Minal meets… Jennifer Corcoran, social media consultant & LinkedIn expert
LinkedIn is seeing a surge in content posted and leads created. It’s been 15 years since LinkedIn started, and yet it’s taken all that time for it to become a social network, just like the others we know and love.
I joined LinkedIn back when it started and I have to admit that I was one of those people who used it as an online CV. Since starting my business though, I’ve seen it as a way to give value and network with other small businesses. But, I don’t think that I’m using it to its full potential. That’s why I decided to interview Jennifer Corcoran, who, as well as being a fellow She Means Business Trainer, owns My Super Connector. Jennifer is a LinkedIn pro, so read on to find out what she has to say about using the platform.
Minal: Tell me a bit about your business. What do you specialise in?
Jennifer: In a nutshell, I help entrepreneurs and professionals to polish up their online profiles and connect with finesse. Ultimately, I help them to feel social on social media and to have the confidence to do their own and create a strategy that will work for them and their business. I do this via 121 coaching (in person and on Skype), via workshops (external/in-house) and with written social media strategy audits. I cover LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for business.
Minal: What would you say is the benefit of using LinkedIn?
Jennifer: There are so many benefits to using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is one big captive audience of leads with 1 out of every 3 professionals in the world being on it.
People on LinkedIn are in a business mindset. They have the money to invest in your product or services.
LinkedIn is the #1 channel to distribute content and is the most effective social media platform for B2B lead generation.
When you google any person their LinkedIn profile comes up in the search either above or below their website. They are justifiably now of equal importance. Google also ranks LinkedIn highly as a credible professional platform.
Minal: Who should be using LinkedIn? Is it only a B2B platform?
Jennifer: I think that anyone can use LinkedIn really – even if your core business is B2C you will be meeting fellow business owners, suppliers and peers at networking events and a lot of them will be on LinkedIn. It’s a great place to stay front of mind via the home feed and messages ultimately to raise your brand and become known as an expert in your field. It has so many great features such as blogging, video, groups and so on, and as I said before people are in a business mindset on this platform and people are 4 times more likely to visit your website via LinkedIn than via a Facebook business page.
Minal: What are the three actions that people should regularly perform on LinkedIn?
Jennifer: Be social, consistent and follow the 80/20 rule.
So many people go on social media and lurk and are afraid to post. Just be human and be you, as people buy people at the end of the day.
Being consistent is also important whether you go in once a day or weekly it’s a great way to build the know, like and trust factor.
Lastly, you need to follow the 80/20 rule which means that 80% of the time you need to engage, inspire, educate and inform – ideally with other people’s content whose values align with your personal brand. 20% of the time is a soft push from you in the form of a blog, video or tips. Essentially, you need to GIVE VALUE and the law of reciprocity will kick in and then people will start to share your content and tag you in relevant posts. A lot of people think that social media is advertising – it’s not… it’s communication and a way to connect with people. Nobody responds to being bombarded with advertisement and self-promotion.
Minal: What are the benefits of sharing your content?
Jennifer: You raise your visibility and profile and become perceived as an expert in your field and thought leader. You also allow potential clients to find you. You can share your content in posts, blogs, groups and in comments on pages and other people’s posts. Natural photos work well. Photos of you. Also stories of successes and failures.
Minal: How often should you post and when is the best day/time?
Jennifer: I love LinkedIn, so I post daily and it seems to work well for me. I think if you post too much you can turn people off so it’s all about finding the balance that works for you and your connections.
I have a 5-step daily routine which is:
- Check and respond to messages.
- Check and act on notifications.
- Check who viewed your profile.
- Check and note responses to group discussions you are involved in.
- Aim to send a new connection request each day. Always tailor your invitation unless it is someone you know well.
The best times to post are commuting times, lunch, or Friday afternoon at 3 pm. Test to see what works for you.
Minal: What should people avoid doing on LinkedIn?
Jennifer: I’m not a fan of non-personalised invitation requests. I feel like they are a bit of a waste of time. At a networking event you introduce yourself to someone and vice versa and then exchange cards but for some reason, people think it’s acceptable to just jump in front of you on LinkedIn and for you to connect with them with no context. I’m all about a quality network versus collecting numbers so this is my bugbear. Of every 100 requests I get, only 5 are personalised. If you want to stand out for the right reason spend a few seconds writing a brief message and you will get a much more favourable response.
People should avoid over thinking about what they should post – just be yourself. You can make a big impact by liking, commenting or sharing other people’s posts or by sending direct messages. If you are not keen on blogging or posting, that’s fine… use LinkedIn in a way that suits you.
I see so many people write posts and forget to tag in people with the @ sign which is also a missed opportunity.
Minal: Should you accept invitations from people you don’t know? Why?
Jennifer: Yes, but you should only accept from someone that you have a synergy with or a valid reason to connect. If we only ever connected with people we knew life would be pretty dull. That being said, you don’t have to connect with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I’m not a fan of the LION approach which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker. These people are all about numbers versus quality connections. I would rather have 300 or 3000 quality connections versus 30,000 which is the current maximum.
Minal: How can you use LinkedIn to actually sell?
Jennifer: The secret is to optimise your profile, make it keyword rich and very customer centric and then to network effectively. You need to give value and show people that you are the answer to their pain points and can help them.
When you connect with potential leads get them off LinkedIn ASAP. We don’t sell on LinkedIn, but we initiate the sales discussion or pique the prospect’s interest which then leads to a sales discussion off-site (via Phone, Skype, email or in person). A well-optimised profile will work for you 24/7.
Minal: Tell us the top five things that make for a great LinkedIn profile
Profile Photo – Use a professional up-to-date headshot for your profile. According to LinkedIn, profiles that include a profile image receive 14 times more views.
Cover Photo – Your cover photo is your prime advertising space on LinkedIn. Make sure that you’re making the most of this space by showing off your logo in order to raise brand awareness. Read this post for more cover photos ideas.
Headline – this is the most common mistake made on LinkedIn. Your headline is not your title. You need to say what you do, who you help and how you help them. Your headline needs to be keyword rich and display features and benefits. Some things to consider are:
- Your location
- Your industry/sector
- Any specialism you wish to highlight
- Years of experience
- Awards you’ve won
- Your keywords
- Personality (depending on industry)
Summary – I like to think of this as the home page on my mini website. You have 2000 words to play with so make the most of this space.
- Skills, experience & keywords
- Tell a story and engage the reader
- What is your why?
- List a clear call to action at the end (email/phone number)
Recommendations – this was hard as I could also have said media links, endorsements or accomplishments, but recommendations are always a very strong, independent proof of credibility and professionalism. A lot of companies are restricted now by the kind of recommendation they can give, for example, I worked at ABC for 10 years from 2005 to 2015 in the position of EA… however, on LinkedIn, you can truly shine with a testimonial which helps once again to develop the know, like and trust factor.
Minal: What about LinkedIn Groups, aren’t they dead?
Jennifer: They have become stagnant, but if you do post in them, you stand out because not many other people are posting in them. This all depends on the group. Try to find one group that has good engagement from the group members. This usually a local group, so find an active one and focus on that.
LinkedIn is fast becoming a great way to network online. Follow Jennifer’s advice and your LinkedIn approach and presence will definitely improve.