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LinkedIn Strategies for Small Business Owners

LinkedIn Strategies for Small Business Owners

Update: 2020-08-311
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Description

Do you currently use LinkedIn as a part of your business’s social media strategy? If not, then you are missing a vital piece of your arsenal. From its group pages to its online business profiles, LinkedIn provides you with a variety of tools that will enable you to build a following andconnect with other like-minded professionals in your industry. In this episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks along with special guest Jon Lombardo discuss how small business owners can fully utilize all the tools that LinkedIn has to offer.



Executive Summary


0:49 —Today’s Topic: How Do I Use LinkedIn to Promote or Build My Small Business?


1:39 —LinkedIn’s mission is to create economic opportunities for everybody in the global workforce by providing them with a platform to hire, market, sell and learn.


4:40 —To make your LinkedIn profile stand out, you should include a professional headshot of yourself and a concise summary that outlines your specific goals on the platform. You also need to complete all the required fields and information.


10:04 —LinkedIn enables small business owners to conduct their hiring process on a larger scale, while also offering them the tools to help them focus on their specific needs.


12:18 —In addition to promoting its services, your LinkedIn business page should give potential employees a clear idea of your company’s culture and values.


15:30 —Although other platforms allow you to reach a wider audience, LinkedIn allows you to target the individuals in your specific client base.


18:08 —LinkedIn not only allows you to accurately measure your long term brand building success through net reach and share of voice, but it can also help you assess the profitability of your short term sales activation through lifetime customer value.


24:08 —While programmatic ads are inexpensive, they aren’t particularly effective. LinkedIn is one of the most trustworthy platforms that allows you to connect directly and securely with the professionals who can help your business.


27:47 —When it comes to networking on LinkedIn, you need to keep your reach as broad as possible.


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Transcript


Jon A.: Hello, thank you again for tuning into The Small Biz Ahead podcast. This is Jon Aidunkonis with The Hartford. Today, I’m joined by my cohost, Gene Marks and also John Lombardo from LinkedIn. How’s everybody doing today?


John L.: Doing very well. Good to be here


Gene: This is Gene and I’m doing well. I was excited to talk with John today.


Jon A.: Yeah, it’s a platform we don’t talk often about on the podcast. I feel like when we talk about social, we often end up in kind of the retail space a lot about Instagram, Facebook. So maybe just to start out, we can get a little bit, John, about your role at the company and kind of your thoughts on how small business owners can use LinkedIn to build and promote their businesses.


John L.: Yeah. Good to be here, as I mentioned earlier. I’m a local, I’m from Windsor, Connecticut. We’re in Hartford, Connecticut, so it’s good to come home. I work at LinkedIn, been there about seven years now. I currently work in a group called the B2B Institute and we do a lot of research into marketing effectiveness. We work with a lot of researchers and academics to figure out what really works in marketing, what delivers business outcomes, and then we try to share that as broadly as possible with our customers. That’s what I do specifically, marketing is really my focus, but of course, happy to answer broad LinkedIn questions as well.


Jon A.: So I guess if we want to start out, do you feel like there’s a pretty big active small business community on LinkedIn?


John L.: Yeah, absolutely. It’s growing. I would say that people do not think about LinkedIn as much for small business as they should. Just to take a very big step back is the joke we always like to make. Take a big step back. Senior people always say that. “Let’s take a big step back and think very strategically about things.” LinkedIn is a really big platform now. We’re almost 700 million members, which means you have big businesses, small businesses, businesses in Chile, businesses in California. You got businesses all over the world at this point and that means you have people who are executives at companies like Hartford and you have independent contractors. So really, you’ve got everybody who is a worker in some way or another is on LinkedIn now. That hasn’t always been true, but the nature of these network businesses is the bigger they get, the bigger they get.


