Leadership doesn't have to be lonely. And no, LinkedIn isn't just for those times you're searching for a job. LinkedIn is one of the easiest (no travel or conference passes required) and most powerful ways to build your leadership network and relationships, and bring connection, learning and meaning to your day…IF you use it in the way that today's guest, Louise Brogan, suggests. In this episode, you will learn the following:
How to effectively utilize LinkedIn to grow a professional network and increase visibility.
How to engage and build relationships with other leaders on LinkedIn just like you would at a professional conference (for a lot less money)
The power of engaging with other leaders' content to connect, learn, and build relationships.
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Louise Brogan runs a boutique marketing agency working with entrepreneurs, SME’s and professionals who want to raise their profile through LinkedIn in a genuine and valuable way.
Louise is an international speaker, and hosts the LinkedIn with Louise Podcast and YouTube channel. She lives at home with her husband, three children, and an energetic spaniel called Bruce.
In 2019, Louise was invited to attend No 10 Downing Street to represent small business and annually attends the House of Lords as one of 12 UK Local Heroes for Business. In 2021 and 2022, Louise was named a Small Business Britain Champion.
While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Capsho for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.
When I say LinkedIn, what's the first thing that you think of? I'm willing to bet it's job searching. To make a confession, until about six months ago, I thought the exact same thing. I thought if you were happy in your corporate job, there was really no reason to be active on LinkedIn. But that all changed when I discovered today's guest, Louise Brogan.
Teri Schmidt 00:00:26 I ran into her on YouTube and started to engage on the platform in the ways that she describes.
So what words come to mind now when I think of LinkedIn? Community support and learning.
And LinkedIn is the one social media platform that actually energizes me instead of leaving me feeling drained.
They say that leadership is lonely, but as I've argued on past episodes, it doesn't have to be. And LinkedIn is one easily accessible tool, no travel or conference passes required that can bring connection, learning and meaning to each of our days if we use it in the way that Louise suggests.
Teri Schmidt 00:01:10 Ready to learn more? Let's jump in. I'm Teri Schmidt, founder of Stronger to Serve Coaching and Teambuilding and this is the Strong Leaders Serve Podcast.
Teri Schmidt 00:01:36 Welcome Louise to the Strong Leaders Serve Podcast.
Teri Schmidt 00:01:39 I'm excited to have you on today.
Teri Schmidt 00:01:41 And I really look forward to our conversation about LinkedIn. So could you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today, what you do in your business, how you support your customers?
Louise Brogan 00:01:53 Yes. So thank you so much, Teri, for having me on your podcast. I'm very excited to get into all of this with you today. I am based in just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland, where I grew up. I actually live about half a mile from my childhood home. Despite having gone around the world and back a few times, I ended up back where I grew up. I run a LinkedIn marketing agency which offers done for you services. So we work with professional clients such as law firms, accountancy firms, HR firms who know they should be on LinkedIn, but may not have the time or the knowledge or expertise on how to do it effectively. And so me and my team do it for our clients. And how did I get here? Oh, my gosh. I quit my corporate job about ten years ago. I was an It project manager in the health service here in Northern Ireland, and when I had my three children, I went part time. And the long story short is that I was basically told I couldn't progress any further up the career ladder with a part time position, and that wasn't good enough for me. So I thought, what else can I do? And I actually started a craft shop initially, which was short of a disaster. It wasn't a complete disaster, but it didn't make any money. But somebody, an advisor or mentor, came out to see me and see why was my business not doing well and said that she thought maybe I could help people with their social media because I seemed to know what I was doing online. And that's where my business started. And niched down into LinkedIn specifically about four or five years ago now, I would suggest.
Teri Schmidt 00:03:36 Interesting. What was behind that niching down into LinkedIn? What drew you to LinkedIn in particular?
