Monday, February 7, 2011

Victoria Ipri Shares Why LinkedIn is Key to Freelancers' & SmallBusiness Owners' Success


I wanted to keep the LinkedIn momentum going so I invited Victoria Ipri of Modello Media, Inc. back to share her LinkedIn marketing tips. Victoria recently launched her book, Linkedin for the Clueless, which I've read cover-to-cover. I implemented her tips in my LinkedIn marketing strategy, and am already seeing results (as seen in my LinkedIn Answers success, more visits to my profile, etc.).
AND...as a courtesy to my readers, Victoria is offering a special 50% discount on her one-hour LinkedIn phone consultations. Thanks so much, Victoria! Just mention you read her interview on my blog to be eligible for her special deal. This is a great opportunity to tackle your LinkedIn challenges. Read Victoria's interview below for more details...find out what's missing in your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

Why are small business owners/freelancers hesitant to even sign up for LinkedIn?  What stops them from using it?
In general, I find people are hesitant to use LinkedIn for three reasons:

1) Facebook is far more hyped (“Is LinkedIn really worth it?”)
2) Many still believe LinkedIn is primarily for jobseekers
3) People associate LinkedIn with images of stuffy-shirted corporate execs

As you and I both know, Therese, nothing could be further from the truth. While LinkedIn does impose stricter rules than Facebook, the opportunities for finding and closing business outstrip any other lead generation tool currently available.

Another LinkedIn belief specific to freelancers is that it’s impossible to get business or reach key decision makers. Again, this is a big myth. At Modello Media, nearly 100% of our business initiates on LinkedIn. ’Nuff said.

And finally, I believe freelancers avoid LinkedIn for the same reason many professionals do: it takes a consistent effort over time to achieve results. It is not an instant solution that will put fresh green bills in one’s pocket tomorrow. If I were a freelancer or business owner highly focused on my next sale, I might initially choose another channel over LinkedIn. But this is a big mistake. What LinkedIn offers that no other channel can is the rare opportunity to create relationships built on trust. People buy from vendors they know and like. People buy repeatedly when vendors they know and like also offer great value, excellent service, and affordable prices.

Where else can a freelancer or small business owner enjoy buying relationships which ensure, not just one quick sale, but long-term, repeat business and loyal customers?

What are some of the biggest issues or challenges you see freelancers/small business owners struggle with right now regarding their LinkedIn marketing?
There is a clear misconception that LinkedIn is somehow difficult or ‘strict.’

Yes, LinkedIn is not Facebook. And it’s time we stopped comparing the two. It’s the difference between public school and private school. If you’ve ever experienced private school, you get this comparison immediately!
Perhaps what we really need is a shift in mindset. Instead of repeating the misconception that LinkedIn is strict, let’s say LinkedIn imposes common rules of professional business development which ensure higher quality and better results for the user.

Having said that, most LinkedIn members are stumped about what to do on the site, beyond simply setting up a profile. I myself maintained a rather useless profile for several years before I got serious about using LinkedIn in 2010. It is human tendency to procrastinate when there is no clear path to follow. This is exactly why I wrote LinkedIn For the Clueless, because I knew more people would participate on LinkedIn (which creates a better experience for everyone) if the steps were laid out in an easy, concise way.

There is so much more to LinkedIn than regurgitating one’s resume. It’s a very powerful tool, and new features are added regularly.
My best advice is, don’t be afraid! Get on there and get going….you won’t regret it.

Besides writing a fantastic book, LinkedIn for the Clueless (which offers step-by-step LinkedIn guidance), how have you been able to help freelancers and small biz owners solve their LinkedIn marketing issues and challenges?

There is a lot of free materials available and I offer free LinkedIn reports. The ebook and its predecessor, Social Media For The Clueless, are great low cost resources (only $15.95 and $12.95 respectively).

Another valuable option is one-on-one phone consultations. The fee for this service is $150 per 60 minutes…but for your readers, Therese, I’ll provide a 50% discount for seven days following the initial posting of this interview. People love the phone consults because the entire hour is devoted to them and their needs, their questions, their concerns.

We offer full scale LinkedIn marketing campaigns as well.

