Does LinkedIn Confuse You? Let’s Change That!

Does LinkedIn confuse you? Overwhelm you? Make no sense to you?

Let’s change that.

If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn, there is a good chance you have untapped potential. Whether it’s networking, selling, collaborating, or influencing, LinkedIn has something for just about everyone … and it’s growing at a rapid pace.

As of August 2018, there were more than 26 million companies represented and more than 15 million open jobs on LinkedIn. Add to that the steady increase of engagement – members are taking or sending more than 200 million viral actions and messages every week – and LinkedIn is at least worth a look.

What You Need to Know

Before we dive into how to use LinkedIn, it’s important that you understand these three things:

1. LinkedIn has evolved.

To the dismay of early adopters, LinkedIn is no longer a place to have virtual coffee with the people you already know. Do you remember the slap on the wrist you would get back in the day when you’d try to connect with someone you didn’t know? Those days are gone. Now it’s all about growing your network.

2. The news feed is the place to be.

Forget groups, forget article posts … LinkedIn wants you on the news feed, engaged in conversation. If you don’t believe me, post a link to the news feed with a one-sentence description and watch it die. Today’s LinkedIn is all about posting engaging content (use ALL 1,300 characters!) and generating comments.

3. Hashtags actually have a purpose.

Remember when LinkedIn tried to implement hashtags awhile back and they promptly had no purpose? That’s not what happened this time! Hashtags are like LinkedIn’s filing system. Trust me, you want to use them.

We Know This Isn’t Facebook

… Though you will be reminded of this frequently by annoyed LinkedIn users who are upset by “personal” posts.

While it is a good idea to keep things business-focused, it’s important to incorporate personal thoughts and feelings into posts. If we didn’t, LinkedIn would be pretty dry … the way it was when you stopped using it three years ago, remember?

But content isn’t the only reason LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook. The most exciting reason it isn’t like Facebook is because it has the potential for organic reach.

Yes, that’s right! As opposed to Facebook (where we can’t even get our content in front of the people actually following our business pages), you can post to LinkedIn and your posts have the potential to go viral on the platform.

How exciting is that?

Simplifying LinkedIn

I simplify LinkedIn by breaking it into three primary components:

  1. Your profile
  2. Content/posts
  3. Connection requests

Here’s how they work in tandem:

1. Optimize your profile.

What does that mean? LinkedIn is a heavily searched platform. In fact, LinkedIn makes its money by selling the ability to perform detailed searches. Make sure your profile has relevant keywords, is easy to read, and has all of the necessary components filled in. If you want a breakdown of those components, you can download my free LinkedIn checklist.

2. Post quality content and posts.

What you post will depend on you and your audience, but – regardless of what you post – you want to make sure you optimize. Use hashtags, use your 1,300 characters, and don’t put links in your original post (add it to the comments).

3. Send connection requests (with a note).

Reach out to individuals that will improve your bottom line, but do so with an eye towards a relationship. With the potential for organic reach, the connections you make may not be the people who help your business or career, but they might lead to the people who help your business or career!

Did that help?

I hope this provided ample evidence that you should at least explore the possibilities LinkedIn has to offer!

If you have any questions, please comment below!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a LinkedIn specialist working with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

How 17 Years “Irrelevant”​ Experience Landed Me the Best Compliment Ever

“You were right.”

Coming from a Coach Carr (and coming from a family that considered “being right” the end-all, be-all), that was an incredible compliment.

On Saturday, The ChadTough Foundation held the 5th Annual RunTough for ChadTough event. This was the first year we decided to have celebrity opportunities, allowing participants to meet with former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, former Detroit Tigers All-Star Brandon Inge, and “The Voice” finalist Laith Al-Saadi.

During a RunTough committee meeting this summer, this opportunity came up. I voiced my opinion based on seven years Guest Services experience with the Tigers and nearly 10 years website experience with the Detroit Lions.

My thoughts:

  1. No autographs, just photos. Having autographs just slows the line and it’s tough on the celebrities. Who wants to get a hand cramp?
  2. Have a clear barrier between the celebs and the participants. If you don’t have a clear barrier, people crowd around the celebrity trying to “get in.” It’s like quality parenting … people need boundaries.
  3. Have one line and have people go station-to-station for photos. Having separate lines can create embarrassment with celebrities if one line is empty and another is packed. It also ruins any flow.

I articulated all of this at our meeting and was met with, “How about you take the lead on this?” by the foundation’s executive director.

Made sense, right?

