Of all social apps online today, LinkedIn offers the most powerful path to network, engage, share, and build your professional presence with other professionals. Delivering a rich source of insight and opportunity, LinkedIn allows users to market themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries, promote their personal brand, aggregate and connect with a data base of global experts, recruit for hiring, and much more.
If anyone knows the power behind LinkedIn, it’s Colleen McKenna, Founder and CEO of Intero Advisory, which offers LinkedIn consulting, coaching, and training for businesses focused on increasing their sales and talent funnels. Colleen recognized early on that “LinkedIn could connect the world’s B2B professionals and provide a way to do business, network, further careers, and share knowledge and expertise.” Launched in 2011, Colleen and Intero Advisory has educated more than 240 companies and individuals to master and understand LinkedIn’s potential not just as a tool, but as a necessary “business asset.”
We recently met with Colleen to get her take on the value of LinkedIn, and to learn the most important takeaways for users to know.
Sociality Squared (S2): How do you recommend business execs and company owners use LinkedIn to get the maximum value out of the site?
Colleen McKenna (CM): I think that CEOs and business owners are the face of their organization, and they should want to understand LinkedIn as a business tool. Whether or not they’re on LinkedIn every day, they should at least understand how LinkedIn can be leveraged for themselves and their company. This way they can hold their marketing and sales teams accountable, and be accountable for their advertising and marketing team’s ability to understand and use it.
People write these cryptic, brief LinkedIn profiles and miss the larger opportunity to create a strong first impression, and give context to themselves and their business in a way that is relevant and meaningful to the person who reads it.
For CEOs and business owners, a LinkedIn profile is a chance to speak to investors, customers, prospects, board members, and talent, both current and potential in a way that inspires and educates. Most important is to present a customer-focused profile to use for recruiting, and build a network that can introduce their teams to the right people, while helping them to connect with clients, customers, and prospects. More and more we see CEOs and business owners using LinkedIn to stay in touch with one another and publish content. However, I am not always sure they understand how powerful LinkedIn is. When I talk with companies, one of the first questions I ask is how involved will your executive team be in the training, and if they are endorsing this training. If not, if they do actively participate, others will not either. “Do I do, not as I say” becomes important.
A LinkedIn strategy will work with a sales team unless it’s endorsed by, and important to, its executive team. If a company’s staff doesn’t see value, then they dismiss it. The best execution for LinkedIn is when a CEO says, “We’ll use it strategically for marketing, sales, and recruiting.”
S2: What do you think are LinkedIn’s most important tools that users should take advantage of?
Ninety-three percent of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting. LinkedIn Talent Solutions offers a suite of tools so companies can proactively recruit talent that aligns with their open positions. Using LinkedIn.com and Talent Solutions, companies have the ability to post jobs, source talent, and build their company’s employment brand. LinkedIn Talent Solutions enables companies to recruit from a company perspective and across the entire LinkedIn platform, rather than an individual and their respective network.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is LinkedIn’s stand-alone product for sales and business development. It gives members the ability to build lead lists, vet the results, and save leads (people) and businesses (accounts) to build, connect, and engage with a person’s ideal customer profile.
With recent changes in LinkedIn’s new user interface and premium membership, people will find greater value in Sales Navigator if they are using LinkedIn as part of their sales process. To accomplish this, they will need to move to Sales Navigator. If you’re a Premium Member, Sales Navigator is in addition to Premium, not in lieu of, so consider what you need, and your budget. For many clients, we advise adding Sales Navigator after downgrading from Premium to Basic.
S2: Why should people take ask for endorsements or recommendations from other professionals; who should people reach out to, and what’s the best way to ask for a recommendation without sounding self-serving?
CM: Endorsements are my least favorite thing on LinkedIn. However, they do help you get recognized for a particular skill set. Recommendations are more substantial and thoughtful than endorsements, which are in fact nothing more than a thumbs up. If you know someone well, left them inspired, or worked with them on a project, they are more than likely happy to write a recommendation for you.
In fact, when coaching or training, I encourage everyone to be the person who writes recommendations for others. If you ask the right people, and they’re legit, they will be happy to make those recommendations, and you shouldn’t feel odd about asking. One way to get recommendations is to give other people recommendations – clients, colleagues, managers, interns. I like to think that being a “good social citizen” spreads good karma, and that will come back to benefit you. It’s also important to understand that the right kind of recommendation is more important than the number of recommendations you get. Give some guidance when asking for a recommendation:
- Could you touch on this particular area of my work?
