As a leader, it is important that you stay active on LinkedIn even if you’re not looking for work. LinkedIn isn’t just a job site anymore; professionals from around the world go there to check you out. That is why you need to make sure your profile is up to date with everything, especially if you are a woman. Join Elizabeth Bachman as she talks to Jennifer Darling about the importance of being active on LinkedIn as a leader. Jennifer is a sales, marketing, & leadership speaker. She helps leaders expand their professional brands online so they can connect to more customers and referrals. Learn why people, especially women, need to brag more online. Don’t be afraid of criticism or opinions anymore. Use the power of LinkedIn to put yourself out there with confidence.
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Expand Your Leadership Presence On LinkedIn With Jennifer Darling
My guest is Jennifer Darling, who is among many things, an expert on LinkedIn. We’re going to talk about how you can expand your leadership presence on LinkedIn even if you’re not looking for a job, how you become visible, and show your value. Before I go into her bio, though, I’d like to invite you to see where your presentation skills are doing by taking our free four-minute assessment at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com.
That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could get you the results you need and the recognition you deserve. If you score highly enough, you can get a free 45-minute no-sales conversation with me to talk about what the results are, what you learned, and what you need to do next.
Meanwhile, I have known Jennifer Darling for several years. She’s one of my favorite people. She’s a wonderful leader. Her official bio is, “Think force of nature in the best possible way.” She’s a revenue-generating machine and an in-demand speaker. Jennifer Darling has a knack for turning ideas into money-making opportunities and then helping leaders expand their professional brands online.
She teaches audiences and clients to engage innovatively, connect more effectively, and increase their visibility in new and valuable ways that lead to more customers and more referrals. With over twenty years of experience in advertising sales and sales management for companies such as Fox, NBC, CBS, and Comcast, she knows what works and what doesn’t to boost sales.
She’s the author of the highly sought-after book, Increase Your Leads with LinkedIn: 52 Tips for Sales Success. She was named one of Sweet Fish Media’s Top 50 Female Sales Speakers and voted 2020 Best in Show by the Professional Convention Management Association, Convening Leaders. Jennifer is also a professional member of the National Speakers Association, which is where I met her. She is one of the world’s great people. Here’s the interview and the information on how you can stand out on LinkedIn.
Jennifer Darling, welcome to the show.
I am happy. I’ve been waiting for when I could interview you. I’m excited that this worked out. Before we get into all your incredible information about LinkedIn, let me ask you who your dream interview would be. If you could interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be? What would you ask them? Who should be listening?
I struggled a little bit to get to the answer of somebody, especially a female leader in history who’s no longer with us. I can think of some current ones I struggled and then you said something that sparked my mind. I remembered when I watched this program on the Second President of the United States, John Adams. Abigail Adams was a major figure behind the scenes. She affected his thinking, orality, decision-making, and keeping him balanced. She was a powerful female leader in her own way, especially for the time. I’m going to choose Abigail Adams.
That would be great. What would you ask her?
I would ask her what it was like being the First Lady and what it was like contributing to John Adams’ decision-making thoughts. How did she view the world as a female in an all-dominated male political society? At the time, that political science society formed so much of the business world as well. What would that be like to be in her shoes? What advice would she give to other women leaders?
It’s interesting, I think a lot about historical cycles. Looking back at the crises and seeing that we have survived them is what allows me to sleep at night. This is why I don’t watch the news. I think, “We got out of this one. We got out of that one.” One of the things I think about a lot because of how so much of my work is about helping women step out, claim their voice, claim their power, and the way society conditions us that we are socialized. I don’t think anybody ever did it on purpose. We are socialized into certain biases because for centuries, that was how we survived. It would be interesting to have Abigail Adams talk about what was important to her and what she thought about it, bearing in mind her cultural context.LinkedIn is more than just a job site. It is now the place where business professionals go to check you out. Click To Tweet
She seemed to be innovative and ahead of the path, but at the same time, she had to deal with a context that was a part of the historical norm. She’s not likely able to make a difference by going to Congress and speaking her voice, yet she’s still made a difference in going through a different way, which was likely through her husband.
She was the author of that wonderful quote, which now in the 20th century is used, she wrote to John Adams to say, “Remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.” She probably said, “That was a little newsy letter. I was asking him to send something up from Washington DC because we couldn’t get it in Massachusetts. I added a little something there.” Who knew it would be quoted for years?
