Don’t be fooled by LinkedIn’s ‘All Star’ profile rating

Does your LinkedIn profile have an ‘All Star’ profile rating? Did you add sections in to your profile to get your rating up to the ‘All Star’ profile level?

If you answered yes to either question then LinkedIn will be very happy because you are helping them satisfy their core revenue generating clients – the recruitment consultants. It will have where you are, what you do and what you’ve done in the past. All great if you are a recruitment consultant sifting through profiles looking for ideal candidates for the role you have to file.

But having an ‘All Star’ profile won’t necessarily help you in your business. In fact, it could lead to a stream of unwanted sales messages from over-zealous sales people mining LinkedIn for keywords to identify potential clients. They look for CEOs, MDs and Owners in certain lines of business that they consider ideal targets for their products or services. Don’t blame them even if it is annoying. Your inviting those messages because of your profile.

For LinkedIn to be useful to you in your business you need an ‘All Star’ Plus profile. Before we get in to what constitutes an  ‘All Star’ Plus profile, let me explain a little about LinkedIn’s profile strength assessment.

LinkedIn Profile Strength

There are 5 levels of profile strength and all are driven by how complete your profile is:

1. Beginner (<50%)

You get this status just for setting up your profile and completing some basic information including name, 1 job, location and 3 skills.

 

2. Intermediate (50%)

As for beginner plus a profile photo and a minimum of 3 connections.

 

3. Advanced (75%)

As for intermediate but you need to add details of your education, industry and a post code. You’ll need two previous job positions and a minimum of 50 connections.

 

4. Expert (90%)

As for advanced but the number of skills required increases to 5 and you need to have 3 recommendations.

 

5.All Star (100%)

As for Expert but you also need descriptions under your work experience, a completed Summary section and belong to some Groups.

 

The profile strength circle will always show a small gap at the top. That’s partly because there are a number of minor sections that no everyone can or will complete. So the profile is considered to be 100% when all the core sections are completed. Some people have suggested a gap is left to indicate thee is always room for improvement.

Completeness vs Quality

LinkedIn’s ‘All Star’ profile rating depends on you completing the key sections and having a minimum level of connections, skills and recommendations.  All of this can be achieved with a poor quality profile. Let me give you an example.

Your profile photo. To get an ‘All Star’ profile rating if you have a profile picture – any old profile picture. It doesn’t even have to be of you. When I assess someone’s profile I have 15 things I consider when assessing the quality of your photo. That may seem a little anal, but you only get one chance to make a first impression and your profile photo is a key part of that first online impression.

So you may have a ‘complete’ profile, but if the quality of the content is not up to scratch you won’t achieve my ‘All Star’ Plus profile rating.

An ‘All Star’ Plus profile

An ‘All Star’ Plus profile is a complete profile just as in the ‘All Star’ profile description, but this time it has high quality content that is targeted at, and valuable to, your target reader – your ideal prospects.

That means your profile is not about you, but about what you do for your clients. It’s about the benefits they get from working with you or buying your products, never about the products or the services themselves.

Your headline tells your prospects what you do for them, not who you are or your job title. (that also reduces the chances of sales people spamming you)

Your summary and current experience describes their pain, their challenges or their desires and how your business overcomes those challenges or meets those desires.

Your past experience, education and other sections are there and completed to open up connection possibilities.

 

The benefits

A top ‘All Star’ Plus profile requires a lot of thought, a certain amount of up-front effort and then regular updating. But when coupled with a targeted campaign to find, connect and engage with your ideal target prospects in the right way, it can lead to a stream of leads varying from warm to red-hot and all without so much as a hint of overt selling.

 

If you’d like a free 15 minute assessment of your  ‘All Star’ profile and some tips on what it would take to get to  ‘All Star’ Plus then book a call with me. Click on the link below, but hurry, the number of calls I’ll take are limited.

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Are your business cards letting you down?

Business cards? Who needs them in a digital world? Well anytime you meet someone face to face for the first time, your business cards could be the difference between being remembered and being consigned to the mental trash bin. You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Your business cards can determine if all the effort that went into creating that impression is wasted.

 

Picture the scene:

  • You meet an interesting contact – the ideal prospect for your business.
  • You explain the benefits your clients get from working with you.
  • They seem genuinely interested and ask for your card.
  • You pass them your business card, the flimsy freebie card from WhatsItPrint  (it even has “Produced by WhatsItPrint – call 0800 xxxx xxxx to get your free cards” printed on the back).
  • You go away feeling great about meeting a hot prospect.
  • But you never hear from them again.
  • They ignore your e-mails and never take your calls.
  • Disaster!

