Guest Post: The LinkedIn Approach for You or Your Business

Hands up? Who knows what to do with LinkedIn? I don't. I have a profile and all and I can see who looks at it but so what? I like to keep track of people I have worked with in the past, and it's good for that. I also post my blog updates on LinkedIn and have joined some groups that, well....they are kinda boring. Sometimes I read articles that other's have shared but after that I have no idea of how to get the best of out it. I feel that LinkedIn could be really powerful if only I knew some of the secrets.
Luckily last month I attended the Problogger conference on the Gold Coast and luckily I met Merril DeFiddes who runs The Social Media Training School. Merril and her team specialise in helping businesses small and large with training and managing their social media needs.

I was talking to her about LinkedIn and that while I am ok at using other forms of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, I really don't know what to do with LinkedIn and I suspect that many others don't either. I asked would she be interested in writing a post on my blog about it. Luckily she was!

So meet Merril. Whether you are just trying to improve your personal profile or if you are using LinkedIn to improve your business profile this is a great post to get you started on LinkedIn.

Merril DeFiddes from The Social Media Training School
Why should anyone be on LinkedIn? I hear people say often, “It is just another platform that I have to manage, and I don’t have time” - The value you and your business will achieve from LinkedIn is worth the time and the small amount of effort you apply to it. However, LinkedIn needs a good solid foundation, just like any other social media platform and once it is well formulated, and you have put all the elements together, you and your business can be catapulted in the right direction of your hottest prospects.

Yes, you do need a LinkedIn Profile, no question about it, whether you are a small business or a CEO of a large corporation, if you have recently left a job or are looking for a particular position. LinkedIn will help you , when you have the groundwork and a strategy in place.
It all begins with a great LinkedIn profile.

We all have heard that 1st impressions count. When people find you on LinkedIn you need to be that someone that the audience of LinkedIn notices.
How is Your Head Shot?
The first thing people see when they are looking and researching a prospect or connection is our image. Not everyone has a “corporate “shot in the top draw. However, with our iPhone’s and android phones, all with some amazing camera capabilities, that given the right situation, lighting and dress code, they will produce a great shot for you.

·         Make sure that your photo fills the image space

·         Don’t stretch the image

·         Don’t use a small image

·         Make sure the lighting is good in the picture

·         A nice smile will go a long way

·         Make sure it is a current photo of you , not one taken 15 years ago or so.

Is your professional Headline current?
Create a winning headline that tells others what it is you do. Depending on your reason for being on LinkedIn your may want to state what benefit your connections will get if they want to work with you.  

·         Ensure your headline epitomizes your core principles

·         Detail your expertise within the headline. Showing that you are the “owner of XYZ etc” is not letting your connections know what it is your can do for them

·         Depending on your profile you may use you job title

·         You have a 120-character limit within your headline – utilise this valuable space.

·         Treat your headline with respect  and don’t be too “salesy” – this has the capability to turn people away from you.

 What does your Summary look like?

This is a valuable piece of “LinkedIn Real Estate” that I see so underutilised and has so much power.  You have the opportunity to use 2000 characters to send a message to the people connecting with you. Use every character to help you build that important connection or next big lead.

·         Do not leave it blank!

·         Write your summary in a conversational tone

·         Share accomplishments and your story, but make it catchy.

·         Seek a copywriter who can help you if you get stuck

·         Your summary is a first chance opportunity – develop it well

·         Use headers or icons to draw attention to specific areas of expertise

·         Use a call to action in the last sentence, a  further way to connect  with you.

·         Write in the first person

·         Use of keywords wisely to shape your summary

·         Make sure your keywords are relevant and kept within the conversational tone of your summary  - this will help will propel your profile  with easy SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

·         Revision is always possible, so tweak your summary until you are happy with.

·         Have it critiqued by a colleague

·         Don’t try to be too “fluffy” and “gushy”. Your summary needs to depict a personality within it.

·         Add extra content by adding links to a video, image, document, or presentation.

By establishing a well-crafted LinkedIn profile you will develop your unique presence. Many people fail to take full advantage of their LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is advantages for generating rewarding leads, and to market your business’ brand.

LinkedIn is  the premier social networking site for businesses and business professionals, however, it is fabulous for the job seeker as well. 