It would be so relative and relevant now.
Changing society is like steering a cruise ship. It’s good that it doesn’t happen in a hurry. People don’t change in a hurry. You have to live through things such as we are living through having had two plus years of COVID and still dealing with the fallout, especially in business. We are still figuring out what the new normal is going to be. It’s going to take us at least a couple of years until we develop a new normal. That’s why I wanted to get you in to ask you about LinkedIn and what you are seeing with LinkedIn now. Why is LinkedIn important, especially for women?
Things are being shaken up in a big way. There is a new set of leaders who are coming into positions. Those leaders are women, younger people, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-gender. I don’t even know if that’s the right term. There are many different types of people stepping into leadership roles that don’t look the norm of how they have looked for centuries and all of history.
I work with a lot of women CEOs. They don’t step out and speak up on a bigger platform like men do, or as comfortably as men do. When I’m making statements like this, I don’t mean 100% of everybody. It’s a generalization, but it is a lot of the people that I talk to, I work with, and I speak to in audiences. When I talk to them, especially about it is stepping into a bigger platform, stepping into having a bigger voice, and stepping into having an online presence.
Tell me what you’re seeing. What are the challenges that these female CEOs are facing when it comes to visibility? They’re CEOs. What’s the issue?
Part of the issue is that they don’t want it.
They don’t want visibility?
They don’t want to be seen as somebody who is bragging, somebody who is talking all about themselves, somebody who is self-centered, somebody who is inauthentic or needs to show up a certain way. I’ll give you an example. My client, Amy, was nominated for an award. She called me and she said, “I’m feeling great because I was nominated for an award, but I don’t think I’m going to apply for it.” I said, “Why not?” She said, “It was my team that did this whole thing. I don’t want the spotlight put on me. It’s a team effort.” I said, “That’s exactly why you should apply for the award. It may not be for you. It’s for your whole team, but you take it on behalf of your whole team. You celebrate your team.”
She applied. She got the award and then she told me she got the award. I said, “That’s amazing. Now you need to go post about it on LinkedIn.” She said, “I’m going to be bragging that I won the award. I don’t want to come up across that.” I said, “That’s fine. You don’t have to do that. Let’s celebrate your team. I know you mean it when you say it was your team who won the award. Go tell the world that it was your team who won the award and put it out there.”
This is a conversation that was happening a lot lately, about how women give away their power by sharing it with their team to the point where they erase themselves from the picture. Suddenly, you realize that it was your idea. You’ve been spearheading this, but nobody knows. Somebody else gets credit for the success. You say, “I did all this. This was all my work.” If you don’t tell people and the world, we won’t get it.
That’s part of the conditioning. I had great corporate jobs working for big companies and was told exactly not to shine the spotlight on myself and to not do that. Let somebody else do it. After enough of hearing that, you finally get the message and you start to do it, which means you stop bragging. I like the word brag because it typically has a negative connotation, but I’m going to say we need to start bragging more.
We need to celebrate the people who are bragging because what can happen? I had this happen. I gave somebody a piece of advice. Another female came on whom I would expect to get a good response. People don’t have to agree with me. I’m not saying that, but how you respond to somebody in a certain way has meaning. I had somebody tell me that a piece of advice I gave was the worst advice they ever heard.If you're not on LinkedIn, you still have a presence there. But it's a presence that everyone else creates about who you are. Click To Tweet
In a private group, but in public, on social media. I’m thinking to myself, “First off, what is the message for me about how I react to the message, but also, what is the message about women leaders with other women leaders? Why can’t we accept that we all have different opinions instead of having to attack somebody for doing something we don’t like? How are we supporting each other if we’re doing that?” I’m looking at phrasing even myself of what if I disagree with somebody? That’s totally acceptable, but what are good words to use? How about we use, “I see this differently,” and not make the other person wrong?
What that does is open up the doors to us all having different opinions, biases, views of life, and things that work. They’re all great. We just see it differently. The reason I bring that up is that people don’t put things out on social media. People don’t speak when they should be speaking more. People don’t write when they should be writing more.