Sound familiar? Even if you’ve avoided the temptation to try the freebies, do your business cards really help you to stand out from the crowd?

You see, most businesses don’t go the extra mile. They don’t take the trouble to be different. They have the same old ‘me too’ attitude. They cut corners to save money – hence the freebie business cards. A few pounds saved in the wrong place can mean thousands of pounds lost where it matters most – the revenue line.

 

How to be different

The first rule is don’t copy the rest. Somewhere in your desk or a box file you’ll have the collection of business cards you’ve been given over the last few weeks, months or even years.

Have a sift through them. There will be different colours. Slightly different sizes. But despite teh diffeences, they’re all pretty much the same really.

Most will be packed with details – name, address, phone number, website, e-mail address, fax number, twitter handle etc. So much it might be hard to read because they had to use such a small font.

So do any stand out? Do any have a compelling offer? How many tell you what the card giver does for their clients?

I have many different business cards. Some are for different businesses but some are for different aspects of the same business. Here’s some examples:

 

This is my “standard” project management business card:

Standard PM business card

It has my picture on the front to remind my contact of our conversation. It has one of my lead magnet offers on the back. In fact I have two different “standard” cards, each with a different lead magnet offer. A clear call to action so I can capture their contact details when they sign up for the offer even if I lose or don’t get their business card. And if they pass on my card, the next person will see the call to action as well.

This is my project management business card to get prospects to think carefully about their project management training needs:

6 part PM business card

It gives me the equivalent of six standard 1-sided business cards to get my message across. It includes my picture, clear benefits, an offer of a free video series and a testimonial. It’s different. It stands out.

People remember me because of my business cards. They see me looking back at them from the card. They see the offers of free help and in the case of the 3 part card, an independent testimonial recommending what I do. How do your business cards stack up?

 

More ideas and examples

Need more ideas and examples? The two examples from my project management business show just a few of the ways you can stand out and make a great impression with your business cards. As part of the achieve365 library there’s an implementation plan that goes into detail about the do’s and don’ts of business cards. It also has some more great examples to give you even more ideas to help you stand out.

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The achieve365 Library comprises over 50 implementation plans, each one covering a different aspect of building and growing your business. From hiring and firing to all the key aspects of social media. From copywriting to knowing your numbers, no corner of the business is left untouched. To find out more, book a call with me and find out how your business can stand out from the crowd. Click the image below to book that call now!

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Building trust in a cynical world

Building trust in a cynical world

The world is becoming a much more cynical place. Trust is much harder to win.

Add to that the exponentially increasing volume of marketing messages that everyone sees day in, day out and it’s no surprise that your marketing e-mails are getting opened less and less often.

Even getting people on to your list is proving harder to achieve. Traditional lead magnets such as ebooks are less effective and you are having to give away more and more stuff to gain a subscriber.

Is it all worth it?

Is there another way?

 

Demonstrating credibility and authority

 

Building trust requires a number of factors:

  • You need to demonstrate your expertise
  • You need other people to sing your praises
  • You need to be there for you clients consistently

Are you trusted?

Only when all three factors are present will you be able to develop trust and build a rapport with your target clients. They need to see that you know your stuff. That other people recognise you for it, and that you will be there when they need you.

 

Getting the word out there

There are a number of ways you can demonstrate your expertise and start to build that trust, but they boil down to two approaches:

  • Speaking
  • Publishing

 

Networking

network headsSpeaking can take a number of forms. The most basic is networking. At most networking groups there are a number of opportunities to talk about what you do for your clients.

Firstly there is the general conversations over coffee, breakfast, lunch or drinks. But don’t be the meeting bore, telling everyone you can grab about how fantastic your business is. That’s sure to make you the most unpopular person ion the room. Instead ask people about their businesses and the problems they are facing. Offer some tips or help. Maybe recommend someone you know that could help with a specific problem.  Become known as the person that helps others solve their problems without selling them anything.

There will be other opportunities to speak about your business at networking meetings. Most groups give everyone a 30 or 60 second slot to talk about their business. Don’t go for the hard sell. Focus on the benefits of working with you and offer something valuable if you can. You are looking to gain trust, not alienate people.

You may get invited to do a 10, 20 or 30 minute slot where you can go into much more detail. Again, make sure you are delivering valuable content to your audience, using stories and case studies too bring what you do to life, and then make a compelling offer to tempt the audience to become customers.

 

Speaking at events

Allen ruddock speaking at a conferenceSpeaking at an event is a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and build trust. Providing it’s the right type of event the audience should be jam-packed with your ideal target clients. The fact that you are the one on stage gives you a natural authority – the event organisers have entrusted you with an element of their reputation and that rubs off in the mind of the audience.