Louise Brogan 00:03:43 Quite a few things actually. So I used to teach Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I realized a that if I wanted to really, really understand the nitty gritty of any one platform, it was far better just to focus on one, because it's hard to be an expert in all four. Especially because they changed so much. Even back then, they changed so much so often. Never mind all these other things springing up, like TikTok and who knows what was common gone in the preceding ten years. So that was one reason I invested in coaching in my business in about 2017 and have ever since. And actually my coach suggested that I niche up into LinkedIn. So becoming an expert in the topic suggestion from my coach. And also I realized when I looked at the time I spent on other platforms, the time I spent on LinkedIn tended to lead to business more quickly than it did spending time on the other social media platforms. And at the end of the day, LinkedIn is a business network. Whether you are in a job or whether you are in business, people go to LinkedIn to connect with their professional business network. So whereas we go to Facebook, Instagram really more to hang out with friends and family and follow people we're interested in or whatever. I like plants, so I might follow people who have beautiful plants on Instagram. I like things like positive mindset stuff over there. So it's more of a distraction, more of a kind of a curiosity or interest. Whereas LinkedIn, I think when people go to LinkedIn, they're specifically there to connect with people that they know through their career or their business. So that shortened what they call the know like and trust factor versus on the other platforms. And that has really actually a lot of people have started to recognize that a lot more since the Pandemic. It has really had a massive growth on LinkedIn since the Pandemic. So that has only played in my favor.
Teri Schmidt 00:05:55 Yeah, that's great. And just from personal experience. I know I've just recently gotten more involved in LinkedIn, and after following your YouTube channel and which we'll talk about in a bit, and just getting to know the best way to use LinkedIn, I find that the time I spend on LinkedIn energizes me. And I feel like I've learned something and I feel like I've built relationships as opposed to the time on other social media networks. I feel a little bit more drained afterwards. So it's really interesting.
Louise Brogan 00:06:30 I have never really thought about it this way before, Teri, but what you're saying is right, because you go to LinkedIn and you end up having conversations with people through commenting on their content and reading what other people have said about the same topic or content and also in the messaging and chat. Whereas maybe if you're over on I know if I go to Instagram, I literally am looking through the Instagram stories and I'm not really engaging with them, I'm not really sending back my comments or thoughts, I'm not seeing other people's commentary on that. So you're maybe more passive in there. Whereas with LinkedIn I do, I feel it's more engaging, and that's probably because I'm really particular about who I connect with on LinkedIn. So I'm very particular about my network, who I want to be connected to and whose content I want to see. And I actively unfollow people probably a couple of times a week. So that what LinkedIn is serving up to me to read is stuff I'm actually interested in as well.
Teri Schmidt 00:07:32 Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit. I'd love to hear about how you are selective with your network and how you personally engage in it. And I know again, from following you, kind of your beliefs about the best way to use LinkedIn, but I'd love for you to share that with our audience.
Louise Brogan 00:07:55 Because I'm quite known within certain circles for LinkedIn. A lot of people will send me connection requests. I don't send that many connection requests on LinkedIn unless somebody, one of my friends has commented on somebody's post and I think, oh, that person's really interesting. We want to send them connection requests. I feel that you want to build a small but mighty network on LinkedIn. People who you are interested in, what they have to say. And I don't mean it doesn't have to be what they say about what their business. It could be like their ethos on life and their work life balance and stuff that they share. They might be finding really interesting articles and sharing them. And you think, yeah, if I met this person in a book club, I would always want to sit beside them because they've got interesting things to say. And I think when we started on LinkedIn, most of us accepted anybody and everybody into our networks. And a lot of people will say to me, oh, but LinkedIn is not a bit boring and I'm not really interested. We will have the sale in there. And I think, well, who are you connected to? And if you go through your network now, if you've got 500,000 people in your network, you're not going to go through them one by one, but you can, every time you go to LinkedIn, see on the newsfeed what is being shown to you. And you can let LinkedIn know you're not really interested in that person or that content, not because they're not like a pleasant person, but you'd rather be engaging with other stuff that's on there. And how you do that is you literally go to the top right hand corner of that person's post and you click on the three little dots and a menu appears and there's options to unfollow or remove connection. What I tend to do is unfollow people rather than removing the connection, I would remove a connection. If someone is actively trying to sell me stuff that I never express an interest in, or if they've said something that I find rude or offensive, I would remove that connection. But otherwise I just unfollow people. Because you can have followers on LinkedIn who you are not following and they can see your content and may comment on it, which brings their network to become more aware of what you're saying. But if you're not following them, you don't see their posts. So it creates a cleaner news feed for you. But if someone's following you and you're not following them, they may engage with your content, giving you more visibility in front of a wider audience, if that makes sense. So what was the second part of your question, Teri? Sorry.