John L.: Even though people tend to focus a lot on other platforms like Facebook or Instagram, in fact, I think if you really care about business or you work in B2B, LinkedIn is really, I think the place you should spend the most of your time. So we’ve got extraordinary set of opportunities. LinkedIn, if you just even think about what we talk about, what we care about is our mission, our mission is all about creating economic opportunity for everybody in the workforce globally. That’s obviously a very big, big mission statement, but it is something we do try to deliver on, we try to make people productive and successful every day and there’s four specific ways LinkedIn does that. We have what we call hire, market, sell and learn.


Any business of course, needs great people. You’re only as good as your people. So you’ve got to hire the right people. You’ve got to market your products and services. We help people to market their products and services. We’ve talked about some of the marketing and advertising applications of LinkedIn. Of course sales is critical, especially in a B2B environment. A lot of the deals get done through sales people, so we help sales people find the right accounts, find the right people at those accounts and do deals that work for everybody. Then finally, LinkedIn at its core in some ways it’s becoming a learning platform or has always been a learning platform, so if you are at a small business or you are an independent contractor and you want to learn about business or technology or design, there are a number of courses you can take through what’s called LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn, 675 million people, millions of small businesses and everybody from senior executives of big companies to independent contractors working for themselves can learn about how to hire, market, sell and learn.


Gene: Using LinkedIn has become such a popular thing to do among businesses and particularly, small business owners. You may not like this comparison, but I do equate it as sort of like the Facebook for business professionals. It’s become, right now you’re pretty much standard that a lot of people have a LinkedIn profile and that’s the way people get introduced and connect to each other. So you’ve been with the company for a while now. I’m going to gather you have probably seen tens of thousands of LinkedIn profiles of both new professionals, small business owners, corporate people, whatever. What advice do you have regarding profiles on LinkedIn? In other words, what things do you see in profiles that you’re like, “That’s not very good,” or what do you think are some good things professional? How should a good LinkedIn profile look? What should it include?


John L.: Yeah, we can start with the most obvious stuff. The most important thing is get a professional headshot. It makes a massive difference in the people who will answer your InMails or respond to you on the platform or accept your connection requests. So number one is just get a professional headshot. Number two, you have the ability to write essentially a summary about yourself. Many times I find people say, “I worked here, I worked there, I did this, I did that.” I think it’s much more useful to write something more along the lines of, “I’m on LinkedIn for this reason. Here’s what I’m trying to get out of it. I’d love to connect with likeminded people who are also trying to achieve that sort of thing,” because that’s just a more an active stance versus passive, “Here’s what I did in the past. This is more what I’m trying to do in the future.” So I think if you do those two things… Listen, you have to do the rest of it. Profile completeness is I guess the third thing.


If you were to say… Well, let’s start in this way. Profile completeness, fill out all the actual fields. Profile completeness does matter. It does mean you come up in search more often. There’s a lot of opportunities that come through search of course. So profile completeness would be number one. A close second would be get a professional headshot. Don’t just put something you took of yourself. And then number three would be write a really, an active statement about what you’re trying to get out of the platform and other people you’d like to try to find on the platform. If you do those three things well, you are – better than most people and you ought to see more opportunities flow your way.


Jon A.: So I think most people to your point probably don’t think of LinkedIn as their first social network when they’re trying to promote their small business. If they’re defaulting to this as my online resume, what would be kind of the good first step for a small business owner to think about the other ways you can activate on LinkedIn. So is it kind of where you would join groups of like minded people or people who are in your industry? Is it kind of looking in and searching for people you might be trying to sell to you? What would be a good kind of umbrella thought of engagement for kind of coming into the platform?


John L.: Yeah. Let’s talk about it broadly and then we’ll talk about specifically marketing, what I think we should do in marketing. But if you go back to just the core value propositions of LinkedIn, we have the ability to help you hire, market, sell and learn. Now realistically, depending on what your business needs, you can do any one of those four things. I’ll repeat what I said earlier. You’re only as good as your talent, as your employees. If you have a burning need to hire somebody for a very specific job, which is critical to the success of your company, then you should by all means use LinkedIn as a way to learn about how should I think about recruiting? Who should I be recruiting? What skills should they have? What experiences should they have? Educate yourself so you can then go hire the right person who’s going to make a massive impact on your business.