If you are also exhibiting at the event, you have the opportunity to drive traffic towards your stand where you can then capture contact details for follow up conversations. The number and quality of leads always increases if you are speaking at an exhibition.

You may have, or could identify, joint venture partners. Other non-competing businesses that have a similar target audience where you can cross sell each other’s products or services. But even where there is limited opportunity to cross sell, you might be able to find speaking opportunities. I work with a number of professional firms such as accountants and solicitors where I get invited to speak at events they are holding for their clients. By including something on the agenda that’s relevant to the audience but not related to their own services they are delivering value to their clients and may actually get better attendance at the event.

 

Podcasts and interviews

There are many business podcasts and slots on local and internet based radio stations and to charnels. These can be a great way to demonstrate you expert authority to a highly targeted audience. It’s always a good idea to agree the format and general direction of the interview so you can prepare some examples that promote you in the best possible light.

 

Publishing a book

Get yourself publishedPublishing a book is now within the grasp of almost everyone. There are many courses and workshop programmes that you can use to coach you through the process. You can acquire an ISBN number, even for your lead magnet ebooks and become a self-publishing author. You can even get you books converted into Kindle format so there is no need to go to print.

Having a book published, especially if you can go the extra mile and get it on Amazon, adds a huge amount to your credibility. Don’t expect to become a multi-millionaire from it – even the best business books don’t make huge amounts – but it can be a game changer for your credibility.

 

Blogging

For many, the thought of writing and publishing a book is just too daunting. But writing a blog is well within the capability of anyone passionate about what they do. The blog needs to deliver value to the reader and not be an overt sales pitch from start to finish. A clear call to action is an absolute must and it might be appropriate for that to be a sales offer, depending on the subject matter and how often you have made offers previously.

 

Getting the message out there

Getting your message broadcast

Whether you are speaking or writing, you need to get your stuff in front of an audience – your audience. That’s where knowing your target audience and where they hang out becomes important. You need to know as much about your target clients as possible so you can identify them and then use the media channels they use to let them know about your content.

For most business that means social media. You need to know which social media channels you clients use for both business and pleasure. Then you can target them with information about your speaking events, your book or your blogs. Repeatedly engaging with them over a period of time, showcasing a range of content, will start to build your credibility and authority and therefore start to build that all important trust.

 

Getting others to talk about you

What other people say about you builds trust and is 1000 times more powerful than abnything you say yourself

What other people say about you carries a thousand times more weight than anything you say about yourself. So you need recommendations and testimonials and to get other people to re-broadcast your stuff on social media.

Your testimonials can’t be added to your website, to your product or service sales pages and broadcast via social media. All these channels will add to the social proof you need to build your credibility and expert authority. Once established, you won’t need to go looking for clients – they will come to you, because the trust you.

Get a head start – use LinkedIn properly

Whilst other social media channels can broadcast your stuff, including other people’s opinions of you, LinkedIn is the only platform that can do all that but with independent 3rd party recommendations built in as part of the core system.

The various elements within the personal profile provide a powerful basis for you to demonstrate the value you bring to your clients. Written in the right way, your profile can speak to the problems and pains your clients face that you can help remove, or to the hopes and desires you can help them achieve. All reinforced with personal recommendations direct from your clients.Social media strategy

For this reason, LinkedIn should be at the heart of your marketing and social media strategy. I use other social media channels to drive traffic to my LinkedIn profile to demonstrate my credibility and expert authority, and to my website to consume more of my material, gather contact details and make valuable offers.

 

If you’d like to understand how you can harness your LinkedIn profile to drive your business, then book one of my free profile review calls. Numbers are strictly limited so book today by clicking below.

Book a review call now

 

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How to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile

There are over 450m user profiles on LinkedIn, many of them small business owners.  The vast majority of those small business owners say they don’t get anything out of LinkedIn. But super-successful small business owners know how to leverage their LinkedIn profile to find, connect and engage with their ideal prospects.

 

It all starts with a powerful personal profile, because LinkedIn is a personal, professional networking site. I have set out below seven of the key areas of your personal profile to focus on:

 

1. Re-structure your LinkedIn profile to deliver value to the reader

You can move most LinkedIn profile sections to create a better presentation of youThere are a lot of sections within the LinkedIn profile, but only the first few are static. You need to re-order the others to gain maximum effect. Think about how you want your prospective readers and clients to see and interact with your profile. LinkedIn’s standard order is targeted at job seekers and is almost certainly not the right order for you as a business owner. Take a look at how I have structured my profile: www.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock

 

 

2. Your profile photo – create a great first impression

Create the right first impression with your LinkedIn profile pictureYou only get one chance to make a great first impression. What is going to make that impression better – a smiling professional head and shoulders shot with you looking onto the camera or the holiday snap of you in full ski-gear on the slopes at St Anton? I think you know the answer, but in case you have any doubts, don’t do what some people do and leave the LinkedIn profile photo blank.