Whether we’re assisting a large corporation or a one-man shop, our goal is always the same: to help people grasp this new media marketing with the end goal of achieving success. There is so much to know, and technology often changes. We understand it’s frustrating. However, one fact remains constant: using the appropriate social media marketing channel(s) is the way things are done today.

This is not going to change anytime soon. As a business owner, you have no choice but to get up to speed. There is so much help available, from me and others that there is truly no excuse. Simply throwing up a half-baked website doesn’t cut it anymore.

For those freelancers and owners who haven't done anything with their LinkedIn account and don't know where to start, where should they begin?

You might expect me to begin with the profile…but, no. The first step is to carefully consider “why”. Why have you chosen LinkedIn as your marketing platform? Why not Facebook? Why should people want to connect with you, or do business with you? It is imperative that you understand why before you type the first letter into the profile template. This step is most often avoided, and can have far-reaching consequences on your marketing success.

Once you understand your motivation and what you hope to gain from LinkedIn, you can begin crafting your profile. This is a comprehensive discussion on its own. Suffice to say you won’t get great results if you merely cut and paste your resume.
Here’s a quick exercise: Picture the wheels on a car. In the center of the wheel is the hub, then spokes coming out of the hub in many directions, then the wheel itself. Your profile is the hub. Your online activity represents the spokes. The wheel is your overall online presence. Now imagine the hub is somehow damaged. As the car travels, the hub begins to loosen and split. Soon, the entire wheel falls off the car, landing car and driver in the closest ditch.

Simply put, a dynamic, fully optimized profile supports your online marketing effort and keeps your business cruising on open roads.
But the profile is only the beginning. Your company page, group choices, inbound/outbound strategies, all count heavily in determining your success.

Any additional "inside" LinkedIn tips or tricks you'd like to pass along to freelancers and small business owners?

LinkedIn recently unveiled a host of new features, so it’s difficult to pick just one or two. Here are a few basic ‘secrets’ many do not realize about LinkedIn:

1) Google ranks LinkedIn very highly. Google yourself, and your LinkedIn profile headline will show as one of the first few results on page one. It stands to reason, then, that this area of your profile demands very close attention. Keywords count! And you should understand how to determine the number of competitors vying for those same keywords. LinkedIn For The Clueless explains this strategy on page 55, under the heading The Secret to Optimizing Your Profile Headline.
2) Another keyword-rich area of your profile is Specialties. Choose these words carefully as well, because you’ll connect in a more valuable way with recruiters and those who are seeking for knowledgeable members with these same skills.
3) Contrary to popular belief (and, perhaps, logic) the Summary does not count in terms of keywords. So no stuffing, please! However, the Summary is very important to other members interested in learning more about you…so use this area to really let your personality shine and make your skills evident.
4) When selecting Groups to join, there is a right way and a not-so-right way. What is the most important consideration when selecting which groups to join? (Hint- the answer has nothing to do with how many groups you join.) The first person to answer this correctly wins a free copy of LinkedIn For the Clueless!

I am always available to help any business owner who feels overwhelmed or simply wants to do a better job of marketing with LinkedIn. Drop me a note, Victoria@ModelloMedia.com, and share your concerns.

7 comments:

  1. I think that there is something wrong with the links you provided. They reach a 404 page.

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  2. Thank you for these questions, Therese, and thank you for your generous answers Victoria. This interview addresses so many of the aspects people most want to discuss about LinkedIn, and it's so easy to understand. I really appreciate it.

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  3. Thanks Shakirah. Your interview on your blog with Victoria was also really good. Thanks for your feedback.

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  4. I'll take a stab at the most important consideration regarding which LinkedIn groups to join: I'm going to say it's joining groups which include or target people/professions related to the work you do -- not necessarily the exact same profession you're involved in. So, for example, as a copyeditor/proofreader, I might join a group for authors -- that might prove more valuable to me than a group of other editors.

    Can't wait to hear if I'm on target or not! (& if I just might have won the book! -- though doubtful, since this blog post was uploaded 15 days ago!).

    ~Heidi

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  5. You are right on with your observation, Heidi. That's how I landed my retainer gig/partnership with a hospitality marketing agency - by joining designer groups on LI.

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  6. Heidi, I forwarded your comment to Victoria - no one else has answered the question but Victoria makes the final call on it since it's her book. :)

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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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