Teri Schmidt 00:10:29 No, I think you got that one. I'm curious because we work with a lot of new and mid level female managers in corporate and sometimes I hear, well, isn't LinkedIn just useful when you're looking for a job? Why would I want to be engaged in LinkedIn when I'm already in an organization? Maybe have a network within that organization. What good is it to me?
Louise Brogan 00:10:57 Okay, great. This is great because I'm actually going to speak at a conference this Friday in Scotland, and that is for its lawyers under the age of 40. So I would imagine around that mid level. They're not beginner lawyers, but neither are they senior partners. Most of them anyway. So this is the audience I will be speaking to. I would say that it's really good to build a professional network around you because there's something about keeping up to date with what's going on within your industry. There's that there's also connecting with other people because you may not be looking for a job and that's absolutely fine, but there could be opportunities for you to become more visible and your company would recognize that. For example, if you got to speak on a podcast about your industry topic, your senior managers are going to become aware of that if you're using LinkedIn effectively. So it can also help you to get noticed by people within your own organization. Maybe. I think a lot of us hopefully coming out of the pandemic, more of us are starting to go back to in person networking events if and when they're happening. Just coffee or drinks after work with connecting with people within your industry, keeping up to date with the latest things that are happening within your industry and just generally building your network. Well, I see LinkedIn as an online version of that, connecting with people. It might be people who are in your city or in your state who work in the same industry as you. It's just good to get a nice network of people around you. I have run here in Northern Ireland, I've been running a series of networks, events, networking events. But while walking and actually the paper at the weekend, I read The Broadsheets on a Saturday, there was an article about how your brain actually fires up more whenever you're moving and talking. That's interesting. So at these networking events, it's just about connecting with people. People share stuff like, oh, yes, I was struggling with that a little bit, or just that little bit of support for the juggle that we all have and finding out you're not alone and there's other people who are experienced the same things. That happens when you build this network on LinkedIn as well. I think, you know, you might connect with somebody, and you've been following them for a while and commenting on their stuff, and then it moves to private messaging, and you say you might send somebody message, say, Look, I really loved what you said there. I'm actually going to be in let's pretend we're in, I don't know, near Cincinnati. I'm coming to Cincinnati for a conference next month to do with whatever industry. And are you going to be there? And the person says, yes, I'm going to be there, but why don't we meet for coffee while we're there and strengthen that bond, finding people who have common interests within your industry and really just building on the relationships that you have with those people. And I think that really, it may not necessarily be that you are being noticed by people who are going to promote you, but strengthening your relationships with people who work in the same industry helps you to feel more supported, I think, in your career, and you can be a support to those people as well.
Teri Schmidt 00:14:09 Totally agree. In fact, we did an episode earlier called Leadership Doesn't Have to Be Lonely, and it was all about building your network. And we didn't talk specifically about LinkedIn there, but I've just come to realize that LinkedIn is such a great opportunity, if you engage with it intentionally and thoughtfully, it can be a great opportunity to do just like you said, to build those relationships. Whether it be a mentoring relationship, whether it be a peer relationship, whether you're looking for someone that meets a specific demographic that also is in your industry, for example, that you just want to bounce ideas off of, it can be a great way to initiate and build those relationships.
Louise Brogan 00:14:54 Yes. I'm just thinking, Teri, I've started mentoring a young woman here and who's in the marketing industry, and we met last week, and we were chatting through a few things, a few issues, and I immediately thought of two women that I know through my LinkedIn network that I connected her with. I said, I think this person would actually be really helpful because I think she's gone through that as well. And that's an example of why it can be a really powerful place to find good support and good networks for your career.
