Decision Vision Episode 107: Should I Actively Use LinkedIn? – An Interview with Adam Houlahan, Prominence Global
Adam Houlahan of Prominence Global joined host Mike Blake to discuss his journey to recognition as a LinkedIn authority, why using LinkedIn can be so rewarding for business owners and professionals, why so many users get LinkedIn wrong, how to effectively use LinkedIn to build relationships, and much more. “Decision Vision” is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Prominence Global is, you’ll find, very different. They help their clients position themselves as industry leaders who are the envy of their peers. Their mantra is authenticity. They create intelligent strategies that cut through the noise that is social media. They do that by being authentic, courageous, and committed to make a difference in their world too. They value transparency. More is learned from mistakes than successes, sharing both is their commitment to honesty and truth.
Ethics in marketing is in their DNA, they are not afraid to say ‘no’. They seek continuous improvement through innovation They are constantly curious in growing themselves, their team and the service they provide.
They understand there is no cookie-cutter program that suits every business. They develop solutions that are as individual as their clients are. They believe real and meaningful change comes through the world’s entrepreneurs. They create a powerful on-line presence for each client that grows & accelerates their global footprint, so that together they really can make a huge impact.
Adam Houlahan, CEO, Prominence Global
Adam Houlahan is an International Keynote Speaker specializing in LinkedIn strategies for entrepreneurs, and CEO of the highly successful LinkedIn agency, Prominence Global. He hosts arguably the world’s largest free on-line LinkedIn training event with thousands of people registering every 10-weeks and is considered to be one of Australia’s leading experts in harnessing the power of LinkedIn for business.
Adam is also the author of three Amazon best-selling books Social Media Secret Sauce, The LinkedIn Playbook, and Influencer. Adam co-authored a fourth international best-seller Better Business, Better Life, Better World. He believes real and meaningful change comes through the world’s entrepreneurs. His purpose is to positively impact 12 million people in need and has surpassed 4 million on the way to that target.
Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is the host of the “Decision Vision” podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms, and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth-minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
“Decision Vision” is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision-maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the “Decision Vision” podcast.
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Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:22] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owners’ or executives’ perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand when you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:40] My name is Mike Blake, and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware & Company, a full service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton; Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Alpharetta, Georgia. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast, which is being recorded in Atlanta per social distancing protocols. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator, and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:06] So, today’s topic is, Should I actively use LinkedIn? And, you know, this is an interesting topic, I think, from so many levels. One, the pandemic has created opportunities and necessities that I think are far-ranging. And I don’t need to lecture people by now, at least here in the United States, it’s been a year since this thing has really hit. And we know what kinds of changes that it has created. And one of them has been that, you know, we’re just not selling and marketing the way that we once were. That will likely come back as we enter sort of a trans- pandemic and then a post-pandemic world. But for the time being, if you want to talk to people, for the most part, at least in the United States, it’s going to be in some digital virtual format.
Mike Blake: [00:02:01] And then, when we consider that there’s been massive displacement in our country and elsewhere with respect to employment, people are turning to LinkedIn once again in droves because that is, at least, one way that you’re going to get your next job, particularly if you’re in a technical or a professional field. And then, finally, it’s good to kind of touch base because, you know, the social media landscape is changing so rapidly and evolving that, you know, while LinkedIn has maintained its space and, of course, Facebook has maintained the space where it is, and YouTube, and so forth, yet we’re seeing new entrants such as Clubhouse, that is all the rage. We’re seeing the the ascent of TikTok and so forth, which is setting the world on fire. And, you know, that’s probably going to be the way the things are for a while, that we’re going to have to kind of touch base and take a look back and make sure the things we are using are as useful as we thought they were and that we’re achieving the same goal. And for a lot of people, I still think they need to be convinced candidly that LinkedIn is a viable platform.
Mike Blake: [00:03:24] And I had a conversation with somebody not that long ago, and I will not sell them out here online, but, you know, they did tell me sort of very dismissively, they thought that LinkedIn was basically a method by which we’re told by which their competitors could simply poach their employees. And that’s a pretty cynical view, but it’s not a uniquely held one. And so, I happen to be a LinkedIn fan. I’m an active user of it. I like to think that I’m a Power User, although I think our guest is going to find holes in the way that I use it because he’s the expert and not mine.
