expert status

Seven New Insights for those Building their Brand on LinkedIn

ALERT - RECENT CHANGES on LINKEDIN

Virality - the art and science of getting a post to go viral or trend via social media.

"I'm not a marketer, so why should I care?" ....... I hear you ask.

What get's seen and engaged with by many is what -

  • influences our decision making,
  • helps us form your opinions, and
  • drives our beliefs and behaviours

And if you're in the business of leading, influencing others or making a difference, you'll want be both seen and heard on platforms where your people are.

Does that always mean it's the best content that's seen? No. But the sharer knew (or accidentally tripped over) some of the rules of engagement, to make sure their content was seen and engaged with by many.

It's all subjective anyway. One person's share that (only gets) gets 10K views, maybe another persons viral or trending share.  So remember, it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it that counts - how you leverage, take advantage of or re-utilise that same thinking, that really makes a difference.

Take charge of the narrative before it takes charge of you

If you're going to spend any time utilising LinkedIn why not take charge of the narrative before it takes charge of you?

The below seven key tips were in response to several of my clients who have been sharing content for a while to build their brand, but receiving minimal engagement.  

My goal?  To help us ALL get more bang for our buck when building a brand via sharing and creating content (posting, sharing, publishing) on LinkedIn.

1. The first line of your post/share/article (or headline) is CRITICAL for grabbing attention and enticing people in.  While clickbait headlines or first lines is probably not your thing, nor would it necessarily enhance your executive brand, do spend time on that opening line.

One of my more successful viral posts had initially been drafted with the 2nd sentence 1st (see right).  

However after a few days of letting it settle in draft form .... "boom"! All of a sudden I could see that a line in the middle of my post ("my financial situation sucked") was far more attention grabbing.

So I moved that one line up and ....... it made all the difference.  

One successful LinkedIn writers say he spends as much time (if not double) on the headline or opening line alone, as he does on the article itself.  

So my recommendation? Draft your share/post/article/content then let it rest - like dough rising.  Then go back to it the next day and/or test with colleagues via email and see if that helps. Don't hide your light under a bushel. Make sure your great content/insight/perspective gains maximum exposure.

2. Share at a time when there is opportunity for organic read rate

As with all social media platforms, LinkedIn has algorithms designed to assess the quality, safety and engagement quotient of your content.  Therefore the feed only shows your shares to about 10% of your network initially (a focus group of sorts). Imagine if not many of your 1st and 2nd connections are online at the time you share?  Your share will simply sink to the bottom of the feed and go nowhere.

A sneaky Saturday share that did really well. THANKS!  Key ingredients? Humour and surprise.

Plus you'll feel like it was a waste of time.  

My suggestion? Learn the rules re timing, test them, then break them with your 1st and 2nd degree connections in mind. 

  • Do your home work. Assess and understand your network.
  • Remember, you're not (necessarily) a marketer selling a product, you're a busy executive creating a leadership brand for yourself. So what works for you and your unique network may not fit the rules that marketers with products follow.
  • Share when your people are on so that you can harness an organic read rate.  
  • I find lunchtime Monday to Wednesday excellent right now. Others say quite the reverse (see graphic below)
  • Every now and then I'll share on a Friday or Saturday with something humorous or emotive AND it does well - see right.
  • Remember too, it's seasonal - and effected by weather, public holidays, news worthy events etc just like anything.  
  • One of my clients shares regularly on leadership on a Saturday and that works for her, yet not according to the experts
Is there a best time to share on LinkedIn? Learn the rules and break them according to your own network  https://simplymeasured.com/blog/best-time-to-post-on-linkedin/ - courtesy Simply Measured

Is there a best time to share on LinkedIn? Learn the rules and break them according to your own network  https://simplymeasured.com/blog/best-time-to-post-on-linkedin/ - courtesy Simply Measured

3. Don't hide your light under a bushel of cryptic language, or by not explaining the obvious.   Put what you want people to know in the status update box. Summarise the article or post in less than 1300 characters (if a status update), or 750 - 1000 words (if an article), so that people get the key points without having to work too hard for it. Give, give, give before asking them to do something.  

