LinkedIn – Your Friend, Not Foe


Disclaimer: Work Wife Wine time always promotes the responsible drinking of alcohol and wishes to let you know the views and ideas expressed in these podcasts are totally awesome. Upon listening to this podcast, you’ve made a remarkable business decision.

Gemma [0:24] – Hello ladies and welcome to our next episode of Work Wife Wine Time! Today here you have with you, me, Gemma and our special guest, I’m ever so excited to connect you with, is the amazing Rachel Barton, who I will hand over to you, Rachel, and please introduce yourself.

Rachael [1:11] – First of all, thanks very much, Gem for inviting me on. It’s a pleasure to be here today and talking about my favourite topic. So a little bit about me, I am a HR consultant and communications person or expert you might say, and my background has always allowed me to be working in or around LinkedIn. So, from both a individual perspective and a corporate perspective, my life has been LinkedIn for over a decade. So that is really my passion and a little bit about my work journey so far.

Gemma [1:53] – Wonderful. That’s amazing. So tell me more about how LinkedIn has been around for over a decade, because it seems as though it’s such a new concept in the social media world. So what’s that about?

Rachael [2:08] – I suppose the way I see LinkedIn is a little bit differently to many. I see it a bit more than an online resume. And I look for how it can help either an individual or a business and sort of the ‘what’s in it for me’, I don’t believe in doing things just because other people say you should. And I think that there’s a big idea that, ‘oh, if you’re in the professional world, you have to have a LinkedIn profile.’ But, most people really don’t understand why. And they think it’s just kind of like one of those things that your mum told you to do, but don’t really understand why she’s saying it. So, I see it as something that can benefit individuals and I see it more as an ecosystem really, like an interconnecting system that has the capacity to act like a bit of an engine, to help you meet your goals so, whatever those goals might be, you can really create a bit of a system IDK, more of what you’re after.

Gemma [3:16] – That’s amazing, and tell us a bit more; what brought you into this industry?

Rachael [3:23] – Well, it was a bit of luck really, you know, as a young child, you don’t sort of sit there and think, ‘oh, I’m going to grow up to be a human resources person and work in communications,’ because you don’t really know what those things are. I suppose, what’s happened has happened with many people is I– if you haven’t picked up by now, I like to talk, I’m a communicator, and I really enjoy people. So, those two things feed very well into the industry and field that I’ve landed in and because I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve stayed here and that passion has kept me going and doing what I love. So, the HR side is all about learning how to get everyone to play nice at work so we can all get to our organisational goals and the communication side is about making sure that we communicate internally and externally with people to get to our goals. So really they’re similar sorts of things and all about people. So, that’s how I landed here sort of a bit by chance, but I stayed because of love.

Gemma [4:29] – Wonderful! I think that’s a real running theme here at Work Wine Wine Time that we love what we do, which is really our, as much as I hate the word passion, but passion to keep us going in our businesses and thriving. So that’s wonderful. So then what brought you to work for yourself?

Rachael [4:55] – Yeah, well, I suppose it was circumstance. So, I found myself quite late in life with two very little children, a newborn baby and a toddler. And I was living remotely, so what I do, you know, HR training and communications tends to be a role that falls within a large corporate. Large corporates don’t tend to base themselves out in the country. So, I needed to work out a solution. I wanted to work, I had information to share with the world and I had a passion, but there was just nowhere to work in terms of physically work. So, I thought, ‘what can I do here, I can set up my own gig!’ So, I’ve done it for a lot of other people, I’ve run businesses in the past for large corporations, the smaller businesses, run teams, so I thought, ‘okay, well, I’ve got some skills and some capacity here to be able to do this.’ You know, my background in terms of my qualifications are a Bachelor of Commerce, which is essentially business, and an MBA, which is definitely business. So I’d sort of been trained how to run a business so I thought, okay, I’ll do it, I’ll set it up and off we go! And that brought me to where we are today.

