LinkedIn for Professional Services Providers: An Interview with Gregg Burkhalter, The “LinkedIn Guy”
Gregg Burkhalter, dubbed “The LinkedIn Guy” by his clients, joined host John Ray to share his advice about effective relationship building and personal branding on LinkedIn. Gregg talked about successful LinkedIn strategies for time-starved professional services providers, creating and sharing content, the value of being genuinely helpful without an agenda, and much more. The Price and Value Journey is presented by John Ray and produced by the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX®.
Gregg Burkhalter, Personal Branding, LinkedIn Training, Speaker
It is very important to have a strong personal brand. Companies understand that their employees’ brand contributes largely to the company’s success.
Everyone has a personal brand. Your brand is built one of two ways: 1) By default: do nothing and you have to settle for how it turns out, or 2) By design: if you consistently focus on developing and building your brand, you can help shape the outcome.
LinkedIn has over 770 million users and is the digital home of your personal brand. LinkedIn is also a great place to build relationships and grow your professional network.
When you set up your LinkedIn profile, you’re defining what you’d like your brand to be. It is not your personal brand until others believe it.
Gregg Burkhalter is a recognized authority on personal branding and LinkedIn. He has helped countless professionals in the U.S. and around the world define and grow their personal brand using LinkedIn.
John Ray: [00:00:00] Hello again, friends. I’m John Ray on The Price and Value Journey. I’m delighted to welcome an old friend today, Gregg Burkhalter. Gregg is known as the LinkedIn Guy, and that’s actually a name his clients and friends have given him because Gregg, in their eyes and I think you’ll hear as we go along on this show, is a recognized authority on personal branding and LinkedIn.
John Ray: [00:00:25] He has helped countless professionals in the U.S. and around the world define and grow their personal brand using LinkedIn. Gregg spent the first part of his professional career behind the mic at radio stations in Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston, and Atlanta. And following his radio years, Gregg worked in national music marketing and distribution.
John Ray: [00:00:48] And as I mentioned today, Gregg is known by many as the LinkedIn Guy. He provides personal branding, coaching, and LinkedIn training via one-on-one and group training sessions, corporate presentations, and webinars. And he does this for clients and groups all around the world. Gregg Burkhalter, welcome.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:01:09] John Ray, thank you for having me on your podcast. It’s great to see you again. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m a fan of your podcast, as are a lot of people right now. And I’ve noticed the guests that respect your knowledge so much, they get on your podcast. I’m honored to be among those guests. Thank you.
John Ray: [00:01:26] Well, I’m delighted to have you. And this is a topic that when we started the show, I immediately marked down – and immediately marked you for it, of course – because LinkedIn is so important for small professional services providers, for solopreneurs that are mostly B2B services, so we want to talk to those folks.
John Ray: [00:01:52] But before we get into some of the details of that, I want to talk about you and a little bit more about your journey because you’ve got an advisory practice. So, talk about how you built that practice around the use of LinkedIn.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:02:05] Correct. Well, my early career, as you alluded to, was in music and broadcasting. And like most professionals, you don’t usually work your entire career in the same job. You usually have some kind of pivot or transition.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:02:17] Well, my pivot occurred a little over eight years ago when the company I worked for, my dream job, kind of disappeared. And I started my period of discovery to see what is the next chapter in the Gregg Burkhalter life. And, fortunately, that chapter unfolded without me actually searching heavily for it. I found myself, on occasion, doing some speaking on LinkedIn to some social groups or some community groups in the area. And what do you know? Within, like, a short period of time, I started having people ask me, “Would you come talk to my group about LinkedIn?”
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:02:48] Of course this would not have happened had I not had the courage – thanks to a friend – to set up my very first LinkedIn profile and began using it. And I began using it with a strategy that proved to be correct. So, now that I’ve started my consulting business, I’ve watched it grow, I’ve watched others get impact from the strategy and advice I share with them. And I’m on a run right now that I’m really enjoying this facet in my career. And I would love to see others be able to experience what a service provider journey looks like when you have a strategy and a focus on helping others being of value and providing a service that others want.
John Ray: [00:03:27] For you, it’s hard to separate LinkedIn versus your practice, because LinkedIn is your practice. I mean, for the rest of us, LinkedIn is just a tool for us in our practice. But just talk about, I guess, just the building of your practice and maybe what you’ve learned as a solopreneur, what you’ve learned along the way in terms of how you’ve done what you’ve done and how you’ve been successful.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:04:02] Well, I can tell you, step number one is building relationships. Because you can’t do it on your own. And that is why LinkedIn is so valuable. LinkedIn is a great tool – as you said, tool – for building and nurturing those relationships. That’s the beginning process. Then, the next step is probably beginning to decide what is your message? What value do you bring to your service area? How do you want to present yourself? And then, once you kind of get that voice down, then you begin using LinkedIn to become part of the community.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:04:36] Again, while you’re spreading your message, you’re not becoming a one trick pony where it’s all about you. Because LinkedIn, in all reality, is not about you. It’s about the value you bring to the community. And it’s about building and nurturing professional relationships that will create ongoing opportunities for you throughout your business and your career.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:04:56] So, LinkedIn, for me, I can tell you personally is more than a tool. It allows you to feel more fulfilled as a person because it allows me in the most effective way possible to help other people and to accomplish what I’m trying to do.