Head on into LinkedIn to read more

Head on into LinkedIn to read more

See the 6 Insights share to the right? A summary of the entire six insights are listed in the post itself, not buried in a link.

Do the work for your audience so they don't have to do the work themselves and this helps build trust.

  • Remember MOST people are skimming while on mobile devices (57% LI traffic is mobile).
  • Remember Gary V - give, give, give, ask? (jab jab jab punch. You want to be generous with your content, insights and information so that people gain maximum impact from your shares.
Your interpretation, contextualisation and summary is what people are looking for and what will set you apart. That’s part of your brand.

 

4. Keep your language punchy and concise.

Short sentences.

Easy to read.

Essential.

Remember - 57% users on mobile devices and this is set going to continue to grow.

5. Put an extra line return in before any instructions. Make them stand out.

Such as -

► Detailed article in the 1st comment

► Comment below with your #1 career advice

I'm not a huge fan of emoticons and symbols but if that is the currency of your target market then use them. If your target market is more corporate then stick with corporate bullet points and symbology. 

6. "Video killed the LinkedIn article star" - if you are good at video, or are learning how to do video, now is the time.

Since the recent demise of Pulse on LinkedIn the long form article has lost much of it's potential to 'go viral'. This doesn't mean not do long form articles. They contribute to SSI rankings plus help you craft well thought out arguments. They are searchable via Google and frequently Google ranks LI articles higher than it will your own web or blog site.

Key suggestion:  If you are fortunate enough to have a service that has video don't be shy. Get on camera and start creating and sharing content.

7. And FINALLY - change is inevitable. The only constant is change. Deal with it.

LinkedIn is going hammer and tongs with updates at the moment. The forums are all awash with the algorithm changes plus technical glitches. Just keep on keeping on, until you learn more. Remember if something isn't working for you, it doesn't mean nothing is going to work or that the end of the world is nigh. Keep investigating, tweaking and adjusting to find what works for you right now. And even this will change in time. 

Key suggestions right now? Mix it up.
Mix up the types of ways you share.

  • some images
  • some long form published articles
  • some video
  • some links
  • some text only

Don't be paranoid about it. But do keep that in mind for the next few months.

Over to you all!!   Looking forward to seeing you create your own brand and following on LinkedIn

#LinkedInlove #LinkedInLessons #LinkedInlife

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #success #career #executivebranding #personalbrand #standout #leadership  #executivewomen #careerfutureproofing


I'm committed to helping my clients win the promotions, raises and recognition they truly deserve. And LinkedIn is a perfect executive brand building tool that you can leverage - for free. All it take is time and focus, and you can break free of what ever pigeon hole you may find yourself stuck in.

Using LinkedIn to create a movement, not a ripple

Using LinkedIn to create a movement, not a ripple

Liked this? Read more

This article is part of my brand building series to help my clients create a movement, not a ripple. If you'd like to learn more, drop me an email below.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why Conference Planning Committees need to Consider Gender Diversity

In recent weeks I’ve been vaguely horrified by a range of industry conference speaker programs that were so heavily dominated by those of the middle aged masculine persuasion, that the programs could have been something from the 1950’s.  “In this modern era when gender diversity seems to be the flavour of the month?” I hear you ask. Yes, in 2015.  So why should those in the association world care about gender diversity?

Professional associations are often seen as the peak body for industry and are supposed to lead the way when it comes to demonstrating best practice.  While I’m currently not privy to current Australian statistics in the association world in terms of percentages of women in leadership roles, or on association boards, the sector has a reputation for demonstrating better rates of gender diversity than industry and business itself.  However in saying that there is definitely room for improvement as demonstrated by a recent report from the USA on non profits in general:

“ Men still hold 79% of the CEO positions for organizations with $25 million in assets or greater. A 2014 GuideStar report found that a gender pay gap exists in this industry as well. The sector is not perfect, but it is a place where women have a greater opportunity to lead.”
— Why Female CEOs Thrive In Nonprofits, Kim Williams, CEO, Interfaith Housing Coalition, Forbes

How else associations can help

Associations and industry bodies run industry conferences. These events are supposed to present cutting edge ideas, case studies worthy of emulating or avoiding as the case may be, present a pool of credible experts on the speaker program and provide opportunities for members to develop and grow.  Another way that associations can lead the way is by establishing benchmarks or guiding principles for the conference planning committees around gender diversity.