Gemma [6:19] – Amazing! Love it. Okay, so let’s dive into the world of LinkedIn, because I know many business owners look at it as a big, scary, unsexy, social media to say, we tend to always stick to the Facebook and Instagram, especially depending on you know, your type of business. So, tell us, Rachel, what is LinkedIn really about?

Rachael [6:48] – Well, I suppose if you look at it as four moving parts, and this is my model, nothing that are sort of pulled out of a book or sort of paraphrasing from other people, this is the way I see it having worked in it for so long. I think there’s four parts. So, you’ve got your profile, which we all identify with which we all understand, okay, LinkedIn is our profile, kind of like an online resume, and I hate that term, but that’s what most people think it is. And I just need to fill that in. And then they ignore the other three parts of the ecosystem, and then wonder why it’s not getting any results for them. So, it’s kind of like, you know, a car, if you’ve got one wheel, and the other three missing, you’re not going anywhere. So, you’ve got to make sure that everything’s working together and it’s there. So, you’ve got to have a profile, yes, but you’ve also got to have a network. And that network needs to be handpicked by you. So the thing with networking is that you don’t need to know them upfront. I mean, take you and I for example, we didn’t know each other before we started working with each other. The reason we started to work with each other was our shared passion, the way we found each other was LinkedIn and social media. So I mean, people who are afraid of networking, and afraid of being connected with people who they don’t know yet are really missing out on opportunities, and they’re cutting their nose off to spite their face. So that network piece is critical. And then you’ve got your social proof. So, like no other form of, I suppose, channel or digital platform, LinkedIn gives people the ability to get proof that they can do what they can do from society. In olden days, I suppose this might come from word of mouth. Or, you know, like, my mum says that that particular hairdresser’s really good, so I’ll go there. But LinkedIn is all about people that are in your field in your industry or potentially more senior than you, saying that you’re good at what you’re saying you’re good at. So that is really powerful, and that’s what I call social proof. It’s a marketing term, but that social proof is how people buy. It’s how people earn trust. That’s how people start to believe in you. Now, if you’re a complete stranger, and nobody knows anything about you, people sometimes take to blogs to hear what other people are saying, before you buy something, say you’re buying a computer. You might do a bit of research on what other people say about that particular computer. Is it good to buy, is there any issues, what’s it all about? So if you take that analogy and plug it into LinkedIn, that’s your opportunity. What do you want to be known for? This feeds into the last piece, your personal brand, what do you want to be known for? What’s your unique brand? What are you good at that only you are good at? Again, LinkedIn is a wonderful platform to present that because no other social media platform allows you to show everything about you, work life and personal life, in one little showcase. You’ve got other social media platforms that tend to be more about your personal life. So your personal brand, whereas LinkedIn’s more about your professional personal brand. And I’m a big believer in putting a little bit of yourself in there as well. I mean, for my example, my headline has got ‘that I’m a loving mum,’ because that is a big part of my personal brand. If that doesn’t float your boat and you’re not into this sort of family scene and that talk about that and an interest in that does not align with you, then, I want you to know that that’s probably going to mean that we’re not going to align in terms of a belief system. So, we’re probably not going to be a good customer-business relationship. But, on the flip side, there are plenty of people out there that are aligned to the same value. So they know, when I deal with Rachel, she’s going to be appreciative or understanding if I have to stop our meeting halfway through because my child’s just vomited all over the floor, that kind of thing. So it’s just about showing a little bit of you. So those four pieces, how I see LinkedIn, that’s sort of how I see it working with each other to get success.

Gemma [11:32] – Amazing! Well, there you go. So, it’s like an ecosystem with four parts or pieces of the puzzle that put it all together. And I love that the personal branding on LinkedIn is still so important because the personal brand in general, is so important to your business and it should flow through on all platforms, all social medias, anything that you’re on. It should all be consistent. So, I love that you’re saying LinkedIn still has that personal brand needed there whereas I think a lot of people are scared of the platform because it’s so business-y and so scary, in that way. But yeah, it’s really important to be personalised on it.

