LinkedIn Virtual Business Strategies During The COVID-19 Pandemic With Kim Peterson Stone
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably changed the way we do business. One of the areas that got affected is how we build business connections. Fortunately, with people migrating online, we can now fully utilize our LinkedIn accounts. Helping you make the most of it in this episode is Kim Peterson Stone, founder and CEO of Linkability, Inc. Here, she shares some of the LinkedIn business strategies that are particularly helpful in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares in detail how you need to set-up your account, how to position your message, what features you need to take advantage of, and what kind of content to put out. Kim also shares some of the relevant trends in the space when it comes to communicating with others, as well as some of the advantages of joining a group to your business.
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LinkedIn Business Strategies During The COVID-19 Pandemic With Kim Peterson Stone
We have a special treat. We have Kim Peterson-Stone on. She is the Founder and CEO of Linkability. She's been a previous guest before. We're good friends. We talk all the time. We thought we would take in and put on an episode given the current environment. Kim, you work with people in the LinkedIn space. During this Coronavirus, COVID timeframe, what are you seeing out there and what should people be considering as it relates to their business and LinkedIn?
I'm glad to be here, Bob. Thanks for having me. Things have shifted and since this whole thing started, we've been inundated with people, “What is it that I should be doing?” Whether you're in middle management and you're concerned about what your organization is going to be doing, maybe you need to make a pivot. “How do I do that?” That's some projects that we're working on there. It’s a corporate presence. You had a game plan and things that you were going to be doing. You are going to be going to events and doing all these wonderful things. All of a sudden that wording is no longer appropriate and you need to roll that back in, shift and change your narrative. We've been working with organizations that way. We're getting a wave of people also that have not been that active on LinkedIn and are now thinking, “I'm not going to these events. I'm not being able to get out there and get in front of people. How do I use LinkedIn to do that?” Those three things are happening in droves right now. It's a good time to get your feet under you in all of those areas, depending on which aspect is affecting you right now.
You're talking to clients of various types of jobs in various businesses and so on. Some are at home, some are working remotely for the very first time. Given that environment, there have been some insights that are starting to gain. I've been encouraging people to get at least one thing done while you're at home, one accomplishment. One of the things that you can do if we don't know how long we're going to be doing this at-home gig is to take a look at what you're doing on LinkedIn. How does it look? How's it perceived? Is it useful or is it just an, “Yes, I have one?” To that end, when you look at somebody's LinkedIn site, what are you thinking when you look at them and what are you seeing now?
The big thing is, are you positioned to be found? Is your profile structured in such a way that you will be found for the things that you want to be found for? That would mean that you've got to take a look at your headline. What wording are you using? What industry are you in? Are there any catchphrases that you should be using within your headline so that it's not a title and your company, but you're indicating what it is that you do or more importantly, the problems that you solve? Whether you're looking to get hired or whether you're looking to attract clientele, you need to be defining what problems you solve. Number one, the headline needs to indicate that.
[bctt tweet="If you want to make a pivot, build your network with people who are above and beyond what you have." username=""]
For example, in your headline, what do you have in your headline as an illustration?
I will give you something that I tell clients all the time to achieve what they want to do. It’s a Ninja trick. Here's what you want to do. Everything in your LinkedIn profile, you want to keep it in a Google Doc or a Word doc or whatever, and you want to date it. You want to say, “This is 4/24/20. My headline says this. The graphic says that. My summary section says this.” You can monitor the types of people that are hitting your profile. Are these the people that you're wanting to get in front of or are these people that are trying to sell you something?
If you go down towards the middle about your profile, your dashboard is where you would go. It’s going to tell you who has viewed your profile if you have a sales navigator account that you could go back as long as you want. If you have a free LinkedIn account, I want to say they're always changing that, but maybe you could go back like a week. That's very helpful because if someone hits your account that you want to start a conversation with, you can always ping them right back and say, “Bob, I see that you hit my account last week and I see that you're also involved with X, Y, Z. Is there anything that I can help you with or did you have a question for me?” Is there anything I can help you out with?” It's very helpful. It can tell you whether or not what you're saying is on point if it's attracting the right people. That's very important.
You're AB testing your headline.
There are two schools of thought. You can go short and sweet or you can stuff as many keywords as possible, and that would be done using the apps. You can't do that on your computer. You would only be able to do that on the app. What I've done, I changed my headline to “Founder, CEO Linkability Inc., Expert LinkedIn Solutions for World-Class Professionals.” What I had been doing is stuffing that headline with about three lines, LinkedIn Training for Teams, Enterprise LinkedIn Solutions.
