MAD Perspectives Blog

What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Say About You?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, August 11, 2011

i'm currently helping a business consulting business complete a 360º view of their consultants.  Given that their consultants are their key assets, my goal is to make sure that clients understand the value these consultants provide.  We are doing this using LinkedIn. 

As is the case with many happily employed individuals, they probably have a LinkedIn account and profile.  However, they have not taken the time to develop a robust, meaningful view of their capabilities.  Many users of LinkedIn see it simply as a platform for storing contact details or job hunting.  In fact, it is much more.

LinkedIn is your opportunity to share your value with prospective clients, colleagues and employers.  There are few meetings that occur these days where the participants have not checked each other out on LinkedIn.  In fact, a colleague shared a story about his high school age son who is caddying at the local golf course this summer.  His son is checking out the individuals for whom is caddying before he heads out to the course.  This gives him some insight which allows him to introduce conversation of interest to the golfers.  Guess what the end result is?  Bigger tips!

As I work with clients on their profiles, we are seeking ways to amplify their value.  This can be done through development of an interesting summary, calling out key traits and behaviors that differentiate the individual.  In addition, profiles include the ability to reflect links to key pages within corporate websites, online videos, blogs or publications.  Of course, one of the best ways to validate your capabilities is through recommendations.  The best example I've seen is a colleague who invited many of his connections to provide recommendations.  He was shocked by the overwhelming response.  He was able to win recommendations from teammates, managers, colleagues in different organizations, business partners, and most impressively, competitors!  This says a lot about his style of doing business!

In addition, LinkedIn enables you to join groups which show your areas of interest, list specialties or outside interests, which help those searching for key capabilities.  Or, select from a group of apps such as Tripit, or Amazon to share other aspects of your professional life.  You decide what represents your value.  You decide how to organize it on your profile page.  This is your profile. 

Business is about relationships.  People want to business with people they know and trust.  How about using LinkedIn to speed up the process of getting to know each other?  Share your interests, value and capabitilities.  It is your opportunity to shine!

What's your perspective?

3 BIG LinkedIn Benefits for Your Company

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The BIG social networking platforms that are mentioned in almost every social media conversation are: Facebook, Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn.  However, for B2B companies, Facebook is unproven.  In fact, the most effective social networking platform for B2B companies is LinkedIn Hubspot recently shared the following results from a survey of 600 professionals knowledgeable of their company's marketing strategy.

LinkedIn is the favored channel for customer acquisition. You may wonder why this is, as many professionals think they should only be using LinkedIn when they are seeking a new job. LinkedIn is working diligently to change this perception and if we consider the results of Hubspot's study - LinkedIn is succeeding. LinkedIn wants to be the destination for helping you, AND your company, maximize your economic opportunity. How do they do they do this? Let me share some insights.

Your profile on LinkedIn is your online professional identity. Your network is a reflection of who you are.  As an individual you have the opportunity to use LinkedIn to learn from your co-workers, your network and other industry professionals (via LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers). Now extend this thought process to your company. LinkedIn gives companies an opportunity to showcase their identity and that identity is influenced by its employees, its customers, its competitors and its products or services.

LinkedIn enables companies to promote themselves in a way that is completely complimentary to their website.  Companies can:

     1. Find & Hire THE smartest people. LinkedIn allows companies (and recruiters) to identify potential candidates (who may not be actively seeking a new opportunity). They can gain insight into these candidates by reviewing their profile, their recommendations, their experiences and their links. Conversely, candidates can get a better understanding of your company by studying employee and executive profiles.
Using Company Pages, companies can reflect new hires (don't you want to see what kind of people were recently hired and into what kind of jobs) and more importantly, job postings. Because the company can better understand who you are, they are eager to post their jobs here. Here is an example of the number of job postings by various high tech companies:  Dell = 1,113, HP = 207, Microsoft = 4,290, Google = 1,947, LinkedIn = 155. Not only can you apply for jobs via LinkedIn, you can see who in your network works at the target company. And, the company can see which employees you might know and seek recommendations.

     2. Market their products & services. Companies can create marketing campaigns using keywords, demographics, earnings, roles/title and more to target the right companies and individuals. Imagine a software company with a product that addresses supply chain issues in the jewelry manufacturing sector. LinkedIn has the data to help them place ads on the right pages for the right people at the right companies.

Again, using Company Pages, companies can promote their products, offer special deals and even better - get customer recommendations. In fact, it is possible to create a rotation of product images/ads that will rotate and enable links to the relevant company web page. Additionally, LinkedIn allows companies to customize their product presentation by audience demographics. We all know we like to buy products that are recommended by others. This idea is not new - heck, it helped Zappos become the online shoe buying destination. But, now this idea is expanded to B2B businesses.  Your products and services may be reviewed and recommended by your customers, publicly. This is powerful.

