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In today’s episode, Dr. Heidi Giusto from Career Path Writing Solutions shares tips and strategies on how you can successfully market yourself and your business on LinkedIn.
This is Heidi’s third appearance on GradBlogger. She was a guest on Episode #52, where she talked about her entrepreneurship journey, the workshops she runs with Career Path Writing Solutions, and how she helps businesses and academics communicate their value to the world.
How Heidi Uses LinkedIn For Her Business
With Career Path Writing Solutions, Heidi’s motto is helping individuals and businesses succeed when the stakes are high. If somebody has a message to share, she helps them articulate it in a compelling way.
“I work with a lot of job seekers and business owners who are trying to communicate their value to the world,” she said. One of the ways that she supports them is by helping them maximize their exposure on LinkedIn.
Heidi tells people that there are two key components of LinkedIn: the profile itself and how it is used.
“The starting point for me when I work with anybody on LinkedIn is asking, “Well, what’s your goal for it?” So that’s the big part. Start with the goal for using LinkedIn. Then, everything about your profile and how you use it should be working backward from achieving that goal.”
LinkedIn can be used as a research tool, networking tool, and as a way to gain visibility and credibility in one’s chosen field. A lot of people use it to:
- Find employment
- Expand their networks
- Demonstrate their expertise
- Market themselves or their business
- Develop professionally
“You can use it as a funnel to lead people to your website. It’s an excellent tool for content marketing, but it’s not for hard selling,” she advised. “I’ve heard so many people say, “Well, I just hate when people connect with me and the next thing I know I have a message where they’re selling me something.” So that’s where it can be tricky.”
User First, Marketer Second
Heidi learned this concept from BNI, which is a business referral networking organization. Be a user first on LinkedIn. People want to access useful content, not connect with someone and then immediately get a spammy email. It’s like push marketing vs. pull marketing: the goal is to pull people in so that they want to know more.
When creating content for LinkedIn, Heidi emphasized what she called “skimmability.” In other words, the content should be well-presented and easy to read. It’s also important to focus on bringing value by contributing content and sharing expertise.
“In terms of actual writing, we want to think about keywords,” Heidi said. “If you’re looking for a business, you often search in key terms, keywords. So that’s important to incorporate throughout the profile and also in the skills section. But you don’t want to go so overboard that it’s hard to follow and the value you bring is getting clouded because you have all these terms like ‘business acumen’ or whatever keyword it is for your field.”
She advised LinkedIn users to not overlook the testimonials feature of their profile. (This is different from skill endorsements.) When others attest to the skills and abilities of a businessperson, academic, or any other professional, it demonstrates the value that person can bring much more effectively than any career summary.
On LinkedIn, Images Are Worth 1000 Words
“Another way of showing your brand is making sure you have a nice professional-looking profile picture,” Heidi said. If someone is not in a position to hire a photographer (e.g. due to COVID-19 restrictions), there are excellent online tutorials for how to take a professional selfie at home.
“There’s a site where you can upload that picture and other people vote on how competent, likable, and influential that you look. It’s photofeeler.com. That’s an amazing tool. I have my clients use that.”
She also recommended customizing the profile page background banner. “You can really enhance your profile by not using the default, what I call the constellation blue. Pick a picture that aligns with your brand. So for mine, right now I have a picture that is consistent with what my website looks like.”
For a while, she resisted the idea of posting pictures of herself in action. “It just seemed unnecessary. Why do people need to see a picture of me standing in front of the PowerPoint presentation? I just didn’t feel good about that. But I know that it is important because people need to see me in action for them to make the connection: “Oh, she’s not just saying she does workshops and teaching, she really does.” So, I made that strategy of marketing and showing myself as someone who does this activity. I made it work for me.”
Using LinkedIn For Work
One of the biggest values LinkedIn brings its users is the ability to network. Heidi recommended thinking about who to connect with. Other professionals in the same field? Potential collaborators or referral partners? Then, connect with them by going to their profile, and clicking ‘connect.’ from there.
“If you connect from a person’s profile page, you have the option to add a note to customize the request,” Heidi said. “I sent one today because I met somebody on this webinar that I did. I said, “It was so nice to meet you on the webinar. I thought I would add you to my LinkedIn network.” So you’re explaining why you’re connecting. That is going to help people say, “Oh, yeah. I do want to connect with this person,” as opposed to, “I wonder why she’s connecting with me. Is she going to try to sell me her services?””
Consistency Is Key
Although LinkedIn can be used as a blogging platform, many users opt to share posts: news items, articles written by themselves or others, and even links to their own blogs. They can (and should) also support their colleagues and other professionals by liking their posts, by commenting on them, and then resharing.
Heidi emphasized that consistency is key because it leads to recognition and automatic association with one’s area of expertise. She posts several times a week. When asked if anyone saw her activity as spamming, she replied, “I have never once had any type of feedback other than thank you. “Thank you for posting that. This is really helpful” or “This is interesting” and that type of positive feedback.”
Start With Something
One of the most common hangups Heidi has seen her clients struggle with is not knowing what to post on LinkedIn. She stressed that it was better to start with anything, even tips of the week, and build it from there.
“So even if you’re not feeling super great, and confident, and excited, know that that comes. You will get more excited, believe it or not, to use LinkedIn. You’ll become known as the person who always posts about X, and that will drive people to contact you.”
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