But Coach Carr hadn’t wanted to do things this way, though. He likes to organically mingle with the people who come out in support of his grandson, who passed away after a 14-month battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

I charmed him into giving it a try, though, and — as always — he did an amazing job. When he articulated his approval following the event, it occurred to me that everything went off without a hitch because I had 17 years of experience in exactly this kind of event.

Experience many — including myself — would probably consider irrelevant. How did that experience come to pass?

I Reached Out to the Tigers in High School

I had to shadow a person working in the field I wanted to go into when I was a senior in high school. I wanted to work in sports. I called Mary Lenhert who worked with the Detroit Tigers at the time and she offered to give me a tour of Tigers Stadium.

I ended up landing a job in Guest Services, working the final year at the stadium.

I was a young kid, but I learned how to deal with complaints (and there are many), engage in gameday activities (information booth, kids games, autograph lines, tours, running the bases), and made invaluable connections.

I Landed An Internship

My connections with the Tigers resulted in an internship with the Lions. That internship allowed me to cut my teeth in professional sports.

The following year, I was hired as the head of “New Media” and spent nearly nine years overseeing the Detroit Lions website and, eventually, social media. While working that job, we held training camp in Allen Park and I saw firsthand what it took to pull off an autograph or photo line.

That is why I was so valuable at our ChadTough run.

No Experience is Irrelevant

I was never hired to oversee autograph lines and I would never list it on a resume, but it was helpful experience this past Saturday.

It took other (more obvious) skills to oversee Saturday’s event: team leadership, customer service, and public relations to name a few.

But I want you to know that you shouldn’t discount any experience you’ve accrued over the course of your career, even if you make a huge career shift. Any skills you’ve acquired can be transferred to something else, often times in a less obvious way than mine were.

Embrace what you want to do! Piece together what you’ve done to this point and allow it to take you where you want to go!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

The Secret to Achieving LinkedIn Visibility

“LinkedIn is so overwhelming to me.”

I hear that from many clients, colleagues, and friends who don’t know where to start when it comes to LinkedIn. How does being on the platform turn into a new job, sales, or key networking connections?

The thing to know about social media networks – LinkedIn included – is that they are always evolving. What is true in April may not be true in October. It’s important to stay on top of social media trends, which most professionals (understandably) don’t have time for.

That’s where people like me come in.

Let me walk you through the secret to achieving LinkedIn visibility as things are today – August 12, 2018.

1. Stop Posting Article Links

Posting an article link is the fastest way to get next to no traction on LinkedIn.

The platform is trying to generate conversation between users, which means any posts with metadata – the image, title, and summary that comes with including a link – will quickly die in the newsfeed. (I will, however, be thrilled if this post defies this rule.)

That being said, producing articles is still important for inbound marketing. When someone clicks through to view your profile, they will see the most recent article you’ve written toward the top. I recommend posting articles at least monthly.

2. Generate Thought-Provoking Conversation

LinkedIn is doing a great thing allowing organic engagement to develop. Facebook has all but halted any chance of organic reach, forcing businesses to invest in the platform’s robust advertising tools if they want any traction at all.

If you can generate engagement (likes, comments, and shares) on LinkedIn, your posts will gain traction in the newsfeed. If you have an optimized headline and LinkedIn profile, visibility should result in business and valuable connection requests.

What does it look like to generate thought-provoking conversation?

I recommend staying true to your personality and what interests you. I love sparking conversations like the one below, which generated nearly 6,000 views.

Also stay true to your personality. If you have a great sense of humor, leverage it. Genuine communication will resonate through the computer or smartphone screen.

This post came to me while viewing the stats of my profile and took off, generating 66 likes, 47 comments, and nearly 11,000 views. I had people reaching out to me in private messages and connection requests referencing the “office boy” post.

Don’t be afraid to test things out: subject, tone, type of post.

3. Leverage Hashtags

Remember LinkedIn Pulse? If you don’t, it was LinkedIn’s curated content platform. If you were picked up by LinkedIn Pulse, your article views would skyrocket.

The equivalent of that system now is hashtags, which LinkedIn recently rolled out in a way that is starting to stick. LinkedIn has recommended including hashtags in posts for awhile, but one could never be quite sure what that accomplished.

Now they’ve made it an actual thing. You can follow specific hashtags to see posts that reference them in your newsfeed and you can include them in your posts to extend their reach. I recommend using as many (relevant) hashtags as possible whenever you post.

4. Go Down the LinkedIn Rabbit Hole

Yes, I’m telling you to throw best productivity practices out the window and allow yourself to travel deep into the abyss of mindlessly perusing social media.

Here’s the thing: LinkedIn will penalize your posts if you aren’t commenting on other people’s posts. If you don’t believe me, try it. Post daily to LinkedIn; use hashtags, don’t include a link, and try to generate engagement. If you don’t engage other people’s posts during that time, your reach will be limited.

