I recently worked with an organisation that was concerned about the LinkedIn profiles of its staff. “All the profiles have been written professionally; we think they’re nice and polished,” the Marketing Manager said. “We even had professional photos taken. The problem is that recruiters are now approaching our team members because their profiles look so great! How do we stop recruiters trying to poach our staff? How do we get our LinkedIn profiles to link with what we’re trying to achieve as a business?”
This is a common concern for businesses. This particular organisation wanted LinkedIn to help increase its leads, boost its market share and achieve greater sales. However, I could see two problems. The first was that all the team member profiles were written with the same purpose in mind: to highlight the individual’s area of expertise. This may not seem problematic, but it actually undermined the organisation’s wish to retain its pool of talent by attracting the attention of recruiters.
The second problem was that there was no differentiation between the profiles. They lacked strategy. It wasn’t clear who the intended audience was, and it wasn’t clear what the purpose of each profile was.
LinkedIn has more than 400 million users. Twenty new profiles are created every second, and Australia’s LinkedIn membership base is one of the fastest growing in the world, with more than six million members. This represents a huge opportunity for businesses. LinkedIn, first and foremost, is a search engine. This means your organisation can be found on LinkedIn – as well as in Google searches – based on the type of services and products you want the organisation to be found for.
To be found on LinkedIn and stand out from the crowd, it is important that your organisation’s staff profiles have a clear purpose. A person makes a decision about someone within the first three to four seconds of landing on their profile, so it is vital that your company’s profiles align with your organisation’s LinkedIn strategy. If a profile appeals to a recruiter, then more recruiters are going to contact that person. If a profile connects with clients, collaborators and industry partners, more of these types of people will want to connect with your staff and organisation. Problems arise when you want to achieve more leads and sales via LinkedIn, but your staff members are being contacted by recruiters instead. This indicates that the content of your staff profiles needs a shakeup.
There are four levels of an organisation’s LinkedIn strategy. These are:
Level 1: Forward-facing, customer-based profiles. These are the profiles of your sales team and business development team members – the people through which your business’s services and products are sold. These people are not necessarily your contact centre staff; they are your business-to-business development staff. Business to business is all about the customer relationship, so the content of these profiles needs to reach out to the customer.
Level 2: Manager profiles. Managers are brand ambassadors for your organisation. Content about products and services can be included to validate the business for potential clients, but the main focus of a manager profile is to recruit and retain the organisation’s talent. A manager’s profile is particularly valuable when a job is advertised within their team. We know that 75% of job seekers will validate an organisation through a leader’s profile, so a manager’s profile must articulate the nature of the organisation and the team, and what the team delivers.
Level 3: Executive and senior profiles. The purpose of an executive profile is not only to add credibility to and validate the organisation as part of the recruitment process; it is to create and nurture industry partnerships. These profiles need to position the organisation’s vision. They must articulate their team’s values and how it contributes to the organisation as a whole and its industry partners. These profiles are less about the individual and more about how the organisation can collaborate with and help industry partners.
Level 4: The CEO’s profile. A CEO’s profile is incredibly important. The problem is that CEOs generally don’t like putting themselves out in the public domain. However, two-thirds of customers make a decision about an organisation based on its CEO, so this profile has a huge amount of leverage.
The CEO’s profile has five purposes:
To highlight the organisation’s vision and what it wants to achieve. It needs to captivate the reader and inspire them to want to be part of that journey. This is regardless of whether they’re potential talent, partners or customers. Focussing on what the organisation does now is flat and lacks energy. It was Jack Welsh, retired CEO of General Electric and one of the worlds most celebrated and respected CEO’s who said “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
To provide clarity about the organisation’s services and/or products. The profile needs to be clear about what kind of customers the business helps and how. The profile is like a mirror and depending on the words in it, will determine what comes back; equally if nothing is in it, nothing will come back. This will also support Search Engine Optimisation.
To inspire talent who want to work for the organisation. The content needs to explain why it is a great place to work and encourage potential employees to think, “Wow, look what they’re trying to do. I want to be a part of that. I think I can achieve my potential working for this organisation.” In her work on maximising psychological capital, Jess Pryce-Jones, author and founder of iOpener, identified “the five Cs” that help people feel more satisfied in their work. The top one is contribution. Job seekers will look at a CEO’s profile and ask themselves, “How can I contribute? Could I make a difference? Would I be heard? Does this organisation have clarity about where it’s going and how can I get involved?” Provide evidence that your company is a stand-out workplace by including testimonials from team members, high-engagement survey results and statistics (eg. has the average team member been with the organisation for more than five years?). As the famous author and TED speaker Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
To highlight what sets the organisation apart. Why is it so good at what it does? The perception and positioning of the business will make it memorable. The CEO’s profile can include industry awards won, talent survey results and information about an increase in market share. Leverage this information so it appeals to clients, industry partners, collaborators, suppliers and people the organisation is trying to influence.
To emphasise corporate social responsibility. How does the organisation make a difference to the world? Or is it purely designed for the almighty dollar? Does it practice transparent, ethical behaviour? How does its decisions and activities impact on society and the environment? According to Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, people make decisions that are heart-based or head-based when working with others. The profile needs to connect with both these types of decision-makers. These days, a lot of weight is placed on corporate social responsibility and how it links to share price.
As you can see, all staff members have a role to play in your organisation’s LinkedIn strategy. It’s vital that your marketing team is clear on what the purpose of each profile is during the build process. The question now is, what are the next steps to take so you can thoroughly leverage your organisation’s profiles?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.