Mike Blake: [00:03:57] But we’re very fortunate that joining us today from Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia – and I’ve got to ask you about that – is Adam Houlahan, who is CEO of Prominence Global. Adam is an international keynote speaker, specializing in LinkedIn strategies for entrepreneurs and CEO of the highly successful LinkedIn agency, Prominence Global. He hosts arguably the world’s largest free online LinkedIn training event, with thousands of people registering every ten weeks. And is considered to be one of Australia’s leading experts in harnessing the power of LinkedIn for business. Adam is also the author of three Amazon bestselling books, Social Media Secret Sauce, which I’m reading right now; the LinkedIn Playbook, which I have read and led me to invite Adam to the program; and Influencer, which is on the queue. Adam co-authored a fourth international bestseller, Better Business, Better Life, Better World.
Mike Blake: [00:04:51] Prominence Global, as you’ll find, is very different. They help their clients position themselves as industry leaders who are the envy of their peers. They developed a range of support services to cater to every need. They host free web events. There are free community that you can join, a free Profile Optimization course, an Inner Circle Solo, Inner Circle Academy, Inner Circle Legends, and maybe Adam can tell us exactly what those mean. These programs are an intensive deep dive, a superb results producing methodology that creates a cutting edge lead generation sales funnel for almost any industry. The difference is simply how much support you need from their team of dedicated professionals. Adam, welcome to the program.
Adam Houlahan: [00:05:29] Thank you. And a very, very comprehensive introduction there. Well done. Thanks, Mike.
Mike Blake: [00:05:36] Well, thank you. That’s probably a very kind way of saying long winded, but I’m just going to take it at face value. So, I do want to ask you about Surfers Paradise. Are you a surfer yourself?
Adam Houlahan: [00:05:49] Interestingly, no, but where I live is a bit of a surfing mecca in the world. It’s kind of like the tourist capital of Australia, I suppose. And, fortunately, here in Australia, we can still travel around the beach, not so much international people. But I get to live right on about ten beaches within about a half-hour drive, which is fantastic.
Mike Blake: [00:06:16] So, I’m curious, so you are able to travel fairly freely within the country, but international travel, I guess, is shut down as it is in most places.
Adam Houlahan: [00:06:26] Yeah. So, it’s not easy to travel outside of Australia, but, fortunately, we seem to have the pandemic under control. There’s very few cases here in Australia. And they can still go on holidays and travel around. And our economy’s doing quite well, so we’re very blessed. I suppose it’s one of the advantages, Mike, of being an island nation in the middle of nowhere, it’s easy to close your borders.
Mike Blake: [00:06:51] I suppose that’s true. Well, well done and bravo. And, hopefully, we’ll catch up to you guys sooner rather than later. So, Adam, I’d love it if you could tell us your origin story. How did you become involved in LinkedIn? And then, could you sort of take us from that point to how you became one of the world’s leading experts on the platform?
Adam Houlahan: [00:07:15] Yeah. I’d love to. So, it all started about ten years ago now. And for the very first time in my life, I actually worked for somebody else. I was running a company based here in Australia that is a bit of a global player. And we’re exporting organic skincare products to about 64 countries around the world. At that time, I didn’t really know much about LinkedIn, or any other social media for that matter. But what I did notice was that, we were doing a little research on why other companies in that same space around the world were doing well. And it turned out to be that they were really good early adopters of social media from a business perspective. And that kind of piqued my interest on how that could be used for really high quality business.
Adam Houlahan: [00:08:03] And so, I just really immersed myself into learning about it, social media in general. But the more I did, the more I just personally resonated with LinkedIn. It seemed like a very difficult platform to master, and it is. Yet it just kind of made sense to me. And so, I just kept trying different things and learning. As I said, this is the only time I’ve ever worked for another company, and I got to the point where I really wanted to get back into my own thing. And I thought, I’m doing pretty well with LinkedIn myself. I can probably help other people do that.