Then change things up and start commenting on other people’s posts. Get into back-and-forth conversations with people. Say more than, “Great post!” Actually engage.

The visibility of your posts will increase. Believe me. Take a look at my profile as an example. The trends of people looking at my profile ebb and flow with me going down the LinkedIn rabbit hole to engage with others.

5. Change Up Your Content

Finally, change up your content. In other words, don’t be one-note. Allow yourself to explore different subjects, different mediums (video vs. posing a question vs. an image), and different times of the day. Tag people because they really would like to read the content, not to bait them into commenting.

As you test things out, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you and your visibility will soar. Then it’s all up to you to sell and network to your heart’s content.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Can You Take Advantage of an Accelerated Sales Cycle on LinkedIn?

What is an accelerated sales cycle and how do you know if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to use it?

Allow me to explain. There are two types of businesses on LinkedIn: those who leverage a “typical” sales cycle using the LinkedIn platform and those who have a strong advantage because of the LinkedIn platform.

It all comes down to industry, specialty, and how you identify your target audience.

Typical Sales Cycle

This is a typical sales cycle with added LinkedIn elements. Anything done specifically on LinkedIn is in blue. As you can see, these individuals are executing the sales cycle the same way they would whether they are on the LinkedIn platform or not.

 

The benefit to leveraging LinkedIn for a typical sales cycle is access to target audience. The ability to search using Sales Navigator and nurture leads through engagement provides a different method for an existing practice.

A relationship is established with a potential lead through connection on LinkedIn instead of a cold call, web search, or in-person engagement. The ability to ask whether the potential lead has interest in the product or service right away is a more forward method and another advantage to using LinkedIn.

Even if the potential lead doesn’t have an interest right away, the sales cycle continues with the nurturing process, which may come before or after closing the sale.

Accelerated Sales Cycle

If you are in a camp that can take advantage of the accelerated sales cycle on LinkedIn, you are one of the lucky ones. The accelerated sales cycle allows you to recognize and execute two of the steps before even reaching out to your potential lead.

How is this possible? It’s possible because you are in an industry or have a specialty that allows you to identify the individuals that needs your product or service through a LinkedIn profile — the individual’s title, company, industry, location, etc.

Examples:

  • A lawyer who works specifically with real estate agents
  • A CPA working with nonprofits
  • An event planner specializing in corporate picnics in Phoenix, Ariz.
  • A freelance writer that specializes in whitepapers for tech companies

Each of these examples can know the individual they are reaching out to has a vested interest in their services before reaching out, skipping to the third step of the sales cycle. Even if the individual isn’t interested in that moment, connecting on LinkedIn adds a qualified lead to that person’s network for nurturing.

If you fall into the Typical Sales Cycle …

You should still leverage LinkedIn reach-outs, but you should alter your messaging to a softer approach. The goal in a typical sales cycle is to add potential leads to your funnel for nurturing with the hope that a handful will happen to need your services when you reach out.

Potential messaging in a connection request:

Hi Sarah! I’m a business coach working with female entrepreneurs. I know we don’t know each other yet, but it would be great to connect with you so you can take advantage of my content and learn a little bit more about what I provide my clients. Thank you!

If you fall into the Accelerated Sales Cycle …

First, get excited.

Second, make sure you have Sales Navigator.

Third, take advantage of the potential you have on LinkedIn!

When you have the ability to target exactly the right individuals before you reach out, you can be more direct and shorten the sales cycle.

Potential messaging in a connection request:

Hi Sarah! As the director of employee development with XYZ company, you probably put on events throughout the year. I’m an event planner working specifically with individuals in your position to take a lot off your plate! Do you have any coming up? Either way, I’d love to connect!

Regardless, stick with LinkedIn!

Whether you are in the typical sales cycle camp or the accelerated sales cycle camp, make sure you are using LinkedIn to its full potential! It provides the ability to add leads to your network and nurture them along using your knowledge and expertise!

Optimize your profile and — if you don’t have time to conduct your own reach-outs — take advantage of my reach-out offering. I look forward to hearing from you!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a powerful, lead generating weapon. When used for good, it can open all kinds of business doors!

 

Let’s start by talking about why you want to optimize your profile.

First, it will help your exposure in SEARCH. If you are a Facebook Ads guru, you want the keyword phrase “Facebook Ads” to be all over your LinkedIn profile so you are the first person who pops up when someone searches LinkedIn for your services!

Second, it will help with inbound marketing. Let’s say you’re in a LinkedIn group and you are so amazing — so witty — that someone clicks on your name to view your profile. You want your profile to use high quality inbound marketing practices to guide that person through the start of your sales cycle.