 

 

3. Your headline – 120 characters of pure gold

Headlines matter - make sure yours speaks to what you do, not you job titleHeadlines are important – just ask any newspaper editor. They entice people to read more. But what about you profile headline? When you accept a connection request LinkedIn invariably streams a load of people you may know to the page. Scroll through and look at their headlines. Most will say CEO, Owner at…, MD of… or something very similar. Not very enticing! They are all missing a golden opportunity to tell a prospective client what they could do for that client. This is my headline:

 

★Helping Businesses Increase Sales by making Productive Online Connections ★ LinkedIn Coach & Trainer ★ Business Coach★

It says what I do for people. How does your headline stack up?

 

4. Be contactable – use your contact info like a business card

Don't hide you contact details on your LinkedIn profile - be contactableIs your business card blank apart from your name? Of course it isn’t. So why hide your contact details on LinkedIn. Things like your address and phone number are only visible to your 1st degree connections and those people who have sent you an InMail and you have accepted their request to share information.  Too many people hide their contact details on their LinkedIn profile, or don’t put them on there at all. It’s online networking so make it easy for potential clients to get in touch. One of my most read LinkedIn posts was on this subject. Click on “Don’t play hide & seek with your LinkedIn profile” to read the post.

 

5. Keep your summary succinct and client focussed

Make sure your summary covers the key points succinctlyMany people don’t even bother with a summary section. What a missed opportunity. This is the place to tell your prospects all about the benefits of working with or buying from you. It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for your clients. Keep it punchy and relevant to the pain you’ll take away or the desire you’ll satisfy.

 

6. Add a company page

Company pages demonstrate you company's expertise, products and servicesA company page gives you the opportunity to showcase your business as a whole and any specific products or services that you want to highlight. You can get each employee to connect their LinkedIn profile to the page to help spread the word to a wider range of connections. Once again, focus on what’s in it for the customer. I hate to see “we”ing all over LinkedIn

 

7. Recommendations and endorsements – get them, and lots of them

Get Recommended for your skills and ex[pertiseWhat somebody else says about you is worth a thousand times more than anything you say about yourself. This is where LinkedIn comes in to its own. It is the only mainstream social media platform with a built in system for people to recommend you. They can’t be faked – the recommender has to do it. That is what makes recommendations specifically, and LinkedIn in general, such a powerful system. Make sure you use them in the right place in you LinkedIn profile to support your expertise. Don’t just leave them in the Recommendations section.

 

Endorsements aEndorsementsre much more widely used but are much less powerful. I get endorsements from connections I have never met or worked with. All they have to do is click to say they endorse you. I think endorsements are useful in a negative sense though. If someone says they are Google Adwords expert but nobody has endorsed them for it, you might question the validity of their claim. However, just because 99 people have endorsed them for it doesn’t mean they are any good. Recommendations are what’s really needed for the social proof.

 

These 7 points are really important but there are plenty of other areas to be considered. Why not download my 12-point LinkedIn profile refresh checklist. It’s a one-page tips sheet covering the above and more. Click the button below to get your copy.

Sing up and download your free 12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist
12-point LinkedIn Profile Refresh Checklist

Click here to book a 15 minute LinkedIn profile review with AllenBut if you are serious about getting the most from your LinkedIn profile book a free 15 minute profile review with me. My diary is here. Just click the link and set up a call. Here’s the link again: https://calendly.com/allen-ruddock/15min-profile-review or click on the phone.

 

5 Reasons why your website sucks

If your website doesn’t grab the reader’s attention it sucks. Period. And you only have 3 seconds to do it.

Attention spans for the average web user are dropping all the time. With so much ‘noise’ out there if you don’t pique the readers interest fast, they’ll move on.

The rule of 3’s

You may have heard me talk about the rule of 3’s before:

  • You have 3 seconds to grab people’s attention with your headline.
  • Then you have around 30 seconds to get their interest. Do it well and…
  • You get three minutes to convince them – at most!

So does your website pass the test?

Here are my top 5 reasons why your website sucks:

Lemon 1 It’s all about you and not about your clients. I’ve lost count of the number of sites I have seen that “we” all over the internet. We do this, we do that, aren’t we great. That’s not the way to win your client’s trust and build a rapport with them. Go back to marketing basics and apply them to your website – now!