When associations don’t ensure gender balance on conference programs it sends a message to those who work in industry that expert status is reserved for men.  This may be the case in terms of consultants finding it easier (and more beneficial) to create time in their day to speak on conference programs but if recent reports are correct many industries are seeing a steady rise in the number of female industry consultants who could do the job equally as well. And we know from the multiple sources of research into this space that organisations with women in the leadership team perform better on range of measures including profitability, productivity, risk management, staff and customer satisfaction - so surely it's their expertise contributing.

When association and industry conference planners do manage to provide gender balance, they are sending a message to younger generations of professionals that speaking, thought leadership and industry wide expertise are not merely the purview of men but also women – changing the state of play and challenging the status quo at the industry level.

There’s an old saying:

“If we keep on doing what we’ve always done we'll always get what we’ve always got”

By providing opportunity, challenging and encouraging women to step up in this thought leadership arena and expert status, industry is more likely to find new ways to solve old problems that have potentially been dogging it for years.

Introducing the Male Champions of Change

Conference programs that don’t have gender balance are starting to look out of step with the times.  There is growing recognition of this as an issue from large corporates and government departments, whose leaders have signed the Male Champions of Change Pledge. This group have identified that gender bias on conference programs and panel discussions is not appropriate:

“it was simply unacceptable in this day and age that many high profile conferences, events and taskforces lack gender balance, despite there being no shortage of senior, qualified women to participate. Aside from the unhelpful gender norms reinforced by the current practice, the lack of diversity clearly limits the span of conversation. Perspectives considered, insights shared and conclusions drawn will be naturally skewed towards more masculine views and restricted as a direct consequence.”

So why should conference planners and associations care about this pledge?

Signing up to become a Male Champion of Change is not an empty gesture because members of this program have committed to asking organisers whether they have secured women leaders to participate in public forums, panels and conference programs.  If not, then the male leader has also committed to decline to speak until the issue has been rectified or will recommend a senior female leader to speak in his stead.

Many of the male champions may then create organisation wide policies that discourage the rest of the leadership team from participating and prohibit staff from attending events such as panels, forums and conferences where there is an obvious gender bias and lack of diversity.

There is the potential for this to become an issue for conference organisers wishing to both engage high profile speakers from big name organisations for programs and maximise attendance of delegates, unless gender diversity is addressed up front and centre. I'm sure this will soon cascade into the sponsorship dollar and event supporter values as well.  Given that many in the association sector rely heavily on conference and sponsorship revenues, this could represent a problem unless addressed.

It’s not always easy unfortunately

As someone who has programmed more conferences that you can poke the proverbial stick at I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, if you read my “back story” on The Ambition Revolution you will see what I mean and I know that my own track record has not been perfect in the past.

  • For every call for papers nine men would respond and only one woman.
  • I’d tap a woman on the shoulder to ask her to speak (pre identified by a committee as someone doing interesting work in her organisation) and she would handball me to a male colleague, manager or ambitious young male staff member.
  • For every second woman who did say yes, it was as though they needed to be reassured that they were indeed the right person for the opportunity and people would indeed want to hear what she had to say.  

It’s definitely a Catch 22 unfortunately and unless we do something about it soon, we’ll be caught in a loop and won’t be able to escape.