Rachael  [12:19] – Definitely. And I think that what you’ve just touched on there is what I call The Fear. So, a lot of people have been brought up in a time, me included, where you kind of had to put on a different hat to go to work, you had to be this certain person, wearing these certain clothes, speaking this certain type of language, behaving in a certain way, almost bowing and scraping to your manager making sure that you’re a good employee and presenting a good corporate image that you’re a company man or a company woman and you do whatever the company wants you to do. Well, life’s changed. It’s not all about them now. It’s a two way street. So, that’s where communication comes in, communications are not a one way street. It’s a two way street. And so is personal branding. So, we no longer have to work for companies that treat us like minions. There’s no other word for it. So, you choose a company that treats you the way you treat them, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. And in those relationships, I see, from an HR perspective, amazing efficiency and output. So people are very, very clever. We’re all designed to be very good at a number of things. We’re not very good at everything, but if we find the area that we are good at and we invest all of our passion and love and time into that area, we can do amazing things. So showing your personal brand to the world is a way of showing all the people out there that are looking for employees, or looking for network members, ‘hey, this is what I’m all about!’ So then, if they’re looking for someone like that they can reach out, they can connect with you, not just to give you a new job, but to mentor you to work with you, like you and I are Gem, like in a collaboration. It’s about more than that. We’ve got more opportunities available to us today. And it’s all through LinkedIn that it can be possible.

Gemma  [14:40] – I love that, because I think many female business owners now have all come from that background of either say, government or corporate or working for the man, as we all say, where we’ve had to be someone else and as much as we did love our jobs and we did flourish at what we did, there was a certain point where we would sort of be stuck because we couldn’t be who we were. Because we had to be those minions. You know, and it’s just so important to all of us now with our personal brand that we can actually be ourselves and it’s about collaboration whereas, corporate especially, there’s such an emphasis on competition, you know?

Rachael  [15:28] – Regimented.

Gemma  [15:29] – Yeah! Whereas, it’s just so amazing to have this collaboration now with you and with many other people. And I mean, we met through LinkedIn/social media, it’s just, it’s a great space to be in, absolutely.

Rachael  [15:46] – And it’s about seeing opportunities, back to that analogy of the glass is half full, it’s not half empty. So if you see LinkedIn as a way that you can connect with the global population to align with people that are like you, then it’s an exciting tool. It’s an exciting platform. If you see it as something that you’ve got to do, because someone once in career counselling told you, you have to, you’re not going to pay any attention to it at all. So it just depends on the way you see it and if you’re really serious about using it– So, from a business perspective, LinkedIn is a Encyclopaedia of clients. It’s a business directory, giving you access to every client you will ever need. All their business details are there, their contact details are there, all their network is attached to them, if you use it like that, I mean, it’s like 20 steps beyond Yellow Pages used to be that’s where I started my first business. Out of the Yellow Pages! Literally going through finding potential clients. So if you’re a business person, stop and think about LinkedIn in a different way. How do you do your sales? How do you get you leads? How do you get your customers? Start thinking about LinkedIn.

Gemma  [17:07] – Amazing. I love that. It’s like the new and improved Yellow Pages.

Rachael  [17:15] – People see it as, ‘oh, I’m not looking for a job, I don’t get on LinkedIn.’ Well, why would you only look at it for that one thing? It’s a source of information. It’s like when you’re looking at the Internet, you say, ‘oh, I’m don’t use the internet, because you know, I’m not looking for whatever one little segment Google might give you.’ But of course you use Google, you use Google for anything. You don’t just see it as a search tool for TV shows, for example. You can search anything there so, same with LinkedIn. Open your mind!

Gemma  [17:45] – Amazing. So all in all, what it can do for your business is it gives you a client list, you can even use it to run your whole business. You can use it for putting out new products or services.

Rachael  [18:02] – Exactly. And LinkedIn have cottoned on to this, over the years they’ve adjusted their product and developed their product. So it’s evolved. And they’ve got all sorts of new premium products, which means you’ve got to pay for them, that help you run your business using LinkedIn. Things like Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, if you’re a business owner, and you’re interested in finding new customers and new business leads, Google ‘LinkedIn Sales Navigator’, see what comes up, you’ll be very interested to see how powerful LinkedIn is as an actual sales tool.

