Episode 39: Brandstorm Talks with “The LinkedIn Lady”
So, you’re on LinkedIn. Now what? On today’s episode of Brandstorm, Consultant, Trainer, Speaker and Job Search Mentor Sue Gresham discusses how business owners, entrepreneurs and those seeking employment can use LinkedIn to build their personal brand, expand their reach, increase sales and find new opportunities.
About “The LinkedIn Lady,” Sue Gresham
Sue began Innovative Client Solutions in 2009 to assist others with social media, strategy and design. Despite being a social media consultant, she admits that she dislikes the impersonal nature of most social media, where selling products reigns. About four to five years ago, she phased out her work with other social media platforms and began to focus solely on LinkedIn, working one-on-one with individuals to create strategies and assist in building proper profiles.
Sue got her branding idea from the marketing events she attended. Those networking or seeking her help referred to her as “The LinkedIn Lady.” She says it took about a year for her to feel fully comfortable with that moniker, but now it’s as much a part of her as her middle name. Her favorite thing about her career is getting to know her clients, as she greatly enjoys learning about their expertise, work history and the experiences they offer. She also helps businesses grow their brand on LinkedIn, runs group trainings and does corporate speaking engagements.
With over 467 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks in terms of active users. Started in 2003 as a job board and way for people to put their résumé online, current users can connect with other businesses, employees, industry contacts, thought leaders and more. In 2016, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft for approximately $26 billion.
Investing Time in Your LinkedIn Presence
One of the biggest complaints Sue hears from people about LinkedIn is that there are not enough hours in the day to update their profile or to make meaningful, professional connections. In response, Sue says that the results you want from LinkedIn can be achieved by setting goals and giving yourself a set time limit to stick to — whether that’s 10, 20 or 30 minutes per day — and by examining why you want or need to be on LinkedIn in the first place. Thinking about what you hope to accomplish and what those results mean to you will play into what strategy works for you best.
Tips on Updating Your LinkedIn Profile
Businesses and job recruiters are less likely to communicate with someone who does not have a photograph, so Sue says a professional headshot is critical to any LinkedIn profile that’s to be taken seriously. The headline of your LinkedIn profile — which allows for 120 characters — should describe you and not your job description. Sue says that this is a great area to indicate the problems you solve or a tagline that best summarizes what you offer. Within the summary area, Sue also recommends including some aspects of yourself outside of work, like charities you may support or hobbies you have. The point is for your page to tell a story, as if you were speaking to someone, and not to mirror your résumé verbatim.
How LinkedIn Pages Show Up on Google Searches
Since the purchase of LinkedIn by Microsoft, the company has beefed up how its search algorithms work. Sue indicates that keywords are king, and that there are 10 categories that make a complete profile by LinkedIn’s standards. Before the Microsoft acquisition, an agreement between LinkedIn and Google solidified that a person’s LinkedIn profile would show up if their name was Googled. Sue mentions that it’s extremely important to fill out everything that you can, as recruiters will not seek you out with an incomplete profile. She says being lax on filling out your LinkedIn profile can also affect the way employers view you and lessens your chances of being hired.
One of LinkedIn’s most popular features for job seekers is Open Candidates. When activated, you let recruiters or businesses know that you’re openly looking for a new employment opportunity. Sue says that there are some safeguards against your current employer being able to see this, but it’s not foolproof. She recommends that you do not update your LinkedIn profile all at once, if you’re connected to your boss or fellow employees.
For the best results, Sue recommends keeping your profile as current as possible, making sure that your paper résumé and job experience on LinkedIn match, and using the key words that employers are looking for. There is also a recent movement on LinkedIn to use the #ONO hashtag — meaning “Open for New Opportunities.” Sue says while this still indicates you’re looking for a job, it doesn’t advertise or make you look desperate either.
Good LinkedIn Content
Sue explains that good content for LinkedIn depends on why you’re ultimately using the site. If your reason is to build your own brand or to become a thought leader, then posting content that highlights your knowledge and expertise is best. When sharing someone else’s work, Sue says it is more impactful to add your own comment before sharing. Posts that are written thoughtfully and personally, have purpose and are directed to your audience will always be good content. She reminds us that attention spans are quick, so we should also be concise.
Growing your network means having conversations and meeting people, whether on or offline. Just like in sales, Sue mentions that it can take several hits before establishing a relationship. Taking little steps at a time, such as wishing a connection a happy birthday, can create the groundwork for a productive and positive business partnership.
Latest LinkedIn Updates
Sue says short videos are becoming increasingly popular on LinkedIn, whether they feature products or you. She notes however that people are not engaged with LinkedIn to be sold to, so go easy on the pitch.
Sue also says that LinkedIn is changing the way advertisements look on the site. Every day users may not notice these changes, but on the back end, she says that companies that advertise are seeing many benefits.
There have also been updates to the look of profiles, such as copy adjustments and larger photos, and Sue points out that the LinkedIn mobile app allows users to pin or save articles for future reading.