John L.: Let’s say that you’ve got a great team around you and you’ve got to grow your business well. You’d be talking more about some combination of marketing and sales. So the sales element could be, “I run a local health food shop and I’m trying to actually get my products into companies like The Hartford and downtown Hartford, so I can sell more.” If that’s a sales opportunity, you’ve got to find whoever is in charge of procurement, whoever’s in charge of facilities at The Hartford, and you got to go meet with them and try to get your product place. It’s more of a sales opportunity. You can find those people on LinkedIn. It’ll say, “I’m John Lombardo. I work at The Hartford and I’m in charge of facilities or procurement or lunch,” whatever it would be. So that’s the sales angle.


Then the marketing angle is you can’t always reach people one-to-one. You can’t always have a sales relationship with people. Often, you need to educate people in a much bigger scale, much more broadly about what you do. Then you use LinkedIn as a marketing channel. So for there, let’s say you’re at The Hartford and you’re trying to sell car insurance to people. Well, then you’re going to reach everybody on the platform essentially, who you think might want to buy car insurance. And you do that by putting together interesting advertising, creative that reaches people at a scale that simple sales does not do. So it depends on what you need. Again, and the final bit is learning. You know you have to be a learning machine, I think in the world these days. There’s just so much competition.


You’ve always got to be learning. You to maintain a growth mindset. So if you care about learning about hiring, you can go learn as much as you want about recruiting on LinkedIn. There are people who talk about recruiting all day long, you could follow them. You can take a LinkedIn Learning course, learn all about that. You can learn about sales, you can learn about marketing and the learning platform is an enormous platform. We actually bought a company called lynda.com and it was especially well known for design, but we’ve got just an enormous amount of content around mostly business technology and creativity, but everything from how to use every Microsoft tool you have to use at work every day from Excel to PowerPoint to Word to much more sophisticated things like let’s say PowerPoint or even coding and AI. So there’s a whole host of ways around hire, market, sell, learn, and that you can use the platform.


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Gene: If I can take down a little bit just into the hiring side, because one of the biggest problems that most of my readers, my clients, small business owners have this year, finding good people.


John L.: Yeah.


Gene: They tend to gravitate towards ZipRecruiters, the monster.coms, even Craigslist, try and find… What would you say to a small business owner when you’re comparing LinkedIn for finding people versus some of the more well known job search sites and what advice would you have?


John L.: Yeah, I have to be totally candid. I am not an expert when it comes to hiring and recruiting. Though LinkedIn is an enormous hiring and recruiting platform, that’s not my expertise. I will say at the start, if you really want to understand this, you need to Google, “LinkedIn talent solutions,” and they’ve got an enormous, a library of resources that anybody can consult, whether you’re a big business or a small business in order to figure out how to best use LinkedIn as a platform. But I do know that LinkedIn has made tremendous inroads in helping small businesses hire more effectively. You got to remember that a lot of these things are functions of the scale of a platform. As LinkedIn has now almost 700 million members that means you just have a lot more talent on the platform.


You’re going to have a lot more people that can fill any sort of role, again, from independent contractor to senior executive. So that’s scale advantage is something that I think is unique to LinkedIn that you don’t get at the other platforms. That’s what advantage we have to double down on. But I do know that in addition to having that scale advantage, they have built more specific tools for small and medium sized businesses to the point where you can now get up and running, if let’s say you run a small business of a couple of people and you need hire someone, you can get up and running on the platform in 20 minutes and for like $5. It actually is a platform now that really has a, let’s call it a full stack solution for recruiting.