They don’t do that because they have fear of criticism, rejection, being too big, too loud, or too whatever. The trouble with that is that there’s this whole set of women leaders who are coming into the world, emerging, and starting their jobs. What they need more than anything are other women leaders to look up to and see as a mentor, even if you don’t even know the person. If we keep ourselves small, we are not paving the way for other women leaders.
It’s also that boys in childhood are taught to be proud to brag. It’s a good thing when they do that. If boys are doing what’s natural to them because that’s what they’ve been socialized to do, the boys get the recognition. We continue with the system that we have had for centuries. A big part of the work that I do is helping women recognize their value and then talk about it in little short stories, 1-minute or 90-second stories as dropping seeds so that you’re not taken for granted because otherwise, you will be taken for granted.
When people or new clients come to me, the word I hear more than anything is frustrated. “I got this far through skill and ability. Now, I cannot get past the director level to VP. They’re not listening to me. Here I am doing all this great work and nobody notices. I am frustrated.” There comes a point where being the good girl and waiting to be recognized doesn’t work anymore. It only works to a certain point. Up to a certain point, then you hit the glass ceiling because you have to redefine yourself as a strategic thinker and a thought leader to get past that.
The work that you’re doing is important in that area because, for one, we need to have more visibility as female leaders. We play a huge role in shaping the future. We play a huge role in where we are now. Like Abigail, we need to be contributing at that level as well. We need to have a little bit more confidence to be able to do that and ask for what we want. A lot of times, we’re not asking for what we want.
It’s because you’re not supposed to. That’s another thing. I think about the mistakes I’ve made. That one took me years. Let me ask you again, back to LinkedIn, why it’s important to be visible and active on LinkedIn even if you’re not looking for a job. It is so much more than a job site.
Most people think they get on LinkedIn when they’re looking for a job or to look for people to hire. The reality is LinkedIn has grown into so much more than that. It is now the place where business professionals go to check you out. They would go there for business news and business information. It’s like the Harvard Business Review Magazine, but it’s LinkedIn where people are also going for business and information.
We want the female leaders to be there, but not just looking for talent. We want them to be there for a number of reasons, such as being a figurehead in their company, allowing their clients to see that they are the headhunter, the CEO, the CMO, the CFO, the salesperson, the marketing director, the line worker, the construction worker, or whatever it is. We want clients to see that, but not just clients. We want to attract the best talent to our companies.
Where does talent go to check you out now? They’re going to go to your LinkedIn profile. They’re going to see if you have what they’re looking for. They’re looking for financial improvement in their situation, but they also want to be associated with companies that have two important things. Thing number one is that they support their teams to grow into more leadership positions.
The second thing is they want to be associated with organizations that are socially and community conscious. If you show up as a leader on LinkedIn and you are celebrating people on your team who had advanced and celebrating projects in the community you’ve supported, you are naturally going to attract the top talent because these are the important things that they’re looking for. In addition to that, the community, your industry, media, and all kinds of stakeholders are seeing you and how you represent yourself on LinkedIn. If you are not on LinkedIn, sadly, you also have a presence on LinkedIn. It’s the presence everyone else creates about who you are, not the one you create about who you are.
I try not to judge, but I do make a value judgment if I’m looking somebody up and the last thing they posted was a few months ago.
Apparently, you can’t help it. I know you’re not a manipulative person or judging them too harshly. If we want to have a seat at the table, we need to be at the table. In business, LinkedIn is at the table. Sometimes we say we want to be at the table, but we don’t show up. How could you be at the table if you don’t even show up and walk in through the door? I’m not talking about everyone in the world, but I am talking about business, especially female women business leaders. LinkedIn is the platform for business news and information. You want to be there.
If you’re busy and you’re in meetings all day, every day, and then there’s never even time to think or to do the work that the meetings are about, how can you make the best impact in the least amount of time? You have to take the time.In business, LinkedIn is at the table. If you want to have a seat at the table, you need to be at the table. Click To Tweet
I personally am a super busy person. I don’t have time to be a social media manager in my business. I’m the CEO. I’m running it. I totally get this. A lot of CEOs do, too. The nice thing about LinkedIn is it’s not like Twitter or Instagram where you have to post and post. You can post weekly on LinkedIn and see some major results.