Lemon 2The end user experience is cr@p. This could mean a number of different things from broken links, disjointed headers as you scroll, slow loading pages right through to inability to read it on anything other than a widescreen desktop. Over 50% of web traffic is now viewed on a mobile or tablet. Make that 90% for Facebook ads. So if it isn’t responsive your website sucks.

Lemon 3It’s irrelevant. Traffic doesn’t just find your website – it gets there because it was sent there. Either you sent the reader there to check you out or you put out some form of marketing that sent the reader to the site. But if the page you sent them to isn’t directly relevant to why you sent them there, your website sucks. This is such a fundamental principle that Google even built it into their algorithm for calculating where your pay per click ads will feature. That’s how important it is.

Lemon 4Your readers don’t know what they should do. What do you want your website visitor to do? Are they to sign up for something? Should they book a call? Should they download something. Without clear direction they WILL do something – and it will probably be to click away from your site.

It’s Lemon 5stale – like yesterday’s French bread.  People like to do business with dynamic, responsive organisations. If your website hasn’t changed in the last six months that hardly denotes dynamism. If your last blog post was 12 weeks ago and your Twitter feed shows tweets from a few weeks back, they are going to wonder if they will get a similar level of attention as your client. I’m not saying you should be making daily changes, but regular content refreshes are essential.

That leads nicely into how I can help……

achieve-365-logo

You may have heard me talk about the achieve 365 library. It’s a growing and constantly refreshed repository of the best business advice available to entrepreneurs. That advice has been gleaned from a team that has built 8 separate £1m businesses over the last ten years. And it’s practical advice, not airy-fairy theoretical waffle. The advice is distilled into a series of Implementation Plans, each one covering a particular aspect or creating, building or running your business.telephone

And yes – there is an Implementation Plan covering your website. It’s a checklist covering 14 different aspects of how to turn your website into the ultimate conversion machine. Don’t let your website be a lemon. Book a free 30 minute call with me and find out how Achieve 365 can help you. Just click on the link here or on the phone and book your call.

The Fosbury Flop and your marketing

Back in the 1960’s Dick Fosbury was a 21-year-old senior at Oregon State University with a major in civil engineering, two bad feet and a worn-out body. He was unable to get on the college track or field team until he perfected an unorthodox way to clear the high jump bar higher than anyone else. You see Dick was tired of getting the same old results from the same old methods. He realised he needed to be different. To try something new to get different results. Better results. To get a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics!

Is your marketing a bit like Dick before his Flop? The same old results from the same old methods. Given that in any particular market the bottom 20% of businesses are failing and the next 60% are just getting by, how do you make sure you are in the top 20%? Well the first thing is stop behaving like the 80%.

 

Don’t do what they do….

The 80% do the standard stuff because they always have. They place the same ad in Yellow Pages but have no way of knowing if it drives any customers to them because it goes straight to the single business number they have. They do leaflet drops because they always have, with that same single number on it. They have a website, but very little traffic and no way of tracking who has been there (more in a future blog on tracking your marketing). They get excited when they get a call out of the blue offering them an 80% discount on a newspaper ad because they sense an opportunity. (they were right by the way – it was an opportunity for the sales guy to offload worthless space).

 

Be different

So take some tips from the top 20% and do things differently from the majority of your market. Know who your competitors are and sign up with the good ones. Get their marketing, learn from it then swipe and deploy in your own business. No – not copy and deploy. Swipe the ideas, adapt to your own style and message, then deploy. Look at other markets, sectors and industries to identify ways they market to their prospects and see if they can be adapted to your market. With a little imagination and ingenuity you’d be surprised what can be deployed to fantastic effect.

The owner of a car leasing company spotted an opportunity when she noticed a key contact was hiring a number of senior people that would all need company cars. To get the contact’s attention they sent him a large parcel – it got his attention!. In it was a remote controlled mini and a well-crafted sales letter. Net result – they now supply all that contact’s company cars.

Somebody else swiped and deployed the idea, send key people they wanted to have conversations with a remote control helicopter but without the remote. To get the remote they had to book an appointment when the sales guy would turn up with the remote and a nicely targeted sales pitch.

It’s about being different, being innovative, about standing out from the crown. Being in the top 205 not the bottom 80%

 

Even some of the smart guys are not doing this….

Marketing is a three stage process. Identify your target Market. Tailor your Message so that it speaks directly to their pain. Then chose the most appropriate Media to get to them. Market, Message, Media. Marketing 101.

Well what if you had a tool that could identify specific people in your target market. A tool that could get your message direct to them. A tool that allowed you to use messages, files and video media to get that message across. Wouldn’t you want that tool? How about if you could use it for free? Well you can and probably already do use it, but not for marketing. It’s LinkedIn!