Jon A.: Awesome. I want to go back a little bit to that too because I think part of what we find today is we have a super low unemployment rate, right? It’s increasingly competitive for people to find talent. So there is this kind of extra work we see at least where potential employees or are doing a lot more research on companies. They’re trying to find out what’s your purpose, what’s your vision, why should I want to work for you? And it is more competitive for those owners to actually hire. Right? So when we think about LinkedIn or kind of in parity to something like a Glassdoor and Indeed where you’re getting company ratings, what’s interesting is as a company, you can really control the perception of your brand on LinkedIn. Can you talk a little bit about kind of that business page and how you might start to build a community so people are looking to see who’s really engaging with your brand, if you can see that level of detail? Or if we’re thinking about things like a business page or a life page, how those kind of come into play for a business owner?


John L.: Yeah, it is important that people understand when they come work for you, what kind of company they’re joining; who works there, what the vision for the company is, what the culture of the company is. LinkedIn has LinkedIn pages. LinkedIn pages are an opportunity for any small business to set up a page and that page then gives you control of essentially communicating with anybody who follows your page. Now, there are a couple of ways to build a followership because at start, you don’t have one-


Jon A.: Right.


John L.: … but you can market yourself through other channels, you can market it through other LinkedIn groups, you can advertise on the platform; all of these build platform or a followership for your page on LinkedIn. When you think about putting content on LinkedIn, it really has to be about the story of the company. Why does the company exist? What do you do? Who do you do it for? How do you help them? What are some of the stories about you helping them? Really, it’s just good fundamental marketing in many ways. I think to think of LinkedIn purely as a promotional tool when it comes to LinkedIn pages or as a marketing platform, it’s not purely about promotion. If you think of the classic four Ps of marketing, you have your product, you have your pricing, you have your placement and have your promotion.


Now, we talk a lot about promotion, which is just advertising or kind of like selling our vision of the company. But realistically, any small business you’re always trying to build a better mousetrap so to speak, build a better product. One of the things I think is really valuable about LinkedIn is you set up a page, you can talk about the product you have or get feedback on the product you have through the comments, you can have conversations in LinkedIn groups about that. You can reach out to very specific people and ask them to give you feedback on what kind of product you should build, how to make the product better. So really, LinkedIn is a business intelligence platform, is extraordinarily powerful. Pages are one element of that, groups are one element of that, one individual conversations are one element of that. But you could figure out how to build a great product.


Let’s say you’ve got a great product, you got to figure out a price that properly. Pricing is extraordinarily important. One of the great things about pricing is you don’t usually have to change anything about your business except for the price and you can automatically become more profitable. So pricing probably under considered as a lever for profitable growth. And again, pricing, go look at LinkedIn Learning; tons of courses on how to develop a proper pricing strategy. So now you’ve got a great product together, you’ve got the right pricing strategy. Now you got to think about placement, distribution.


Well, of course you can distribute things online if you’re an online course through LinkedIn, reaching the right audience or you can find people, as I discussed earlier, you can find somebody who’s in charge of procurement and selling you new deli lunches. So there’s a variety of ways to sell products online or offline using LinkedIn, either as a sales or marketing channel. Then of course, it is a wonderful advertising platform. That’s the business that I work in, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and you have the ability to find everybody in the category you care about and reach them at a scale that is previously in the world of B2B or just broader business marketing.


Gene: We use LinkedIn as an educational resource. So I write articles and post things hopefully, thought leadership posts on LinkedIn and we participate in some of the CRM groups because we sell CRM software, which is good, but we’ve never really mention it in the world of marketing or advertising on LinkedIn. John Lombardo, I’ve got 10 people in my company so I’m a typical small business and we are interested in learning more about advertising on LinkedIn. What should I know, what should our audience know as small business owners about the potential for advertising on LinkedIn?


John L.: Well, I think I would start with you. We have the people that you want to sell to. In the end, you need to reach the right audiences with any of your media choices or if you’re going to spend time or money, you want to make sure you’re reaching the right audience. So LinkedIn has the right audience. I generally think about, a simple construct for this as I’m thinking about marketing or advertising, you need to understand audience, creative, distribution and measurement. If you can understand all those things, do those things well, you’re going to run a good campaign that ought to be profitable for you.


