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Anne michelsen interviews linked in expert sherry sexton


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Anne michelsen interviews linked in expert sherry sexton

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  2. 2. Sherry Sexton is a business coach, LinkedIn consultant, and life-long entrepreneur (she started her first business, an awesome lemonade stand, at the age of 12!) In the following interview from December, 2013, she kindly answers several common questions about what to do – and what to avoid – on the world’s most popular business network: LinkedIn! Anne Michelsen: Okay. I’m here today with Sherry Sexton. Sherry is a business consultant and she is the queen of LinkedIn. She really specializes in LinkedIn. She’s been called a LinkedIn rock star. I want to welcome you, Sherry. Thanks so much for being here. Sherry Sexton: Hi, Anne. Thank you. Anne Michelsen: I get a lot of questions from clients and just people that I meet about LinkedIn. I personally love LinkedIn. It is totally my favorite social media and it’s the only one that I really focus on for my business. But a lot of business owners and business people don’t really quite know where to start on LinkedIn. I get a lot of questions like I’ve got my profile up, now what do I do? So, Sherry, you are totally the expert on these questions and I just wanted to ask you a few questions. Hopefully you can maybe clarify these issues a little bit more. To start with, just speaking to somebody who has actually gone out and set up a profile on LinkedIn, what’s the most important thing to start with? Sherry Sexton: To set up the profile or once the profile is set up? Anne Michelsen: Well, you were telling me about what the goal is on LinkedIn.
  3. 3. Sherry Sexton: Well the goal is if you’re a small Filling in your LinkedIn profile business owner you want to increase your completely helps you get found clientele. You want to reach out to potential by people who are looking for clients. The bottom line is you want them to your products or services. find you without having to search for them. I can teach people how to search but the ideal thing is for them to find you and find your business and want to buy your product. One of the most important things I think people don’t take into account, and I can just “LinkedIn has done touch on that briefly, but your photo is so research that if you are important. LinkedIn has done research that if you smiling and facing your are smiling and facing your header box, which is header box, which is where where your name and title is, with a clean your name and title is, with background, you have five times more chance a clean background, you of getting communication from others, which I have five times more find interesting. chance of getting communication from others.” Anne Michelsen: I’ve had people comment on my photo. Now, I don’t think my photo is facing my header box, maybe I can flip it or something. I have literally gotten jobs from my photo. You are so right. Sherry Sexton: You’re smiling and that’s a big part of it. Anne Michelsen: So beyond the photo what would you look at next? Sherry Sexton: I’m sorry? Anne Michelsen: You were saying that pictures of your dog, that kind of thing… Sherry Sexton: Well, it’s not Facebook. I mean it’s a professional business social networking site. I In your LinkedIn profile photo, think if you are in a professional line of business wear attire that suits your professional line of work. you’d probably want to wear a suit. If you are an auto mechanic, wearing your company logo polo shirt is fine. It depends on what business you’re in. But you just want to have a clean background and be smiling, which is more welcoming as opposed to straightforward, which they say now is distrustful, which I didn’t really understand until LinkedIn actually brought that up.
  4. 4. Once you’re on there and you have your Be sure to include your contact profile, the biggest thing is to have your information in your profile. If contact info there. So many people, you can’t it’s not there, you could be see their e-mail. If you want to buy from losing valuable leads. someone and they don’t have their contact information there it’s really hard to reach them. The people that do have that contact info…the competition might be taking your business. Anne Michelsen: Right. Yeah, you have to be found for sure. Sherry Sexton: I think once you have your profile up, the hardest thing for me to communicate to others is how you talk to people, how you connect with people, how you message them once you’re connected. Very few people do some of this stuff and I think this is where it’s very important when you’re building your database. Anne Michelsen: A lot of people, I’ve heard them say, “I’m on LinkedIn, now what do I do? I have no idea.” Sherry Sexton: Right. You want to connect with people…I tell people to join some groups on LinkedIn. It might be in your industry. For myself it’s social media or LinkedIn groups. Also, Join LinkedIn groups related to anything that you’re passionate about, like if both your business and personal interests. Letting your you’re a marathon runner you may want to personality show helps build join a group that is marathon people, just to people’s trust in you. “People do business with communicate with them. So it gives you little people they like and trust. bit of the personal side of you and also the You have to build that trust, business side of you. The hardest thing on which is harder online than LinkedIn is to get your personality across to it is in person.” others. Typically, how you talk to them reflects how they feel about you. Anne Michelsen: I like to think of LinkedIn as a great big professional community where if you think about your own hometown, you make professional connections everywhere you go, like at the gym. But then you’re also going to the networking meetings and you basically just kind of have fun talking to people. You talk about your