Adam Houlahan: [00:08:41] So, I started really as just a consultant, just myself coaching a few people. And the interest in it was surprising. And we just kept growing and growing, and we had varying team members to sort of deliver that. And, now, we’re a global team of amazing people. We have a team in North America, in the Philippines, and UK, here in Australia, and we get to work with amazing, amazing people all over the world. And we just specialize in this base of a platform called LinkedIn.
Mike Blake: [00:09:15] So, what did it take to go from user to active user to an expert? Was it intense study? Was it a lot of trial and error? Do you know people who wrote code at LinkedIn? What did it take to develop that level of expertise that you now have?
Adam Houlahan: [00:09:32] I guess it’s that old saying, the ten thousand hours of putting in your time as well as funny things. I often get asked the question like, “How did you become an overnight expert?” Well, I didn’t. I mean, I did my time. It’s a lot of hard work. And as you said, a lot of trial and error, and it still is. We have people on our team, a data scientist, and all they do is kind of monitor algorithms and what’s working and what’s not, and find patterns and commonality and things. And as you’re aware, not only LinkedIn, no social platforms really share their algorithms. So, we spend a lot of time working this stuff out and, eventually, came up with a process that just worked. And we’re fortunate enough to work with over 200 people around the world. And so, it’s not just now, where it’s just what I see in what I’m doing, we get to see the results of what hundreds of accounts are doing. And, of course, that exponential sort of data capability is what helps us to really hone down on what actually is a methodology that works.
Mike Blake: [00:10:58] So, of course, LinkedIn is now one of many social networks. What made you choose to focus on LinkedIn? And I mean, are you active at all in other social networks as well?
Adam Houlahan: [00:11:13] I have other accounts like Twitter and LinkedIn – sorry – Facebook and Instagram. But to be honest, I spend 95 percent of my time on LinkedIn. And I think the differentiator there is that LinkedIn, it wasn’t the social platform. It’s very much a social platform from the business perspective as opposed to many others have a more social – they certainly have a business aspect to them. And there’s certainly industries and businesses that are better served by other platforms – but it’s the general SME, B2B market. There’s really no comparison, in my opinion, anyway.
Mike Blake: [00:12:00] And, you know, it’s interesting how LinkedIn has managed to more or less preserve its status as a network for professionals as opposed to personal purposes. And one example I have, as I’m sure you’re aware, in the United States, we have an unusually polarized political culture. I cannot remember in my 50 years seeing anything like it. And even so, when you see something spill over into the political on LinkedIn, it feels like nails on a chalkboard. I mean, it stands out right away. You can feel sort of the uncomfortableness of it being there. There’s something about LinkedIn, the culture of the users, I’m not sure, but they’ve managed to sort of keep it away. Whereas, with Facebook and Instagram and the others, it really is kind of a free for all.
Adam Houlahan: [00:12:51] You’re right. And interestingly enough, algorithmically, it’s one of the things that LinkedIn sort of manage well. So, I wouldn’t say you don’t see any of that type of content on LinkedIn. It’s certainly there. But the difference really is that they’re suppressing a lot of that out of their feeds. So, let’s be honest, there’s 750 million-plus users on LinkedIn, and probably 95 percent of them don’t really know exactly what is best practice and what works. And it’s not uncommon that it gets used like other platforms. The difference is that LinkedIn’s algorithms can spot a lot of that and actually cut it off before you see the high majority.
Mike Blake: [00:13:48] So, you said something I wanted to dive into a little bit. And you sort of answered the question and that is, it sounds like you think that most people are not using LinkedIn correctly or at least anything approaching the fullest capabilities of the platform.
Adam Houlahan: [00:14:03] Exactly. And I can give you a more specific number than that. In my opinion, it’s probably about the top 0.02 percent of people truly understand how to leverage it to its greatest capability and are rewarded by it. It’s interesting, you sort of mentioned earlier about someone you had a conversation with that had that view that it was just a place to poach team members and things like that. And I’m not saying that that type of thing doesn’t happen, it certainly does. But the real power of LinkedIn is – and I’m going to get some pushback on this one. But what I’m going to say is, it’s actually not a great sales platform and that’s what most people try and use it for. And the people who truly get the results from it truly understand its power are not actually trying to use it as a sales platform. However, because they know how to do it well, they enjoy more sales off the back of that process than 98 or 99 percent of people on the platform.