So number one, do you have the right audience? LinkedIn does have the right audience. It frustrates me a lot of times because a lot of people default to Facebook or default Instagram just because they’re big without giving any consideration for the audience. Is it the right audience? I agree it’s a big audience, but is it the right audience? I’d rather have the right audience than the big audience. In fact, LinkedIn has the right audience of you, for example, want to sell to everybody in IT, your CRM solutions, we can tell you all a million people you want to sell to or we can tell you all, let’s say 100,000 people just in the New York Metro area. We can give you a very firm understanding of your audience; who they are, where they work, what the size of the company is, where they’re located, all these really important things. Then when you’re running creative, advertising can be very boring when it comes to B2B and advertising shouldn’t be boring, it should never be boring. What you really want to do is you want to run kind of…


The good academic literature on this, recent academic literature and this comes from these two guys, Les Binet and Peter Field, and they talk about what’s called the 60/40 rule. The 60/40 rule very simply says 60% of your advertising should be fun, it should be emotional, it should be creative. Very similar to, I was in the hall here before I came in looking at the buck, this new buck advertising, which I think is really wonderful. The buck is emotional creative, warm storytelling that puts at the core of the story, the customer, the customer’s the hero, whether it be the barber or the accountant or the baker. It does two things. There’s two heroes in any good advertising that’s creative that builds your brand. It puts the customer at the heart of it and it puts the brand at the heart of it.


What that advertising does exceptionally well is it talks about the customer first and the customer is always first, but brand is a very close second and specifically, you always want to use the absolute best known, most iconic asset you have and here you have the buck. So that’s a really good example. You’ve got your audience, you run 60% you’re advertising a little bit like that, which is kind of like the buck and of course smaller business, we’ll do that at a smaller scale. 40% of the work you do is more, let’s call it around could be called lead generation if you work in the B2B space or let’s call it just sales activation where your sales start to follow up on some of the marketing awareness you’ve created.


So you’ve got your audience, you’ve got your creative now. Distribution, again, you’ve got to reach the right audience. If we told you who the audience was at the outset, we can then reach the right audience on LinkedIn. Then finally, how do you measure it? I think measurement is something that is mostly wrong in marketing today. People focus too much on clicks. Unfortunately, there’s very little evidence. In fact, I don’t think there’s any evidence that clicks actually correlate to business outcomes. People will click on the content, but keep in mind that click through rates or something like a 10th of 1%, which means that 99.9% of people are not clicking on something. If you just judge something on something that never happens, that’s not a valuable way to judge. It’s really you’re trying to reach the right people with your marketing, then you’re trying to have sales people follow up over time in a thoughtful way.


But if you do the audience, creative, distribution, measurement right, if you get those four big decisions as a small business owner, then you can be successful on the platform and frankly any platform, not just LinkedIn. It’s just that I think LinkedIn is uniquely positioned in particular help you size up your audience, reach your audience, and then measure how the creative performed against that audience.


Jon A.: That’s an interesting point. I’m going to stop and say thank you for the compliments on the campaign because that was my life last year. We’re releasing round two probably around the time people out there are listening to this. But measurement’s a good point because I think a lot of people don’t understand how to measure media outside of the context of X amount of impressions, which is probably not even a true measurement of how many people you’re reaching. Can you talk a little bit about the tools that you have from a LinkedIn advertising perspective on what an effective measurement plan could or would look like?


John L.: Yeah. Well, we should start by saying there’s two types of marketing. There is what’s called long-term brand building. Then there’s what’s called short term sales activation. The Benetton Field research says, “Generally speaking, you want to spend 60% of your money on long-term brand building,” and that’s where you’re running a creative campaign that is not trying to get somebody to buy today. So the buck advertising is not trying to get anybody to buy it today. It’s just making you aware, “We are The Hartford. We sell these products and services. We care deep.” It’s actually, “We’re The Hartford, we put our customers first and we sell these products and services.” Now the other 40% of it, that is some combination of, “Now that you’ve seen this, fill out this form, come to an event, talk to a salesperson,” so that’s your 60/40 split. That’s really how you want to think about it.