Teri Schmidt 00:15:29 Yeah, agreed. And I want to add on to what you said a little bit about going to in person networking events, in person conferences, and I want to tie in something that you posted about on LinkedIn recently, and that is what the prompt is when you go to post on LinkedIn. So can you tell me a little bit about what you said for that?
Louise Brogan 00:15:50 Yes. So if you go to LinkedIn and you go to write a post, LinkedIn literally says, what do you want to talk about? And to me, that means let's start a conversation. It does not mean, Let me broadcast something to my network. It means, let me start a conversation. And this is where the content that we write for clients and how I try and write all my content is, let's introduce a topic. Let's share a couple of pointers that are helpful to the reader about that topic that they might find interesting, and then let's ask them a question. And so many people write posts on LinkedIn, but they forget to ask their network what they think of it or have they experienced this? So most people just click like underneath. Whereas if you actually say, last week I was mentoring somebody and I find it really valuable, here's a couple of reasons why I've got involved in mentoring. Have you ever mentored anybody? If I just said the whole bit at the start, people will go, oh, well done, that's wonderful, blah, blah, blah. But the fact I'm asking them a question opens the floor for them to come back to me, and that opens the conversation. And it's amazing that little tweak makes such a difference to people starting to engage on your posts. And then when one person comments, usually somebody else does too, and then you're really having a conversation with your network.
Teri Schmidt 00:17:22 I love that. And just the fact that it is a conversation, just going in there and commenting on other people's comments is another great way that I've found to continue conversations as well.
Louise Brogan 00:17:35 Yes. I think that's where a lot of people miss a little trick on LinkedIn, and that is when you look. So if you look at somebody's post, maybe it's a thought leader in your industry, and you would love the chance to meet this person and talk to them about something or other and you'll see their post because they haven't asked a question. You might have like, 78 people have liked this post, and one person's commented. If you comment, then not only does the person who wrote the post see your name, but everybody else who's seeing their post is also seeing your name, your photograph, and your headline. And that is raising your visibility as well. And I know Teri, back in the day when I first started, so I've been in business ten years when I started Niching down into LinkedIn, I wanted to get on to podcasts. And what I would do is this is back when I was on Instagram, I did this mainly not in LinkedIn. There's somebody whose podcast I would like to have been on or had them on my podcast. I would follow them on Instagram and I would comment on their posts and they would say to me, you know, Louise, most people never did that and it made you stand out. And that's really the same across all social media. It flatters the host or the writer who wrote the original post. So you get seen by them and it keeps you top of mind with them, so that when you do go to ask them a favor or invite them to maybe you're organizing an event for your company and you think, oh, wouldn't be amazing to get, I don't know, Bernay Brown, come and speak. Not sure. Work with Brene Brown. Having a person already aware of you through that engagement on their content gets you a step ahead, listening, going, you're never getting Renee Brown to conference, Louise. Yeah, I know. That was probably a really bad example.
Teri Schmidt 00:19:26 No, I think that's a good example because that's someone that most people are familiar with and gets the idea across. Yes, it may not work the first time you comment on one of Renee Brown's posts, or ever, but looking to thought leaders and building those relationships and just like everyone else, thought leaders want to feel heard, they want to feel seen, and they want to engage with people they care about.
Louise Brogan 00:19:53 Yeah, they're human. I mean, there's a wonderful author called Barbara Houston, and she wrote a couple of books, well, more than a couple, about women and wealth and how her last book was called Rewire for wealth and How Women Think About Money. And I read her book and I thought it was brilliant. And I commented publicly on her post on LinkedIn. We got into a one to one chat and messenger because, again, she was sharing content on LinkedIn. I think she did a series of live videos and not very many people were actually actually going out of their way to write a comment and that led to a conversation. So that's my tip. I would definitely try and do that.
