Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Year-end review 2020

Go away 2020. You made life too hard, took away too many, and challenged us in ways we never imagined.

Yet we persevered and can beat the virus back. Not as quickly and as intelligently as we could have. Not with any guidance. But science prevailed and here we are.

Business is down, upward momentum stymied. I stand by my clients, have been fortunate to add a few new ones, but still 2020 will be the nadir after some great years, as I must rebuild.

Welcome 2021. Reconstruct and renovate.

Hopefully you took my earlier advice to market your butt off so when we eventually come out of the pandemic into a new age, your rockets are flaring.

I implored you to rise to the occasion and be the paragon of customer service that you want to receive, if the tables are turned.

I showed you some changes in a slightly revised LinkedIn’s user interface, offered you specific tactics to get noticed, and serialized thoughts on using Linkedin that we all need to emulate.

I introduced you to guest bloggers, carefully selected for their perspective and insights, all with a LinkedIn twist added.

I spoke to you and you spoke back to me. I appreciate that.

As in every blog piece here, it is offered as a light piece of (hopefully) enjoyable  reading to start your day: positive, useful, and brand marketing as a focus.

Finally, here are some blog stats that also make me happy, and again, thank you!

These numbers come from WordPress, the platform I recommend for blogging, and shows marked increase over the previous years. (You’ll have to take my word for that.)

I welcome visitors and viewers from around the world, in all industries and walks of life. They tell me where they found my blog and why the blog posts help them.

In turn that helps me orient my viewpoints as expressed here.

I coined #MarcRocksLinkedIn, and yes, my blog posts also appear on my company Facebook page and on Twitter.

I strive to rock where I roll out my thoughts best, so keep watching me in the coming year.

Please keep telling me how I rock you back. 

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Next niche named

Every year I niche out a new subset of people to concentrate on for LinkedIn coaching and training. Which is not to say I work with them exclusively.

That IS to say, I will continue with my working with everyone in all walks of life, including law firms and lawyers (2017 niche), nonprofit professionals (2018 niche), baby boomers seeking an encore career (2019 niche) and college grads who missed career services training (2020 niche).

Next niche: medical professionals, because they are burning out due to over-work, sick from exposure to people with diseases we cannot cure well, and the exhaustion of supplies and energy to fight the pandemic.

They are highly educated, skilled, and reliable, so excellent candidates for consulting, new fields of work, and just about anything they put their minds to.

They just need to tell us about their experience and perspectives in the very best ways possible, yet most have never paid any attention to LinkedIn. They didn’t need it.

Until they needed to leave the cocoon of the medical office. They do now.

If you know anyone who fits any of these niches, and beyond, please send them my way for expert care and intelligent LinkedIn self-branding coaching, to let them tell everyone why they do what they do. Referrals appreciated.

I’ll be back blogging on Monday December 28th. I wish you a meaningful and restful holiday.
Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Back to Basics Tuesday: I much prefer “why do you do what you do?”

An article I found attempts to elevate the random meeting ice-breaker question “what do you do” to a higher level.

The very nature of a better question than that lame, stale one is to rise above finite answers like ” I am a corporate banker in a local savings bank” to which we answer “Oh” and get us to an open-ended answer that shows the promise of additional intelligent conversation.

Like the one I use in the title and everywhere I go. It elicits a “I must think about the answer before I offer it” response. It opens the two (or more) people into an articulate and higher-level conversation to find common ground, more towards the understanding of why each other does what they do.

Neither “who’s your favorite super-hero?”, as the article suggests. Really? Are we 14?

Nor “where did you grow up?” which for some is a litany of military or IBM bases, and is this important?

Both of those will end with the other person uttering “Ok, that’s interesting” which it is certainly not, and then retreating back to safe territory like “what do you do?”

I urge you to be challenging and personable as you ask some of the questions (not the two above!) offered in the article. Get to the “why.”

Seek insight and repartee. Ask and answer, and keep asking the next level questions.

Or politely part company and find someone else more communicative.

Be ready to ask and answer: Why do you do what you do?

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Giving credit where credit is due

Two weeks ago I had a major tech issue with one of my credit card clients.

What does that have to do with LinkedIn? Keep reading….

It took emails, texts and phone calls, weekdays, evenings and over the weekend to resolve. The client needed to run her transactions, cash flow being the lifeline of any business. I get that. The clock was ticking.

And the client is king (or queen in this case), right?

We worked it out, and yes, the client was happy, and if she is happy, I am content.

But what an effort from so many people! One person, Laura, was doggedly instrumental to coordinating the resolution, and she deserved accolades.

It was my pleasure to write this endorsement, cc’d to my sales manager and her boss (redacted by me to keep private certain details):

Chuck and Robert:

In the past few days, I have been working closely with Laura on {client name}, a 16-year client whose {nature of tech issue} was determined by Tech Support to be {resolution step}.