Ideas for the conference team and planning committee

I understand the pressure on conference planning teams to get the program finalised and out to market in time and on budget. Associations are frequently resource poor and also rely heavily on volunteer conference planning committees.  So let’s make it easy for everyone and help educate the conference planning committee along the way by having a few practical strategies in place:

  • Set a 50:50 gender diversity target for your next conference speaker program – particularly relevant if your audience is mixed.
  • Have this target front and centre for your volunteer conference planning committee to talk about and measure themselves against during and after the event, along with evaluations and financial measures.
  • Position it as an exciting challenge (rather than more work) - encourage a problem solving approach.
  • Feature an article in your industry publication or e-newsletter on the importance or benefit of gender diversity to your particular industry.
  • Run programs that support and encourage women to speak throughout the year – not just about how they got to where they are now, but also to share expertise and technical knowledge to mixed gender audiences.
  • And yes, for the first year or so it might take a bit more work, but as the years progress it will become easier, and the norm.

Why diversity matters

The issue is much bigger than simply gender diversity. As a society we benefit from diverse ways of thinking on every issue. So don’t just stop with gender diversity.

  • Ensure you provide opportunities for young professionals – once again bringing fresh ideas, new ways of thinking and communicating as well as reinforcing the notion that fresh perspectives are worth hearing about. It also grows growing their confidence in this arena creating a “talent pipeline” for leadership development down the track helping both yourself for future conferences but also helping industry provide opportunities for young talent to shine and develop.
  • Consider also cultural diversity and opportunities for those with disabilities on conference programs as well.
  • Where are your mental blind spots when it comes to encouraging diversity on your program and how can you remedy this?

In summary

Gender diversity is a huge issue for our society and business world and it’s proving challenging to move forward with any speed. In fact Australian statistics demonstrate that the gender salary gap remains the same after 30 years and a heap of work on the issue.  The topic is heavily laden with bias at best along with sexism and active discrimination at worst.  It’s full of examples where turf protection wars are waged, boys clubs and “this is the way we’ve always done it” type notions abound, along with arguments such as “I only want the best person for the role” (meritocracy). It’s backed up by generations of socialisation that reinforce stereotypical gender roles for both men and women.  Let’s face it, I’m sure there are times when both men and women sometimes struggle to see the woods for the trees because bias (conscious and unconscious) is so insidious and difficult to identify.  While associations in general do a better job than some with their recruitment practices and encouraging female leaders, I think there is definitely room to improve when it comes to planning conferences and demonstrating best practice to industry.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

AmandaBblackbg.jpg
  • Amanda Blesing is one of Australia's newest thinkers and speakers on ambition - how to spark it, tackle it, tame it and then channel it into producing a healthier, more inspired leadership talent pipeline.  
  • As the creator of The Ambition Revolution program helping women step up, speak out and take charge, she gets right to the heart of the issue with statistics, stories and insights as to what the problem is and what we can do about it. 
  • For the past 20 years Amanda has walked her own talk as she worked her own way through the ranks of the association world with her last role as Chief Executive Officer of SOCAP Australia (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Australia)
  •  Amanda currently speaks with and mentors ambitious women and helps them make a bigger difference more easily.

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

6 Signs That you need to Take your Personal LinkedIn Strategy Far More Seriously

Be aware of what your LinkedIn profile says about you without you even knowing

Did you know that women dominate every social media platform except one? Guess which one. Yes you are right - LinkedIn.

worksmarter.png

Did you also know that some organisations are making decisions about whether or not to interview you based solely on your LinkedIn profile?   I heard this interesting (and rather scary) fact as I met with clients from a major corporate in the Melbourne CBD.  And while I was a little taken aback at the supposed “unfairness” i.e. you didn’t even know you were in the running for the role and you were passed over without being able to stun them with your amazing new CV or wow them with your polished interview techniques, I’m actually not surprised.  

So if recruiters and others are able to make assessments about your suitability for a role based solely on your LinkedIn profile - perhaps it's time that you got your house in order and your profile into professional gear.  Here are the big 6 signs that you need to do some work.

1.     No photo 

This says straight up front that you are uncomfortable in a modern social media environment and don't really want to be recognised.   Gone are the days when not having a photo was simply a holdover from not wanting to be identified on RSVP (that "old" dating site - is it still around?).  Basically, if you don’t have a professional photo on your profile it looks like you are timid or trying to hide something.  