  5. 5. business but you’re also kind of just talking about whatever issues that come up and things that you have in common. Sherry Sexton: Right. It’s the same with LinkedIn. I tell people when you want to connect with someone, it’s easier for anyone if you have a premium account. I don’t work for LinkedIn. I’m not affiliated with LinkedIn. I am going to write for LinkedIn in 2014 but not this year. Anne Michelsen: You mentioned a professional account. Sherry Sexton: Oh, the upgrade account. Because you can see who viewed your profile. You can see more people and you can also…you have the ability to join different groups like the job seeker groups and things like that if you are…there’s a lot of people that are job seekers that are looking for jobs. But it just gives you more ability to connect with people, to introduce people, to send an InMail to people. So, it just Investing in a LinkedIn give you more ability to connect with people Premium account allows you to that you may want to really connect with and message anyone on LinkedIn, have no way to contact them. In other words, not just your connections. they’re a third connection, which means that there’s someone in between you. If you know someone or I know someone and we’re connected to each other, then I can introduce you to that person or it’s easier to get to that person without an introduction if you have the premium account. Because what you want to do when you connect with someone, or I always do e-mail that says hoping to connect with you and then you might share something about what you viewed on their profile. The default message is…you can tell everybody (doesn’t always take the time to personalize it), which to me it always says you’re not real interested sometimes as far as the way other people perceive you. That you may not be interested in them. I personally look at their profile and I see that they may live in my area, they may have gone to school When sending an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, don’t use where I did. They may live in a great place the default message. Instead, that I’d like to visit, like Dubai and things like personalize it to your recipient. that. So (I write something like) “hoping to They’ll be more likely to accept connect. You must love where you live. If I your invitation. can help you in any way, please let me know.” There’s just that personal touch to connecting with someone then they’re more likely to connect with you than if you use the default.
  6. 6. Anne Michelsen: You’re talking about personalizing your message when you’re reaching out to somebody rather than just using the ‘I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn’ kind of default message. Sherry Sexton: Yes. Anne Michelsen: What would be some of the dos and don’ts? You already mentioned some dos, which would be mention some things in common you might have. What are some things you should not do when you’re reaching out to somebody? Sherry Sexton: You should not say, “Hi, buy my stuff,” because you get a lot of spammers on there. I tell people first you have to develop a relationship and then you can ask about them. Then it’s just like we talked about in person. You’re not going to walk up to Don’t try to sell overtly to your somebody and go, “Hi, Anne, can you buy LinkedIn connections. Instead, my stuff?” It doesn’t work that way. You have concentrate on building to have the relationship first. So, I say don’t mutually beneficial spam people because no one really likes it. If relationships. someone reports you and there’s five reports LinkedIn will shut down your account and it’s going to take you quite a while to get back in. Anne Michelsen: So you can be kicked off of LinkedIn for inappropriate behavior. Sherry Sexton: Yes. Anne Michelsen: I’ve never heard of that happening but that’s really good to know.
  7. 7. Sherry Sexton: Trying to spam people. The other thing is that some people put a logo in there instead of their photo, which on your personal page should be your picture. This is another way LinkedIn will shut you down because it’s not a business page. Say a small business owner Your personal profile should has their logo there, if there’s a photo of focus on you as an individual. them as the manager of that company they You can build a business profile can shut you down there too because that’s to expand upon your products specifically a business page, which is a totally and services. Use your photo on different page. There’s a personal page and your profile page and your logo a business page. If I’m the owner of the on your company page. business I have my own page personally and then I have a business page, which talks about my business, my products and my services. Anne Michelsen: So you want to make sure that your photo’s on your personal page, your logo’s on your business page? Sherry Sexton: Correct. Anne Michelsen: Okay. Very good. Now, you mentioned joining groups, which I think is a great idea. Groups are a great place to hang out. What would be some tips for engaging with the groups in a productive way? Sherry Sexton: Some groups have a pending…you hit join and then