The merchant contacted us last Wednesday. She was promised a {resolution step} on Thursday, then contacted me late that day as she still had no access and multiple thousands of dollars of transactions so she could not process and was in a bit of a panic about the cash flow effect.

I immediately contacted sales support and was quite pleased Laura answered. She knew my name in that we have been working together on and off over the many years since I joined as an rep.

She jumped in, started getting some action, and brought together multiple departments and senior members in each. She remained highly consultative to me so I could advise the merchant at each step and finally, yesterday the merchant was able to process and is “back in business.”

Laura and I spoke and texted multiple times during the day, evening, over the weekend too. That’s dedication, especially with the challenges of working from home in a pandemic!

Merchants expect reps to streamline sticky situations and resolve the problem, even when it is complicated. What was best about working with Laura is that she analyzed and presented me every possible option and further discussed them with me for my evaluation, so we could collectively best service the client.

I applaud her warm, level-headed consultation as a partner to bring the merchant’s issue to a logical conclusion.

I wanted you both to know.

Both addressees agreed with me and appreciated the note. Laura did too, as you can imagine. She earned it!

So what does a LinkedIn coach do to memorialize this? He thinks to provide an unsolicited recommendation on Laura’s LinkedIn profile.

But, dear readers, she is not a LinkedIn “believer.”

Pfffftt, there goes the air in my balloon…..

But if she were on LinkedIn, I would post the above immediately without telling her. Imagine her surprise if she were to be advised she received an unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation, well-deserved, and intended to let her profile readers know what a gem she is, explaining her unique skill set, how she came through for me and the merchant: in essence her “why.”

Moral of the story: recommend someone who earns it, hopefully they are on LInkedIn so you can surprise them, and BTW, be ready to amend it to their liking if they ask you to, since they have the ultimate say in what appears on their profile.

Spread the word to those who need to know you surround yourself with the best of the best. And recognize them for it.

Recommend someone who well went out of their way. 

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

6 Ways to Innovate Mentally (part 6)

Less than 20 more days to make this year count, what a challenge it has been for everyone, for some more than others. It’s taken a mental toll on me and I assume you too, and while I strive to be optimistic, creative and consultative every day, I need to add value to my clients whenever they can benefit from  creative suggestions, so they too stand out.
So I was intrigued I came across an video in inc.com titled “Six Ways to Innovate Mentally” which I urge you to watch for 1 minute 45 seconds, and I will be adding to each of its six concepts over the next few days. I hope you enjoy and can adapt them.
6. Test Early

I promise my clients they are delivered a best-in-class final product.

But as the technologies change, and they do without notice, I strive to be ahead of the curve. Often I am notified by the vendor that an adjustment due to regulation, or a new version of the platform, is imminent. That means it applies to all my clients not just one or a few, so I anticipate the change and model it in. Then test it. Communicate it. Often. And refine the end product so the client is always at the top of the heap.

On the credit card side of my business, clients also come to us and ask us to make a change they see elsewhere to emulate an idea they like. We make that change after a conversation so we can customize that change to what they want. Often that means a marathon phone call where all hands are on deck and we show what we drafted and ask for input. We make those incremental changes in real time so all can see, while we are together.

On the LinkedIn side, coaching clients send me their draft a day ahead so I can “digest” it before their session. As they speak (and it’s recorded for their use) I am always listening intently to what the client thinks he/she wants to say and imploring them to say it even better. We attend 4 sessions together and all sections are subject to continual editing throughout as we turn over new stones along the way.

We may decide to test various sections with different draft narratives, sleep on them, and reconvene later with a fresh eye, decide to use one or the other, or combine aspects of them. This creative iterative process is fascinating to observe and highly rewarding for me to facilitate, and especially for them to articulate.

Without testing, without performing this essential task early, why get stuck and wish we had done something else, better? I’d much rather get all the ideas out and amalgamated to end with the best product. And I also expect changes and encourage conversation for the betterment of the client down the line.

19+ years of e-payment consulting and 10+ years of LinkedIn training, and this test orientation process reinforces itself every time. And I am still testing and learning from the results.

I hope this series has been helpful to frame your 2021 mental innovation.

This can make for a rich and exciting continuum of improvement, year on year.

I welcome your comments and ideas. Share them here in comments back to me. 

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

6 Ways to Innovate Mentally (part 5)

Less than 20 more days to make this year count, what a challenge it has been for everyone, for some more than others. It’s taken a mental toll on me and I assume you too, and while I strive to be optimistic, creative and consultative every day, I need to add value to my clients whenever they can benefit from  creative suggestions, so they too stand out.
So I was intrigued I came across an video in inc.com titled “Six Ways to Innovate Mentally” which I urge you to watch for 1 minute 45 seconds, and I will be adding to each of its six concepts over the next few days. I hope you enjoy and can adapt them.
  1. Know your Customers; Authenticate Their Needs

There is no more lonely feeling than trying to market a service to clients who are not interested. Cue the chorus of crickets.