You’re ready! Let’s optimize your LinkedIn profile!

STEP 1: HEADLINE

You need a stellar headline for a great LinkedIn profile. Your headline is that 120-character statement that accompanies just about every post your make on LinkedIn. Think of it as your personal billboard.

 

What do you want to include in your headline? Answer this question:

What will stand out to the people I want to buy from me?

For some, it means articulating a niche target audience. For others, it’s articulating a niche service. Either way, your goal is to be as specific as possible. I recognize the fear of excluding anyone who may want to work with you, but it’s better to specifically attract a small group of people than to sort of attract everyone.

STEP 2: SUMMARY & CURRENT EXPERIENCE

These sections are the heaviest weighted within your profile. You want to make sure they include keywords and statements you will be found for. Don’t worry about being repetitive; no one is going to read through your profile like a novel.

Your summary should — as the label suggests — sum up your professional career. Don’t feel like you have to include that you have three cats and a dog and like skydiving. Be as personal as you’d like, but don’t feel like you have to be. The key is to be true to you.

Your current experience section(s) — you can have as many as you have current jobs — should provide insight into what your company or business provides. Before writing it, ask yourself this question:

What will someone clicking through to my profile want to know about the services I provide?

Answer those questions with these sections!

 

STEP 3: SKILLS

Fill out your skills section with anything you may be found for in search. You have up to 50 skills and you have the option of choosing three featured skills that will be at the top.

Delete anything you don’t need — if you’re a C-Level professional, you can get rid of “Microsoft Word” as one of your 50 skills.

 

STEP 4: ADD A BUSINESS PAGE

I don’t care if you have your own business or simply work for yourself, make sure you create a business page. Sure, it may only act as a placeholder for your company website, phone number, and services, but it will take your profile to the next level.

 

See the difference?

STEP 5: USE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS

Make sure you’re using a professional headshot (even if your spouse has to take one in front of a blank wall) and not a cutout from that party you attended five years ago. Also, add a banner to your profile so you don’t have that dreaded blue placeholder graphic LinkedIn adds when you don’t have one.

Engage with others!

Once you have an optimized LinkedIn profile, it’s time to engage on the platform. The more you talk to others, the more you’re personal billboard will be displayed.

Also, if you don’t have time to do all of this yourself, please take a look at my LinkedIn Profile Optimization packages and choose one that works for you!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

How to NOT Make A Fool out of Yourself on LinkedIn

It’s so simple, but it’s so true.

Whether you’re looking to send an InMail message, a connection request, comment on a post, share in a group, WHATEVER IT IS … the key is to focus on the mutual benefit of what you’re doing.

Will anyone else benefit from what you’re about to do or is it all about you?

It’s a message I share with my 7 1/2-year-old daughter all the time. She wants to go outside and ride her scooter. Our next-door neighbor wants to go to the park. My daughter is beside herself, not quite understanding why the next-door neighbor is not understanding the importance of scooter riding.

“But it’s what I want to do!”

Precisely. It’s what she wants to do. She’s not thinking of the next-door neighbor and what she wants to do. It’s simple, but it’s so important and it applies to sales.

What is “appropriate” sales behavior on LinkedIn?

So often, I see people posting advice about what to do and not to do on LinkedIn. I’m one of those people. It is action-oriented advice, looking at the method and not the intention.

“Don’t ever ask people to buy from you in the first message!”

“Don’t ever use a connection request for sales!”

“Don’t ever post an article link in a group!”

Here’s the thing: there are valid points to each of those arguments. I get that. But the intention behind the actions is more important than the actions themselves. If I reach out to someone and ask them to buy from me because I recognize a clear need that person has, my genuine desire to help will come through.

If, on the other hand, I reach out without reading someone’s profile — therefore knowing nothing about the person — and ask him or her to buy from me, I’m going to come off like a self-absorbed jerk.

The actions are the same, but the intention is different.

I truly believe this is the difference between success and failure in sales. If the intention is to form a working relationship with someone based on both parties receiving a clear benefit, the strategy will work.

Sometimes that means nurturing a relationship because reaching out to someone to be his or her business coach without ever having a conversation is a bit forward. On the other hand, it may not be.

Hear me out.

Let’s say you are a business coach for female entrepreneurs who have a podcast. That is a narrow scope and you can find those women without ever reaching out to them. This is so important in the LinkedIn lead generation game!