Mike Blake: [00:15:16] And I’m curious – you may not have specific insight, but I’m curious. Do you think that LinkedIn was designed to be as complex as it is, where there’s only a very small number of intelligency, if you will, or the Illuminati that really understand LinkedIn to its core? Is that the intent or is that something that simply evolved over time as new ideas, new functionality, new data has become available?
Adam Houlahan: [00:15:45] Mike, it’s a great question. And I think the reality is, I think, it’s just evolved over time. If you really go back to LinkedIn’s early days, it was a jobsite, to be honest. It’s a place where you pass your resume. And while it’s still used for job placement – and very, very well, some of them are successful clients, are recruitment agencies – but the reality is – and I think if you kind of put a line in the sand of where that really accelerated, it’s probably around the time Microsoft shelled out $26 billion dollars to buy it. Clearly, a company the size of Microsoft, again, have the resources and the capability to do whatever they wanted with the platform. And I think they’ve actually done more good than bad.
Adam Houlahan: [00:16:43] However, as you point out, in that process, it has become a little bit of a degree of complexity in how the algorithms treat different things that happened on there. And let’s be honest, the old platforms are algorithm-driven. Everything is algorithm-driven. LinkedIn just is what we call hyper-driven by their algorithms. So, the difference between really leveraging the platform well and not so well, it comes down to what we call algorithm intelligence.
Mike Blake: [00:17:20] Now, this may be an unfair question. And if it is, tell me and I’ll talk about something else, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. Because of that, I wonder what your view is on that complexity of LinkedIn relative to other platforms. Let’s just say Facebook, for example. Facebook can be used to accomplish something similar, but an entirely different way about it, an entirely different business model in a lot of respects. You know, in your view, assuming that you sort of were at a flat footed start with knowledge of LinkedIn versus Facebook or other platforms, where do you think LinkedIn ranks in terms of complexity among the other platforms that are out there? Is it about average? Is it harder than most? Easier than most? Do you have an opinion on that?
Adam Houlahan: [00:18:07] Definitely. I’d say, definitely, it’s harder. Comparing to Facebook, it’s quite normal. Like you said, you have that flat foot stand and start. Really, the difference that I would suggest is that, with Facebook, even if you had a flat foot stand and start, yes, you can do some courses and educate yourself on how the ad platform works. And the reality is, the only way you can leverage real value from Facebook is through marketing budget. So, if you don’t have marketing budget, then you can have all the know how in the world. You’re just not going to get traction on Facebook.
Adam Houlahan: [00:18:53] Conversely, on LinkedIn, if you invest that time in that same education process, you can actually get around amazing results with no budget. You actually alluded to the reason, which you said, was a difference in business model. LinkedIn’s business model is incredibly different to Facebook. Facebook is a pay to play. It’s just that simple. It seems driven around the ad platform. With the LinkedIn, LinkedIn actually generates very high majority of their revenue through subscriptions. Meaning, that people have a subscription to the Premium platform sales navigator, the recruiter licenses, and there’s a whole bunch of other ones out there as well.
Adam Houlahan: [00:19:40] So, they have a, in my opinion, a much better model because it’s – what we call -a recurring profit model. They get paid every month regardless of the value event. They do have an end platform, as you know, but it’s really not the main driver of the revenue. So, what they really want is amazing content creators. So, if you want to dominate the platform, you’ve got to up your skill in content creation, and that’s what they really want. Because they want conversations that stay on the platform and want it to be a place where you come to it for.
Adam Houlahan: [00:20:18] If you think about why people go onto social platforms, in the simplest sense, it comes down to two things, they’re there to be entertained or educated or informed. So, LinkedIn wants to be that place for education and information. Not so much the entertainment part of the process. And it’s done a really good job at doing that. But, as we said, getting the traction on that is not simple.
