Podcast

Lauren Stiebing 01 March 2021

How to Boost your LinkedIn Presence with Mark Williams

Mark Williams (commonly known as ‘Mr. LinkedIn) is widely regarded as one of the world’s top LinkedIn experts.
Following a career spanning 20 years in the recruitment industry, Mark set up ETN LinkedIn training in 2008. Since then he has trained thousands of LinkedIn users from a diverse range of industries and roles.

In this episode of the Career Sucess Podcast, Mark will give us some insight on the key things to keep in mind to BOOST YOUR LINKEDIN PRESENCE.

Topics Covered in the podcast:

– Why is your LinkedIn presence important and why you should be paying attention to it?
– How can you be seen on LinkedIn?
– Which are the main mistakes people make on the platform?
– How can companies or senior leaders in those companies use LinkedIn to attract the best talent?

Paula Saenz:

So yeah welcome Mark thank you for joining us today.

Mark Williams:

Oh thank you for having me. It’s good to be here.

Paula Saenz:

Yes it’s a pleasure because I’m also very, very interested in the topic that we have to discuss today. I think like myself, all of our listeners have used or are very used to working within LinkedIn. I thinks its one of the platforms that especially with working from home with COVID it has been one of the places that we’ve been most in order to connect with people that we were used to seeing everyday and that we don’t anymore. So definitely I’m very interested to get the insights from Mr. LinkedIn, so I wanted to start with the basics. Why is our LinkedIn presence so important and why we should be paying attention to it?

Mark Williams:

Sure well, I mean I think when you think about it it’s really your professional identity online isn’t it? And as you say especially these days even more so than ever but I would argue even well before days of COVID it’s the place where someone checks you out. So if you come across someone, hear their name, get an email from someone, or a voicemail from someone that you don’t know and it’s on a professional capacity then the first thing you do is look them up on LinkedIn. And so you’re creating the first impression through your profile and that’s pretty important.

Mark Williams:

So it amazed me how many people don’t pay enough attention to things like the LinkedIn profile, because they underestimate how important it is. But is critical really that kind of first impression. So yeah.

Paula Saenz:

And I especially agree, because I mean, my job has a lot to do with screening and kind of judging a little bit the LinkedIn profiles from the people that I see online to try to match them with the right level role. So, somebody if they don’t make the most out of their LinkedIn profile, maybe they’re missing out on a good opportunity, just because there’s not enough information or it doesn’t look in the proper way.

So going on that line, since you mentioned that so important to have a good first impression. Do you have any tips on how to improve that? How can you be seen on LinkedIn from that sense?

Mark Williams:

Yeah, I mean, there’s so many areas you could cover, but the thing I’d concentrate on today would be just to talk about activity, because that’s the thing that people often underestimate. And it has such a big impact. So a lot of the time people will, you know, create a LinkedIn profile, and maybe make it look good, or think they’re making it look good, and then leave it at that. And that’s okay if someone does go to check them out. But of course that’s not how it works in areas like recruitment for instance, because someone isn’t checking you out, so they’re not looking you up by name for a job, they’re searching on keywords. And hopefully they find you for a suitable job. Well, the problem with that is they probably won’t find you unless you are active. Now, obviously if I was searching for a very unique keyword, and you’re one of the only people on LinkedIn to have it, I’ll find you. But the reality is that that’s rarely gonna be the case. And if I search for you, the reason why I find you, the reason why you come high in my search result, is because you’re considered to be particularly relevant to me. And a number of things impact that but one of the biggest is activity. So if we’ve had some level of contact with each other, whether that just be in the feed, so commenting, or liking each other’s posts, or other things like direct messaging, particularly can have an impact on that. So, you make yourself more visible through activity. The analogy I always use is, you know, if you…And this is for any use of LinkedIn, I’m not only talking about job seeking, any use of LinkedIn, the analogy I use is that you’ve got this huge area that you’re in, you know, like a forest if you like, and if you were looking to be found by people, whether that’s customers, or headhunters, or anybody, then obviously you wanna be visible to them as opposed to any normal prey, you actually wanna be shot. (laughs)

Paula Saenz:

Yeah.