There is a warm feeling of camaraderie when you establish yourself as a trusted advisor to a client and become part of their “team.” When they call you for a round-robin conference call or Zoom meeting to listen to their newest idea and ask you to offer your ways of making it more realistic and successful, you know you have earned your stripes.

They are relying on you to add the accumulated experience you have earned, to offer  your observations on the new things you have come across from colleagues, and interject the “Danger Will Robinson” alert you must sound when there is an impediment you feel they need to evaluate and address.

You know them; they know you. You know their strengths and weaknesses. Believe me, they know both of yours.

Make them aware of the value added that got you that visitor seat at their table, so that helps you celebrate milestones of 10- and 15- and (for some of my clients soon) 20-year anniversaries, toasting each other as you have both grown and weathered storms together. Make merry.

Some challenges can be laughed at after the fact, as they see how you rise to the occasion to help them through it. They will recall how you went to bat for them with the vendor, how you gained them a goal they never thought possible, how you are a “gem,” as you want to be called.

But don’t rest on your past laurels; every day is another test, authenticating your current skills. Being complacent and sloppy can tarnish that warm fuzzy feeling they have for you by any inference of a failure to deliver. Don’t even allow the situation to get close to that.

Think forward to discuss where you can take the client in the coming new year. Ask what their plans are and offer ways you can help them achieve them.

Feel confident to ask clients to recommend you on LinkedIn for specific situations and have them tell the story of how you rose above to deliver a skill you have.

Remind them to refer you to friends and  colleagues. Ask or you will never receive more than that phone call or email and then it will dissipate into the ether. Memorialize their good feelings. It will cement them to you and you to them.

Tomorrow: part 6 “Test Early”

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

6 Ways to Innovate Mentally (part 4)

Less than 20 more days to make this year count, what a challenge it has been for everyone, for some more than others. It’s taken a mental toll on me and I assume you too, and while I strive to be optimistic, creative and consultative every day, I need to add value to my clients whenever they can benefit from  creative suggestions, so they too stand out.
So I was intrigued I came across an video in inc.com titled “Six Ways to Innovate Mentally” which I urge you to watch for 1 minute 45 seconds, and I will be adding to each of its six concepts over the next few days. I hope you enjoy and can adapt them.
  1. Broaden Your Skillset

Let’s take a step back in this discussion of skills. First, ask, “what do I do well, differentiating you from others in your daily work? What have others seen me do that I did not recognize as a strength? Where can I improve and excel beyond the pack?”

Think of what you have always wanted to start, and finish, what software, or personal skill, or character attribute do you need to improve.

I am still working on not interrupting others. It’s a lifetime effort.

I want to learn Canva in 2021. I know enough to be dangerous right now.

I still want to hone my skills in writing and presenting. The former has been good to me in the pandemic but can always be refined, and alas, the latter has been stymied due to our inability to congregate beyond Zoom or similar platforms. I really miss the humans-in-the-room, the body language, the spontaneity of the Q&A, the facial interaction as I spoke to audiences. That kept me on my game. When we all get back together, just like the good old days of 2019 and before, I’ll be a tad rusty, but like riding a bike, I know it will come back immediately.

I intend to “niche out” a new industry for my LinkedIn coaching: medical professionals who are so burned out that they want to leave their profession and transform into another profession, but need help expressing  their ”why.”

I need to learn more about marketing my services as they adapt to new technologies, as we all do, that ever-moving target.

I seek new applications for my online payments technology solutions to make the payment experience easy and transparent so the merchant can focus on the harder aspects of his/her business.

I want to learn so much.

Ed Koch, THE mayor if New York City titled his book perfectly to conclude my thoughts here: “I’m Not Done Yet: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time Of My Life”

I intend to never stop any of those.

Tomorrow: part 5 “Know Your Customer”

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Back to Basics Tuesday: verb tense

Your resume was written in past tense, grammatically speaking.

You as a professional are not. You are the total of your past experience, and then some. 

You are present tense (heart pumping).

You are also future tense (mind imagining).

You can speak about where you came from, what you accomplished and learned there in the past tense, but use the pronoun “I” in doing so: past tense verbs in your past jobs in your LinkedIn Experience section.

Keep using the “I” pronoun and tell us what you are doing now, present tense, all that rich skill and experiential knowledge you possess that resulted from your past: present tense verbs go in your Headline, About, and the current job(s) in your Experience sections.

And hint with that “I” in your future aspirations, using the future tense because we will always be interested in you as you develop with us as a trusted collaborator, vendor, and/or client. You can tie this into your About too.

And if you need 185 verbs to conjugate, see this great article.

Tell us. Past, present, future.