John Ray: [00:05:10] So, before you were the LinkedIn Guy and you started that profile, you opened that profile, what you brought was a relationships first mentality to the platform. It seems like your philosophy of being in the world and doing business really meshed with what LinkedIn is. That’s not necessarily true for everyone that’s on the LinkedIn, though, of course.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:05:36] That’s correct.
John Ray: [00:05:37] I mean, most – I won’t say most – a lot of folks that are on LinkedIn, it’s about either they’re on there to get a job, which there’s nothing dishonorable about that. A lot of us have been on there for that. Or they’re on their cell, whatever they’ve got, their service or whatever it is. But you really came to the platform with the relationships first mentality. And I guess it was just your way of looking at the world, your philosophy of the world, just happened to hit the right platform.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:06:14] Well, I can tell you that it actually helped my business grow at a rapid fashion. Because if you’re getting on LinkedIn and you’re nothing but a sales pitch machine, you might get lucky every now and then and maybe land a client, but your chances for long term success is not very good. Because relationships, not only with your clients, but with the community, is going to help you continue to do your business.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:06:38] So, there’s two ways you can really use LinkedIn, in fact, just like hunting and fishing. I started out as a fisherman. I started fishing. I started trying to fish for relationships that I could nurture and grow. And then, once I got that traction going, I put on my hunter’s hat, and I started hunting for people that might be potential clients. Not to send them a one off sales pitch, but to decide I may want to nurture that relationship for future opportunities. So, it’s really a mix of both. But I can tell you if you’re only game plan is hunting, that is not a successful long range game plan.
John Ray: [00:07:15] Okay. Well, let’s dive into this right now, because I’m sure people are thinking because I’m thinking this. You went after people that you wanted to develop a relationship with. What does that look like for you? You go out after someone that you think is a great target for you – I hate to use that word – a great relationship for you to have, how do you nurture the relationship without being salesy?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:07:42] Well, first of all, let me tell you, a potential client is not your only target on the relationship you’re looking for.
John Ray: [00:07:48] Oh, come on.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:07:49] When you look for a potential client, that’s one particular person that you have on your radar. The one that people miss all the time is finding that person who already has a well-established brand who has a network of people who enjoys introducing and connecting people. That’s the relationship that will replicate sale after sale, intro after intro for you. So, that’s the two you should be going for.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:08:16] But as for your approach, please do not just push the connect button on LinkedIn and expect me to grovel all over you and the services you provide. You’re not talking to me. You’re treating me like I’m just a number. Well, the next step is, maybe you write me a note. That’s a perfect thing to do. Write me a note. Explain to me why you’re reaching out to connect. What is the commonality that led you to want to connect with me and connect with me.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:08:41] But please don’t give me a copy paste sales pitch immediately after we connect. Or in the original invitation you’re sending me, don’t send me a link to your calendar to schedule a time to talk. You’ve got to give time for that relationship to grow. And that is not usually in the first one or two conversations on LinkedIn. There’s more to it than that.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:09:05] You’ve got to bring some value, value that you’re not expecting anything in return for to start nurturing that relationship. And that value might even be introducing your client to someone you already know who provides a different service that might be a good source for them. This is adding value. There’s ways you add value and just soliciting them to buy your product is not the top way to add value.
John Ray: [00:09:32] So, beyond introducing connecting people, which I can hear folks thinking, “Well, I don’t really want to connect someone I just connected with on LinkedIn who I don’t know to my clients,” so how do I add value to that person I’ve just connected with sort of connecting them with my clients?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:09:55] Well, first of all, you can start figuring out exactly what your client’s needs are, what they’re looking for, what kind of resources they might get to utilize. And maybe you could maybe send them a link to an article that they would like to read. Or maybe invite them to something going on in the business community that maybe they would like to attend, and you’re going to be there, you’d like to say hello to them.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:10:17] Or like I said earlier, maybe connecting with someone that once you speak with them, you say, “You know what? There’s some commonality here between these two.” They need to know each other. Create a synergy connection with somebody in your network that would be of value to them.
John Ray: [00:10:30] So, not necessarily a client, just a referral partner or someone that you think they ought to know for synergy reasons or what have you. Let’s talk about comments and how you make helpful comments that create connection.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:10:47] I got to tell you, John, commenting on posts right now is one of the most valuable ways, most efficient ways, to create brand exposure for yourself. It’s also a very volatile way, if done incorrectly, to create brand damage.
John Ray: [00:11:03] Say more on that.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:11:05] So, for example, say you see an article on LinkedIn by somebody you know or someone who’s respected in your industry, and you want to add a comment to give yourself a little brand exposure. If you type in “Great article,” don’t even waste your time. That’s phoning it in. There’s nothing there. So, if you’re going to comment, at least read the article. Find something in the article that you want to read the accent on, maybe add a little different perspective to.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:11:32] But for goodness sake, please don’t either try to hijack the comment to promote yourself, or make a comment that would devalue what the person who’s posting is saying. You don’t want to grandstand. This is about helping others create brand exposure. And when you do that, believe it or not, you create brand exposure for yourself.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:11:53] And commenting right now is one of the fastest ways to do that on LinkedIn. In fact, I tell a lot of my clients, if you’re not comfortable posting just yet, let’s become part of the community. Let’s find some people that you respect the content they share, that you admire, you like their message. And let’s start interacting with those people. If you do that, you’re going to jump start your branding on LinkedIn.