Mike Blake: [00:20:46] So, you touched on something that I wanted to make sure to ask, of course, LinkedIn now does have fee-based services that do something. Each one kind of does something a little different, which is interesting. It’s not just a tier, but it’s a scope. What’s your view on the fee-based LinkedIn services? And do you think that the typical Power User would ought to at least strongly consider investing in one or more of those services?
Adam Houlahan: [00:21:12] Again, if you’re saying for Power User, then 100 percent you are going to have a Sales Navigator subscription. Now, in the U.S., I think that’s at around $65 a month. It’s around AUD 100, they’re kind of converts as the same thing, £50 in the UK. that sort of thing. So, it’s not a big investment. Realistically, if you’re really going to leverage a platform for high-level business use and success, $60 a month is not a big investment. As you said, there are other higher-level subscriptions. But the reality is the high majority user, you can do incredibly well with that subscription.
Mike Blake: [00:22:00] What do you think is the most understood thing about LinkedIn? What do a lot of people get wrong?
Adam Houlahan: [00:22:07] Most misunderstood, did you say?
Mike Blake: [00:22:08] Yeah. Most misunderstood.
Adam Houlahan: [00:22:10] Yeah. So, I think one of the most misunderstood thing is that, there’s this belief that it’s an amazing tool for sales. And reality is, it isn’t. What it is an amazing tool for is positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. And using that platform to reach out and educate and inform a marketplace that leads to having conversations off the platform. What the high majority of people are doing, as you mentioned with everything that went on in 2020, there was a massive amount of people that moved to LinkedIn. Some of them are already there, there’s a lot of people that would have a LinkedIn profile because someone just told them they should have but they never really used it. So, a lot of those people started using that account or they came across to set one up for the first time.
Adam Houlahan: [00:23:14] And through a mixture of not really understanding how the platform works, and desperation, or having to develop a new business model of how to get conversation, how to network, so to speak, they really missed the true value of what LinkedIn is all about. And interestingly enough, LinkedIn actually had to react. There was so much, let’s just say, low-quality activity that they actually introduced a spam filter into even – what’s called – messaging. So, you know, in the old days – when I say the old days, I mean about 2019 and even 2020 – a lot of people just thought that you connect with people and then you just kind of message and pitch them. And even these low-level programs around you’ve probably seen that say, “Oh, we can automate doing all this stuff.” And so, LinkedIn reacted to that and they introduced the spam filters, which again, algorithmically could detect a lot of this stuff. So, a lot of people are still punching at all these direct messages and not realizing that nobody’s actually even seen them because they’re just getting directed into the spam filters.
Mike Blake: [00:24:38] So, how much time does one have to invest to use LinkedIn in your mind properly? I know that’s a loaded question, because I imagine your answer might be that, theoretically, you can invest every minute, every day in it. But from sort of a typical Power User’s perspective that doesn’t have banks or armies of data analysts and personal assistants and so forth. But somebody just says, “Look, I want to become fluent in LinkedIn. I want to make it a big part of how I position myself in the market.” How much time do you think a typical person who wants to accomplish that needs to budget, say, on a weekly basis?
Adam Houlahan: [00:25:19] It’s a good question. And what I would suggest is, there’s a big difference between the terminology you’re using. The Power User is going to be a different level of use than to the majority of people that just want to get some good results. What I would say is, someone in that top 0.02 percent that we were talking about earlier are really doing this at a high level. On a monthly basis, it takes about 75 hours per month of work to make — happen. But the reality is that, you don’t necessarily need to be at that level to get results and you can certainly get results at a lower level. And the reality is, if you’re very strategic with your time and you sort of work to a plan, you can really get good results if you invest about an hour a day.
Mike Blake: [00:26:14] Okay. So, I mean, it is something that realistically somebody could embark on themselves and do something useful of, it sounds like.
Adam Houlahan: [00:26:24] Yeah, 100 percent. You don’t have to just be those Power Users to get results. It’s not like a deadline and saying you’re above it and you’re getting results and below it if you’re not. It’s a diminishing sort of level of result as you tee down to that. But we’ve proven it many, many times, so many people, as you mentioned, some of the programs, their solid programs, that’s what’s it designed for. Hence, the name. It means doing so. But if you follow the methodology and you diligently implement that hour or so a day, you can get very, very good results.