it’s pending and they have to Every LinkedIn group has accept you. Every group has different rules, so rules for acceptable posting and other behavior. Be sure to you want to check out their rules. If you do try check out the rules before you to post something on there that’s selfpost or comment on a group promotional in the nice way they like to put it, discussion. they will not post it for you. They won’t even accept it. So, sometimes it’s pending to join the group, sometimes your request or your discussion question is pending and needs approval. So, you have to really look at the group rules as to what to post. A lot of people post something in general like what’s most stressful about the holidays. Usually, everyone can relate to that and comment on that. So, it depends on your type of business. For me, it’s usually things about LinkedIn or offering advice and things like that, sharing a new article. But there again, I look at the group rules. When I said what’s stressing you out, it’s a large professional women’s group I belong to for
  8. 8. Citibank. But in certain groups if it’s related to your industry you probably want to stick with that. Then other groups are ones that you might just do general information. Anne Michelsen: So you might want to hang out on the group a little bit before you start posting and just get a feel. Sherry Sexton: Oh yeah, you can view them. Most groups are open so you can view what their discussions are. Then once you join it you can comment on something. Or you can like it. Everything you do in a group shows up on your activity on your homepage, which is good. I tell people if you don’t have a lot of time, go into a group and comment on a discussion or share a discussion or like a discussion. “Everything you do in a group shows up on your activity on your homepage, which is good. I tell people if you don’t have a lot of time, go into a group and comment on a discussion or share a discussion or like a discussion.” Anne Michelsen: I’ve had people contact me to do work for them after having commented. Even if you never post a discussion your groups are still valuable just because you’re out there, you’re part of the community. If you make insightful comments…you don’t even have to start anything. Sherry Sexton: Yes. I always say you’re only as visible as the size of your audience or your network. The “You’re only as visible as more people you have as connections the the size of your audience or more people see what you write or share or your network. The more comment on. Another thing is Pulse, which is people you have as your newsfeed, which used to be LinkedIn connections the more Today, which you can access from the people see what you write homepage. It’s where you would share an or share or comment on.” article on something industry-related, something everyone can relate to. On the weekend you could post something like that or just a broad kind of question or something fun. But if you write blogs you can post blogs on LinkedIn. You can actually add a link for a blog into LinkedIn. You can add a link or upload a file right into your profile. You can also share it in groups where it’s relevant and you can also share it on your own update page. Anne Michelsen:
  9. 9. Right. It’s great because you share it on your profile. It’s sort of like Facebook, your connections see it. But then if you share it with a group then you’re reaching all sorts of people that you’re not connected with. Sherry Sexton: Yes. I typically post mine in a couple groups and I post on job seekers. I help a lot of the job seekers so I am in a job seeker group, so I’ll post things like that in there. They give you the ability to share an article just on your homepage. You can comment, you can post it to groups, you can send it to individuals and you can send it to LinkedIn if you have your LinkedIn account connected. So, you have a lot of options. Useful articles, blog posts, white papers, case studies, infographics, and general questions are usually welcome on LinkedIn. Post them to groups or on your home page, or comment on other people’s posts. Anne Michelsen: Just a lot of ways to get out there and connect with people. Okay. Briefly, can you tell me just off the top of your head maybe a few success stories that you’ve heard from somebody who maybe wasn’t aware of how to use LinkedIn very well and kind of gave them a couple tips and something that they maybe came back with and said this is what happened when I started doing this. Sherry Sexton: I know. Well, that’s where my recommendations come in. I recently had a client in Ukraine who was looking for international relations. She did international relations for a consult in the Ukraine at a large university. She said I’d really like something “When your profile goes different and I’d like something where I have from beginner to all-star and that has to do with how more control over what I do with the you fill it in, you absolutely organization. She said after I completed her show up in more search profile she got so many followers and people results.” connecting with her. When your profile goes from beginner to all-star and that has to do with how you fill it in, you absolutely show up in more search results. Anne Michelsen: This is just from filling out her profile completely? Sherry Sexton: Yes. And once that’s done, then people will see more about you, learn more about you. That’s another thing you typically don’t see in the personal networking group or a community, face to face networking group. You don’t talk about your charities and things like that.