But two different types of marketing require two different types of measurement, and this is I think a big mistake people make, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Everything is judged by clicks, but clicks are only representative of the price you pay for a click, maybe nothing more than that. I wouldn’t be the only person that would say that. Most of the academic literature supports the idea of that clicks just don’t matter at all. I’m actually being kind. Clicks do not matter. What do you then measure? If clicks aren’t the thing to measure, what do you measure?


If you’re building brand, what your care about is reaching the right audience and doing it regularly over time. For example, if I’m trying to reach people to sell them, let’s take me and Gene on the phone over there. If Gene is selling CRM solutions, Gene probably wants to sell to some combination of IT and marketing folks, probably some sales folks as well. So Gene’s going to define his audience. He’s going to try to reach those people regularly over time. What I’d really want to know is if there’s a million people we think Gene can consult to, how many people did we reach with those impressions over time? That’ll give us some net reach, some unique reach, which you could call say a percentage of the category. You want as much percentage of the categories possible. In particular, you want more reach than your competitors. That’s called share of voice. So you want to get net reach and then share a voice. Those are the two big numbers you care about when you’re building brand; reach and share of voice.


Reach is really calculated and impressions against your audience. So literally, if there’s a million people and we reached 400,000, that means we’ve got 40% reach. Then we want to understand, “I’m trying to sell, but so is company X and company Y and company Z. How many people did they reach?” You could understand that by listening to, do they run ads on the radio? Do you see billboards? Do you see ads on LinkedIn or Facebook or wherever? Or platforms like LinkedIn can tell you, “You’re reaching this many people in the category. Your competitors are reaching for more or less people in the category.” But reach and share a voice are the two big things you care about when you’re building brand. Share of voice is probably the number one… It’s one of the only iron laws of marketing, which is if you get more share of voice, which is really just more reach against your audience than your competitors, you will grow your market share over time. So that’s number one, brand building long-term.


Now if you think about short term lead generation, that’s where I’m trying to get you to fill out a form, come to an event, talk to a salesperson. Clicks are part of the equation there. That’s generally what people track. It’s hard to change that behavior even though I don’t think it matters because most people have been going in and telling their boss for five or 10 years that clicks are all that matters. So to go in and tell your boss, “Hey, those things I said for five or 10 years, those things aren’t true. It doesn’t look good for a lot of us.” I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that, but what you’re really trying to understand is I’m running a certain percentage of my media, let’s say 40% trying to generate leads or generate sales. You just want to really understand in the end, they call it lifetime customer value, but we’ve acquired some of these people through our advertising campaigns. What did it cost to acquire those customers? And then track their lifetime value.


Do they stay with you for five years, 10 years, 50 years, in which case you paid, I don’t know, $1,000 or $500 up front, but they spend $50,000? Wow, what a deal, acquire more of those customers or more likely some of them stay and some of them churned, but that’s kind of what you care more about on that side of the world. Of course, keep in mind that all the awareness you create around your brand selling CRM or selling car insurance, all of that awareness, often those ads though they’re not explicitly saying, “Buy now,” people will see those and realize they need car insurance and they will buy. Brand building generates a lot of value for the shorter term performance marketing they call it, or lead generation in that way. So they work together, the 60/40. One is sort of reaching future customers to build future awareness and then over time, the shorter term marketing actually captures that awareness and translates it into sales. So they’re symbiotic.


Gene: John, besides being “mean Gene”, I’m also “cheap Gene” as well. I’m curious to know what does this cost? How does this compare to run Google ads for example, or Facebook advertising? Is LinkedIn more expensive than that or less expensive? Do you guys price things out in a different way. Is this an affordable thing for a small business owner?