By focusing on these 3 tips to begin with, they will help you to develop your LinkedIn presence further.   

LinkedIn is a very powerful social media tool and has been a great avenue for my business. With a solid structure , a strategy and social media marketing plan in place, then your LinkedIn presence will certainly get you in front of the people you need to be connecting with.


Change is as good as a holiday.

Well that's bullshit crap rubbish! I mean really. Lie on a beach drinking cocktails, or sell your house in 4 weeks? Sightsee in a new city, or pack up your life in 2 days? Go skiing for a week or move to another country with a 2 year old and 5 year old?

I mean what is more stressful in your opinion?

When I moved to Sydney 13 years ago, I got to do a little work with Expatriates. I helped organise cultural training for employees and their families moving to countries in Asia and also assisted with medical insurance claims. My experience left me with 2 indelible thoughts.

  1. Expat employees are difficult, and
  2. How amazing would it be to move to another country to live and work?
My first experience with Expat families was when the company I worked for, sent two employees to the Philippines, one as the head of the business and the other in a finance role. I helped organise the cultural training for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) and a couple. I was able to sit in on the training so I understood what it was all about, and subsequently desperately wanted to move to Manila with them! 

I have visited Manila since then and perhaps it wouldn't be my first choice for an Expat assignment but the idea that I could live and work in another country seemed exciting none the less.

Now I realise that perhaps those Expats were not so much difficult, they were just stressed! Actually, some of them were probably difficult but overall I just didn't understand the head exploding stress of packing up your whole life and moving to a different country where everything is slightly or very different, you don't understand the culture and you are still expected to do a good job. 

Over the past 4 weeks Arran and I have been in Singapore I have been reflecting on how we approached this change and how this approach has helped us through a difficult period. We approached the move with excitement and possibilities. We knew that we couldn't have the same style of housing that we had in Sydney so we decided to embrace condominium living. We knew we would be living in a much smaller place so we got rid of a lot of our furniture (not enough as it turns out) but we have the motivation of people visiting us soon will get us organized quickly in our smallish apartment!

Moving in day. Rainy and humid. View from our balcony
We have a view of the pool just 4 floors down, which someone else maintains as well as a kids playground and beautiful gardens. We have apartments all around us and instead of feeling overlooked we feel part of a big busy city. Sitting on our large-by-Singaporean-standards balcony drinking wine and blogging in the humid air is bliss!

View from our balcony as the sun sets
We have both started to make contact with people with know here. Me with a lovely colleague I met when working at Coca-Cola Amatil, who took me to just the kind of place I needed for coffee, and Arran a friend (and his wife) from high school, who invited us to their "condo" for drinks nibbles and dinner (just when we were getting sick of each others company). I also have other friends who are ready to catch up when we are. Both of us enjoyed a dinner with some of my new work mates in Singapore. Networks and contacts are important and in the 4 weeks we have,been here we have missed our social life and are looking forward to seriously ramping it up.

I'm sure if you approached an opportunity like this negatively you are never going to have fun or learn from it. If you expect things to be like home, they won't be. If you expect the same kind of housing with the same amount of room, you will be disappointed and if you expect people to be the same, well you are kidding yourself. And if you expect the weather to be the same and the ability to buy the same food and clothes well I guess you should give up*

How does this to relate to your career? Well I think it relates very well. Sometimes we end up in a place where we are not happy, and we don't really know how we got there and we don't know how to get out and move forward. This is a miserable existence and when I have been there myself my health suffered and so did those around me.  In these circumstances it's hard to get positive. The ability to make a deal with yourself about what you can learn for the experience and how long you are going to put with where you are can make a massive difference. It can get you focused with purpose in the short term.

I'm not feeling this way about my career. I'm generally happy. How could I not be? I have reached a  career goal and I still have so much to learn including the best way to work with a new business leader. Everything I touch at the moment seems hard and I don't know the answer, but I guess I will get there, as I have done before. I have never set up a payroll in South Korea, but I'm learning. I have never supported employees in the Middle East or Kazakhstan but I'm learning. Actually I'm still learning to even spell Kazakhstan! What did we do before spell check?

So tell me about when your career has been hard for you. How did you get through it?

