how to market myself, but I’d had a few random LinkedIn emails about profile views, etc. so I decided to investigate opportunities there as a way to market my business for free.
After first logging in, I changed my mind because it seemed terrifying and not somewhere someone who looked like me, or had a small business, would belong.
I had no idea what to say, why anyone would want to listen to me, or if people would laugh at me for not being a “serious” business.»
The power of hitting "post” on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is perceived as a professional place with room only for suits and ties. In reality, LinkedIn is social media. A place for professionals to “socialise”. What Lea felt when nshe first started on LinkedIn is what thousands of us feel. We cannot create content on LinkedIn because we are not experts… Lea fought against the "common" perception and has been fighting ever since in changing the narrative. She's redefining who is a "professional".
And she has seen massive success while being herself. Let's dive into some amazing things that have happened to her since she started creating content.
What are three things you've achieved by being active on LinkedIn?
«The biggest thing I have gained from creating content on LinkedIn is my ambition.
I’ve realised I am capable of more than I ever believed possible, and it has ignited a drive in me that I never knew existed.
Materially, it has allowed me to save for and purchase my dream house. My son is 6 years old, and in his lifetime we have lived in 5 other houses, due to poor landlords and unfortunate circumstances. We now finally have a beautiful home of our own to settle in and find stability.
Personally, it brought me my boyfriend and so many new wonderful friends, who encourage and support me, lift me up and tell me “you can” whenever self-doubt creeps in.»
What's your process for creating LinkedIn content?
«I have absolutely no process. I wing it every single day and post what I’m thinking about or feeling in the moment. It’s not how I recommend my clients do it, but I’m naturally creative, and my written content takes a maximum of five minutes at a time.»
What's the difference between your content from last year vs this year?
«My content this year is definitely more confident. I KNOW I know my stuff now, and I don’t shy away from being referred to as an expert. I have the receipts to prove my capabilities, and I’ve stopped playing small.
I’m more assertive in how I handle online negativity. And I bring a whole lot more sass to my content and comments!
I think my visuals have also improved, and I’ve been (reluctantly) showing up on video more often.»
What makes posts go Viral on LinkedIn
Posts we love writing and posts that go viral have one thing in common, a big dose of our personality. Personal stories of success, failures and struggles are often posts that resonate the most with others on LinkedIn.
Lea talks about some of Lea's superhits.
You bring so much of your personal self to LinkedIn. Why? Is it good/bad?
«I think it seems like I bring a lot of myself, but I’m an onion; there are many layers to me, and my LinkedIn community only sees the top few. My boyfriend was saying this to me the other night (over some rums), that the community think they see everything about me, but there’s much more I keep private. My clients get to see more depth, but I am surprisingly cautious over what I do share. For example, I never speak about my relationship, I don’t discuss my family beyond my son, there is a lot in my past I have never spoken about, etc. I think I give enough that people feel a closeness to me, and are invested in my success, but not so much that I feel stripped of my private life. I think vulnerability is amazingly powerful to connect people, but you have to know where to draw the line for yourself and keep some parts just for you.»
What's your favourite post you've ever written?
«Oh my goodness, I couldn’t possibly narrow it down (or scroll back through 700+ posts). I genuinely don’t know. I think generally I enjoy my creativity when it comes to carousels, being a bit cheeky and tongue in cheek.
Maybe the one where I changed my name to Lea Rainbow Turner in defiance, when LinkedIn banned my account for having a rainbow emoji in my name. That was utter chaos and I’m pretty sure I was goofily laughing to myself about it for about a week.»
Which is your most viral post? Why do you think it went viral? Break it down for us?
«This was a recent one, last month when I announced I had stopped taking antidepressants. It was honest, vulnerable, uplifting, supportive, and as is typical with these kinds of posts on LinkedIn, created a lot of heated debates in the comments. It also included a very eye-catching photo of myself holding an empty packet of medication.»
Learnings from building an audience of +150,000
2.5 years is the time Lea took to go from 400 connections to over 150k. In the first 5 months of 2022 alone her content has amassed over 20 Million Views. Each of her posts gets hundreds of comments that she thoughtfully replies to. She doesn’t just create content, she nurtures her community.
How big was your audience on LinkedIn when you started (and now?) How long did it take?
«When I first started I had 400 connections who were all old school friends, random people I didn’t know, and a few old colleagues. Now I just hit 150,000 followers. It’s taken about 2 ½ years.»
How do you handle being famous and yet so accessible to your audience?