Teri Schmidt 00:20:32 Yeah, that's wonderful. And I think getting back to the in person networking and in person conferences, I think a lot of the same principles that we know we like to use when we are at an in person event, meaning you don't just walk up to someone and hand them your business card and walk away. You might comment on the presentation that you were both in or the session that you were both in and start a conversation there all the relationships you could build there. I think it's the same thing, but just even more so on LinkedIn because you can access people that maybe didn't choose to go to that conference or didn't have the funds to go to that conference or live on the other side of the world. I know I've connected to people that live on the other side of the world, that have really interesting ideas and you really like to learn from each other, but you weren't able to meet in person. So I think there's just a huge opportunity there for leaders.
Louise Brogan 00:21:30 I think so. I think this is my favorite analogy about LinkedIn. Literally, it is your online version of your favorite industry conference, and as you say, you treat it the same way. So I'm going to speak at a conference this Friday, so I have looked to see who else is speaking. So I've done my work ahead of time. I've connected with the other speakers. I've sent messages. I've had messages back. When we go, I'm going to meet people and say, hello and how are you? I'm not going to hand them my card or my QR code. And that's whenever you connect with somebody, the equivalent of that on LinkedIn is when you connect with somebody, send them a message and say why you're connecting, because it's the same thing. But yeah, and then all the people who are speaking and who are famous on LinkedIn inverted commas are like the speakers on stage at the conference you're going to. So engage with them and the other people who are commenting on their posts, look and see who those people are because that might be the people they're obviously liking and commenting on the same people you are. So maybe that's someone that you should be connected to. And that is a really easy opener to connect with somebody and say, hi, Teri, I saw we both just commented on Brene Bryan's post. I love what she said about XYZ and I thought you seem to like it too, so let's connect.
Teri Schmidt 00:22:46 Who would say no to that, right? Yeah, I love that. I'm curious because I know you as a dumb for you service, you work with a lot of different clients. What is your favorite way to help your clients with LinkedIn?
Louise Brogan 00:23:03 So we work with companies who have a small team. Normally some of them have larger teams, but I like to be able to go hand in hand with creating the content for the clients that we post on their company page and accompany that with. For the person that I am connected with, whether that's the CEO or the operations manager, and also to offer training to their team so that they all feel included. Because I think this is say you work for a firm of maybe there could be like ten to 15 people who are on LinkedIn in the company, and maybe there's another 30 or so who are operatives or who are in the warehouse or whatever your industry is. So those people maybe aren't on LinkedIn, but what I like to do is empower those people who are on LinkedIn or who should be on how to actually use it effectively, because that actually helps the company as a whole. So we work with the client a month ahead to work on themes. So Sonny signs up for us minimum six months, and we will think, okay, what are our themes for the next six months with this client? What's relevant and interesting to their audience? We write the posts for them. We don't know, we're not experts in HR or accountancy or law, but I have experienced professional copywriters and we will get the client to send us through what I would call source content. So maybe it's a blog, maybe it's a podcast. The CEO has been on, it's a piece of content. We write posts that are Linked in appropriate, and then we schedule them. Once they're approved by the client, we schedule them on the platform and then we notify the other team members that that content is live, which encourages them to share it and comment on it and raise the profile of the company as a whole. So I love the clients that we work with. I love whenever they email me and say, oh, I went to a Stronger to Serve event and people commented on our LinkedIn page and how they really like the content that's on there. The funny thing is, Teri, that all the things I encourage people to do, 95% of people aren't doing any of them. So actually, if you're thinking, well, we've got a company page but no one ever comments on it, you're in the majority. So people need to be kind of really encouraged. And that's the whole asking questions piece. It's really, really hard to get anybody to comment on any of your content on LinkedIn, especially on a company page. That's where actually, your audience, the people, the female managers, the mid level managers, that is a really great way to get noticed again by people internally to your company is if maybe once a week, see what's on the company page, share it to your network and say something about why you're sharing it, and you will be getting noticed by the people in your firm. And I have seen this happen, where that person is then picked to go and speak on behalf of the company. Or maybe there's a delegation going to a special event and that person gets invited along because they are literally raising their visibility just by doing that simple thing, just by sharing the marketing message from the company to their network.