Lisa xx

*I have already felt like giving up trying to buy swimmers. I'm only human.

Do you have a career sponsor?

I have a friend, let's call her Molly, who I regard as one of my "amazing" women friends. She has two little boys, one with a challenging condition and maintains a senior business role and a beautiful house. She asked me to do a post on what to do when your career sponsor leaves your business.

My first thought was, I wish I had a career sponsor! A person who takes a strong interest in my career and my career development and who is looking out for me next role, and what I need to improve in to get there. A person who provides me with targeted development opportunities and mentors and supports me as I'm learning. In Molly's case it's her current CEO, who has just resigned. Bugger.

My second thought was, I have no idea!! That was a few weeks ago and I've had a little time on planes to contemplate her question.

So here are my thoughts:

Maintain Relationships with your "A" Team
In Organisations we are all part of different teams. There is the team you work with on a daily basis. This is the group that often report to the same manager. Then there is the team you manage. Sometimes there may be another team, either a functional team or perhaps a project team you work with for a period which is disbanded at the completion. As you become more senior in organisations and part of a Leadership team, your most important team is your peers. This is your "A" Team. The group you are part of with the same leader, usually the CEO or Managing Director. Depending on your organisation you may need to work with and influence people are are the head of functions or business areas such as Sales, Marketing, Finance, IT, Human Resources, Safety, Operations and so on. You get the picture. Many managers make the mistake at this level of thinking that the team they manage is the most important. It's not.

If you can build good relationships with your peer group and influence them effectively you will have a great group of supporters and be effective in your role. I also find this group to be a great source of inspiration and learning. Most people have risen to this level because they have worked hard, are smart, and talented. I have learnt so much about running a business and managing people from working with people at this level.

This group (the same as you) won't always be in these roles. They may move into different and more senior roles within their current or a new organisation who will be great contacts and a potential source of career sponsorship.
Keep in Touch
If I was Molly I would consider how I'm going to keep in touch with the departing CEO. He sounds like a great leader, and a developer of more leaders. There aren't heaps of those around. Molly is a great "connector" so I know she won't find this too hard.

There are no shortage of ways to stay connected both online and face-to-face, and I like to use both. Some people are critical of social media (which is the main online way to connect with others) saying it's not personal and isolating. I disagree. We all lead busy lives and social media provides a way of connecting with and keeping up to date with the lives of colleagues and friends. It's the reason that "smart" phones have been so successful! Humans are social creatures and like to "connect" all the time, through these devices. On a recent trip to Singapore I turned the data roaming off on my iPhone to prevent the exorbitant charges. Talk about painful! No email. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram.....No connection!! It was torture.

I have also met lots of new people online and attend social media meet ups with Social Media Women. It's great fun.

The best way to keep in touch with work collegues online is probably LinkedIn, a professional platform to not only connect with collegues but you can join various groups that meet your career interests and network with people in similar roles across the world. You can ask for advice and read about latest thinking in your area of expertise.

Twitter is also quite a good way to keep connected. It's short and sharp and tends to be slightly less personal than Facebook. I only become "Friends" with work collegues if we have more than a work relationship. I like my lines blurred between work and home however I don't think all my work colleagues would appreciate the photos I post of my kids or the flowers I regularly steal from around my suburb. Actually not all my friends would appreciate this either.....

Of course social media is only part of the equation. It helps you know where people are at but face-to-face conversations are best. Hands down. A coffee every couple of months or drinks at the end of the work day, work a treat. For a better connection go for lunch.

Have More Than One
So who says you just need one? I think the more the merrier when it comes down to your career. If you are good at building relationships you may be able to cultivate a couple. Depending on your goals and interests, consider a person who is an expert in your career area and a person who is a great people manager. Or consider one person who has known you your whole career and understands your strengths and frustrations and another person who doesn't know your history but who you connect with easily and is a good advocate. You will need to make a conscious effort here and really think about who you know and what you need. Not that easy but anything worthwhile isn't.

Inspire me

Develop me

Harvard Business Review is always a great source of trustworthy and well researched information. The Real Benefit of Finding a Sponsor talks about how important it is for women to have sponsors if they want to reach the "C-suite".

Just for me