John Ray: [00:12:15] Yeah. I was going to ask you about those folks. So, the stats are -and I think I got this from you somewhere along the way – that there’s 90, 95 percent, maybe more, of LinkedIn users that get on and never make a comment. They never make a post. They rarely make one. They may get on and surf the feed a little bit and then they get off. And maybe they do that because they don’t know what to post or whatever the reason is. But can you build a strategy on LinkedIn around simply offering genuinely helpful comments to others and celebrating their work.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:13:01] By the way, the person you just described, John, I use the term digitally dormant. It’s kind of like having a home phone nowadays, that phone is not going to ring. You’ve got a phone, but it’s not ringing. That’s what happens when you have a LinkedIn account and you don’t use it, it’s a home phone. Doesn’t happen.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:13:19] So, yes, absolutely. That’s what I like about LinkedIn, is that LinkedIn allows you to even comment on people’s posts outside of your normal network. And the way you do that, by the way, is you can follow people on LinkedIn that are thought leaders way high above your branding stature, but you can follow these people and interact with those people and become part of the conversation. I call it getting out of the LinkedIn pond into the LinkedIn ocean.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:13:47] But, again, if you’re going to comment, please read the article. There’s nothing worse than commenting on something. And when the viewer reads your comment, they say that comment has nothing to do with the article. Again, if you’re going to take time to comment, let’s take time to make sure that it’s a valid comment.
John Ray: [00:14:04] Right. Right. Yeah. That’s the minimum viable comment right there. And I think the other one – this is a personal pet peeve of mine – is what you mentioned earlier about hijacking comments and comments that are superficially helpful, but what they really are, are referential back to the writer of the comment. And people can see through that and it does damage, I think, to people that do that that they don’t see.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:14:40] You’re talking about the person that tags a comment that says, “When I work with my clients, I tell them this. And by the way, I have a workshop coming on Tuesday where I’m going to reinforce this.”
John Ray: [00:14:49] Yeah. That person. That’s who I’m talking about.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:14:53] That person really doesn’t understand what they’re doing. They think they’re walking that line of being humble and they’re so far over that humble line. It’s unbelievable.
John Ray: [00:15:00] Yeah. So, if you’re the victim of a comment like that, what do you suggest you do about that?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:15:09] You’ve got to decide, is this person going to continue to do that over and over again? Maybe this person doesn’t need to be in your network. I mean, if they’re not interested in helping you grow your brand and be successful while you do it, that’s not one of their concerns, then maybe they don’t need to be part of your community.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:15:24] And there’s a few ways that you can kind of solve that issue. One of the fastest ways is maybe you remove the connection on LinkedIn. But the ultimate way to fix that problem is you can block people on LinkedIn. That’s what I love about the platform is I can control the noise around my brand. And some people do not respect my brand at the level that I think they should, and they treat it like it’s a stepping stone to what they want to do. Those people you can block.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:15:50] And if you block people on LinkedIn, basically they disappear from your LinkedIn community, you disappear from their LinkedIn community. And that particular problem of negativity or hijacking, it’s gone. So, that’s the highest level of getting rid of it. And I got to tell you, during COVID, a lot of the salespeople got extremely aggressive on LinkedIn, and my block people list grew rapidly. So, you can actually block up to 1,400 people.
John Ray: [00:16:18] Oh, really?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:16:19] And right now I’m probably in the 300 range because, again, I avoid negativity. I don’t like self-promoters who are disrespectful of other people. I don’t like people who post comments that actually are negative towards certain people. I get rid of negativity and noise if it gets to loud.
John Ray: [00:16:37] Folks were chatting with Gregg Burkhalter. Gregg is the LinkedIn Guy, and he is a recognized authority on personal branding and on LinkedIn, and growing your personal brand through LinkedIn.
John Ray: [00:16:52] Gregg, I want to talk to those folks – and there’s a lot more of those folks – the people that really don’t use LinkedIn than the ones that are using it. Those folks that are early in their business and they’re saying, “Look, I’m trying to build a business. You know, I don’t have time for the fishing approach. I don’t have time to put my line in the water and just wait for things to happen. I mean, I’ve got to make things happen.” Respond to that individual?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:17:25] Well, first of all, you’ve got to take your LinkedIn profile seriously. Because here’s why. John – I was telling someone the other day – most contacts that come to your company via email or a phone call, that first contact is not the first time someone’s heard of you. Because everybody nowadays, including myself, the first moment they consider doing business with someone and want to validate someone, what do we do? We go to Google and we type in their name. And you can guess what shows up at number one or number two, that is your LinkedIn profile.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:17:57] So, your LinkedIn profile in reality is one of the first interests people have of you. And on LinkedIn, as a general rule, nobody is going to get to your LinkedIn company page unless they see something done by one of your team on the personal page that attracts them to you. So, that’s why you at least have to have a page that represents you well.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:18:19] And what I see happen a lot of times is, people kind of have the attitude of that guy, the infomercial guy, Ron Popeil, the guy that does the rotisserie chicken, the guy that says, “Just set it and forget it”. That’s what they do. I mean, they set up their LinkedIn profile and they move away. Their career evolves. Their business evolves. And their LinkedIn profile is still stuck seven years before.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:18:42] And one of the things I’ve noticed is, a lot of the service providers generally start their own business a lot of times the latter part of their career. And what they do is they never fully address on their LinkedIn profile the pivot that’s just occurred.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:18:57] For example, you may go to a new service provider company, maybe led by an executive that used to work at an I.T. firm. You go to the person’s profile, and their profile reads like somebody looking for a job. So, they wrote their profile originally in job search mode. And, now they’re in client search mode and they haven’t changed their voice.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:19:19] So, your LinkedIn profile should be a client attracting profile with the words below your name, how you present yourself in the About section, how you describe the services you provide, and who you provide those services to. That should be there. Not just a work history. I mean, we want to know what value would you bring should I engage with you. That should be prevalent in your LinkedIn profile. That’s the minimum.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:19:44] In other words, I don’t even want you being active on LinkedIn if your LinkedIn profile does not represent you well. Because your purpose for being active on LinkedIn is to become part of the community, but it’s also to attract people to your page on LinkedIn. And if you get them there and there’s a derail, then you haven’t served your purpose. So, get your profile buttoned up first, then we can look at becoming more active.
