Without this system, you ain’t influencing nobody.
Everything is content.
Your content is more than your profile, a post, or a video, it’s also your activity on LinkedIn. When you “like” someone else’s post, that action shows up on your profile and in your feed. That is content. When you comment on a post, that is content. Even if you simply log in to LinkedIn and read a few posts, but don’t like or comment on anything, this still tells LinkedIn that you are active, which means those users with Sales Navigator can see through filtering that you’ve been active within the past 30 days, and even this is content. You are a content machine! Let’s put that machine to productive use.
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.– Mark Twain
[taken from LinkedIn short email course, needs rewriting for book]
Before you speak a single word for a video or write a single word for a post, let’s make sure you’re headed in the right direction. The first part to get right is your message.
LinkedIn Overhaul Step #4 — Your Message
Your personal brand tagline is not your message, any more than a logo is a brand. It’s an important part, but your message is more than your tagline. Your message is “You have XYZ need, and I can fulfill that need.” Until you craft a precise and powerful message, you’ll be mere noise and your audience will tune you out. If you want to grab attention and make an impact, your message must be:
- Customer-centric. It’s not about you, it’s about your customer. Your customer is the hero in this story and you are the guide.
- Must-have. What makes the result you deliver a must-have for your audience, rather than merely a nice-to-have?
- Wrapped in a story. We evolved to pay attention to stories. Stories capture your audience’s attention.
- Credible. In a court of law, credibility comes from evidence and witnesses. What evidence and witnesses can we produce to back up your message?
- Individualized. The most effective message is delivered in person, one-on-one. It may not always, or ever, be possible for you to deliver your message that way, but how can we get as close as possible?
Homework: Create Your Message
- Create a persona. We already know who your customer is from Step #3 where we identified your ideal audience, but let’s make it real. Make up an imaginary person, complete with a name and personal details. This person is a member of your ideal audience. They have a problem you can solve, a need you can satisfy. We call this fictional person a “persona.”An example of a simple persona might be Tina. She’s 28 years old, single, and is Australian but lives in Singapore. She has an ambitious, entrepreneurial, almost aggressive personality. If she wants something she’ll make it happen. She’s a university graduate, and work is her main hobby. She also enjoys singing, reading, and talking to people. You don’t need to get any more detailed than this right now.
- Make your solution must-have. Are you comfortable that the result you included in your personal brand tagline, the problem you solve, is a must-have for this person? If so, we can already mark this step as complete. If not, what can we change, either to your tagline or your persona, to make it a must-have? For example, if Tina were my persona, and I’m selling a course on LinkedIn thought leadership, then I would need to know what Tina’s goals are. If her goal is to land a new job, and she already sees LinkedIn and thought leadership as critical to accomplishing this goal, then we’ve got a match. If she’s only using LinkedIn casually and thinks she’s better off talking to friends to find a new job, then she will not find my LinkedIn course to be a must-have.
- Create a story with a plan. Tina has a problem–she’s been trying to find a new job on LinkedIn but nobody knows she exists, and even if they find her profile, they’re not impressed. But then she came across my course on how to engage in thought leadership on LinkedIn, and she learned how to; 1) audit and optimize her LinkedIn profile, 2) make meaningful connections, and 3) create compelling content. Tina use what she learned in my course to create a stunning profile, connect with her ideal audience, and create content that got her audience’s attention. Last week, Tina landed her dream job, doubling her salary and doing work she’s passionate about. We’re hardwired to listen intently when a story is being told. We also love simple plans. Create a three-step plan and put it in a story that illustrates how your persona had a problem, found your must-have solution, followed your plan, and achieved success.
- Establish authority. Building credibility and establishing your authority can be as simple as saying “This is what I did for XYZ well-known company,” or “I’ve taught this system to over 1,000 people just like you.” If you’re just getting started, you can build credibility around your plan, your system, rather than yourself, by saying “This is the system used by people who have been successful at ABC for the past 2,000 years.” If you have proven authority, so much the better. Proven authority is mentions in the media that allow you to say “As seen in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Wall Street Journal,” a relevant award, being recognized on a list, or facts and statistics. What can you include in your message that will establish your credibility?
- Personalize it. When I’m reaching out to connect with someone on LinkedIn, I include their first name. I can personalize the message even more by referring to something on their profile that proves I’m not a robot. However, let’s assume we’re delivering your message to a lot of people at once, and you can’t personalize it to this extent. One way is to call out to people who have the problem you solve with a question like “Do you struggle with __________?” For example, if I were trying to reach Tina, my persona, but also 500 other people like her, I might create a LinkedIn post saying “Are you looking for your dream job on LinkedIn? Do you think engaging in thought leadership might be key to attracting the attention of your ideal audience?” Although I can’t talk to Tina or those like her by name, I can create content that is focused enough to make them say “Hey, that’s me! It’s like he knows who I am.” How can you personalize your message?
Now we put it all together. Your message will be used in many places, and in many forms, so don’t get too hung up on the exact words because you’ll constantly be modifying it to fit the circumstances. You’ll put it on your LinkedIn profile, it will be part of your connection requests, and you’ll use it in posts.
Right now, I want you to create a LinkedIn post that includes your message. It can be typed or a video, as long as it:
- Focuses on your customer and their need.
- Presents your solution as must-have.
- Incorporates a story and a plan.
- Establishes your authority and credibility.
- Is personalized to reach out and grab the attention of your ideal audience.
Create your post, and if you like, type “@josh steimle” and tag me in it so I can come take a look and give it a like and comment to give it an extra boost.
Pro tip: Begin and end your LinkedIn posts with a question that invites comments. Comments are what push content viral on LinkedIn, and if you can get a discussion going every time you post you’ll be on the road to huge success.
Don’t stress about getting it perfect, just do it. Your first attempts at creating content might fall flat. You’ll do things wrong. You’ll make mistakes. It’s ok, everyone does. The only difference between you and the most successful thought leader out there on LinkedIn is that he or she has failed more times than you’ve ever tried. Remember the words of LinkedIn’s founder:
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. — Reid Hoffman
The same can be said for the first attempts at creating content.
Keep it simple, but most importantly, do it–now.
The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt. — Sylvia Plath
The writer who loses his self doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, a prolixity, should stop writing immediately. — Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
What does it take to be a writer? Mostly passion and persistence. — Jane Friedman
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again. — André Gide
- Gary Vee, video, askgaryvee, books, etc.
- Marcus Sheridan, They Ask, You Answer
- John Grisham got started while a lawyer. Every morning he got up early and wrote one page.
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
Everything you do is content — Roger Bannister running 4-min mile, 1,400 have broken limit since him
Channels and methods, what changes what doesn’t
Creation and delivery
Long form vs. short form
Good content vs. great content
Stickiness of short quotes/sayings
Power of rhyme, alliteration
Manipulation vs. influence
Quotes change the world rather than books
Memory is fleeting, so create built-in reminders, look at how religions do this with recurring ceremonies, ordinances, traditions, etc.
“When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ — Spencer W. Kimball
Finding inspiration, sources of inspiration
- Lessons learned
- Overcoming challenges
- Questions you get asked all the time
- How to
- Ask your audience
- Copy and tweak, competition, peers