With LinkedIn you can find and engage with your ideal prospects. If you have a powerful personal profile that enables you to be found, demonstrates your credibility and delivers value to the reader connecting with your prospects is a breeze. Once engaged you can explore their issues and demonstrate how you’ve helped numerous clients resolve similar situations.

Most people think that LinkedIn is on online cv to attract recruiters or a way of keeping in touch with old colleagues. Only a few switched on business owners and sale people have cottoned on to the huge sales potential in LinkedIn. It all starts with that powerful personal profile and finding and making the right connections. If you want to join that elite group some along to my LinkedIn bootcamp. It’s an exciting journey – be part of it. LinkedIn Bootcamp.

I Know……..but it won’t work for me

People have opinions about pretty much everything and preconceived ideas about most. They are based on their own behaviours and habits. Those behaviours and habits have been developed over years of working and are conditioned by the environment they operate in and the people surrounding them. They’ve become ingrained so when you suggest they try something new or different you get the response “I know, but that won’t work for me because….”

The top 20%
In any particular type of business, how those businesses are doing breaks down as follows:

  • 20% are failing
  • 60% are getting by
  • 15% are on the up and getting there
  • 4% are getting it right
  • 1% are super successful

The people that say “I know….” are typically in that first 80%. They are failing or struggling. Either that, or they’ve never plucked up the courage to leave corporate life and start a business. They are not open to new ideas or trying to do things differently. But the problem is that if you keep doing the same old stuff, you’ll get the same old results. If you want to make a step change in your business’ performance, you need to make a step change in how you run your business. You need to be open to new ideas, to different approaches, to trying things that you haven’t done before.

The average of 5
If you are in the top 20% and aspire to be in the top 5% or even that elite 1%, then you need to avoid the “I knows”. You need to surround yourself with successful people because it is said you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. You need to learn from experts. People that have been there, done it and have cupboards full of t-shirts.

I know, but LinkedIn won’t work for me….
I encounter a lot of “I knows” when I talk to people about LinkedIn – even with otherwise successful business owners. They think LinkedIn won’t work for them because of their preconceived ideas about LinkedIn:

  • It’s an online cv.
  • It’s for keeping in touch with old colleagues.
  • Only recruiters use it for business.
  • I don’t use it because I just get spammed with sales messages.

The reality is that LinkedIn is the hidden gem in social media marketing.

  • Because people load their cv’s (with job titles et al) you can find your ideal business prospects very easily using the advanced search facility.
  • And because people keep in touch with colleagues in the same line of business, finding one ideal prospect often leads to a bunch more.
  • Because people want to be found easily by recruiters they stuff their profiles with key words – the very keywords you need to find your target prospects.
  • Yes, you will get some spam messages, but no more than you get in your e-mail inbox. And they are just as easy to delete and it’s much easier to report people as spammers and block them from messaging you again.

Smart business owners use LinkedIn to promote themselves and their businesses. They use it to find and connect with their ideal prospects. They use it to bypass gatekeepers and get direct conversations with decision makers. They’re in the top 20% heading for the top 5% – if they are not already there.

If you want to use LinkedIn to propel you towards the top 5%, connect with me on LinkedIn – uk.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock – and send me a message with “I want to be in the top 5%” as the subject.

Other people’s advice can be dangerous

Can you get advice from the internet? The internet is great. Need some information – the great Google is at hand to provide thousands of articles published by well meaning ‘experts’. But can you trust what you read?
Wikipedia is another great resource, but it’s not validated. It relies on the general reader to correct any mistakes. It’s edited by its own users. There is no wealth of background research to back up it’s articles. Many of the people that posted entries may have done that research but you can’t tell. You take it on trust.

Friends and family
So when you need advice about your business – about a tricky decision you have to make – where do you turn? Many business owners turn to family and friends – the people that know and love them best. But is that wise? How many of them run their own business? Have they ever faced a similar situation to you. Are they applying ‘big corporate’ logic to your problem because that’s where they work? Are they being well meaning without understanding? Can you trust other people’s advice?
Most advice is given from the perspective of the giver. If the giver has never run a business, their perspective may not be valid in your situation. My sister-in-law was talking about what my son should do in relation to a situation he found himself in at work. He works for a small IT support company. She was talking from the perspective of having worked in the NHS. The advice, though well intentioned, just wasn’t relevant.
Similarly advice from friends who work in large corporates should be taken with a health warning. I have certainly learned a lot from my large corporate roles and assignments that I have adapted and applied to running my own business. But the key was the adaption. The experience had to be adapted and applied in a relevant way. If you can do that adaption, the advice could be useful. But if you are in the midst of a crisis or critical decision, now might not be the time to try it.

