2020 has been some kind of year, and that’s putting it mildly. As an owner or senior executive, you’ve had to adapt your business model to accommodate a lot of change (remote work anybody?). You’ve likely done a good job of adjusting what you deliver, but how about how you network and build influence in the market? Fewer in-person meetings and changing office structures are changing how networking gets done. Those conferences you love so much? Well, don’t expect to go to one anytime soon. The current reality of work being more virtual is going to be with business owners and executives for a long time to come.
In today’s blog, we’re going to learn how you can master the best executive networking resource you never knew you had at your fingertips: LinkedIn. Yes, the business social network that is over 660 million members strong. You likely are on LinkedIn already and don’t know why on earth you’d ever want to use it more. I’m here to help change your mind.
The reason I’m writing this blog in the first place is because of a conversation I had with a colleague who is a senior executive. I have a network of over 4,000 strong and use LinkedIn extensively in my daily marketing and B2B efforts. He said “Yeah, I’ve got to start using it more.” I said I’d help. I figured instead of just sending him an email with tips that I would write a blog in order to help as many business owners and executives as possible. So here we go! We’ll cover the Dos and Don’ts of getting the most out of LinkedIn for those in a leadership role.
DO: Update your LinkedIn picture.
Make sure it represents who you are! Some will say you need the perfect profile picture in business attire. If that’s you, go for it! If it’s not, post a professional picture that help people to understand you doing you. My profile picture is black and white. An exec friend of mine is sporting a ten-gallon cowboy hat and wearing a western inspired suit. The way you are in the professional world, so it should be on LinkedIn. While you’re at it, why not update your entire profile? The best person to help you: Look for somebody you know who is a LinkedIn power user and ask them to assist. I do this for colleagues all the time. Don’t know one of those? Check out this blog on how to improve your profile, written by the team at LinkedIn!
DON’T: Put your title in your “Headline” section.
If you want to slow down the people messaging you and trying to sell you something, save your professional title for the section with your work experience. If a sales rep is looking for C-level leads, make sure they at least have to work for it (and most won’t!). Your headline should talk about what you are passionate about. My headline:
“Flat-Rate Billing Innovation and Converged Services Enthusiast”
The next time we have a conversation you might ask what that means and that gives me the opportunity to have a REAL conversation with you to explain.
DO: Grow your executive tribe!
Go through your rolodex and start searching for you fellow executive tribe on LinkedIn. Many new business ideas are sparked by reading an article or post on LinkedIn and being able to see the kinds of things your connections are excited about. It’s a great way to make sure you get some fresh ideas yourself. If you do this for 10 minutes a day and shoot for 10 connections a day, you’ll network will be over 2,400 strong in less than a year. At some point, one of those connections will help you to do something great for your business. If you’re not connected, you’ll never discover this truth. Be sure to read this LinkedIn blog to learn even more tips on growing a powerful network on LinkedIn.
DON’T: Accept every connection request that comes your way.
One thing about being a leader is that everybody is going to want a piece of you, especially sales reps who are hell bent on top-down selling. You know what I’m talking about. You get a connection request and, 5 minutes later, a message from the person saying something like:
“Thank you for accepting my request. I think I might have something that could really help your business. Would it be possible to setup a call to review the most powerful ways to grow your leads?”
Yeah. Boiler plate nonsense and they didn’t even start with a friendly hello! You should only accept connection requests from people you know (or want to know). Also, if you remove your title from your headline as suggested above, you’ll be getting far fewer spammy connection requests. Of course, you won’t remember everybody you met a conference, and LinkedIn has a handy feature that shows you how many shared connections you have with the person making the connection request. Quality over quantity. HubSpot wrote a great blog on the 5 most spammy sales tactics that people need to stop using on LinkedIn and you can read that HERE.
DO: Share your knowledge and learn from other execs.
One of my favorite things on LinkedIn is the sheer volume of things that people share. Every once in a while, I see a post from somebody that sparks the innovation part of my brain. I also share articles and how-tos that I’ve either read or written. I’ve had plenty of people contact me to discuss a topic in more detail and I’m always happy to see many of those turn into leads and customers. I call it side-door selling and it’s the most genuine way to sell that I know. Deliver real value and people will often try to give you something in return. That could be business advice and it could also be business. If you don’t have your own blog page like Tigerpaw does, you can post content directly on LinkedIn! Here is a link to their executive playbook for publishing on LinkedIn.
DON’T: Get caught up in stuff that doesn’t help your business.
The great thing about LinkedIn is how awesome it is for sharing. It’s also it’s biggest fault. You’ve seen the posts. Somebody being cranky. Somebody talking politics. Somebody just being controversial for the sake of being controversial. I know many people who have taken the bait, some very senior people, only to regret it. It’s very easy to jump in and say “This isn’t the place for this, it’s not Facebook!” My rule of thumb: If the post doesn’t inspire me or teach me something awesome, I ignore the post and move on. Even a 6-year-old child could tell you that. Funny, in Episode #20 of the “How To Do Life” podcast, a 6-year-old actually shares his wisdom on how to avoid arguments on LinkedIn!
DO: Look for great talent.
If you spend a half hour or so a day on LinkedIn, you’ll soon start seeing a lot of incredible LinkedIn users. If they are posting useful content and engaging in some next-level conversations, then they might be a candidate to come work for you. There is no silver bullet, but odds are, if somebody is dialed in and using LinkedIn in a way that is notable and admirable, they’d be a good fit for your company as you continue to modernize and prepare your business for a future that is more virtual. My first job as a VP of Marketing came about because the person who hired me followed me extensively on LinkedIn. I was with that company for 5 years before we sold it to somebody else. The work I do with Tigerpaw Software today would never have happened if it weren’t for the other company that hired me because of my use of LinkedIn. True story. If you’re actively looking for talent, here is a great blog by The Balance Careers filled with great tips on how to use LinkedIn to do so.
Bonus DO: Connect with me on LinkedIn!
Go to https://www.linkedin.com/in/westmcdonaldco/ and send me a connection request. Just reference this blog and let me know that you’d like some help doing a better job using LinkedIn. Free of charge, not selling anything here, just me doing my part to make connections work for you so you can focus on a more vibrant and growth focused profile! I look forward to connecting with you soon!