This provides the opportunity to conduct a thoughtful, relevant reach-out, but only if you think through the process and have a genuine desire for a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Example of a thoughtful reach-out:

Hi Sally! My name is Chrissie and I’m a business coach for female entrepreneurs who also have podcasts. I have a ton of experience in this segment and believe I can really help you leverage your podcast for your business. Are you interested in a quick call so I can learn more about you?

Now, this is a forward reach-out. You can change the final line to any variation of the following to “tone it down”:

  • Are you interested in this article I wrote that details how to do this?
  • Are you interested in connecting on LinkedIn to learn more about each other?

Example of a self-absorbed (and bait-and-switch) reach-out sequence:

Hi Sally, I’d like to connect with you to learn more about your business.

Once Sally accepts the message, the almost-immediate follow-up message includes a full sales page worth of services and a statement (not question) of, “Let me know when you’re available for a call next week.”

If you’ve ever received a bait-and-switch like this (and you probably have), you feel dirty for having experienced it. It’s low, intrusive, and not effective.

These types of interactions have turned people off from the idea of sales on LinkedIn, believing the platform should be solely for relationships. While I understand their post considering the tactics being employed on LinkedIn, I completely disagree.

The idea of being on LinkedIn is to form business relationships, yes, but that might mean services are exchanged. The key — as always — is to know your audience, recognize whether they need what you’re selling, and convey your mutually-beneficial relationship.

Whether that’s through inbound or outbound marketing is irrelevant. The key is recognizing the person you’re trying to sell to as a valued person and developing a relationships that will serve both of your interests.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Does LinkedIn have a connection request limit

Does LinkedIn Have A Connection Request Limit?

Back in the day, LinkedIn was intended to be an intranet of sorts … you were only supposed to connect with individuals you knew. Try to connect with someone “outside of your network,” and you’d get a not-so-friendly slap on the wrist.

That has changed the past two years since Microsoft purchased LinkedIn. Now, LinkedIn is meant to be a networking tool. You can reach out to individuals you don’t know personally to expand your reach – much more beneficial for business owners and job seekers!

I have based my business on this practice, helping individuals connect with relevant professionals on LinkedIn as a way to grow their businesses. I see connection requests as a great way for professionals to grow their networks while engaging in active lead generation. In my opinion, using InMail for cold reach-outs sends a warning to the recipient, which is: I’m trying to sell you something!

I generate a lot of interest with my lead generation service, but have had the same question asked multiple times over the past week:

“Does LinkedIn limit the number of connection requests you can send out?”

The answer is yes and no. There isn’t a publicized limit, but LinkedIn does pay attention to whether your connection requests are converting. In other words, if you are sending request-after-request-after-request and people aren’t accepting (or worse, they’re reporting you), your account may get flagged for spamming.

Here is what LinkedIn has to say, word-for-word:

“If you’ve sent a large number of invitations, your account may be limited from inviting more members. This is generally due to many of your invitations being rejected or ignored by the members you’ve invited. We recommend you send invitations only to people you know and trust to be part of your network, as stated in the LinkedIn User Agreement. Having only quality connections in your network greatly improves the relevance of content shown in your feed, surfaces more appropriate matches in your searches, and better guides other features to help you discover opportunities on LinkedIn.”

Does this mean you can’t send connection requests to individuals you don’t know? Absolutely not. The key is to send relevant connection requests.

What constitutes a relevant connection request in my book?

The relationship must be mutually beneficial.

This, to me, is Sales 101, but it is critical to recognize that what constitutes a mutually-beneficial relationship is always relative to the business making the request and the person receiving it. There is a spectrum of “sales asks” on LinkedIn, ranging from connecting as a way to network to connecting as a means to sell. I will use three “for instance” examples to illustrate my point.

Example 1: The direct sell

Let’s say you manufacture desks. You want to connect with furniture stores on LinkedIn to ask if they want to stock your desks in their stores. Because you know before you reach out that they have a vested interest in purchasing desks, it is a reasonable reason to connect. In fact, the person you’re reaching out to may be thrilled you did. They are on LinkedIn as part of their profession and you are connecting with them to directly benefit their job.

Example 2: The information share

You also may connect with someone outside your network to share relevant information. If you are a financial advisor specializing in real estate, you may send connect requests to real estate professionals on LinkedIn with a note letting them know you publish articles they may find relevant to their business. This helps them by providing them with information and helps you by expanding your reach.

Example 3: The survey request

It is reasonable to connect on LinkedIn as a way to increase knowledge of your target audience. If you are a business coach, perhaps you send connection requests asking individuals what they look for in a business coach or how they find their business coaches.

With all three of these examples, though, one thing is critically important:

The note you include should be truthful.