I was trying to plug that word in there as often as possible to come up in search terms and now I'm flipping it. It's very important because whenever you comment on anything on LinkedIn or you come up in a search, that is what people are going to see first. You want to make sure you quickly catch their attention and you cut through the noise. What is it that you're doing? For me, this is new and I'll evaluate it after 30 days, after 60 days, after 90 days. I can compare that with what I was doing 3 or 4 months ago. You always have the ability to move that. A lot of people don't take advantage of that. It's very powerful when you know how to do it.
When you think about it, you were obsessed with that top line. You go, “I'm not obsessed about that one, but it's important and relevant because that's what people see.”
LinkedIn sees it, people see it and Google sees it. You're quite likely to come up 1, 2, or 3 in search of LinkedIn on Google. People are googling you. People are checking you out, whether you're comfortable with that or not, it's a fact. It's better that you control that rather than having missing information be representing you out there.
The business owner is going like, “I'm lost in space.” To preface this a little bit at the tailend, there's going to be a summary sheet that Kim has put together and kind enough to share. You'll be able to reach out to Kim. If you're further stuck in the mud, you go, “I've heard this before and I'm having a hard time getting started.” Kim has also offered to do a free assessment of your page, and that will be found also on the PDF outline of what we're talking about. As we talk about the headline and then there's the summary part and people go, “There's another part?” “Yeah, there's another part.” What should they be thinking about the summary space?
In the summary space with clients, we always take them through a questionnaire first. They fill out this questionnaire and it causes them to think about their business differently. We tend to get so absorbed in our stuff. We're very familiar with what we do. We're very sure of our world, but we're not necessarily very good at conveying that information to other people. We take them through a questionnaire where they fill out, “What it is that you do? What service do you provide? What benefits do clients have after working with you? What are you proud of?” The summary is not at all like a résumé, in days of old résumé. It is the value that you're bringing to the organization and the value that you bring to the people that you serve.
If you convey that very well, very succinctly and then either have a CTA, a Call To Action, at the bottom of that or not, that's up to you. You are getting your message across as to exactly what you do and exactly how you can benefit someone who hops onto your profile. That too the very top couple of sentences there is super critical to get people to want to dig deeper. Not a lot of people are super comfortable with writing. If you're not, get help. That's something that we do as well as we help to craft the entire profile so that it all is nice, neat, and clean. It works alongside the brand, whatever brand you’re representing.
[caption id="attachment_5157" align="aligncenter" width="600"] LinkedIn Business Strategies: Whether you're looking to get hired or to attract clientele, you need to be defining what problems you solve.[/caption]
As we talk about this, you and I have been through this trail. You've done this for me. We've worked together on this topic on my LinkedIn profile and so on. The business owners are going like, “We haven't even got past the headline and the summary yet.” I'm at home. I’m working remotely. Now that's done, you go, “Maybe they had some little bit of LinkedIn presence before. Now that I'm at home, I'm needing to up my game in this particular tool.” If they had previous messaging, what advice might you have for the previous messaging? What would you do with future messaging to the people that they're trying to reach out to?
First of all, the rules have been changing almost every day. What we used to do for what we call our Power Presence clients, the clients that we helped to create content for, we disseminate the content. We create videos, articles, posts, and all of that. We usually would get content going in the hopper, a month ahead of time, and then it's a process of being created. We're about two weeks ahead. We're nice and full. We know what's coming up. All those rules have changed. It's on day by day basis. A lot of companies are reporting on what they're doing. Maybe they're working on fundraising efforts or they're helping with food banks or their organization has shifted gears to help us move through this situation.
Maybe they're in healthcare and they've pivoted. They have clients in telehealth and other areas. They've made a huge pivot. Fiduciary and financial services are very much needing to shift the narrative and what they're talking about. What has happened is there is no planning out of 6 months in advance or 3 months in advance or even a month in advance. You need to be much more on your toes with a positive forward message. It’s certainly not getting caught up in politics, not getting caught up in hearsay, but marching forward with what you're all about at this moment. Planning accordingly, knowing what we do know right now. The remote work world has changed dramatically. Some people are embracing it. Other industries are like, “We don't like this. We're going to need to figure something else out.” On the other side of this, there will be adjustments in different industries as a result of what we're going through right now. Don't beat yourself up for thinking that you have to have all of this amazing stuff laid out for 30 days in advance or 60 days in advance. You don’t. You need to have your finger on the pulse of what's going on. Share what's relevant now.
I'm the Luddite business owner for people that don't know a Luddite, I'm slow, which you would probably agree. You’re going finger on the pulse of what's happening in your industry and you go, “Where am I going to find what's going on in relevant?” One is Google Trends. Google Trends for your industry is a good place. What other resources might you be looking at, whether it's internal to LinkedIn or external so you're understanding what trends are relevant in your industry and how you can use that to communicate with your clients?