John Ray: [00:20:08] So, what I hear you saying is that, it’s not about simply just give, give, give without any hope of getting anything back. It’s giving and being generous, maybe to a fault sometimes in the eyes of some. But that generosity comes back in ways you would never forecast, from places that you would never forecast.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:20:37] That is correct. I mean, in the early part of your career, development for your company or growing your company, the giving is even more important. Because you’ve got to start helping other people in giving, and giving people an opportunity to realize there’s a value in what you do. And networking is part of that giving, sharing posts and content on topics that would be of interest to people that they may want to read.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:21:02] By the way, please don’t post on LinkedIn about how you’re providing quality content, and then you give me the link to your web page and the post. I mean, every post you do should not have lead generation in the focus. It’s okay to have one that has a subtle lead generation, but it can’t be every one of them. It’s all about the percentage of what you do that is helping the community as opposed to what you’re doing and tried to help yourself.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:21:30] And I would say the general mix is, if you’re just starting to use LinkedIn as a tool to grow your brand in business, I would say 75 percent of what you’re doing on LinkedIn has no direct input on generating a direct sales lead for you. You’ve got to make sure you give, give, give, and then you can take a little bit. Just give, give, give first.
John Ray: [00:21:52] Right. So, let’s talk about folks that hire other people to post for them on LinkedIn. Talk about the opportunities and the pitfalls.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:22:06] Okay. There’s a couple of ways you can have people post for you. One is you can use a service like, say, Hootsuite, or Buffer, or one of these auto-publish services on LinkedIn. That happens all the time. I actually recommend that or actually say it’s okay to use those services for your company page. That doesn’t really bother me.
John Ray: [00:22:25] Your company page or your personal page?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:22:26] You can use some for your personal page. But here’s my fear, if you automate your posting, you may think that you’ve done all you need to do on LinkedIn and you don’t become part of the community. So, posting is not the way initially to grow. It’s about being part of the community. Posting is an aspect. It’s not the most important thing.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:22:47] Now, the thing you don’t want to do is hire someone to pretend to be you. In other words, it’s against LinkedIn rules to hire someone to log into your LinkedIn account and pretend to be you. That is against LinkedIn rules. It’s also against LinkedIn rules to use some sort of outside software like a bot or something like that to automate processes inside of LinkedIn that are normally done manually. For example, inviting people to connect, looking at LinkedIn profiles. These kind of things go against LinkedIn terms and service.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:23:24] But the real problem is this, though, rules aside, you got to put some skin in the game. You can’t fake relationships. People see through it. We’re in the digital age. Social media has been around long enough. LinkedIn has been around long enough. We’ve seen it all. We can pretty well sense when something is genuine or when something is being phoned in.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:23:46] So, to really be successful in growing your brand, growing your network, and using LinkedIn for long term success, you’ve got to have some skin in the game and that’s investing time yourself in the platform.
John Ray: [00:23:59] You know, you and I spoke about this offline when we were getting ready to do the show, and I’m going to bring it up here. I may post on it at some point. But I had a person who reached out to me, it was obviously automated. And I realized that now after talking to you. Folks, I’m going to read it. It said, “Hi, John. Excellent work at Ray.” That really turned me on right there. “I am really impressed by your experience in the medical industry.” Thank you. “Recently helped another chiropractor, like you, increase their monthly sales by 40 percent using Google ads. Do you have time this week for a quick call?”
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:24:54] There’s no chance that was generated by a bot or a computer, correct? That was not copy-paste. That was a handwritten, well-thought out –
John Ray: [00:24:59] That was so personalized, right?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:25:02] You can tell.