Whether you’re looking to sell directly, share information, or request information, be honest about what you want. There is nothing worse on LinkedIn (or sales, for that matter) than a bait-and-switch. Don’t tell someone you want to learn from them only to send them a hard pitch 48 hours later.

Approach your LinkedIn strategy realistically and truthfully, knowing what you want to get out of your cold reach-out strategy and staying true to that goal.

Finally, know that every single professional and industry is unique. You may work in a field made up of people who hate to be solicited. That happens. If that’s the case, go with a networking strategy for connection requests and use InMail for your sales pitches.

The point is that no two situations are identical and it’s critical to approach your situation as a unique one. Know yourself and your audience and stay true to both. That is the best way to be successful on LinkedIn and to avoid being flagged as a spammer!

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

Guilt entrepreneurs

Let’s Let Go of Guilt As Entrepreneurs

Dare I say that many of us became entrepreneurs for the flexibility. So we could dictate our own professional lives and not have to answer to anyone.

Why, then, do we continue serving a boss that isn’t there?

It’s been my experience since I left my job with the Detroit Lions in 2014. I’ve struggled to let go to the “9-5 grind,” even though there is no one pressuring me to hold onto it.

Today my 3-year-old daughter had to stay home from school. My tendency when that has happened in the past is to continue with my day as though nothing is different, pushing my kids (I have three of them) toward the television while I pound out deliverables.

Envision me at my computer while my kids scream from the other room that they’re hungry or bored. I get up to attend to the request and then sit right back down to continue with work.

That isn’t happening today.

Today, I’ve embraced my daughter being home with me and have paid attention to her. We’ve played Candy Land, gone to the park, and ate lunch together. We spent an hour in our family’s upstairs playroom – her playing and dancing to music while I worked at our art table.

Now I’ve sat down to write this story while she is in the living room watching Disney Junior. Once I’m finished with my story, we have a date to play Mario Kart.

This is worlds apart from how I’ve behaved in the past and I’m glad to have a different perspective now.

How has my perspective changed?

I think we are raised in a culture that sees stress as a badge of honor. If we are too busy to do fun things, we must be doing something right. For early entrepreneurs or business owners — especially women — this can result in massive amounts of confusion.

  • Instead of working on our businesses (the fun stuff!), we spend all of our time focused on client businesses. This hurts our ability to grow.
  • We eat standing up or in front of the computer, searching for whatever we can find in the cupboards or refrigerator. The message in our minds? Get back to work!
  • We feel guilty not working while the rest of the world is. If others are in an office, we should be, too … right? Not necessarily. A benefit of being a business owner is that we get to make our own schedules and we need to own that.

It has taken me a long time to get to the mindset I’ve had today: enjoy the day with my 3-year old while I can, balancing work with play. Does that mean I’ve skirted my responsibilities as a business owner? Nope. My husband will be staying home with her tomorrow so I can focus on my work.

Today, however, it’s take-my-daughter-to-work day.

Work just happens to be at home.

business lessons

This Is What My High School Track Career Taught Me About Business

When I was in the 7th grade, I joined the track team.

I wasn’t given an event for our first meet until another girl dropped out. My coach asked if I wanted to take her place in the 1,600-meter relay and I agreed.

The gun sounded and I just ran. I had no idea what I was doing. I finished the lap, handed off the baton, and moved to the side. My coach was elated.

Apparently I had done well.

One day at practice, my coach suggested I run the 800 meters to improve my time in the 400. I don’t remember what my time was (on a gravel track, no less), but I do remember my coach going crazy with his stopwatch, telling me I had to run that race.

So I did.

For the remainder of my middle school career, the 800 meter run was my race. Schools ran boys and girls together and I would beat everyone, every single time. My best time was a 2:32 (yes, I still remember) and the feeling of being so good at something was an absolute high.

I had struggled with bullying throughout my middle school life, but once I became a “track star,” that changed. Others respected me. I had talent.

My high school track career didn’t start out as great as I wanted it to. Instead of running my two best races, the 400 meters and the 800 meters, I was given the mile, a race I wasn’t as good at. I still remember having to run in the top heat in an invitational and struggling not to finish last. I hated having to run that race and it wore on me.

The sport itself was fun, though. I made wonderful friendships. I learned how to play Euchre during the long invitational days, spending time with the upperclassmen I genuinely got along with. The girls’ team won our league that year, meaning we moved up a level our sophomore year. That separated us from the boys’ team and we began traveling separately.

business lessons

We won our league meet when I was a freshman.

In addition to that change, I gained weight my sophomore year and my times suffered. Combined with not being able to spend time with my male friends and competing against more talented individuals, my love for the sport declined. Running had always been a painful endeavor. The 800-meter run is no joke. It’s nearly a sprint (at the highest level, it is a sprint) for a half mile. It hurts.