Mike Blake: [00:27:03] So, when you embrace LinkedIn and you’re moving towards expert level, what was it about your LinkedIn experience that made you feel like, “Okay. I’m on to something. I’m successful using this platform. I’m becoming a Power User.” What was the feedback, if you will, that LinkedIn was giving you that told you that you were really on to something and you’re getting good ROI on your time invested?
Adam Houlahan: [00:27:31] There’s probably two different versions of that. So, one part for me was, actually, being invited by Microsoft to become one of their Australian based ambassadors. So, obviously, that gave me a lot of insight, intel, into probably levels that many other people didn’t get. I still regularly get contacted by them for my thoughts on certain things. So, that certainly is at a different level. But in the more general sense, I think it was just the fact that I was able to take a company business events of around four or five companies prior to this. I wouldn’t say I’m a beginner as far as building a business. But I was certainly a beginner as far as building a LinkedIn business. But to how quickly we got traction and how quickly we were able to get growth, and then, clearly, we were using our own sort of IP, and we were using LinkedIn as the platform to generate all of that business. So, the success we had from me being a single sole consultant to a team of 18 people, that’s certainly a consistent journey. And that’s still a growing journey now, so that was really the validation for us, I suppose.
Mike Blake: [00:29:04] So, I’m going to steal one thing from your book, and I hope that you don’t mind, but I just think it’s a critical question for the podcast. And that is, for a LinkedIn user, what should be their KPIs or key performance indicators they’re looking at to ensure or track whether or not what they’re doing is a right thing so that, you know, they keep doing it if it’s doing well or they do something else if they’re not getting results? Realizing it’s not a sales platform, so judging it by the number of sales you generate is neither appropriate nor fair, what would be the appropriate KPIs to look at as a LinkedIn user?
Adam Houlahan: [00:29:42] It’s a great question. I would suggest that it’s still appropriately fair to track those sales conversations and conversions, albeit that they happen often – they should be happening off the platform. But the KPIs are what generates those conversations, and sales, the back side. So, it really boils down to a few key things. It’s not a lot of stuff that you don’t want to bog down in spending all your time on, either analyzing metrics or whatever.
Adam Houlahan: [00:30:17] But what you should be tracking on a regular basis is not only your growth in first degree connections, but more importantly, it’s the acceptance rate. So, how many connection or question you send are being accepted? If that’s below 30 percent, then there’s a problem there. It means that the market is not resonating with what you’re doing. It means that even your profile needs some work. Or, your messaging and connection strategy need some work. So, that’s the number one thing, you’ve got to maintain above 30 percent acceptance rate, whether you send ten connection requests or 100, it doesn’t matter. It’s the acceptance rate reaction that matter.
Adam Houlahan: [00:31:07] And then, the second thing is, you have to be creating content. If you want to get traction on LinkedIn, you’ve got to be a content creator. So, you need to be sort of across what level of tractions that a content is getting. So, how many views are you getting? Where are those views? LinkedIn is trying to make a connection between your profile, who you’re connecting with, and the content you’re creating. And if they can understand that, then they’re going to show it to the right type of people. So, you’ve got to look at some of the metrics, who is viewing your content and where they are, and is that aligned with the type of people who want seeing your content. So, they’re the two key ones in that area.
Adam Houlahan: [00:31:54] And then, of course, the final one, in my opinion, is how many people are willingly moving from LinkedIn into your database? Meaning, your CRM, your email list, whatever. And, again, I don’t mean these cheesy sort of platforms and bots and things that go and scrape a whole bunch of people’s information, apart from the ethical issue of that. There is no true credibility in what you’re doing if you do that. It’s how many people are willing to go from the interaction with you on LinkedIn into your CRM. And then, of course, the growth in your CRM that’s specifically attributed from LinkedIn. And, of course, how many sales conversations are you generating of that process? Because, clearly, you do need to have a sales process that is part of your LinkedIn sort of strategy. It’s just that it’s going to happen off LinkedIn, but you still need to know what it is. It’s still made world class and you still need to be able to track it.