Gemma  [18:38] – Mm hmm. Amazing, I love it. It’s like the new world of sales, right?

Rachael  [18:45] – It is and you don’t need to pay for it. You don’t need to get a premium product; it’s a free system.

Gemma  [18:53] – Okay.

Rachael  [18:53] – So, if you’re a startup business, I know expenses are the killer. I’ve run lots of businesses and I know that cash flow is the problem when you’re a small one or two person show. So, look at all the things that you can get out of it, all the benefits you can get out of it, for the cost. Very simple cost benefit analysis there, look at what you’re dealing with, and then it becomes a bit of a no-brainer. So your personal brand is the reason people will connect with you. And your LinkedIn profile is what they look at before they decide if they want to connect with you. So if you get those parts right, and then you use it to network, at the same time as building your social proof, so you four parts of the ecosystem, it will turn into a sales engine for your business. So it’s very interesting when people start to realise that and clients that I’ve got come back to me and tell me about,’ oh my gosh, Rachel! I’ve now just landed this project and that project and that project all through LinkedIn!’ And I love to smile and say I told you so because it’s something that I’ve used over and over again to build my businesses.

Gemma  [20:06] – Amazing. So let’s just go a little bit further there into that understanding of your personal brand and it’s importance because it’s, like you said early, it’s part of the ecosystem, and it’s one of the four parts. So it’s, I guess, we understand how important that is, but I guess how do you use that more so with LinkedIn, and maybe the importance of improving my LinkedIn skills, for example, like how would I tie those in?

Rachael  [20:47] – Yeah, well, I suppose if you start with yourself, so the way I always sort of train is let’s start with your LinkedIn profile itself. And make sure that that’s populated. To improve your LinkedIn skills, there’s so many resources online, you can get a LinkedIn coach someone like myself, or you can get on LinkedIn and look at the help topics. But the bottom line is, the first thing you’ve got to do is make sure that when you’re looking at your LinkedIn profile, there’s no white spaces, fill it in. Sounds very simple, but most people don’t do this. And what they’re missing out on, and this is a big space that you taught me about Gemma, is that they’re missing out on SEO on the sheer optimization that LinkedIn can offer by just populating your profile for some keywords. So if you’re a person that sells soap, you want the words soap through your profile as many times as you possibly can, because when someone searches for soap on LinkedIn, you want your profile to come up first. So it’s just if you get some simple structures, so finding the keywords that you want all the through your LinkedIn profile, and filling it in for that, then the impact that that will have is huge. If you want to do lots of research and understand LinkedIn more, there is heaps of resources on the net. I mean, it’s a wealth of knowledge, so there’s a lot of stuff on YouTube and really, it’s just about getting in and doing it. People are afraid of doing it wrong. Well guess what? There’s no wrong way or right way. Because the way you use your LinkedIn, as long as it’s aligned to you, you’re doing it right. No one’s right on LinkedIn, and no one’s wrong. There’s a lot of people that try and tell you that they are but if what you’re writing and what you’re doing aligns with your personal brand, you’re doing it right. So don’t be afraid! If you want to put a picture up there with you with a mohawk that’s dyed orange, blue and yellow, if that’s what you’re all about, and aligns to what you’re selling, you go for it.

Gemma  [23:03] – Love it. Amazing! So what about a couple of key takeaways for the ladies today?

Rachael  [23:13] – The key takeaways are, if you’re going to spend some time on your LinkedIn profile, there’s three areas of your profile that are the most important, the highest optimised areas. So make sure you’ve got a headline, make sure you’ve got a summary and make sure you’ve got some recommendations. Make sure those areas have populated first. The next part is, don’t be afraid to make connections with people that you don’t know. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see. And reach out and ask! If you are unsure about something and you want to ask someone, people on LinkedIn like connecting and like engagement. So if you’re unsure about something and you can see someone that’s quite good at that and you want to know how they do it, reach out and ask them. Put a comment on their page or send them an In-mail. It’s expected and accepted. So don’t be afraid. And just get started is the last thing and probably the most important thing. Don’t wait and be afraid, you’ll find that once you get started, it’s not that hard. Everyone’s learning as they go anyway, because it’s changing at such lightspeed. So, you can do it, just get in there and have a try.