As soon as the overall experience stopped being fun and I wasn’t getting the payoff of winning, my motivation waned. I hated practice. Hated the meets. My anxiety level around running rose.

I made the decision to quit after my sophomore year. It was a difficult choice to make – it had become an identity for me. It was what I was good at. But the sacrifices outweighed the reward. My parents were crushed. They loved seeing their daughter excel at something and walking away early was a tough pill for them to swallow.

Now, almost 36 years old with three kids of my own, I look back on my decision to quit with mixed emotions. I know it was the best decision at the time, but I do wish circumstances had been different.

I wish that I had been able to find fun in those days and that my stress levels hadn’t resulted in weight gain that hurt my performance. I’m actually in better shape now, post-kids (I have a better diet and a regular yoga practice) than I was my sophomore year of high school, which creates regret that I didn’t keep myself in better shape to capitalize on my talent. Who knows? Maybe I could have run in college.

Ah, what could have been.

Looking back on this experience provides a valuable case study that pertains to business, however. There are three things I can pull from my track career that apply to my life as an entrepreneur:

1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The yoga I practice is hot vinyasa, which challenges me every single session, pushing me out of my comfort zone. It is so easy to let my mind talk me out of staying in a pose while my body is on fire, especially since no one is forcing me to stay.

But the benefit of learning how to shut my mind voice off and find a way to be calm in an uncomfortable situation translates to all areas of my life.

Finding a way to be comfortable in the uncomfortable means I can push through projects I don’t want to do, engage respectfully with people who aren’t the friendliest, and continuing doing things for my business that don’t have an immediate payoff.

2. Find a Payoff

Speaking of an immediate payoff, it’s important to have at least one. As the things I loved about track fell off, one-by-one, enduring the pain of running became less and less tolerable.

This is true in business as well. So many entrepreneurs push way further than they should without allowing themselves something fun or gratifying from their businesses.

This results in burn-out.

Mike Michalowicz talks about this in his book, Profit First. He suggests putting a small percentage of earnings (as low as 1%) in a “profit account” each month and then spending it on yourself at the end of the quarter.

This improves morale because it means the business is working for the entrepreneur. It is critical to receive a payoff for all of our hard work, even if it’s a new outfit or a night at the movies.

3. Do What You’re Good At

Winning was an amazing feeling … even when it hurt like hell. Why? Because I was good at it!

Focusing on what we’re good at keeps us in flow. Even if it’s boring (or it hurts), doing what we’re good at has a special sort of payoff. In business, it pays with money and confidence.

So often we focus on bettering ourselves in areas we aren’t good at while avoiding what comes easy. In fact, for a long time, I felt guilty charging for what came easy to me.

The truth, however, is what comes easy for one person doesn’t come easy for most, which is why we should actually be charge more for what comes easy to us!

Left in the Past

I still run in the spring, summer, and fall months (you won’t find me running in the snow or freezing cold), pushing myself to get better.

I have found a “happy place” with running, averaging 3-to-5 miles at a time and listening to my favorite podcasts or audiobooks during my runs. I used to run with my kids in jogging strollers.

I time myself from time-to-time, getting “competitive” to prove to myself I still have talent. I do, but I haven’t run competitively since I hung up my cleats in high school. I’m afraid that I’ll push myself to the point of massive pain in an effort to win, and I’m not up for doing that just yet.

Maybe in another 10 years.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a LinkedIn specialist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

What’s the Proper Etiquette for Prospecting on LinkedIn?

Do you know LinkedIn could be a big lead driver for your business, but aren’t sure how to get started? Have you “tried a few things” but aren’t sure whether you’re headed in the right direction? I recognize a lot of people are in that spot, so I asked my network to post their LinkedIn questions.

I hope they help you as well – please post additional questions in the comments section if yours isn’t addressed!

Q: After I’ve made a new connection and introduced myself, what’s the etiquette for following up? Is it simply a question of commenting on their posts and articles or should I be doing more?

There is a spectrum of ways to follow up, depending on your lead generation strategy. If you are reaching out to schedule a discovery call, you will want to follow up to ask if the person is willing and available for that call. If, on the other hand, you are nurturing long-term relationships, you can just follow up with a thank you. Try to avoid overwhelming the person with an immediate, “Here’s my free download!” or “Join my email list!”

I do recommend keeping track of these people in a spreadsheet, though, so you can follow up later with relevant content. Let’s say you design websites and your target audience includes marketers looking for website help for their new or existing clients. If you write an article about website design best practices, you can share it with a potential lead with a note of, “Hey XX! I just wrote this article and think it might be relevant to you or your audience. If you like it, I would love it if you could share it!”