LinkedIn is always on the right-hand side of your screen on your laptop. They're always trying to push whatever is trending towards you. The algorithm tries to make it line up with what you're talking about, but it's not always completely accurate. Something that is often overlooked in LinkedIn that is absolutely a brilliant tool in the search bar. You can go up on the search bar and you could do #SearchesForContent.
Let's say we wanted to take and search for something. Kim, have you got a thought?
If you wanted to search for COVID-19 right now, you need to put a hashtag in front of the word so 503,000 people are following that right now. This is the content of people talking about it. For example, your organization is doing something surrounding this topic right now. You can go in and take all of that commentary there and you can make comments, “We were involved with it this way or we're doing it that way.” You can search for groups, people, content, companies, jobs in that search bar with whatever terminology is good for you.
I preceded as I did with the hashtag, so it gets found. You could do #PPP I suppose and that's the current government funding. For the people who are going to go, “That's relevant content that I can look for,” whether it's industry-specific or specific to my clients or I can take and say, “It’s good articles. Send it out to your clients.” I don't know if there's a good understanding of groups and how that might affect what you're doing and whether you belong to a group. Kim, can you talk about groups? For you that are going like, “This is a how-to.” For those who don't know, Kim is now a wizard on LinkedIn and had been doing this for a long time. How many people are following you now as a thought leader?
It’s a little over 235,000.
You lecture and talk on this all the time. It's important for people to see this. There are groups and that's found out of the workspace.
This is a great starting point, LinkedIn Learning. I have Sales Navigator on my account. I pay for that monthly fee. In the first few years, I did not have it. I've only been using it for a few years now. It's crazy. That's an entirely different discussion above and beyond LinkedIn. It’s very helpful. You're looking at someone who has a Sales Navigator account if the screen looks different than yours. In groups, particularly if you're needing to pivot, whether you're needing to pivot your organization or you need to pivot you, you can search groups in any subject at all.
For example, we did do telehealth. We do want to look at that. With the search bar, doing the hashtag will bring the content and allow you to see how many people are following it. You don't necessarily have to have that. This is going to let me search for telehealth in people, in jobs, in content or companies, schools, or groups. Let’s say I wanted to find a job or share information or whatever. These are all my choices here. You request to join. Why would you want to do that? If you're wanting to make a pivot, maybe you're wanting to build your network with people above and beyond what you have. Maybe if you're looking to pivot and get into something new, that's what you want to do. You can request to join the group and then you can start hopping into some of these conversations.
I think too, you're getting known in the group and the other part is you're seeing what's important to the group and maybe some of the articles that are coming from the group, you can share with your people. Concurrently, let's say you have content that you are willing to share with a group and you can take and post it to groups. You can reach out to a lot of people and compare and contrast.
It’s targeted, people. If you were to share this on your feed in the main area, it would go out to your group if this was your post. If you wanted to target these specific people, then you could do that within groups. It's another way of multi-purposing content and getting yourself in front of.
It goes to everybody in that group. It doesn't go to a fraction of that group like Facebook. It's different. It goes to all of them. That's a way to magnify your message, take and be up to speed on what's bothering you or what's on everybody's mind.
You can do that on your corporate page as well. Say you are doing updates like people that are in fiduciary right now are going crazy trying to keep up with questions, CPAs, lawyers, business law, all of that. Here's a great place to park that information on your corporate page. This is our corporate page and we are discussing things that are timely to what's going on. That would be generic. This would be very timely. This is not necessarily on brand. It's like, “This is what happened. It's happening right now. Let's focus on some solutions. This is what people need to know.” That's an example of shifting gears. This was a live event that we did. This was before everything happened. This was standard stuff that we're putting out. It’s great information, good, very nice, but now it's like, “Put on the brakes, pump the brakes. Now we need to take action and here's where we go.” You can do that on groups. You can do that on your corporate page and you can do that within your profile. You have a lot of room to move to get in front of the people that you want to get in front of.
For communication with those groups, a lot of people go, “I'm not all that adept at writing, but I can talk to people well.” You could shoot a video very quickly and you can upload videos very easily to LinkedIn. Do you want to expand on that?
[bctt tweet="LinkedIn algorithms love consistency, but the algorithms are always changing." username=""]
The thing that will set you apart from 99.9% of the people on LinkedIn is to use the little message area there, the little bars on your app. The app can be incredibly powerful.
For people like me, you won't find this on your desktop. You have to use your smartphone or smart...