John Ray: [00:25:04] And the problem is that – I’m not going to mention who this person is – I bring it up because folks need to know what these automations are capable of and what it makes their brand look like if they hire people to do this kind of stuff and those people don’t know what they’re doing.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:25:24] Correct. In fact, if you have somebody who is actually helping you, maybe post content on your company page or on occasion maybe they’re auto publishing something to your personal profile, don’t accept what they’re doing. You need to go in and review what’s going on. You cannot turn your brand over to someone and just assume everything is going well. You’ve got to monitor. You’ve got to be part of the process.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:25:48] And like I said, having that human aspect, that personal touch, even if you are using some auto-publish tools on occasion, just that human touch of that comment, or that like, or that interaction you can do publicly on LinkedIn, that’s what creates that emotional connection. It’s not the marketing material. It’s that emotional interaction with other people that creates that connection.
John Ray: [00:26:11] So, Gregg, we’ve talked about the negative, let’s talk about the positive. Let’s talk about, first of all, the right way to use LinkedIn. What I’ve noticed about you over the years, which you do extraordinarily great work in curating great content on LinkedIn, that’s not all you post, but that’s a lot of what you post. Talk about the right way to use it, why that works for you, why that may not work for others.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:26:42] Okay. People ask me all the time, “Gregg, what is the proper way of using LinkedIn?” There is no specific proper way. The proper way depends on you. I know in my particular business there are certain things I’m looking for. I want to have time to build and nurture relationships. I want to have time to be part of the community and help other people. I don’t have a whole lot of time to sit and write a lot of content, because my time is focused on relationships and what I want to accomplish. That is one of the reasons why a lot of my focus when I’m finding stuff to post on LinkedIn is curated content.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:27:18] But I got to tell you, John, even though it’s curated content, you’d be amazed how many people reach out to me to tell me how much they enjoy the stuff I share. So, even curated content, if it’s the proper quality stuff, it’s stuff that can add value to your community and to your brand. So, that could be that too. But the proper way on LinkedIn, it’s all on what you’re trying to do. There’s no proper way. The key thing is have a strategy, ease into it, don’t get too loud too fast.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:27:46] This happens all the time. When I’ll speak to a group of people, they’ll get so jazzed up, they will leave there and they go from being not on LinkedIn to loud on LinkedIn. I mean, you got to ease into it. So, once you decide to be present on LinkedIn, start building up your exposure slowly. Don’t get too loud too fast.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:28:06] John, you’re a great writer. I mean, you have the ability to take out a piece of paper and really lay down some thoughts in a real fluid manner, in a timely manner. That’s why I believe you writing content is so important to your brand. That’s part of the John Brand.
John Ray: [00:28:22] Thank you.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:28:22] And likewise, there’s some people who make great video presentations. They can use video in there. But because video works for one person doesn’t mean the person who doesn’t make a good on screen appearance should have videos their number one tool. It all depends on the person.
John Ray: [00:28:37] Right. Right. And do you advise people on that?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:28:42] Yeah. I would say, first of all, if –
John Ray: [00:28:44] I mean, in your work. When you work with someone, do you advise them on what to do?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:28:48] Yeah. I kind of get a feel for what their strengths are. On your LinkedIn profile, as you probably are aware, you can actually put video on your LinkedIn profile. It’s up by your photo area. It’s called a Profile Video. But if you don’t make a good on screen appearance, I recommend my clients don’t do that. If it doesn’t represent you well or you don’t feel confident, don’t do that.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:29:08] But there’s other things you can do. Like you can put your voice on your profile that’s a little bit less intense, that may add a little emotional side to your profile, you can do that. If you do use video, I’m going to recommend that unless video is the item you’re selling, I’m going to recommend you use it sparingly. Because just because a video is a powerful tool doesn’t mean every time I see you, I see a video of you.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:29:34] Because in my opinion, video is the most high profile “Look at me. I have something to say” presentation way you can present on LinkedIn. So, if you come from nowhere, not being active, to all of a sudden you’re the video person, that’s a really high profile “Look at me” from not being anywhere. So, I think video is the kind of thing you use sparingly, but use it as part of your mix. It shouldn’t be everything you do.
John Ray: [00:30:00] And the other problem with video, and audio, too, for that matter, is, you can’t scan it and see is this something I want to spend time with? I mean, that’s part of the other problem. And so, you know, I’ve found for myself, when I post audio versus when I post something that’s written or an article that I’ve curated, those are two different responses.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:30:27] That’s why audio podcast are so big now because you can take them with you.
John Ray: [00:30:31] No. Well, that’s true. But you can’t preview them. You really can’t preview them and scan them just like you would scan a post real quick to see, “Hey, I want to stay with this and dig into it.”
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:30:46] I think when you post a video and instead of just posting a video, it would help to have a proper introduction, maybe spotlighting some of the things that you talk about in the video. And, hey, here’s an idea, how about a time cue? Maybe do a little cue, “At 00:01:10, I talk about this”. I mean, there’s ways you can kind of help the viewer decide if they want to engage and to go right to what they need, if they want to. That’s an idea, maybe, when you post a video.
John Ray: [00:31:10] Yeah. No, that makes sense. I’m curious – you don’t have to mention names – just the circumstances behind folks that you have seen build not just their brand, because I think people think brand and they think that’s some ethereal attention getting thing that doesn’t have anything to do with their building their business, and they’re looking to build their bottom line.