This way, you’re not only helping the potential lead, you’re getting your content out there to another relevant network and it’s a soft ask. In my opinion, this is a win-win-win.

Q: In your pro opinion, when does it make sense to use premium levels of LinkedIn (ie. Sales Navigator) for lead gen?

Look at whether you intend this to be a primary way you generate leads. If you have another source of steady leads, you may simply want to browse through LinkedIn to find relevant connections and track your outreach through a spreadsheet.

If you want this to be a more robust way of generating leads, however, you’ll want to pay for the premium service because it allows you to track leads and easily engage with them, whether you’re connected or not.

You can look at the value of a lead vs. the cost of the service, but I would wager that anyone looking to generate leads on LinkedIn has a client value above $79.99 (the cost of Sales Navigator). Many people won’t see a return for months, though, because it’s a nurturing process, so looking at whether this will be a primary source or leads is the important thing.

Q: What is the proper etiquette (for lack of a better word) for prospecting on LinkedIn?

Connecting on LinkedIn should always be about a mutually-beneficial relationship. If you reach out to someone, do so with the intention of creating a relationship that will benefit both parties instead of reaching out with, “buy from me!”

The exception is if you can tell without reaching out that the people you’re reaching out to already need what you’re selling.

For example, you’re selling doorknobs and you’re reaching out to door companies. They need doorknobs. You don’t have to ask if they need doorknobs — there is a clear need. It’s easy to reach out and say, “Hi, Door Company! I’m reaching out to see if you are in need of a new doorknob vendor. Our product is superior because A, B, C.”

Note, though, that even when you are reaching out with “buy from me” it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Door Company needs doorknobs. You need to sell your doorknobs. It’s a win-win.

Q: Isn’t that the best way to “sell” anyway? Through engagement and connection and the sales will follow.

Yes, it is, but there are two things here.

  1. People don’t actually do that. There is some bad “selling” going around. I’d wager everyone reading this has been on the receiving end of bad selling.
  2. Relationship building is more important on LinkedIn, because you know who you’re talking to when you reach out. It’s easy to completely ruin a potential relationship from the beginning if you don’t have the proper tone as it pertains to your audience.

If you advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Google ads, or you have a content marketing plan on your website, you can see traffic, but not who is looking at your content. This is the one platform where you see who is looking at your content or messages AND who they are as a professional.

Q: I’ve wanted to start posting articles to LinkedIn, but, wasn’t sure if they needed to be written ‘differently’ than how they are on my blog… can they be re-purposed word for word, or, is that frowned upon?

Totally not frowned upon. The question is whether you are writing for the same audience in both spaces. I am working with someone who owns her own nonprofit school. On Facebook and with her website blog, she is speaking to the parents of current and potential students.

On LinkedIn, however, she is speaking to other businesses with the hope of garnering donations and interest from local entrepreneurs willing to mentor her students (her school engages in personalized learning with many hands-on, real-world experiences).

With her blogs, we can tweak the same message to make sense for the business audience compared to her parent audience.

Q: What’s your best tip for someone starting out with cold outreach for lead gen using LinkedIn?

Check your business for these two things before you create your marketing plan:

  1. Is your audience on and using LinkedIn? If they aren’t, you’re not going to get very far.
  2. How will your audience want to be sold to? Will they need to be nurtured along with multiple touch-points or can they be asked, point-blank, whether they want your product or service?

Q: What are your thoughts on thanking new connections? If yes, how do you do it tactfully?

I think it is important to be truthful and non-intrusive at the same time. I will often say things like, “Thank you for connecting – please let me know if any LinkedIn needs come up!” or “I’m excited to connect – I look forward to learning more about your business!”

When I am executing LinkedIn on behalf of a client with a more straightforward ask, I will follow up by asking if they are open to a discovery call and whether they have availability. The most important thing is to be a real human and not a sales robot. Stay true to yourself and your business while holding a real conversation.

People can often see through a “plan” being executed to a tee vs. someone having a real conversation. It’s why I manually work lead gen on behalf of my clients, I don’t automate the process. When I type in a response, it comes across as a conversation instead of a copied-and-pasted response.

Q: What is the most important thing to optimize on my profile before starting to reach out and connect to potential clients and collaborators?

Look at your profile as your own personal sales page. The same way you would optimize a sales page before launching a new product, you do for your LinkedIn profile. The three most important components to doing that are:

  1. Headline
  2. Current experience
  3. Summary

If you expect your audience to search for what you’re providing, embedding keywords would be at the top of the list as well.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.