Mark Williams:

Or targeted. But you know, so yeah, a good profile is like wearing a bright, dayglow jacket, you know, so that people can see you. But here’s the analogy, it doesn’t matter how brightly you dress, if you sit behind a tree and don’t move, then you’re dependent on me moving into a position where I can see you. And that’s not within your control, right. So, get moving, you know, and the more you move around, the more likely I am to see you. And that isn’t just about job seekers, that can be any use of LinkedIn. Activities, the thing that that sparks the whole process really, that’s what makes thingshappen on LinkedIn.

Paula Saenz:

Okay, ’cause speaking of moving and getting away from like the tree that’s standing your way. Do you like in terms of the activity, is there something that we can do that’s more valuable for the algorithm than other things? Like let’s say, commenting on a post, does it make you more relevant to a certain person’s profile, than maybe making a post yourself? Or do you have any insight on what kind of activity can boost your profile a bit more than others?

Mark Williams:

Yeah, I mean, commenting is a really good thing to do. And posting is as well provided that the posts you do make other people wanna comment. So, you know, if you’re just posting stuff that’s just putting a message out, that’s really talking at people, then you’ll tend to find as you would in any type of interaction that if you talk in that way to people or you communicate in that way to people, then they tend not to communicate back with you. So posts that are engaging a good for relevance. Engaging with other people’s posts is good for relevance as well. Although actually, the answer to the question is that the most powerful thing you’ll ever do for relevance is direct messaging. But of course that’s not possible with everyone. And direct messaging is only powerful if it’s two-way process. So there’s no point in just, you know, spamming people and having no response. But if you actually get into a direct message conversation with someone then that has more impact than anything else, yeah.

Paula Saenz:

Okay. Okay. Very interesting. I didn’t know that. Also I imagine that like myself a lot of people on LinkedIn are making mistakes or doing things that maybe are not kind of as advisable in terms of building an employee brand or a personal brand online. What would you say are the main mistakes that people make using the platform?

Mark Williams:

Yeah, I mean, it’s probably more of a mindset than anything else.

Paula Saenz:

Okay.

Mark Williams:

I think probably the most common mistake I find anyways, when people only use LinkedIn when they want something from LinkedIn.

Paula Saenz:

Okay.

Mark Williams:

So they’re like that friends, or supposed friend that you never hear from, and then you suddenly do out of the blue, and it’s because they want something from you. And that’s not much of a friend, right. And then a lot of people are like that with LinkedIn. So, you know, I’m doing really well, I’ve got lots of business, I don’t need any more business, oh, I suddenly hit hard times, you know, businesses a bit tight. And so I’m gonna suddenly start using LinkedIn and hope that all of a sudden I’m gonna get customers queuing up outside my door. Or, you know, I’m very happy in my job, I suddenly need to get a job ’cause I’ve lost my job. And suddenly I peer on LinkedIn out of nowhere. Or I’m looking to recruit someone, you know, I haven’t been on LinkedIn for two years. But now we’ve got a vacancy. So we’ll start getting active. And it doesn’t really work that way, you know, you suddenly can’t switch on the algorithm to suddenly start noticing you, you know. This is a networking community. A lot of people take a marketing mindset to LinkedIn, from whatever perspective, it doesn’t have to be in marketing, they might be a job seeker, they might be recruiting, but they are essentially taking a marketing mindset. Whereas actually you should take a networking mindset. I always tell them, always be active, always be using it. And when you do that, then that’s when the magic is more likely to happen. That’s when it will work for you. But you can’t just expect to just suddenly switch it on, and finally gaining benefit from it. It doesn’t really work that way.