John Ray: [00:31:44] I’m talking about folks that maybe they built their brand, not on purpose, but what they’ve done at the same time is they’ve really built their business out of LinkedIn and how they’ve been able to do that. And, again, I’m speaking right to those folks that may not even listen to this podcast, frankly, but those ones that are not on LinkedIn, not spending time on LinkedIn, but are missing out on the potential of it for building their business. I want to encourage those folks.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:32:17] LinkedIn is the center of the B2B universe. There’s so many business conversations occurring on there daily. There’s endless opportunities of discovering new people to, maybe have as a potential client in the future, maybe to help along their journey. Just so many things you could do.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:32:37] And what you have to realize about LinkedIn for small or medium sized entrepreneur companies, your personal brand is the driving force for your company brand. If you don’t have a solid personal brand and you’re leading a company in a certain industry, a service provider company, then the chance of that company being successful are greatly reduced. Because, again, until you build up traction and recognition for your company, you are the brand.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:33:09] Like, people all the time hear me speak, but they never ask me, “Gregg, what is the name of your company?” Because they’re not buying my company. They’re buying the Gregg Burkhalter knowledge base. So, my company, I do have a company name, but I don’t drive my business based on what my company knows, it’s driven based on what Gregg Burkhalter knows and what folks around me in my community say about what I do.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:33:35] So, yeah, if you’re not on LinkedIn, again, I go back to the home phone, it’s not going to ring. I mean, you’re not building digital proof. And more importantly, you’re not digitizing your business relationships. Yes, relationships have always been very important.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:33:53] But if you haven’t digitize those relationships where you can groom those and nurture those in the digital realm, you are slowly losing those relationships. And LinkedIn is the public platform where you can do just that. And you can do it with ease. And you can do it while providing value to the community.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:34:14] In fact, here’s another thing I’ll tell you about LinkedIn. If you get on LinkedIn and you clearly define your brand and you start getting traction, it’s a tremendous confidence builder. It also can actually make you happier, because LinkedIn, if you build your brand and start growing your business with a branding strategy, it builds clarity on what you do.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:34:37] LinkedIn is going to force you when you’re writing your profile. You’re going to be forced to figure out what you’re about. And what you sorted out, kind of put it on your LinkedIn profile, and start that journey of sharing content and interacting with content around this particular topic, it builds confidence and clarity that you don’t have unless you make that journey.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:34:59] If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re marketing. We’re beyond marketing messages. It’s about communication, conversation. It’s about emotional connection to your company through your employees and your message through your employees. It’s not about what somebody is sending you marketing material-wise, that doesn’t convert. It’s the connection that converts.
John Ray: [00:35:24] And see, again, I think this is where some people are on LinkedIn, they think LinkedIn is marketing. If I’m on LinkedIn, that’s my marketing. And so, they’ve got that mentality as opposed to what we’ve been talking about, probably ad nauseum for folks, is being there to be part of a community.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:35:45] Yes. They’re marketing self-promoting. Is that what it is? I mean, if what they’re doing on LinkedIn is self-promoting, then that’s self-promoting marketing. But if they’re on LinkedIn to build those relationships, bring value to the community, use LinkedIn for the purpose it was created, which, by the way, LinkedIn was created basically to help you connect and strengthen your professional relationships, learn skills that will help you be better at what you do. I mean, this is actually in LinkedIn’s terms of service. What is LinkedIn? In the first sentence or two, it talks about relationships. I mean, that’s what LinkedIn says it does.
John Ray: [00:36:22] You know, you sent this to me, and I want to read this or part of it. I’m not going to read all of it. But it says, “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships.” There you go. “And learn the skills you need to succeed in your career.” I guess, LinkedIn learning is what they’re referring to there. But there it is, connect and strengthen professional relationships. So, that’s the way the platform is built. They put it right there right upfront.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:37:02] Correct. But you’ve got to realize that LinkedIn as a business, okay? Microsoft bought LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business. It’s doing well. So, LinkedIn has kind of expanded a little bit on that original description of LinkedIn. And, now, are offering some sales tools for companies to kind of help them in their sales process.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:37:23] But what you’ve got to realize, sales tools or no sales tools, the center of what LinkedIn is about, building relationships is the center of LinkedIn. So, selling as a first strategy without the consideration of others and building relationships is marketing, and that’s old school. The new school is conversation, value, connection, validation, digital proof. Those are all parts of the new thing. It’s not just what you say, it’s what I can see about what you say, and what do others say, and what can I validate online about you. That’s where the conversions occur.
