Everyone seems to be talking about LinkedIn, but why? Is it essential to have a LinkedIn profile to get a job or sell your services? Hiring managers tend to check a LinkedIn profile before anything else. People with amazing profiles tend to have more success in job seeking or marketing their business to investors because they have highlighted why they stand out in a crowd of seemingly equally qualified contenders.
Caroline Smith from My Career Groove is an expert resume writer who specialises in marketing people in their best light. In her recent workshop, she discussed the importance of marketing ourselves properly on LinkedIn and in our resumes and cover letters, and how to properly market our own businesses to reach our desired audience.
We often think that we need to be everything to everybody in order to effectively market our business or land a job. We then list a broad spectrum of skills and we say that we’ll do anything and we’ll be happy about it. But employers want people with specific skills. And customers want a quality product. Businesses who try to sell to a wide market instead of creating and maintaining a well thought-out niche market and product often fail. You cannot be everything for everyone. But you can be everything for some people in some way. A good rule of thumb is to narrow down what you want to be doing, and do it well. Anything else unfortunately tends to come off as either desperate or unauthentic.
Employers don’t want someone who can just do the role. They want someone that specifically meets the needs of their business. We need to start reverse engineering. We try to tailor our resumes to highlight our capabilities and the responsibilities we undertook at our current or recent place of employment. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, but the employer will have 100 resumes of people with exactly the same experience as you. We need to come at our resumes from the opposite angle. If we find out exactly what the employer needs, we can be that person for them. We can market ourselves as the solution to their ‘problem’.
Following on from marketing and advertising yourself and your business, there’s a common misconception around LinkedIn that you have to pay to be seen. Everything is about upgrading now. But Caroline suggests that if you have the right Linked In strategies and set up your profile well, you never need to pay. Set up your profile comprehensively and seek advice. Look at some successful people’s LinkedIn profiles and find what makes their profiles stand out.
Facebook is a bit trickier – it’s harder to make money from Facebook advertising. It’s not about getting likes on Facebook, it’s about getting the right likes on Facebook. There is some good material from Perry Marshall about getting the most from paid Facebook advertising, but if you aren’t a marketing guru, stick with making your LinkedIn perfect, and sprinkle in some Facebook as an extra. Don’t throw money into a pit.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices we need to make to get our brand out there. And as mentioned, some choices are costly. Here’s a few of Caroline’s suggestions around building your brand and marketing yourself effectively without burning a hole in your wallet:
- Make important connections on LinkedIn. Employers and clients like to see that other people trust that you are skilled in the areas you say you are. But these connections should be well thought-out. Don’t just connect with anyone. If you connect with someone who is a mortgage lender and you aren’t in the market for that and don’t intend to be, you’re going to be getting spam for no reason. Only connect with people that have a relevant connection now or could in the future. Try to get at least 50 connections. There are also networkers on LinkedIn called ‘Linked-In Open Networkers’ (LIONS). These people have 50,000 or more connections. If you can manage to connect with them, the number of people that can directly see your profile and connect with you exponentially increases.
- Use the CAR method. CAR stands for Challenge, Action, Result. We tend to write our profiles, resumes and cover letters from our perspective, as mentioned earlier. What’s wrong with that? Well, we aren’t the ones reading our profiles! Our potential customers and employers always read from their Don’t write your work experience and the daily responsibilities of that job. Everyone knows what most jobs involve. Write in a way that says to the person reading, “I can solve the specific problem you have”. This is where CAR comes in. You write a challenge that you faced (that would directly relate to a challenge your potential customer or employer has), you describe the action you took to solve the issue, then you explain the result. It’s about story telling. You’ve just done two things. First, you’ve proven that you stand above the rest in problem solving and you don’t mind a challenge. You turn problems into desirable outcomes. Secondly, you’ve addressed your customer’s pain points. If you choose your CAR story appropriately, the customer will need you. You alone are the solution to their problem. It turns a profile from ‘please hire me’ to ‘you need me and I am your perfect solution’. In reference to our resumes and profiles, Caroline says, “The best content is the mirror image of what your audience needs”.
- Become an author. Don’t be scared off by this one – own it! Make your ‘expert’ status known and valid in the eyes of others. You gain credibility, or ‘expert’ status the second you write something. You can write eBooks, articles, anything! It doesn’t have to be a long book, either. Just write what you know about and self-publish if need be. You can even get all your friends and family to purchase the book on the same day and be a best seller for that day. Then you can put in your LinkedIn profile that you are a best seller. Easy! Just remember to make the book really affordable so your friends and family come on board. But have some authorship of some kind – people trust authors.
- Think of other possible target audiences. Sometimes we have a great business idea that fits a need in the community. That’s great, right? Yes, however it is important to consider alternative markets. Say you want to do chores around the house for elderly people because they might be physically unable to complete those tasks. But brainstorm other audiences. Busy working couples also have a need in that area – and they will pay more. Busy people worship those who make their life easier. So, find people to brainstorm your ideas with. Don’t choose family or close friends – they tend not to denounce your ideas. Choose other people who might have some other insight.
- Register a domain name. You do not have to start your website this second. But keep a few domain names that have the chance to be taken sooner or later. That way, you have them. And they are dirt cheap! You never know when you might need it!
- Don’t give up. This is a big one. Don’t throw in the towel after three months because you aren’t getting results. People don’t get results because they give up.
It is so important to pursue our ideas and market them with confidence. There are so many amazing tools at our disposal. Find your niche in the market, find your customer segment, set up your profile from the perspective of solving a customer’s problem to create that need, and start earning money!