Paula Saenz:

Okay, it is funny that you mentioned it because we see it quite often in terms of kind of, for our searches, when we’re trying to fill a position and match candidate with the right company, we find that it’s a lot more engaging for candidates to really see who they would be working with, how their profiles are, what they like. It’s a lot easier to engage with your future boss, if you know kind of what they’ve been doing on LinkedIn. But a lot of our clients find that since they’re not posting, since they’re not paying attention to their LinkedIn profiles, they tried to have a lot of employee branding and engagement with the candidates, but they’re unable to do so. Because they haven’t been kind of nurturing the plant, as you were mentioning to make it grow and become a forest. So do you have any kind of tips or any advice on how companies or senior leaders in those companies can use LinkedIn to attract the best talent from like an employee branding perspective?

Mark Williams:

Yeah, I mean, people like to think that people are attracted to jobs, the content of the role, you know, that that’s the thing that really drives them. And it might be the thing that initially gets their interest. But actually the thing that makes people join or accept a job and join an organization is the company itself. And the culture, and the people they’ll be working with, and the environment they’ll be spending a lot of their lives with. And so often, when you look on LinkedIn, you get absolutely no sense of that whatsoever. You know, you just see either a load of very boring plain profiles that tell you barely nothing and no activity. Or you get a kinda unified approach that makes a company look like it’s a kinda clone culture, where you know, every profile reads exactly the same. But there’s a real missed opportunity in all of that, you know. If senior leaders within an organization were active on LinkedIn, expressing opinion, writing profiles that actually demonstrate a bit about their personality, then a job seeker who is a difficult person to recruit, you know, someone that’s in high demand, will look at that and start to get a real sense of what they’re gonna be getting into. These are the things that make the biggest difference. You know, when I’ve been recruiting, you know, we always used to invite people into the office, spend time in the office, get to know people, take them out for drinks and stuff like that. These are the kind of things that attract the best quality people. And certainly, you know, I wouldn’t say you replace that, although maybe at the moment you have to, but you wouldn’t replace it with that,but but you are taking steps towards breaking down those barriers and making the organization seem so much more real, and approachable and authentic, through not just the profiles, but the activity of people within the company, at all levels but obviously in leadership roles, they’re gonna have more impact.

Paula Saenz:

And I guess also, it is a very good way to create like a personal interaction when you’re interviewing for a dream role, right? Because especially now that there’s a lot more distance interviewing through zoom, and kind of going through full research projects, through online, I think it makes a lot of sense to really check who you will be interviewing with, what they’ve liked recently, in terms of the posting, who do they follow, because that way you have some tools, or at least some information to create much more of a personal connection with that person, even if it’s through zoom. So I think it goes both ways. From like a company to attract talent, but also from a candidate to really create that connection that they’re seeking with a future boss.

Mark Williams:

Yeah, and of course, you know, the thing about recruitment and interviews is that the process should be made as easy as possible for both parties. And so by giving information, whether you’re a candidate giving information about yourself to the people that might be recruiting you, and being real and authentic and open, makes it easier to interview and easier to understand more about you. But equally from a company perspective, as well. You know, that the company wants to facilitate the process to make that person feel as relaxed, and as easy as they can in an interview situation. And of course, you know, interviews over zoom and things like that are a little bit more false than they perhaps will be face-to-face, and anything you can do to facilitate that. So on both sides, openness and authenticity, and being real, just makes life a lot easier for all parties. And therefore, you’re more likely to make the right decision on both sides. You know, you’re dealing with more factual information, more real stuff that allows you to make the right kind of decisions. And therefore you get less mistakes when recruiting.

Paula Saenz:

Yeah, definitely. And yeah, thank you, Mark, for all these insights. I mean, I think that it’s definitely very interesting to be aware of how we use the platforms that we do on a day to day basis, because I think that sometimes we can be not that mindful of how we interact with people or how much we put on in terms of like nurturing our social media presence. So I think your insights are very interesting and can make me and probably a lot of our audience to reflect on how we use the platform. So it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for all of that insight.

Mark Williams:

My pleasure. Nice speaking to you.