There is the exception to the rule – social media stalkers are real. For those in roles where protecting your identity is an issue then please disregard my suggestion re a photo.  However, if its purely because you are shy or nervous around social media – then its probably time to take a teaspoon full of cement and get with the program.

2.     Photo looks like a laptop selfie or that you’d rather be anywhere else but at work

With a few exceptions such as creative types, outdoor types and entertainers (where a creative photo actually sells "brand you") then remember that the following types of images are better suited to Facebook:

  • the home job selfie,
  • the pic of you holding a fish you just caught on holidays, or maybe
  • the glamour shot you had taken for your hubby last year.

  Think of this as your professional CV summary. Your photo should represent you - professionally.

3.     Too few contacts

LinkedinHistory.png

Many sources say that the magic number for contacts on LinkedIn is 500+. I suspect this is purely for mechanical reasons (LinkedIn doesn’t publish the specific number once you bypass 500) and it means you are perceived as "well connected"

For those selling services and utilising LinkedIn as a leverage point commercially I’ve heard that the “magic number” is 3000+

Whatever the actual sweet spot is,  if you’re in a regular role that’s not about sales, my best guess is it needs to be more than 400 but less than 2000 – especially if you have been in business for 10 years or so.  

Contacts correlates with your ability to network in a social online environment. In this modern era with information and connection as valued currencies, then your number of contacts says a lot about you.   But unless you are selling stuff to people then you don’t want it to look like you spend all day on LinkedIn either.  It's actually pretty easy to load your email contacts these days. Just be sure to personalise your contact note (unless you know someone really well) and you'll be fine.

4.     Too few endorsements

If you want to connect with me and send me an invitation - imagine for a moment that I can’t remember exactly when I met you so I open your profile to check you out and jog my memory. Your credibility drops to zilch if you have no endorsements.  How do you grow endorsements? Networking of course. And making sure that your settings allow endorsements. If you are connected with someone on LinkedIn and you know they do good work around Stakeholder Management –why not endorse them?  And it's highly likely they’ll return the favour and endorse you for something you've got listed in your endorsement settings.

5.      No current recommendations  

Now this might be because you are busy, but when you remember that your profile is in someway the modern shop-front, public version of your resume, then keep it up to date. As soon as you finish a big project or significant piece of work, ask for a recommendation. Don’t wait til you are changing roles when you want to update your CV. Get it done while the quality of your work is front of mind.  That way when you do get to update your CV you are on the front foot with remembering what it was that was a significant achievement in the past year.  By the way – quarterly or half yearly updates of your CV are highly recommended in any case.

6.     Not active

Remember, social networking is social. It's just on a different platform.  You need to be active to be ranked by LinkedIn and "float" to the top of search criteria. LinkedIn even provide rankings for you to see how you are doing in terms of activity.  

Share, like, comment, connect and email away  - and here is a basic plan to get you started.

  • Work out what it is you stand for professionally - great customer service, strategy, leadership, wellness and/or success,
  • Like what others in your network share - as a way of connecting socially or as a way to enhance what you stand for,
  • Share links to articles  that inspire you professionally (with your own summary for time poor colleagues) once or twice a week,
  • Get involved in a discussion once a week - so comment and acknowledge you value wha't others have shared, add your insights,
  • Build your network - once a week get online and actively look for others in your network to connect with, 
  •  Don’t be shy. You won’t break the internet if you make a mistake.  Go on! You know you want to.

There are many more things you can do but this LinkedIn top tidy will stand you in good stead and keep you on the front foot.    LinkedIn is simply a tool in your professional tool kit that you will want to keep up to date. Given it dovetails really nicely in with your CV development and professional connection keeping, it won’t be a waste of time, especially when you do change roles.

One proviso – cat photos or videos or pics of friends and family are not really suited for this forum just yet. I’m sure the lines will be blurred one day, but right now, LinkedIn represents a platform you can professionally leverage and position yourself.  Don’t mix the personal and professional too much, too soon.

But most importantly, have fun. I call it the LinkedIn game. What about you?

Vive la révolution! 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months