Professional advisers
You’d think this would be a good place to go for advice. If you have chosen the advisors well, then you could well be right. But you often choose your professional adviser more like a supplier. Can they deliver the service I want at price I can afford. I need my accounts, tax and payroll sorted. So you select the accountant that offers the best value for money service. Few business owners chose their accountants on the wider advice and guidance they can offer. When starting out you want to be compliant as cheap as possible. The more enlightened accountants will be highlighting their value added services, but many start up business owners will feel they are being sold unnecessary services.
I know one property investor whose accountant discouraged him from the strategy he was proposing to follow because he thought it was too ambitious. The accountant was not a property investor and had no experience of managing the accounts of property investors. The investor wisely changed accountant.
Another accountant discouraged a client from signing up a coach because the effective hourly rate for the coach was more than his client earned per hour. He should have been looking at the benefits the coaching would deliver for his client which far exceeded the total cost of the coaching programme with a payback of less than six months and a guarantee of free ongoing coaching until full payback was achieved. What’s more, the coaching would enable the return to be repeated continuously at no extra cost making the return on investment ever increasing.
So taking advice from advisers can be good, but only if you have selected the adviser for that purpose and they have relevant experience.

Networking groups
Networking is an important part of developing and growing your business. It can help you find clients and suppliers and provide a reassuring environment. Many new and established business owners can find it a lonley occupation. Even if you employ staff, you are the business owner and it can feel like a lonely place. Networking can provide interaction with like-minded business owners facing similar situations.

But be wary of turning to a networking group for advice. If you know the members well and know they have faced similar situations and dealt with them successfully, you may get good advice. But many people attend networking events just to catch up with contacts or to try and find clients. The aim is not specifically to help each other grow and develop their businesses so you may not get the advice you need.

Who you hang around with matters…
…a lot. There is a train of thought that says you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. In business terms, that is why many successful business people join mastermind groups or business clubs with like-minded business owners and lead by experienced, knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs. They surround themselves with successful people that want to become more successful. Such mastermind groups or larger business development groups or clubs are there to help people develop and grow their businesses. Yes, networking takes place, but that is very much the secondary objective.

So when they need advice, they have a ready made pool of people to turn to that have faced similar situations themselves, or know someone that has. Successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes. Really successful entrepreneurs learn from other people’s. Grow your network of successful business owners and with it your pool of helpful, useful advisers.

Coaching and mentoring
The other source of excellent advice is to find a coach or mentor. Someone who is focussed on supporting you in achieving your business goals and has the relevant background, experience and network of contacts to help you on your journey.

Who do you turn to for advice and guidance? What experiences have you had of good and bad advice. Leave a comment below and share your experiences.

 

Finding your ideal client with LinkedIn

Describing your ideal client can be really hard. But if you don’t know what you are looking for, it’s very hard to find it. Lots of marketing courses will take you through creating your customer avatar – a written description of your target client. They will encourage you to go into quite a bit of detail and in areas you might not immediately think of as relevant. For example, are they married, do they have kids, what car do they drive etc. The objective is to build a clear image of the target client so that when you write your marketing material, whether it’s a sales letter or an e-mail, you make it more personal. You appeal directly to them, identifying their problems or pain points before offering your solutions.

It’s a great approach and can really work well if you can get into that mindset. But many business people struggle with the avatar approach. It feels false and somewhat trite. So what else can you do?

Your best existing clients

If you already have clients, which ones do you like working with most. What is it about working with them that you enjoy. Are these traits you could look for and identify in other potential clients. For example, if you are selling a business coaching programme, your best and most engaged existing clients will be those that really want to improve their own business skills by learning and taking action. Those that constantly come up with excuses for not doing stuff will be ones to steer clear of.

Clients you don’t enjoy working with

It’s sometimes easier to identify who you don’t want as a client than those you do want to work with. If you have been in business any length of time you will have come across difficult or awkward clients. The ones that want to pay the least and ask more fussy and irritating little questions until you wonder if they are really worth doing business with. Likewise, some potential clients might be looking for things you don’t offer.

For example, in my project management training business I don’t want to attract prospective clients that are looking for a Prince 2 qualification. I don’t offer the qualification because the training for it is geared towards passing an exam, and not focused entirely on becoming a better project manager. So I don’t want to work with people that see that as their best route to being a project manager. If they want the Prince 2 badge to meet the requirements of a recruiter but want to learn the real business of project management with me, then they are in my ideal client domain and I’ll help them understand Prince 2 and recommend courses from someone else to get them through the exams.