- How am I as a manager or project leader?
- Can you speak on when we worked together on a project?
Keep in mind that recommendations are great for career transition.
S2: Do you recommend a “best practices” formula for LinkedIn users to use when crafting their summary?
CM: With the new user interface, everything is condensed. You see approximately the first 200 characters, so it’s more important than ever to begin with what’s meaningful to your ideal audience. This may include your Value Proposition, which will compel readers to click “See More.” Try to engage them from the beginning. The average person spends 8-10 seconds on someone’s profile. Write your profile so people are intrigued and stay longer, learn more, and take action (think connection, conversation, conversion). Turn your profile from a resume, to a professional story that keeps your audience in mind. Your personal brand should resonate and come through in the first part of the summary. People within a company should use common language about who they work for, and it should be customer-client focused. Include several success stories as slide share presentations or testimonials to make the summary more interesting and client oriented.
S2: Do you think that Linked Ads are worth the dollars spent?
CM: Our clients have seen the best results from LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Taking a blog post, white paper, e-book, guide, etc. and publishing it to a targeted audience provides the opportunity to gain new leads and greater awareness. If you have good content and you’re sending viewers to a landing page, it can be very valuable. It’s also about using the content to add value to the people you’re talking to – sales people should be using the content to reach prospects – a good marketing mix.
S2: What is the best type of content to publish on LinkedIn, and how can users get the biggest bang for their buck, let alone for the time invested?
CM: A lot of people are confused as to what to do. Updates are articles, events, and promotions – something you want to share with your network on a somewhat regular basis. This will help to keep your “top of mind.” People tell us they want to publish on Pulse, and they think by sharing articles and writing a blog post every once in a while they can reach Pulse; It doesn’t work that way. LinkedIn Pulse is their tool to deliver timely news tailored for LinkedIn members. It feeds your LinkedIn Home Page, app, Channels, and email updates. If you are an individual, getting on Pulse takes either being a LinkedIn Influencer, someone who writes often and has a good following, writes great content, and creates engagement with their content, or original content only.
Publishing on LinkedIn is one of my favorite ways to use LinkedIn. We leverage their platform to showcase our content, and can reach far more readers than many of us can through our websites. This is particularly true for individual subject matter experts, thought leaders, and small to mid-sized businesses who create content. Using LinkedIn as a publishing platform will help get more people to your website. It’s ok to publish the entire article on LinkedIn as well as on your website. You’ll get greater engagement on LinkedIn then on your website, but change it up if you make use of Google AdWords.
Did you know that 60% of a website’s social traffic comes from LinkedIn? So, make sure that you include calls-to-actions in your articles that drive people to your website. Post your article on your Company page too. LinkedIn shares it with a wider audience as it starts to get engagement. If you’re lucky, then your article may end up on LinkedIn Pulse.
S2: Is it important to except an invite from, and to connect with every person on LinkedIn who wants to connect with you?
CM: First, determine your LinkedIn strategy. Why are you on LinkedIn? Once you determine that, consider who you should be connecting with to achieve your objectives. You might have a short-term strategy (get a job), and a long-term strategy (build a network of customers, local business leaders, international influencers, etc.), but work to the strategy.
A recruiter or salesperson’s strategy may include connecting with more people, and it becomes a currency network. This is where they initiate business. Among salespeople, there could be a variety of strategies. A salesperson who sells insurance or IT solutions is potentially going to connect with more people than the salesperson who sells within a niche market, i.e. Life Sciences, Engineering, Medical, etc.
Connecting with people you know and want to know to further your career is a good place to begin. Nurture your relationship with them, ask them how you can help them, and be a good social citizen.
Additionally, you can Follow people on LinkedIn and not be connected to them. When you follow someone, their content will show up in your feed whether they’ve posted or shared it. It may be beneficial to follow people you are interested in working for or with, and begin to use that content to start a conversation, or at least, be up-to-date.
Let us know in a comment how LinkedIn has helped you connect with other professionals in your industry. We want to hear your story.