  10. 10. Anne Michelsen: But you can on LinkedIn because it’s right there on your profile. Sherry Sexton: Exactly. Anne Michelsen: Perfect. You can post portfolios and all sorts of stuff on there. Your profile is so much more than a resume and an elevator pitch. Round it out with information on your charitable activities, portfolio items, published articles, associations you belong to, and similar accomplishments. Sherry Sexton: You can connect with any schools or universities, there’s an education link so you can go to your alumni pages and comment on there or reach people there, connect with people there. Anne Michelsen: That’s great too because that’s always something that you’re going to be kind of feeling…it’s sort of like a brotherhood when you leave a college. Don’t forget that. Sherry Sexton: Right. It’s a connection. We went to the same school together, we went to the same university together. You have no idea Don’t forget to join the alumni what they’ve done with their life. The biggest groups for your schools and thing with Linked in too, it’s knowing that universities. These are great person who knows that person, it’s kind of like places to network and rea ripple effect. Their connections may know connect with old friends. some connections that can help you, so it really is a huge network. Anne Michelsen: Yes, it definitely is. You can see on the right-hand side somewhere it tells you the size of your network. It sometimes is like whoa. Sherry Sexton: I think there’s 258 million people now on LinkedIn. That’s recent data. There’s a lot of people out there. Whether you have a local product or you have something that you ship, actually, you have the ability to do that with ecommerce. There’s people out there that really want to help you and you want to help them. So, it’s really a give and take, I feel. Anne Michelsen:
  11. 11. That’s an interesting point. I think if you really start using LinkedIn effectively it’s really a win-win kind of thing. I mean you’re looking for win-win relationships. Correct me if I’m wrong, I think a lot of people out there on LinkedIn are doing that. Sherry Sexton: Yes. Most of them are. Sometimes I have to say, honestly, this is not about you because you want to offer them something if you have something to offer. Not necessarily a discount but share information. I have some mentors who are very helpful, e-mail me if you have any questions. So, there’s help out there, there’s mentors out “There’s 258 million people there and there’s people who will guide you now on LinkedIn. That’s and help you. They just want to do this. It’s not recent data. There’s people that they’re going to charge you, necessarily. out there that really want to They just want to help. I think those are the help you and you want to people that have some of the best help them…if you’re not sure and you say now what, recommendations, have some of the best ask someone who does connections. There’s a gentleman that wrote a know.” book, he has a company called Likability. You can’t get better than that. He’s real free with information, so there’s a lot of people out there willing to help if you don’t know which direction to go. So, I’d say if you’re not sure and you say now what, ask someone who does know. Anne Michelsen: Really, really good point. I think a lot of people are kind of ashamed to ask but you don’t grow if you don’t ask. Sherry Sexton: Well, it’s also the way you ask. I’ve had people ask me to do their profile for them, the whole thing. I said really I can’t do that but I will give you some pointers. Or send them to my website or have blog information typically related to LinkedIn. So, there are places to go for information. Anne Michelsen: Can you touch briefly on endorsements? Sherry Sexton: Yes. Good point. Really good question. I get this a lot too. Endorsements are kind of a controversial thing. LinkedIn did that so Endorsements are optional. that we can improve our interactions with You don’t have to give or others. I always tell people if you see them at accept endorsements you are the top of your profile you don’t have to not comfortable with. accept them all. You can X out of the ones
  12. 12. that you are not…anyone can type something into that box as an endorsement. So say someone were to endorse me for accounting (laughs). So I would X that out and then add the others if I choose to. So, when that shows up on the top of your profile you can decide whether to endorse someone or not endorse someone. You can also decide whether you want the endorsement from the other person to show up. So, I’ll have people that endorse me for everything and anything. They just type stuff in. That’s where LinkedIn says…it just really wants their photo to show up on your page all the time. I don’t know that that’s true. I think they’re trying to be nice but it’s overkill at times. So, if you know the person and you know what they do, endorse them for that. If you don’t know them and they’ve endorsed you then you want to go down there and look at their skills and expertise and then endorse them for the one or two top things that they do. Anne Michelsen: Sometimes it’s like who is this person and why are they endorsing me for everything that’s on my profile when I’ve never heard of them? Sherry Sexton: Exactly. You don’t have to take those endorsements. You don’t have to add those. The other thing with endorsements, When someone endorses you and I tell people to do this and very few for a skill, thank them. So few people do this, so it very much will impress people do this, it will really your clients or customers or employers, is make you stand out from the thank them. Thank them for the crowd. endorsement. I really appreciate it and then my name. Very few times when I endorse someone do I get that response back. Anne Michelsen: Yeah. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten that response back. Maybe once or twice. I have done it and I think it’s always a good idea to thank people for everything. I probably don’t do it enough and I think most people don’t. People are busy. But it really makes a difference when you do get thanked. Sherry Sexton:
