Patrice M. Palmer doesn’t like to ask students to do things they haven’t done themselves. That’s why when it came time to preach the importance of using LinkedIn, Palmer took a hands-on approach – and would ultimately gain a global following along the way.
“I started playing with it in 2019, and I had maybe 200 followers – they were all people I know from Colorado State University, the craft beer industry, stuff like that,” said Palmer, the assistant dean and director of Justice, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the College of Business. “Jennifer Vancil (College of Business career counselor and instructor) advised me to get familiar with LinkedIn, because it was a great tool to create a professional digital footprint for employers to follow.
“I started playing with it, figuring out how the algorithm worked, and in 2020, when the pandemic was at its height, and we had so much political and social unrest, I started using LinkedIn as a platform to have conversations I didn’t have the opportunity to have in person.”
Their first post to truly blow up was a picture of a man holding a sign that compared COVID-19 to racism. It got more than a million views, and Palmer was inundated with messages. Soon, they had more than 1,000 followers, and that number has continued to steadily grow.
Today, about 40,000 people follow Palmer, whose posts detail their experiences as a Black, queer, transgender (non-binary) person working in the world of business and education. This year, they earned recognition from LinkedIn as one of the Top 10 Voices in Racial Equity.
“I was given this honor, and it was kind of crazy because I only truly got on LinkedIn to teach students how to better utilize this tool,” Palmer said. “It was never about gaining a following.”
How to leverage LinkedIn to share your unique voice
Palmer may never have intended to go viral, but now that they have an audience, they frequently post content dealing with the latest in diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, the top headlines of the day and historical events regarding underserved and historically marginalized communities.
They also use the platform to share their personal experiences and how it has contributed to their professional growth.
Here are some of Palmer’s top tips for creating content that resonates on LinkedIn.
Palmer’s other big tip for leveraging LinkedIn? Be authentic, and share insights guided by your own experiences.
“You have to know yourself, and what you bring to this space,” Palmer said. “Whenever I talk about growing your media presence on this platform, I always say the first person you have to know isn’t your audience: It’s you. Once you know yourself you can anticipate what your audience will need as well.”
Know your audience
To create content for LinkedIn, Palmer looks at the news of the day and how it relates to the DEI topics of their expertise. That has included posts about their journey for Trans Day of Visibility, a remembrance post about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been his birthday, a look at how to appropriately wish people “happy holidays,” and historical facts about important figures in the civil rights movement.
Palmer acknowledges much of this content might not relate exactly to the workplace, but the professional world isn’t its own bubble, which is why it’s so important to talk about topics like identity and social justice movements on LinkedIn.
“When we’re at work, we don’t turn these parts of ourselves off – they’re weighing on us, so let’s talk about them,” they said. “We have those water cooler moments in person, and all of these things are impacting our work day. That’s why I bring these things up. To bring awareness but also to validate the lived experiences of people who share my identities.”
Don’t let the trolls get you down
When someone recorded an hour-long live stream cruelly responding to Palmer’s TedX talk about their identity, their first thought was: “Oh my God, it’s like I’m Beyonce.”
But, they conceded this and other hateful comments do hurt their feelings, and that trolls exist even on a seemingly professional platform like LinkedIn.
“There are times where I’ve wanted to get on the offensive and spit venom right back, but I’ve realized that if you have enough time to talk about me like this, there must be something else going on,” Palmer said. “Sometimes, I’ll respond and offer to talk through whatever complaints they have, and a few times, I’ve had really good conversations.”
Palmer said there’s no shame in unplugging and disengaging from conversations online, and that they’re grateful they have a partner (Jolly Green-Palmer) who makes them do it.
“Be kind to yourself,” they said. “You don’t have to bleed for people to know there’s a wound, you don’t have to continually cause yourself trauma to prove you’re somebody or you’re worth listening to.”
Don’t put it ALL on social media
While Palmer does share personal bits of their identity, they also make it a point not to put all of themselves on social media.
Palmer also asks the same of their students.
“Some of your lived experiences, your family, you don’t want to bring into the space,” they said. “Don’t use it as your diary. No one likes their diary being read, make sure not to personalize your story so much that others can weaponize it against you.”
Have a life outside of work and social media
Don’t take everything that happens on a place like LinkedIn home with you.
“Have friends in real life who validate and love you unapologetically!” they said.
Palmer’s final piece of advice?
“At the end of the day, consistency is the name of the game. Have a consistent message, post consistently on the platform and engage with folks in your comments as consistently (and as your own emotional wellbeing allows) as you can,” they said. “You are the best writer of your story, don’t allow someone to pen your story without your consent.”
About CSU’s College of Business
As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.
The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for five years running and Report and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.