John Ray: [00:38:05] Now, speaking of LinkedIn being a business, should I have the paid version of LinkedIn.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:38:16] LinkedIn has its value at the paid version. But let me just kind of tell you the different version of LinkedIn briefly. I’m on the free version. I’ve been on the free version since day one. Could I use the paid version and maybe get some extra benefits? Yeah, I probably could. So, why don’t I have it? Well, I just want to prove to people that buying something doesn’t necessarily make it work.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:38:38] So, if you’re looking to build relationships on LinkedIn, share content for the community, grow your network, that kind of stuff, and you’re not really doing a lot of hunting, the free version of LinkedIn will be fine for you. But if you’re part of a sales team and you’re actually trying to identify potential customers, then getting the paid version of LinkedIn will have some extra value for you.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:39:00] In fact, something most people don’t know is this, if you’re on LinkedIn and you either have the free version of LinkedIn or you have LinkedIn Career or LinkedIn Business, if you have one of those three versions, when you search for something on LinkedIn, the results you’re seeing are only your first, second, and third level connections.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:39:21] So, if you’re a person with 300 connections and you do a search for a particular topic and I do a search for the same topic, my search results are vastly more extensive than yours. Likewise, if somebody in LinkedIn does a search for the service you provide and you have a very small network, you may not show up in their first, second, or third level result.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:39:43] So, that’s why growing your network and to continuing growing your network is so important to creating brand exposure for you. But I bring this up to tell you that there’s only one way that you can search LinkedIn and actually search all 800 members of LinkedIn community. And that is with a paid version of LinkedIn called LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It is strictly focused on sales lead generation.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:40:09] But what you need to know is, any activity you do inside of Sales Navigator, all the conversations you have inside of Sales Navigator, any of those conversations you have, if you ever change your mind and decide you don’t want to use Sales Navigator anymore, you will lose all those conversations.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:40:25] So, that’s why I recommend that if you are going to use Sales Navigator, let’s start building those relationships, creating those conversations inside of the regular version of LinkedIn, and then maybe use the Sales Navigator to identify potential people you want to talk to. But let’s have the bulk of your conversations be inside of regular LinkedIn, so you have a documentation like a CRM of that whole relationship.
John Ray: [00:40:49] You know, one thing that I think some people have a real problem with is, they’re victims of the sector that they’re in, the business line that they’re in. Let me give you an example. If I help coaches build their business and I go out on LinkedIn and I want to build relationships and I go to connect with someone, then – I know it’s true for me. I’ve talked to you about it. I think true for you as well – when you have people that you connect with you and you read that profile, the cynicism measure goes way up real fast when you see someone that says I help coaches build their business through this. Because you’re expecting to get pitched when you connect with that person.
John Ray: [00:41:48] So, let’s give advice to those folks. How do they go build their network on LinkedIn – a financial advisor is another good example, an insurance salesman professional is a great example too – people are expecting to get pitched when they connect with that person. So, how do you build your network? And even though you’re in an area where others have given it a bad name.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:42:18] Got you. Well, first of all, any time anybody sees you on LinkedIn, whether you invite them to connect or whatever, they see three things about you, your face, your name, and the words below your name. So, if the words below your name say something like, “I could sell ice to an Eskimo, the number one salesperson in America,” you may not want to connect with that person because they’re all about selling.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:42:43] But if their headline or the words below their name say, “Improve operational efficiency, save 30 percent per year,” that might have interest. But to be sold to, we’ve all witnessed that so much in the last couple of years, we don’t like that.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:43:00] And you were talking about the stigma, sometimes certain industries have certain stigmas. I read an article a few months ago and it really hit home with me about when somebody first hears about you or has a conversation with you, their mind goes through three brand filtering processes.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:43:22] First of all, if they know nothing about you, they don’t know anything about your company or they know nothing about you, your brand and their opinion of you is based entirely on the industry you work in and the contacts they’ve had with people in that industry. So, if they don’t know the company you work for and your insurance, they don’t know who you are, you are an insurance agent, and in their mind, you’re the same person as every insurance agent they’ve ever met.
John Ray: [00:43:49] The next filter is, do they know your company? And do they respect what your company does? If they do, then you’ve gotten above that industry filter to now they sort of respect what you do because of your company. They know your company is good. But the ultimate filter is if they know about you, what you do, the skill with which you do it, that trumps all the other stuff. That is the ultimate tool for building trust with people and getting your brand and your message across in the manner you want.
John Ray: [00:44:26] Gregg Burkholder, folks. Gregg is the LinkedIn Guy. I think you know that by now if you didn’t already. And he is quite the authority on building your personal brand through LinkedIn. Greg, I’ve got to ask you, because we’re The Price and Value Journey, we talk a lot about pricing on this podcast, talk about the effect that being proficient on LinkedIn, building your brand on LinkedIn, your authority on LinkedIn, has with your pricing.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:45:05] It’s amazing. I mean, if you want to attract the best customers who recognize your value, and respect your value, and are willing to pay you what it’s worth, if not even more than what you think it’s worth, a personal brand and a strong digital presence can do that for you.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:45:25] Because the way business happens nowadays is people are going to validate you digitally. They’re going to look online for digital proof about you. They’re going to search your name and look for proof. And if they can find stuff online, either in your voice or from client voices or your activity in the community just shows that you’re a respected authority at what you do, if they can find that, if your brand has that kind of credibility, and they call you or email you for the first time, they are well on their way to doing business with you. That’s the value of having a strong brand, digital proof, and a community around you supporting and validating that you are the person you say you are.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:46:06] It opens doors faster. It closes doors on sales faster. And it creates ongoing opportunities on LinkedIn because even though mentally you’re focused on the client at hand or maybe the client or two that maybe you have on your radar, but if you’re using LinkedIn properly, you are attracting numerous other clients out there that at this point you don’t know it’s happening.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:46:30] So, just don’t ever assume that something’s not happening. Because if you’re using LinkedIn strategically, consistently, and with the proper attitude, you are always attracting people. I don’t know how far up the pipeline they are, but they are out there listening to your message.
John Ray: [00:46:49] And that in turn impacts your pricing and your ability to price.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:46:53] Again, if they perceive your value and they recognize you as a thought leader or an authority on your subject, price does not usually even come up in the conversation. Initially, it’s are you available and how do I engage with you, that’s generally the conversation.