     3. Amplify Reputation.  LinkedIn enables companies to enter into a different kind of relationship with their customers or prospects. Through the use of LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers companies can bring like minded people together. LinkedIn Groups allows companies to participate in groups or to create their own groups.  The groups may be focused around topics, products, trends, industry standards - whatever makes the most sense for the company. An example of a well moderated group is Small Biz Nation (yes, I am a member of this group).  This group is hosted by HP and Intel. The primary focus of the group is to raise and discuss challenges faced by small business, be they about accounting, tax or legal issues to technology, offices supplies or hiring. HP and Intel benefit by showing their interest in the concerns of small business owners.

LinkedIn Answers provides the opportunity for any individual to post a question - about anything. Companies can search for questions of interest to them and provide answers - thus extending their reach and understanding of customer concerns. Alternatively, companies can post questions to guide improvements in customer service, product innovation or sales methodology.  Imagine you are seeking information regarding the best video streaming hosting technologies. You can certainly Google it.  However, you can also post the question on LInkedIn and see who within your network can assist. Now imagine, you are a video hosting provider....get it?

LinkedIn continues to broaden its suite of services that can help both professionals and their companies optimize their economic value.  In addition to the attributes of Company Pages previously noted, your company profile can also incorporate Blog feeds, Twitter feed and YouTube videos - expanding the reach of these social media tools.  The customization of the product & services page also applies to the main page, meaning a CEO might see a high level overview of your company emphasizng differentiated value while engineers see a more technology centric perspective. For more insight, check out Mashable's article on Optimizing your Company's LInkedIn Profile.
I'm a fan and a believer in the value of LinkedIn (and hopefully a shareholder after the IPO).  If LinkedIn isn't part of your B2B marketing strategy, it should be.

What's your perspective?


The Resume is Dead, Long Live LinkedIn!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Do you use LinkedIn? If so, you're one of the 90M+ people, in over 200 countries, that have a profile on LinkedIn. If you are a business person and you crave an online professional networking destination - LinkedIn is it.  You can:

     - Tell your professinal story
     - Get and stay connected with business colleagues - even if you, or they, change jobs
     - Pursue career opportunities
     - Get informed about people and companies before you actually meet them
     - Identify decision makers or influencers and get connected to them
     - Ask questions about ANY business related topic

There are competitors who offer business networking (i.e., Plaxo, Naymz, Xing) or job search (i.e., Monster, CareerBuilder, Ladders), but LinkedIn has created (and continues to enhance) the site for professional networking. It is a critical part of your online social identity - particularly as it relates to your career.

I joined LinkedIn while i was still working at Hewlett-Packard. I was happy in my job and was not particularly interested in online networking. However, I responded to an invitation from a colleage and so began my LinkedIn journey. It started as an "online rolodex" - a place to capture the details about the business contacts I made while jetting around the globe on behalf of HP.  Now, it is an integral part of every business day.  How?

LinkedIn provides me with insights about people and companies.  I learn about an individual's experience (roles, companies, responsibilities, value), education, social behavior (do they blog?  tweet?  join discussions?), personal interests, travel schedule and their connectivity (how many LinkedIn contacts do you have? and, who do they know?).  With the introduction of Company Pages last year, I can gain quick insight into the companies where they have worked.

I am about to head out on a business development trip to California.  As I was thinking about this trip, I prowled through my list of contacts on LinkedIn. I was seeking colleagues that worked at companies that might be interested in my consulting services. In many cases, my connections had changed companies and I found that I had contacts at many companies that were of high interest to me as potential clients. I used LinkedIn to reach out to these contacts and set up meetings. I did not need to know their current email addresses - LinkedIn was my intermediary.

I also learn a lot about people simply from the way they have created their profile. Many colleagues, who are extremely happy in their current jobs, have profiles that I consider placeholders. They share the bare minimum of information about their professional background and interests. They have less than 50 connections. They do not have linkes to their company page or website. I'll know they are job hunting when they beef up their profile and their connections! 

Have you worked on your profile lately? If you need to connect to a key decision maker, increase your professinal visibility or are seeking a new job, check out your profile and think about what it says about you.  Chances are that your new contacts are going to check it out too.  Here is a quick look at the most important features:

     - Professional headline - this is who you are or who you want to be, it is not necessarily your current title
     - Picture - this should be a headshot and yes, you should have a picture.  Proessionals like to do business with people, not profiles!
     - Links - reference urls for your company's website, its blog (or your blog!), twitter, etc.
     - Summary - this is about you and the value you provide.  This is your opportunity to highlight what makes your special, what gets you excited and your dream role.  It should not be a description of your current job as you will have the opportunity to share that under Experience
     - Experience - reflect not only your title and responsibilities, but the value that you provide to your customers (we all have customers, some are external and others are internal to the company)
     - Recommendations - request references from your colleagues, customers and partners.  Their comments will be revealing to you and to your connections!
     -  Contact Settings - indicate the types of contact you are interested in receiving

LinkedIn vs. Resume - LinkedIn is living and dynamic, just like you.  The resume is not dead, yet, but it is a static snapshot of your skills, education and experience. It is still relevant to have both a resume and a LinkedIn profile. They should be complementary. You can walk into a meeting with a resume and your resume can include a pointer to your LinkedIn profile. Like all things social, your LinkedIn profile should offer transparency and authenticity. Let the real you shine through!