So now that you have a good idea of who you want to work with (or not, as the case may be), how do you find them? This is where LinkedIn comes into its own for the business to business salesman or entrepreneur. There are two distinct strategies – finding people by where they hang out and finding people by how they describe themselves.

Where they hang out

Most industries, professions or interest groups will have a number of LinkedIn Groups active in their field. You need to find and join those groups. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of your existing clients and see what groups they belong to and join them. If they require invitations, ask your existing client if they would be prepared to help get you an invitation. Once in, what and listen first before then starting to comment and contribute. Always obey the group rules and never, ever, sell directly in to the group. If you give value to the group and demonstrate your worth, they will seek you out to buy from you.

Make sure you hand out in groups that your target clients use and not those of your own industry. For example, if you are selling accounting services don’t expect to find clients in accounting related groups. Join those to keep up to date with your profession. Instead join groups relevant to the client sectors you are targeting. So if you are looking to service IT Contractors, join those sorts of groups and post useful information about IR35, claiming business expenses etc. If they are useful, you’ll soon get enquiries about your services from the group members.

How clients describe themselves

LinkedIn has a very powerful search capability. Even for users of the basic free profile you can search for people using keywords and narrow down the search by location. The results can be astonishing. If you have one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts you get up to eight additional filters which you can use to narrow down your search criteria to pinpoint your ideal targets. If you are looking for an obscure role but have target companies where you know that sort of role exists, search for the company and scroll through the employees that are on LinkedIn. Even if you don’t find the right person, you might identify a connection who could find that person for you.

So with LinkedIn you can identify the right person. If they are in an active group you can use your contributions to provide a reason to connect directly. If they are not in a suitable active group my earlier posts describe how to get connected in the right way.

That’s client acquisition sorted then!

How to connect with your target clients on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional online networking site of choice for over half the professional people in the world. There are over 360m users worldwide with 18m+ in the UK alone. If you are in any sort of professional or commercial office based role, you need to be on LinkedIn. And it’s not just the online cv that many people think it is. It is a powerful tool to find and connect with anyone you need to meet in the business world.

You may have heard about the 6 degrees of separation. This is where everyone is connected to everyone else through a maximum of six connections. For example, one of my colleagues has a client, who has a client that makes saddles. Some of the saddles they make are for Prince Charles and he is obviously connected to the Queen. So I am 5 connections away from the Queen! Now with LinkedIn, you are realistically only 3 connections away from any business contact you need to make.

My colleague Andy was challenged by a client to find an English lawyer that spoke Portuguese and was conversant with Portuguese property law. Andy thought it was a wind up but the client had a property in Portugal that he was having some issues with and he desperately needed a bi-lingual lawyer. Within 24 hours Andy had the client talking to a suitable lawyer – all through the power of LinkedIn.

So how do you connect with your target clients on LinkedIn?

Doing the groundwork
First you have to do the groundwork. By that I mean you have to have a powerful personal profile. Why? Well the first thing I do when I get a connection request, or arrange to meet a new business contact, or arrange to interview or be interviewed by someone, is I check them out on LinkedIn. If I did that to you what would I find? I’ve had some surprising experiences:

  • Blank profile pictures
  • Holiday snaps for a profile picture
  • Meaningless job titles and precious little else
  • Then the other extreme of twenty years of detailed role by role experience

You name it, it’s out there on LinkedIn. So do yourself a favour and brush up your profile. Get a professional style head and shoulders picture of yourself on there. Present yourself as you would if you were walking in to a business meeting with a contact. Do yourself justice!

***TIP*** Get my free guide The 9 Key Points to creating a Powerful Personal Profile

Crafting the cold connection message
I had one connection message from someone I followed on Twitter that said something along the lines of “I build and manage for you powerful sales teams! What’s your email, I’ll send a proposal!”. Would you walk in to a networking meeting and say that as your first sentences to someone? Of course not, so why do it online. But I see people do this time after time with their first message to me on LinkedIn.

You need to build a rapport and demonstrate value to your connections. If you identify someone you want to connect with and potentially do business with you need to find some common round to start a relationship on. Maybe you are both members of a LinkedIn Group or you have both commented on someone’s post. Maybe you have a shared interest. Find a way to make a connection, but never, never sell. Not even a hint of it.

Once connected, keep the conversation going. Share comments, or articles you think they may find useful. If you have some material you can give them that would be helpful then do that (like my 9 Points guide….). Keep developing the relationship and gradually you can move towards a more sales oriented conversation. Yes it takes time, but people like to buy from people they at least think or feel they know. The stranger shouting buy this – no matter how good this is – wont get a look in.

Where to find your target connections? That’s a topic for a future blogpost.