John Ray: [00:47:08] Oh, that’s music to everyone’s ears, for sure. Well, Gregg, as we close, this has been awesome, and I want to get to your contact information for folks that want to be in touch in just a second. But talk about the future of LinkedIn. I mean, what does that look like for you as you look through the crystal ball? And there’s lots of changes that keep happening in LinkedIn, what does the future look like for people that are active on the platform or want to be active on the platform?
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:47:37] Well, if you’re not active on the platform right now, you’re rapidly, rapidly getting behind the eight ball here. So, you’ve got to be on the platform. Linkedin is not going anywhere. It’s only going to get bigger. With the support of Microsoft and the vast database that LinkedIn has built up of business entail about your companies, employees, and stuff, there’s just so much information, and information is value. So, LinkedIn is only going to continue you to grow.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:48:04] Yes, you’re going to see more people getting on LinkedIn. And, yes, you’re going to see people getting on LinkedIn that don’t understand how you’re supposed to look at LinkedIn. And they’re going to end up burning their brand and they’re going to leave after a while. I call those people LinkedIn opportunist. LinkedIn is not an opportunist platform. It’s more about long term.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:48:24] So, if you get on LinkedIn and you say, “I think I’m going to try it for about 90 days,” don’t even try it. It’s not like that. It’s just a continual, consistent, everyday thing you do that you never let up on. And the good thing about it is if you use that strategy of being consistent, and authentic, and on their everyday, after about six months or so of doing that, nobody’s going to have to push you to do it.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:48:47] You’re going to start seeing things happening that would not have happened had you not been on LinkedIn. And you’re going to start getting that confidence and that zeal for what the value of LinkedIn has. And by a year end, they’d have to force you to not get on LinkedIn because you know there’s so much good stuff there.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:49:03] So, yeah, LinkedIn is going to continue to grow, continue to build. It’s going to involve. You’ve probably noticed all the changes. There’s more multimedia. There’s new features happening all the time.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:49:12] In fact, thank you, LinkedIn, for always rolling out features and never telling anybody. It helps keep me in business. Because LinkedIn, I will log on one morning and everything is different and I start the discovery process. But that’s what I do. I kind of help people around me through the LinkedIn learning curve. So, yeah, LinkedIn is a place to be. Get on it or you’re going to get left behind.
John Ray: [00:49:33] And you do an awfully great job with that. I’ve relied on you for years in my journey on LinkedIn. And I would encourage folks to be in touch, if you’re interested, in the services Gregg has to offer in this regard. Or maybe you’ve got groups that could benefit from hearing what he has to say on LinkedIn and building your brand on LinkedIn. So, Gregg, let’s get to that important question, how folks can be in touch with you.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:50:02] I would love for anyone listening to this podcast, if they would like to, to invite me to connect on LinkedIn, go to my profile, drop me a note, tell me you heard this podcast. I would love to have you to my network. You can also find out more information about what I do and kind of my talking points and my strategy by looking at the bottom of my LinkedIn profile under the Publications area, you’ll see several interviews and podcasts there.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:50:26] And for more information, you can visit my website, which, of course, is my name, greggburkhalter.com. So, I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you, maybe have a conversation with you, and help you with what you’re trying to do on LinkedIn. Again, it’s a community. We’re all in this together. I’ll be glad to be of assistance any way I can.
John Ray: [00:50:44] Gregg Burkhalter, the LinkedIn Guy. Gregg, always a lot of fun. Thank you for coming on.
Gregg Burkhalter: [00:50:49] John, again, congratulations on your success of The Price and Value Journey. Great to be with you. Hope to see you again soon.
John Ray: [00:50:54] Oh, yeah. Absolutely. On LinkedIn. Folks, just a quick reminder that past episodes of this series, The Price and Value Journey, can be found at pricevaluejourney.com. And if you’d like to connect with me directly, you can email me, john@johnray,co. Thank you for joining us.
About The Price and Value Journey
The title of this show describes the journey all professional services providers are on: building a services practice by seeking to convince the world of the value we offer, helping clients achieve the outcomes they desire, and trying to do all that at pricing which reflects the value we deliver.
If you feel like you’re working too hard for too little money in your solo or small firm practice, this show is for you. Even if you’re reasonably happy with your practice, you’ll hear ways to improve both your bottom line as well as the mindset you bring to your business.
John Ray, Host of The Price and Value Journey
John Ray is the host of The Price and Value Journey.
John owns Ray Business Advisors, a business advisory practice. John’s services include advising solopreneur and small professional services firms on their pricing. John is passionate about the power of pricing for business owners, as changing pricing is the fastest way to change the profitability of a business. His clients are professionals who are selling their “grey matter,” such as attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, consultants, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners.
In his other business, John a Studio Owner, Producer, and Show Host with Business RadioX®, and works with business owners who want to do their own podcast. As a veteran B2B services provider, John’s special sauce is coaching B2B professionals to use a podcast to build relationships in a non-salesy way which translate into revenue.
John is the host of North Fulton Business Radio, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio, Nashville Business Radio, Alpharetta Tech Talk, and Business Leaders Radio. house shows that feature a wide range of business leaders and companies. John has hosted and/or produced over 1,100 podcast episodes.