Go ahead, go check out your profile.  Then check out the profiles of some of your connections.  What do you think?  Let me know what your learn!

What's your perspective?

Stay tuned, next week I'll take a deeper look at LinkedIn value for companies.

Social Media as Your New Years Resolution

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 03, 2011

It’s a new year and you’re making your resolutions.  How about a resolution to jump on the social media high speed train?  You’ve read the buzz but you’re a bit skeptical about time, effort and results.  These are fair concerns.  There is not a company who has engaged in social media that has not posed questions about how they are going to leverage this dynamic medium.  I have just a few bits of advice about getting started:

  1. Think about why you want to use social media.  In most cases it starts as an effort to increase market awareness.  This is a great way to get started!  My advice then would be to think about the image you want to present to the market.  Do you want to be an expert?  What does that mean?  Does it mean you need to be the smartest person in the room or that you can bring the necessary resources to the table?  Bottom line, social media is going to help you share your perspective in a new way
  1. Get organized.  Figure out who in your organization will be your social advocates.  It will be beneficial if you think about how representatives, from different business groups, reflect your business.  These individuals can provide your customers with unique perspectives that can help them understand your business and its products, strategy and culture.  Align your social communication with your overall marketing plan and strategy.  Commit to a plan!
  2. Define your social content strategy.  Think about who your customers are and what content will fulfill their needs.  Social media is about personalizing your business and its content.  This means that simply pointing customers to your website is not going to win a lot of new customers.  However, sharing your insights about industry trends, emerging products or markets, business benefits of your solutions or seeking input from your audience, will drive awareness.
  3. Select the relevant social platforms.  You need to be where your customers are.  Here is a quick summary of some of the most popular platforms:
    •  - LinkedIn – for a business person or business this is the default platform to use.  It’s more than a virtual rolodex; it is a platform for sharing content about your capabilities, engaging in conversations with like minded individuals via LinkedIn Groups, and increasingly a tool for employee recruitment.
    •  - Blogs – I’m a BIG fan of blogging as a means of communicating with customers is a casual way.  Blogs provide the ability to flesh out your thoughts in a less formal manner than traditional briefs or whitepapers.  They also enable feedback from your customers which can educate readers about your company, impact product roadmaps, or simply influence further blog discussions.  A small firm can share insights abut what drives their day to day business while a large company can encourage individual bloggers, from different business disciplines, to discuss the topics that influence their activities and decisions.  In all cases, the blog should reflect a unique point of view.
    •  - Twitter – In many cases, twitter for business can be just keeping up with the Jones’.  However, many companies use twitter to actively listen to their customers.  By searching on keywords a company can capture a trend, discover customer satisfaction issues, and invite debate on a trending topic.  Twitter is immediate and democratic, meaning it is wide open like the Wild West.  However, the Wild West is now very heavily populated and the direct benefit for B2B companies is unproven.
    •  -  Facebook – this is the ultimate social platform for individuals.  And, let’s remember this platform was created by a college student to find, connect and communicated with other students.  Its role is consumer centric.  Its focus remains the individual despite a company’s ability to create a Fan Page.  Companies that have found success on Facebook are those with a consumer audience and who create a unique proposition on Facebook.  There have been debates about Facebook displacing the need for a traditional website.
    • For B2B, I completely disagree.  Facebook does not easily enable a B2B business discussion.  It does not allow you to share documents.  However, it is a great platform for personalizing your business.  Post pictures or videos from industry conferences, community events, internal celebrations.  Emphasize the company culture and the unique individuals employed at your company.  Now prospective employees have a much better understanding about the culture of your company.
    •  - YouTube – Video is pervasive and memorable.  YouTube has changed the face of video forever, making user generated video and its lesser quality – acceptable.  Video puts a face on your business.  I’ve seen whiteboard sessions, mockumentaries, product demos, and corporate advertising posted on YouTube.  It is possible to create your own channel which could be beneficial for companies who want to post a series of videos.  Like all marketing & communication efforts, video efforts must be planned and organized.  See my previous blogs on this topic

Don’t be afraid to just try one platform.  Be persistent.  Don't let social media be the resolution that fades away!  It’s ok to experiment and figure out what content and which platform works best for your business.  Despite all that you read, no single company was an instant success at using social media!

What’s your perspective?