Doug Wendt is a co-founder and senior partner with Wendt Partners.
With the growing importance on online relationships and virtual platforms to support business growth, the power and potential of LinkedIn has never been more evident. On July 22, 2020 Wendt Partners hosted a webinar featuring a panel of experts to discuss the role of LinkedIn in the new business normal and strategies for leveraging the platform’s unique strengths to build business relationships.
Joined by Bruce Segall, Marissa Polselli, and Chris Moore, Wendt Partners’ Chief Growth Officer Doug Wendt moderated the discussion, which you can watch in full here. The following represent some of the key takeaways from the conversation:
A fresh take on LinkedIn
The platform that began in 2002 as a virtual placeholder for your resume or CV has evolved into the gold standard for online professional networking. The biggest lingering misconception about LinkedIn is that it is still just a place for you to post your resume, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Resumes are curated, edited, targeted documents, LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a narrative platform. It's about storytelling. It's your place to showcase not just what you do and what you've achieved, but why you do it, what you're proud of, and what your vision is. LinkedIn provides the space for you to present a range of information that creates a holistic picture of who you are as a person and a professional. That's what makes it so powerful, and that’s what makes it the premier place to form meaningful connections.
Up-leveling your LinkedIn presence
Navigating this modern platform with its immense capabilities means doing your due diligence in researching the unwritten rules of LinkedIn, and taking the time to craft your profile with purpose. The prospect of transitioning your profile from the bullet points and sentence fragments of the resume world to the cohesive, narrative flow of LinkedIn as a storytelling platform can seem overwhelming, but these tips can help you get started:
Make it personal. Literally. Write it in first person. This is a marked departure from resumes that are traditionally written in third person and may not even include pronouns at all. But your LinkedIn profile is meant to be more conversational in tone, as though you were sitting down with a friend over a cup of and talking in a professional way about what you believe in, what you stand for, where you are in your career, what you're looking forward to.
Find the golden thread. People aren’t used to thinking of their careers in terms of a story, so it can take quite a mindset shift to move out of the formatted, clipped language of resumes into narrative. One way to make that shift easier is to think about what the “golden thread” that runs through all of your experiences. What is the common denominator in everything you’ve done? Maybe it’s a desire to help people, to teach, or to bring them products that will improve their lives. Whatever it is, use it as an anchor and a baseline for your story. It will be much easier to tell the story of your career as an actual story where are the pieces are connected by this common thread than as a series of disjointed bullet points.
Utilize a multimedia approach. One way to personalize your profile and maximize its engagement factor is to pay attention to the visual elements, from your profile picture and banner to the newly added features section and media to accompany job experiences. A robust profile will not only leverage well-crafted copy but media that can include images, videos, links to websites, and SlideShare presentations. You can also take advantage of new capabilities like LinkedIn Live to stream live videos, and the option to send voice as well as text messages.
There’s no return on investment without investment
Crafting a professional and engaging profile is only part of the LinkedIn experience; the other part is being active on the platform. Of course, how much time you spend on LinkedIn will be determined by a number of factors, and something is better than nothing. But to maximize your branding ability and leverage LinkedIn to its fullest capacity, it helps to spend a substantive amount of time regularly in following a methodical approach to developing your presence and your connections.
Be sure that your efforts include making content contributions such as sharing original or curated material relevant to your area of expertise, as well as supporting your network. One practice worth cultivating is to engage in a monthly “kindness spree,” where you take a few of your connections each month and find a way to support them. Maybe it’s with a recommendation or endorsement. Maybe you can share something they’ve posted, or send them an encouraging message. Whatever you choose to do, it shows that you see yourself as part of a virtual community in whose overall good you are invested.
Turning connection requests into engagement opportunities
How do you know whether to accept a connection request on LinkedIn? One tip is to use the connection request as an opportunity to see if there is potential for a mutually beneficial relationship. If you receive a connection request from someone you don’t know well or at all, it can be helpful to send a reply message before accepting the request. In your message you can thank the person for the request, and ask what prompted them to reach out. You can even extend an invitation to hop on a quick call so that you can learn a little more about each other, and have the chance to vet the potential level and caliber of engagement.
Leverage your tools
LinkedIn is also optimally set up to utilize and integrate with multiple tools including lead generators and autoresponders that can help streamline and automate the process of finding ideal clients and making meaningful business connections. And of course LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a powerful range of capabilities to help you engage and develop your relationships with connections with whom you’d like to do business.
Just as valuable is LinkedIn’s capacity to integrate with CRMs, including HubSpot. In addition to saving time and increasing productivity, integrating LinkedIn with your CRM can also help ensure that none of your connections and opportunities fall through the cracks due to forgotten follow ups.
The new business normal is here, and it’s a world where online relationships carry tremendous significance. Knowing how to leverage the power of LinkedIn as a storytelling, connection-making platform can help you position your organization to not just survive in our evolving business landscape, but thrive. To maximize your company’s growth potential, work with a business growth consultant who can steer you towards the best ways to leverage online platforms for continued success and profitability.