John L.: Yeah. Well, let’s put it this way. I think it’s always important to think about price and value. There’s a funny joke goes that economists know the price of everything and the value of nothing, and I often find that people think about marketing in that way too, that they judge everything by the price that they pay for it. But you might argue that things are priced cheaply for a reason. For example, a lot of people run programmatic ads. Programmatic ads are insanely cheap. So you would look at a programmatic ad and you would say, “Well, that’s really cheap. LinkedIn’s much more expensive. LinkedIn’s expensive. Programmatic is cheap. I’m going to put my money in programmatic,’ but there’ve been a couple of very high profile cases over the last couple of years, one with JPMorgan Chase where they cut almost all of their programmatic business and there was absolutely no change in results.


Recently, Uber announced that they cut $150 million they were running in programmatic and there’s absolutely no change to their business. You’ve got always keep in mind price versus value. LinkedIn is more expensive, but it’s also more valuable. We’re likely the only platform where you can get in front of a CIO, a CEO, a CXO, a head of sales, a head of marketing and if you think about the offline world, getting those meetings is really hard in the offline world. It’s also really hard in the online world. When something’s hard, it’s generally a bit more expensive. If you’re a small business, I would spend your money trying to reach very specific people that you think can have an asymmetric, a nonlinear, a massive effect on your business.


Jon A.: I’ll jump in there too because I think what’s interesting when you think about a LinkedIn CPM, it probably is going to run higher than a Facebook one, right? But to John’s point on programmatic or some of these mass reach platforms, you’re not dealing as much with the concerns of viewability, right? You’re pretty confident that a LinkedIn user is a real person. So you’re not dealing as much with like bot traffic that might drive up your price or inflate your metrics. You do kind of have that well-qualified target, which you can’t really guarantee in some of the more efficient reach building platforms.


John L.: Yeah, I guess there’s two other things I would say. Number one, there’s the idea of trust, which I think is of course an important topic for everybody in society. They rank all of the different social media or tech platforms on trust and LinkedIn has been the most trusted platform for last three or four or five years in a row, LinkedIn’s were the most trusted platform. So it does have incredible viewability, it has real people, and it generally creates a lot of value and is a very trusted environment. Then if you think about on target reach, you’ll reach a lot of people on Facebook. It’ll make your media cheaper, but you’ll reach a lot of the wrong people. You’ll reach a lot of people that you’re not trying to sell and will never buy from you.


LinkedIn, you’re not likely to have that problem. So if you’re Colgate and you’re trying to sell toothpaste, you should run on Facebook because you’re selling to everybody who has teeth. But if you are selling CRM, you’re really only selling to salespeople, marketing people, IT people, some finance people. The only platform where people actually sign up to the platform and tell you whether they work in sales, marketing or finance or tech or IT, that’s LinkedIn because that’s literally your resume also doubles as the targeting facets for any business. So it’s actually an interesting way that the platform is structured really to give you both trust in the platform and also value from the advertising.


Gene: Fantastic. So I only have one more question. I know we’re going to run out of time. It’s just a couple of minutes, john. Then after, we do want to do a recap as well, but before I let you go, John, just your thoughts on connection itself. Do you connect to everybody who requests a connection? Do you think having a lot of connections is a good thing or are you personally, and do you recommend LinkedIn users to be more, I don’t know, judicious of who they connect with and which invitations they accept?


John L.: I think there are two answers to this question. They’re the opposite answers and they’re both valuable answers. One is that you can use it like I do. I use it mostly as just a marketing platform for my ideas. Anybody who’s in marketing, young or old, near or far, anybody who’s in marketing who wants to connect with me, I connect with them because I’m talking about marketing all the time and I want people to give me feedback on my ideas to share their ideas. I’m just trying to get smarter in that way. I’m using it as a marketing and as a learning platform. So I connect with literally anybody who is in the marketing world.


Some people are much more judicious about who they connect with. They will only connect people that they know or maybe companies that they want to work at or companies they want to sell to or companies that they want to learn from. Either approach is fine. You just got to understand what you’re trying to get out of the platform. I will just say though, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of reach. More connections, all opportunities come through people at the end of the day. Robots don’t hire anybody. People hire people.