One of my absolute favorite posts on LinkedIn is to take something that is a personal experience that has happened in my day and turn it into a short story. I love that you say you’re helping people with 60-second messages because this is probably a 60-second or less story on LinkedIn. My client, Michelle, is super busy working too many hours. She finally had to take a break and go golfing. What I said was, “Michelle, get some pictures of you while you’re out golfing. I want you to tell me what experience of your golfing contributed to a business lesson?”
She said, “It’s because I need to get a break and refill my tank. If I don’t do that, I’m running on fumes and I’m not productive and creative. I’m not doing a good job for my clients.” I said, “That’s what you’re going to post about. You’re going to post some pictures of you golfing. You’re going to want to talk about why that personal experience is a business lesson. That’s the post you’re going to make this week. That’s all you have to do. You want to comment back to the people who replied because you don’t want to ghost those people, but you don’t need to have a notification on your phone ringing every time somebody comments. Wait a few days and go comment. If you want to get the results, you do comment quickly.”
Busy CEOs may not have the luxury to do that. Post once a week a personal inspirational experience and how that affects business. Those personal experiences are valuable for other people to hear. Business lessons are valuable. We don’t have to post articles, blog after blog, memes, or things and don’t show up. Articles work, but we don’t have to do that. We could be real human beings and talk about some personal experiences turned into business lessons.
What are the top three most important things to focus on?
For your profile, your people, meaning your network, and your posts. A lot of people create a profile and they write it like they’re seeking a job. We’re not talking about seeking a job. We’re talking about you showing up and expanding your online leadership presence. You want to have a profile that is about what’s in it for the person who’s visiting your profile. A lot of times, that might be customers.
We want to have the profile look amazing. We want to have it more of a marketing-type profile than a job seeker profile. It’s not all about you. It’s about the stakeholders who are important to you. Depending on your role in your company, it may be a message to your clients or to other stakeholders. If you are a person who’s on a board of directors and you work in a lot of nonprofits, it may be a message to that person, but you want to think of your profile about what’s in it for them, not all about you.
I always say, “Use strategic empathy and put yourself in the shoes of your audience.” Rule number one, make it about them.
Your rule number one should be throughout the entire profile page. Once they create their profile page, they’re pretty set. They don’t need to go back and pre-create every week. They could put something in there every now and then and update it. That’s done. That seems tedious, but it’s a one-time thing. You want to get it set up right because you never know who’s coming over to look at your LinkedIn profile and who may be an important person.
How can we leverage our connections on LinkedIn?
When I hear that question, the first thing I think to myself is not how do we leverage our connections, but how do we support our connections? I changed the wording a little bit because too many people are spamming other people. The number one thing I hear is, “Stop sending me salesy promotional messages or spammy messages.” People complain about that all the time on LinkedIn. We need to think about how can we support our connections. They can be prospects, clients, or whomever you want to get their attention, your audience.
You can share their posts. You can comment with something relevant on their posts. Add to the conversation. Thought leadership to me is adding to the conversation of something you want to make a difference in or something that you have knowledge or experience. You can support and leverage your connections by supporting the work that they’re putting out into the world, liking, commenting, sharing, introducing them to somebody else, making referrals, and giving them referrals. All of these ways are powerful ways to support those connections.
Somebody asked me for a resume. I said, “I haven’t had to make a resume in a long time. LinkedIn is my resume. Go there.” What I always liked about having somebody smart, somebody like you to help with LinkedIn is that it’s hard to tell your own story. You can’t see the label when you’re inside the bottle. Having somebody with fresh eyes look at it or someone who’s keeping in touch and keeping track of what’s happening on LinkedIn and so forth is important. How much can we outsource? I’m thinking time.
When it comes to setting up your profile, you can outsource the whole thing. My team does makeovers. We help with the words. We write the About section because that’s hard for people to write a section about them. It shouldn’t be about ourselves. It should be about our audience. The About section takes some strategic writing. The banner needs to be graphically designed and have the right text on it. You can outsource all of those pieces. When it comes to outsourcing posts, this is where it gets sticky.On LinkedIn, you want more of a marketing-type profile than a job seeker profile. Don't make your profile all about you. Click To Tweet
I do have some clients where we’ve outsourced their posts. Honestly, what happens is they look like outsourced posts. Outsource posts end up looking like the person isn’t present. LinkedIn is a networking site. We’re looking at the network with other people. They’re posting memes or articles, but never commenting back. I call that ghosting. You’re ghosting your fans. You are not coming back on your fans because somebody else is in charge of doing all that for you. You don’t look present.