Mike Blake: [00:33:07] So, you mentioned a couple of things I thought, for me, they’re extremely great takeaways from the book. And one of them is that, LinkedIn use is active. It’s not passive. And I imagine – and please correct me if you think I’m wrong – a common mistake made about LinkedIn is, you put up your profile and you aggressively wait for people to follow you and connect with you. And that’s probably not particularly effective. And then, the second is conversion – which I haven’t thought about until you mentioned it, until I read your book – which was, you need to then take a next step to get people to agree to get off of LinkedIn and onto something kind of more proprietary that you can control and have more direct communication with the user and with your network.
Adam Houlahan: [00:34:02] Well, yeah, exactly. I mean, at the end of the day, the only thing you truly are in control is your website and your database. All of your social platforms, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Clubhouse, any of them, you actually rent access to those. You have no actual say on what happens. You may leverage it better than others, but you’re still at the mercy of those who control that as to what happens. And I can tell you, every week, we get contact by people who have lost their link access to their LinkedIn accounts for numerous reasons and said, “Oh, this is my main source of lead generation. I’ve just lost it. How do I fix that?”
Adam Houlahan: [00:34:46] One, to have lost it, you must have been kind of doing something bad anyway. But the reality is that, if you’ve been building your database off LinkedIn and you’ve got a lot of activity happening there, it should be a blip in the road. It shouldn’t be the detriment of your business.
Mike Blake: [00:35:09] So, how are a lot of people misusing LinkedIn? What are most people doing wrong that they think that they’re doing right and they should change right now?
Adam Houlahan: [00:35:19] How long have we got? Let’s look on the 80-20 rule. Let’s look at the 80% of the outcome. The first thing is, it’s in their messaging strategy. So, it’s that spray and pray approach. You’re connecting with everyone and everyone and then just pitching. I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you plenty times, you might be connected with somebody, then the very next day, you get some sales pitch about – I think your background is being an accountant, which in your world would be fine. But just recently I had somebody connect with me and then send me a message saying, “We got the most amazing program for accountants -” true story “- and we’d love to help your firm to generate new leads for a [inaudible].” “Well, great. Except we’re not accountants.”
Adam Houlahan: [00:36:28] So, it’s this sort of untargeted process. So, it’s a different course frame. You just punch it out to everyone, whether they’re interested or not, hoping that one percent of those people would engage on that. And the reality is that, if you got a one percent actual conversion on that, you’d be doing incredibly well. If you think that through, one percent, you sent out 100 messages tomorrow and one person engaged about that, I think you’d be happy. If you got a [inaudible]. That’s great. I’m going to do that everyday. So, that’s what I would do. But the reality is, it’s way, way, way lower than one percent. It’s, like, less than one in a thousand. And the point, though, is that if you got one in one thousand, you’ve also really annoyed 999 people. So, it doesn’t position you as someone with credibility and authority, that sort of thing. So, that’s the big one.
Adam Houlahan: [00:37:29] The secondary one is the content strategy. So, they’re using it like they probably got a buffer account, or Hootsuite, or one of those scheduling platforms, and they’re punching out the exact same content across multiple platforms because somebody said it was really cool to do that. The reality is that, LinkedIn doesn’t like content that has links to external content. So, if you’re sharing content that takes people off the LinkedIn platform, it doesn’t matter where you take them, whether on your website or landing page – I mean, you could write a post and link to an article on LinkedIn’s blog. And so, this is the greatest piece of content ever created and everybody should read it – LinkedIn will still suppress it because they’ve got some algorithms, are not looking at what the content is. Just if it doesn’t have a link there, yes, this is not quality content.
Adam Houlahan: [00:38:29] And I guarantee you right now, if you went and scrolled through your LinkedIn profile, you wouldn’t have to go past two or three before you’d see one with exactly that type of content. But the interesting part of that, Mike, is, even though you see that one, there’s a hundred for every one you see being suppressed that you don’t see because the algorithms are just torturing them out.
Mike Blake: [00:38:53] You know, that’s interesting. I tend to rely on outside information when I do my posts. I happen to have a chart of the day, and I don’t write these charts myself. So, I want to give due attribution to the people that created it. And I do link, and that probably is undermining my visibility. But at the same time, since I am, in effect, ripping off somebody else’s content, I feel like that’s a price I have to pay ethically to give credit where credit is due, frankly.