If you want opportunities, generally I think it’s probably better to connect with more people than less people. Over time, that will give you more, reach, more people to talk to, more people to learn from, more people to sell to, more people to buy from. I think there’s just a lot of goodness that comes from connections in the end. My general filters I mentioned, I’ll connect with anybody in marketing. For you, it may be anybody in tech or marketing or you name it-


Gene: Sure.


John L.: … but I would take a much broader view of the people you’ll connect with than a narrower view.


Jon A.: You talk a lot in posts a lot about marketing. So if there’s someone out there in kind of a B2B field or if they’re just a real expert in what they do, what’s the kind of secret behind becoming a LinkedIn author or if you’re posting kind of in the article or kind of that content world and maybe you don’t have a ton of organic connections right away? What’s a way to kind of make that work for you? Is it an editorial program? Is it just to keep doing it until people notice you? What’s the kind of thought there?


John L.: The second thing you said is really important. I would put it as you need to be consistent and you need to collaborate. So let’s talk about consistency first. Everything takes time. That’s why we have all these parables in society. The tortoise and the hair, slow and steady wins the race. That’s an important example we all need to take around how success actually happens. We often imagine people are immediately successful. Everybody’s Mark Zuckerberg, everybody’s Bill Gates. They’re successful at 21, but the average entrepreneur is 40 years old. So success takes a lot of time, takes a lot of experience. Consistency over time is something I just encourage everybody. If you’re going to write about a topic, a lot of people will write for a month, they don’t immediately become successful and they stop writing.


The successful people tend to write for a really long period of time, so that’s the consistency part. Then they tend to collaborate. By collaborate, I just mean have conversations with people. Tonight when you go home, talk to somebody about pricing. When you’re in the deli, talk to somebody about pricing. On LinkedIn, talk to somebody about pricing. Read a book on pricing and then share what you know. I have found that if you ask questions you also want answered or if you share ideas that you found interesting, other people also have those questions or like those ideas. I think just write about what you’re interested in. So pick a topic or it could be a couple of topics. Just commit to doing it for 10 years and commit to talking about the things that you find interesting or sharing the things you find interesting and commit to asking the questions that you want answered. I think if you do those two things, consistency and collaboration and you do it in the way I described over time, you’ll see compounding returns.


Gene: Let me do a quick recap of what we talked about today because, John, the information you shared with us was fantastic. You did say that when you look in LinkedIn, LinkedIn is a large platform where business owners can hire, market themselves, sell their products, learn. When you’re setting up your, your, your profile, your recommendation is to don’t skimp. Have a good professional headshot, be very clear as to why you’re on LinkedIn and also make sure your entire profile is complete. You mentioned about leveraging groups. Be consistent and tell the story of your company and why you’re there. And also, to leverage other areas of LinkedIn like all the business intelligence and searching capabilities that are there. On the advertising side, you said how LinkedIn has a huge audience and a very specific and targeted audience that although it may cost a little bit more to advertise on LinkedIn versus Facebook or Google, you’re getting a lot more value from your advertising dollar because you are reaching out to a better demographic and a more targeted demographic.


As far as connections and consistency over time, number one is your attitude is, “Hey, the more the merrier for yourself for connections,” because you’re trying to expand your network and it just provides more opportunity, but really it’s up to each user to spend on what they want to get out of LinkedIn, but not to underestimate reach. Finally, a long-term approach for LinkedIn is the best thing. I agree with you there. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a number of years and I contribute a lot of content on LinkedIn and it takes time to build up a community and a bunch of connections and all that, but if you’re willing to put the time and be consistent over a period of time, you will get payback. Hopefully, I’ve recapped what we’ve talked about. I know there was a lot of stuff.


John L.: Yeah, you did a great job. Really great job. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Gene: Well, I had a great teacher. You did a fantastic job. This is great information. I appreciate it, and Jon Aidunkonis. Let me turn it back to you.


Jon A.: Awesome. Well, thank you John and Gene for joining us today. For everyone listening out there, if you want to learn more, make sure to visit us at sba.thehartford.com and we will see you next time.


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LinkedIn Strategies for Small Business Owners

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