Gemma  [24:34] – Love that. And, I’m thinking as well, so earlier, we spoke about how we met through social media, and maybe we can sort of talk about how our work wife collaboration sort of began or evolve, because I remember once we were meant to have a meeting and you rang me, I answered the phone, and you were silent and then you just burst into tears. And you just needed to vent, to speak to someone that day and we at Work Wife Wine Time we want everyone to remember that that’s okay. It’s okay to burst into tears and call someone and just fill out help. I need to talk I need to do this because it just happens and for you it was a personal thing, it wasn’t even business but that importance of having that connection there. Which just really, really helps.

Rachael  [25:35] – Yeah, and I think that in the professional world, we all have this crazy idea that we need to be perfect. And as parents and as mums and as business professionals, we get worried about the view of us; if we show weakness or if we cry or if we show that we’re vulnerable. And the reality is, we’re all people, we’re all vulnerable. And, whether we show it or not, it still exists. So, I think that having a network of people that you can trust to share things with is really, really valuable when you’re running your own business. Because in larger businesses, you’ve got all sorts of support services to help you if things are going wrong or if you’re having difficult times. But when you’re running your own business, you don’t have that. And, sometimes you don’t have the structure in your personal life either to vent so, I think Work Wine Wine Time is a really important, little platform where we can support each other and just be real. I mean, it’s not about getting out of bed with a full face of makeup, having our hair done beautifully and stepping out the door like we look like a million dollars 24/7. You know, we can get out of bed in tracksuit pants and be exhausted and no makeup and hair in a ponytail and that’s okay because that’s reality.

Gemma  [27:10] – Yeah, it is! That is okay! And we love it! And we’ve also, obviously, like you’ve taught me a lot about LinkedIn and we collaborated and put out videos and things about SEO and marketing and that was great. I helped build both our brands. Yeah, so it’s been really, really awesome.

Rachael  [27:35] – Yeah, I’ve really enjoyed it too!

Gemma  [27:38] – And finally, one, let’s give the ladies one key point for today.

Rachael  [27:46] – Okay, so, I suppose a key point for me is that LinkedIn can be your friend or your foe. It’s your choice. You’ve got to make the decision first, whether you want to actually use it, whether you like using it or whether you hate it. So, once you make that decision and you see it as a chore, it’s never going to be helpful to you. But if you try to flip your thinking on its head and see it as an opportunity, it’d be very interesting where it ends up.

Gemma  [28:20] – Amazing! Love it. So finally, tell us where can our listeners find you, Rachel?

Rachael  [28:29] – LinkedIn, of course! So, you’ll be able to find me by just searching my name, Rachel Barton. And just reach out, connect with me and just drop in the connection request, you heard about me on this podcasts and I’d love to connect. And if you’ve got any questions, then pop them through. I’m all about collaboration and I’m all about, you know, mutually beneficial relationships.

Gemma  [28:52] –  Absolutely. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Rach, it’s been awesome!

Rachael  [29:00] – Thanks for having me, I’ve really enjoyed this. This is one of my favourite topics in the world so, thanks very much for listening to me and giving me an opportunity to talk to you all about it!

Gemma  [29:10] – I can just see your face light up and your smile when you just say the word LinkedIn, you just light up and you’re like ‘yes, I want to tell you all of the things!’

Rachael  [29:21] – That’s it! You know me well by now. So I hope you guys have got some something out of this and if you’ve got any questions, as I say, ping me on LinkedIn. I’ll be there and then we can talk further.

Gemma  [29:32] – Amazing! So that is a wrap of this week’s episode, ladies, and as always, to all our kick ass women and fellow work wives, remember you’re not alone, because collaboration is power. And most importantly, remember, we all get it.