Adam Houlahan: [00:39:26] And you’re right. I mean, if it is someone else’s content, you should be attributing them or giving them the kudos for it. Probably the message here is, it’s not really the best use of content falling in. If you want to really get traction, you need to be the author. You need to be the creator of the content. You need to be the one with the opinion.
Adam Houlahan: [00:39:52] And, again, touching on something you said earlier about the political scene in the U.S. with the polarization, the very truth is that, actually, in some ways you can use your content for polarizing an audience in a positive way. And what I mean by that is that, at the end of the day, there’s thousands of people potentially viewing that content, not every one of them are going to be in alignment with it. So, by having a bit of an opinion about something, you can polarize an audience. And the ones who are not your tribe, so to speak, say so. And then, you know the ones who are, so you keep sort of interacting and engaging with those ones.
Adam Houlahan: [00:40:44] I’m sure your previous president, let’s just say, was very, very good at polarizing audiences. But he was also very, very good at then leveraging the part of that market that didn’t resonate with his message. He wouldn’t have been president if it hadn’t been. And the reality is that, your content strategy really has to be as you, the author, more so than someone else’s content. Because, basically, what you do is transfer that authority to the author of that content.
Mike Blake: [00:41:19] Right. We’re talking with Adam Houlahan, CEO of Prominence Global. And the topic is, Should I actively use LinkedIn? We just have time for a couple more questions then we have to let you finish your day and at least another work week. How do you keep up with all the LinkedIn algorithm changes? These algorithms change with some kind of periodicity. And if we don’t keep on top of them, you very quickly fall out of date. How do you stay on top of that?
Adam Houlahan: [00:41:51] Well, for us, it’s not difficult because we have a team of people, but that’s their job to do that. I’d be quite open and honest with you, it’s not me sitting there doing that all day. So, for us, the size of the company that we are, we have that ability to do that. For an individual to do that, I would suggest it’s near impossible. And I often see this modeling team. I shouldn’t laugh when I say this, but, often, people say, “I’ve tested this and it works.” And I would say, “Well, how many accounts did you test that across?” “Oh, mine.” “Great. You think that means it’s the same from all 750 million of us. I guarantee you, it isn’t.” And so, to really do that effectively, you need a much, much wider test base than one single account. So, be very, very careful of the information that you see that suggests that this is being well-tested and proven if it hasn’t been well-tested and proven across 50 plus LinkedIn accounts.
Mike Blake: [00:43:07] So, as we wrap up here, I suspect at least some of our listeners, they’re thinking very, I think, critically about their LinkedIn profile right now. What’s one thing you would suggest that people go look at first just on a LinkedIn profile to make it more attractive, to make it more impactful on the platform?
Adam Houlahan: [00:43:28] Mike, the easiest thing would be, go on our website. We have a free Profile Optimization course there. Over 17,000 people around the world have used that to improve their profile. But, again, we did the 80-20 rule. You’ve got to have a really good background image. You’ve got to have a good profile image. You’ve got to have written your About section and a thing that talks about yourself really, really well. But what is really well? It’s well-documented and outlined in that free course, and I highly recommend that. I guarantee you, you comment what’s in there, and it will put you in the top five percent of that 750 million profiles.
Mike Blake: [00:44:13] Adam, this has been wonderful, and I cannot thank you enough for being so generous with your time. If people want to contact you for more information or maybe your organization, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Adam Houlahan: [00:44:26] One, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, so if you’re going to connect with me, though, make sure you leave me a message and say, “Hey. I listened to Mike’s podcast and I want to connect.” Otherwise, I probably won’t accept it. But other than that, just go even to my personal website, adamhoulahan.com, and you can link off to our company site and everything there.
Mike Blake: [00:44:49] Well, very good. That’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. And I’d like to thank Adam Houlahan so much for joining us and sharing his expertise with us. We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next business decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy these podcasts, please consider leaving a review of your favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us that we can help them. Once again, this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision podcast.