For the longest time, LinkedIn was a relatively bland, ultra-professional, and let's just be honest, mostly white/non-POC social networking platform. You would see people share dry job updates, industry articles, with the occasional thoughtful quote sprinkled in. In 2020, LinkedIn looks very different. The content has become a lot more social and personal in nature, particularly as the global pandemic has kept us confined to our homes, forcing us to use virtual platforms to stay connected with one another.
This has opened the door for more intense and provocative topics typically left for platforms like Twitter and Facebook to take center stage. Enter Black LinkedIn.
In light of the tragic events we've seen this year in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Black professionals are leading the charge on LinkedIn in sharing more fiery content, speaking out against racism, discrimination, and injustice, both in the workplace and in society. Being able to vent on LinkedIn created a space for Black professionals to grieve publicly about the events around us, get much-needed support, and create greater awareness for other racial groups.
Up until now, many of us were suffering in silence at work or just commiserating with small groups of friends, in text chats, etc. Now through LinkedIn, we are able to connect with the broader Black population around the world, those who have encountered similar situations, share our same feelings, and further amplify each other's voices to ensure we are being heard. This has sparked conversations with company leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs of all races, shining a light on what the Black employees in their ranks are feeling on a daily basis while being expected to come to work and give 100%.
While in some cases, it appears that LinkedIn may have tried to silence some of our voices through content erasure or throttling, Black people have still continued posting unapologetically about our experiences.
You may be thinking "Well this is great, Julia. Thanks for sharing. But how do I actually get plugged into this space on LinkedIn, sis? Where do I get started?" Don't worry, I got you covered! Here are a few tips to help you tap into this network:
1. Start following and connecting with those who are helping to drive these important conversations around the Black experience.
Here are some folks who immediately come to mind:
- Aaisha Joseph - Diversity advocate
- Minda Harts – Best-selling author and advocate for women of color
- Latesha Byrd – Career Coach and Talent Development Consultant
Keep in mind that some of the powerful Black people that you follow on other social media platforms also have very strong LinkedIn followings as well, and their posts can be forums for good discussions as well as finding others to connect with. You can then transition some of the conversations beyond LinkedIn to actual conversations or Zoom calls where you can further build relationships.
2. Search and follow relevant hashtags to see where the conversations are happening.
Some ideas are: #blacklinkedin (yes, there is a hashtag for Black LinkedIn), #diversity, #inclusion, #diversityandinclusion, #blacklivesmatter, #blackprofessionals, and #blackwomen. Don't be alarmed if there aren't thousands of followers on the hashtag itself. Review the content of the posts with the hashtag and also see WHO'S posting the content. You can also use the hashtags when you are posting content so that other Black professionals can also find and connect with you.
Remember, LinkedIn is not just about what you can get from the platform, but what you can offer.
3. Join groups and follow company pages focused on Black professionals.
You can literally type in "Black professional" into the search bar on LinkedIn and find PAGES of groups and companies focused on the Black experience in corporate and in business. There are groups by geographic location/city, industry, etc. Take some time to review the company pages and check out some of these groups to participate in some of the conversations. If there are groups in your specific area, this may provide you with an opportunity to build your local network of Black professionals that you can connect with in person (socially-distanced, of course).
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