Teri Schmidt 00:26:18 Right? Yeah. That's so powerful and that advantage, especially when no one else is doing it. I think there's so much opportunity there and it can be quite powerful, especially paired with the strategies that you talked about in terms of starting conversations, not just using it as a way to hopefully not spam people, but just going to throw your business cards around, right. To really engage in those conversations so that we can all learn together. Well, is there anything that you'd like to share that I haven't asked a question about?
Louise Brogan 00:26:55 Oh, my gosh, I could talk for hours and hours. How do you link in, Teri? I have loads of free content for people over on YouTube if they want to go, if what we're saying has made them go, oh, this sounds kind of interesting, there's loads of videos over on LinkedIn. There's a lot of literally how to do this, how to do that, how to write your headline, how to write your about section. But there's also more thought leader content as well. What is your strategy for approaching LinkedIn? How can you help your company raise its profile on LinkedIn that your listeners might find useful? That's LinkedIn with Louise over on YouTube, but honestly, how long is a piece of string? I could talk forever.
Teri Schmidt 00:27:38 I know you could. And I strongly encourage anyone listening to go subscribe to your channel because I have gotten so much value out of it. And the way you present it is just really easy to understand, but it communicates the value of what you're doing, too. It's not just this is how your profile picture should look, this is why.
Louise Brogan 00:28:02 I really appreciate that that probably is a good pointer for people as to how they should approach LinkedIn. Actually, I think when people say I hear from a lot of people about why they don't use LinkedIn or why they are on LinkedIn and they're scrolling or lurking, which lurking is such a terrible word, but really what? Most people are doing. And there's a fear about not really understanding how the platform works or a fear of writing something. And you're kind of thinking, what are my peers thinking of about this? But how I approach this is the way I approach them at the YouTube channel. Let's take something and say it in a way that everybody understands what I'm talking about and it's not dumbing down, but it's making it easier for everyone to understand and then asking questions about it. And even you could say, invite people to private message you if they don't know what it is that you mean. But, yeah, just taking a message and thinking, how could I explain this in a way that most people will understand it? Where I see some people making a bit of an error is they write posts that are to their peers or people they want to come across sounding extremely professional and extremely knowledgeable. What happens is most of the people reading it don't really understand it, so they don't comment on it because they don't want to look foolish, so they don't comment on it. So the person writing it doesn't actually get any. Visibility. Better to take things and write about them in almost like a step by step explanation of things, and more people will engage with it, and then the people that you want to see it will see it, even if they don't comment on it.
Teri Schmidt 00:29:49 Yeah, that's a great point. And I loved your strategy that you mentioned earlier in terms of kind of just introducing a topic and talking about a few points that relate to that topic. And then the question. I think that structure, just by its nature, helps you to make what you want to say a little bit easier to understand and engage with for people.
Louise Brogan 00:30:12 Yes, hopefully. I hope so.
Teri Schmidt 00:30:15 Excellent. Well, you mentioned the YouTube channel, but if people want to learn more about you, Louise, and learn more about the work that you do, where's the best place for them to go?
Louise Brogan 00:30:25 Well, they could come and connect with me on LinkedIn.
Teri Schmidt 00:30:30 What a softball I threw up there.
Louise Brogan 00:30:35 Of course, Teri. They should really, really send a message and say, why.
Teri Schmidt 00:30:39 Yes, please. I've gotten so many connection requests, and I think you're the same way. If there's not a message, your likelihood of accepting that connection is it goes dark very high.
Louise Brogan 00:30:51 Definitely, yes.
Teri Schmidt 00:30:52 Well, thank you again so much for being on today. I really appreciate it.
Louise Brogan 00:30:56 Oh, thanks, Teri. It's just lovely talk through all these things with you. I hope that your audience finds it useful.
Teri Schmidt 00:31:05 So are you ready to access all the benefits that LinkedIn has for us as leaders? Go over right now and comment on one post. And if you and I are not connected already on there, be sure to follow me and send me a connection request. But remember to add a note that you listen to this podcast. I'd love to be connected with you.
And until next time, lead with this quote by Robert Kiyosaki in mind: "The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work."