«I don’t. My boundaries are crap. Luke helps me keep on top of my messages, Elise (my PA) helps me keep on top of my admin. Thankfully, my previous profession means I type around 100-110 words per minute, which really comes in handy for replying to comments and messages!»
How much time do you allocate to creating content?
«I don’t time block. I create when I’m inspired - and thankfully I’m inspired a lot.»
When you are stuck and feel uninspired to create content what do you do? How do you unstuck yourself?
«Sleep. If I’m ever feeling really uninspired it’s because I’m tired or stressed. A good night’s sleep and a day away from social resets my brain and I come back fizzing with ideas.»
Telling stories on LinkedIn
Lea is a master storyteller. And she stands out from the crowd by telling her story on her terms. Her content reads easy, like a conversation written directly for her audience. If you ever doubted how much of your true, authentic self should you bring on to a platform like LinkedIn, look no further. Lea talks about her learnings from the last 2 and a half years of creating content on LinkedIn and the importance of diversifying to other platforms.
If you were to start on LinkedIn today for the first time, what would you do differently?
«Nothing. I love how I have grown gradually and organically, invested in the people around me, lifted others where I could. I’ve enjoyed everything about it and learned so many valuable lessons along the way.»
Were you always great at writing and storytelling?
«Yeah, I used to write funny posts just for my family and friends on Facebook, and I ran a meme group where I made silly memes and wrote funny captions. Writing is the comfort zone content for me. It comes easily and is fun.»
Is there something you don't like about creating content on LinkedIn?
«The bigger my profile and visibility has become, the more often I feel I have to edit myself. I find that hard. If I see something I don’t agree with, I often have to stop myself from commenting, because when I comment now, it can bring a huge amount of attention to a post, which can often lead to people jumping in to defend me, getting aggressive, or what I say being taken way out of context. I never want to start a witch hunt on someone, so these days if I disagree with a post, instead of respectfully debating or offering a counter opinion, I will just keep quiet. Which is out of character for me. I also find the sheer volume of angry and/or creepy (usually) men on my posts exhausting. I know that standing up to them is usually my style and can give confidence to other people to do the same, but sometimes it’s just so bloody tedious.»
Are you creating content only on LinkedIn? Have you diversified to other social media platforms? If yes, why so?
«I also use Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. My vibe is different on those platforms. I’m a lot less edited and (some might say) funny. I can swear and take the piss out of nasty comments without LinkedIn removing my content because Right-Wing-Rita’s clutching her pearls.»
Lea talks about how she grew her audience without focusing on her growth numbers but instead solely focussing on the people she wrote for and building relationships with people she met along the way.
Do you track your LinkedIn growth?
«Nope. Never. I don’t keep tabs on numbers or data. I have absolutely no interest in how big my network grows in terms of numbers. I’m more interested in the depth of the connections, in achieving greater impact with the content I create, the amazing humans I am able to lift up, and to help those who (however bizarre it seems to me) find what I have to say inspiring.»
Who is your favourite creator on LinkedIn?
Luke sent me a message when he was trying to get a job 2 years ago. I had no idea at the time that he has adult-onset Tourette’s. He wanted some help with his profile and we quickly became good friends. He disclosed his Tourette’s to me because he had decided to go it alone as a virtual assistant, having struggled to secure a job because of his vocal tics.
He was concerned about being judged when he met clients for Zoom calls, and I encouraged him to be open about his challenges with it. He ended up posting a video on LinkedIn where he was entirely himself, tics and all, and it went wild. Ever since, I have watched him grow as a businessman and as a person. His confidence has increased exponentially, the LinkedIn community have embraced him for the inspiring and incredible human he is. Everything he posts oozes sass, confidence, and bags of personality. I’m honoured to call him my real-life friend, AND he’s also my VA, and I recommend him to everyone.»
Is there something new coming up for Lea Turner that we should be excited about?
«Yes! I am starting a membership group called The HoLT (House of LT) which is going to offer 2 masterclasses and a LinkedIn clinic every month, plus content prompts monthly, and as many discounts, bonus features and events as I can muster.
It will be the main thing I pour my energy into going forward. I’m fortunate enough to have worked with or collaborated with some INCREDIBLE industry experts, across so many different professions, and I have TWO YEARS worth of masterclasses planned from the kinds of experts NO ONE can get hosting masterclasses. I want to leverage the visibility and exposure I can give to people, to get them to share their wisdom to my membership group. I’m really, really excited for it because I know I can impact way more businesses this way.»
And that's it, folks.
A sneak peek into how Lea grew into a powerhouse creator on LinkedIn with consistent authentic content.
Make sure you follow Lea Turner on LinkedIn for more on the art of building a tribe on LinkedIn.