One thing that you can do that I have found helpful is having an assistant be the person who answers all the notifications, the happy birthdays, and the congratulations. I still look at them because sometimes they’ll be saying, “Hello to Thomas whom I know is Tom,” then I’ll say, “I’ll send a follow-up.” That was something that saved me about an hour a day.
I do have to give a little caution about that. Everybody has their own way of doing things. That’s the first. Whatever works for you works for you. In the last few months, we’ve seen some issues with assistants signing into personal accounts and doing work. I know at least three people who got their LinkedIn accounts completely shut off for a month because the assistants got in and were in their accounts. It is against the LinkedIn rules to have an assistant for your personal page. You can set up admins for your business.
It’s against their rules for somebody else to use your username and password in your profile. Where I found this happened was with people not in your native country because they can measure the ISP. Maybe you have to have a VPN to keep it that way or whatever. I got to put a little caution up there because I understand that it helps to save time. At the same time, if you are investing in being on LinkedIn, I don’t want your account to be shut off for a month because you didn’t know that that was what you agreed to.
Thank you. That’s useful information. That’s a tip for anybody else who is using this same strategy of having someone else do happy birthdays and such.
Some people say, “I’m going to take the risk because I don’t have time.” That’s fine. That’s your own thing. I’m letting you know what I’ve seen.
If somebody looks at their LinkedIn profile and says, “I know it’s terrible. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to do,” what could you leave us with? Where could one start? How could we start being more visible on LinkedIn?
An easy thing to do is get my ultimate profile checklist because I’m going to go through all of the areas in your profile and what exactly you should have in them. I give you suggestions for each area. I suggest that there are three major things that you do right away. The first one is to make sure you have a great picture that’s a close-up of you. Most people have that now. We’re good there.
Make sure you have the right headline. People think the headline is for all of your titles, and it is, but you want to have a customer-focused headline or at least an audience-focused beginning of that headline because you’re going to show up in other people’s news feeds. Probably it’s the first place you have an impression. You want it to be a customer-focused headline there followed by your titles to help you stand out and be a differentiator.
The third thing is to have a professional, great-looking banner that’s simple. I love your background. Speakers Who Get Results. Four words. It calls attention. On LinkedIn, I say 5 to 7 words on the banner. Not a whole bunch of stuff. If you start putting a whole bunch of stuff, you lose. Their eyes glaze over. Have a call to action. You have SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s what you want people to go do. This is a good example of a simple background with a great message. You want to have that on your banner. Your banner, your headshot, your headline, those three things you can go update simply and quickly. That would be a great start.
Jennifer Darling, this has been so great. I can ask you about many things. We’ll certainly have you back if you ever have time in your schedule. You’re a busy person. Thank you, my friend. I’m glad I finally got you on the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been fun chatting with you. You ask great questions.
Let me remind you that if you’re curious about how your presentation skills are doing, you can take our free assessment at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could get you the results you need and the recognition that you deserve. I’ll see you at the next one.
- Increase Your Leads with LinkedIn: 52 Tips for Sales Success
- Jennifer Darling
About Jennifer Darling
Think “force of nature” – in the best possible way. A Revenue Generating Machine and In-Demand Speaker, Jennifer Darling has a knack for turning ideas into money-making opportunities and helping leaders expand their professional brands online.
She teaches audiences to engage innovatively, connect more effectively, and increase their visibility in new and valuable ways that lead to more customers and referrals.
With over 20 years’ experience in advertising sales and sales management for companies such as FOX, NBC, CBS, and Comcast, she knows what works and what doesn’t to boost sales. Even in the most challenging times, she’s led her team to record-breaking results.
Author of the highly sought-after book, Increase Your Leads with LinkedIn: 52 Tips for Sales Success, Jennifer helps business professionals tackle sales with simple, stress-free strategies. She delivers keynotes, seminars, workshops, and virtual trainings on this topic as well as leadership, sales, and change.
She was named one of SweetFish Media’s Top 50 Female Sales Speakers and Voted 2020 Best In Show by the Professional Convention Management Association, Convening Leaders. Jennifer is a professional member of the National Speakers Association.