  13. 13. And the other thing is when people view your profile...people don’t always do this, this is kind of controversial too and I think it’s more of how you say it. My thought is that it’s okay to reach out to them. You can connect with them there very easily even if they’re a third connection, just hit the connect button. It allows you to write a personal message. I might say something like thanks for stopping by to view my profile. If I can do anything to help you, please let me know. So, anyone can really say that because then you’re saying how can I help you, that means, can I introduce you to someone? Can I connect you with someone? Can I help you in your industry? Or whether it’s a job seeker, do you know someone. So, it’s how you reach out to them. Instead of like hi, do you want to buy my stuff? Thanking people for stopping by your profile is a great way to reach out to people who have shown an interest to you. Don’t try to sell them, though – just make a sincere connection and offer to be of help. Anne Michelsen: Right. I’m really glad you’ve said that because I’ve done that a couple times but I’ve always felt a little bit weird about it. It’s like they viewed my profile but are they going to feel weirded out if I reach out. But you’re saying if you do it discretely it’s probably an okay thing to do. Sherry Sexton: Yeah. Honestly, be yourself. I’m a big smiley “Honestly, be yourself. I’m a face person, so I’ll say thanks for stopping by big smiley face person, so and then I’ll put a little smiley in there. But I’ll say thanks for stopping that’s just me. So it’s how would you respond by and then I’ll put a little to people in general. Most people connect smiley in there. But that’s when I send that personal message. Usually, if just me. So it’s how would they’re looking at your profile they’re looking you respond to people in for a reason. If you’re a job seeker and it’s an general. Most people employer, I mean that’s absolutely fine. Again, connect when I send that you don’t want to say, hi, please give me a personal message.” job. You want to say hoping to connect, I’ve had all these years of experience. I see that you are a recruiter in this area... You just kind of let them know a little bit about you but you’re not asking them for anything. Maybe the second time or if they even connect with you then I’d ask them. It’s kind of a process depending on who you want to connect with. Anne Michelsen: All right. Well, I think we’re kind of running up against time. Is there anything that you would want to add as something that we haven’t discussed that would be a really important thing to keep in mind when you’re on LinkedIn?
  14. 14. Sherry Sexton: I think one of the things is…when I talk to people it’s I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to do this. I’m too busy. I say if you can go on once a day, depending on…if you’re trying to build your business I would say more, like twice a day and do like we said, like an article, share an article, share some news, things like that and make one connection a day. They say I can do that. I say yeah, it’s five minutes tops. So really if you’re crunched for time it’s not like Facebook. You don’t have to be commenting and responding to everyone or the people that you know that are on there posting regularly. It’s just a simple thing of make a comment and then you might want to follow up. The other thing is time. Say you’re on vacation for a week and you notice when you come back you haven’t checked your computer and you have all these people that have messaged you. You just say sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner, and Just 5 to 10 minutes a day is all it takes to maintain an effective that’s it. It’s kind of like a fancy wedding gift or presence on LinkedIn. something, if you do it within a reasonable time it’s okay. If you wait six months you might…but something like that I would say as soon as you can is great. But try to respond to people. Anne Michelsen: Right. The great thing about LinkedIn is everybody’s in business so we all know what it’s like. Sherry Sexton: Absolutely. Everybody gets busy, everybody has family issues or problems and you kind of work around that. Anne Michelsen: All right. Thank you, Sherry. I really, really appreciate your time today. Man, have you given us some good points here, something to really think about. Anybody listening to you today…I know I’m going to be going and changing a few things that I do on LinkedIn. I just want to mention that you are available as a LinkedIn coach or a business coach. Sherry Sexton: Yes. I’m a consultant specifically doing profiles for businesses, job seekers. I can teach them how to do it. It’s physically easier for me to send out a questionnaire and do it for them. Anne Michelsen: Right. Just have an expert do it for you. You are available at, correct?
  15. 15. Sherry Sexton: Anne Michelsen: Oh, that’s your e-mail. Sherry Sexton: My LinkedIn is www.linkedin.cominsherrysexton. That’s another quick tip, if your URL for LinkedIn is not personalized and you have numbers behind that, that’s easy to personalize that in your public profile. If you create my personalized URL and shave those funky numbers. You’ll see it on your profile. Anne Michelsen: Change it to your name. Sherry Sexton: Yeah, your name. Anne Michelsen: One last thing, Sherry, on her website which is Get more of Sherry’s tips for she’s got some LinkedIn tips improving your LinkedIn if you go to her website on the right-hand side. presence at Click on those and there’s 15 top LinkedIn tips that are great. Some tips on personalizing your profile and some other tips, they’re really good ones. Feel free to go and check those out. Thank you, Sherry. I really appreciate your time again. You just have a great 2014. We’re just about to go into a new year. Sherry Sexton: You’re welcome. My pleasure. Happy holidays to you as well. Anne Michelsen: Thank you. Subscribe to Anne Michelsen’s newsletter, The Green Inkwell, for more interviews with marketing, social media, and sustainable business experts - as well as tips and insights for making your green or socially responsible business “go great!”