Is a Social Media Presence Good for CEOs’ Careers? Part 2; LinkedIn
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Episode 37 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio, episode thirty-seven. Is a Social Media Presence Good for CEOs’ Careers? Part 2; LinkedIn.
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated. Enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated. And with me is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. Once again it’s wonderful to be here with you on another episode of Growth Igniters Radio. And if this is your first time listening, our purpose is to spark new insights, inspiration, and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to their next level of success. Pam, what’s on deck for today?
Pam Harper: What CEOs need to know about building a powerful LinkedIn presence. This is the second part of the discussion we started in episode thirty-five about CEOs and social media with our guest Jane Howze, Managing Director of The Alexander Group. Now, as you will recall, we discussed how more CEOs are testing the social media waters by starting with LinkedIn − and the question is how do you develop a powerful strategy that has the potential for the best career impact? For those of you who are listening for the first time, here’s a bit about Jane’s background. She has more than thirty years of experience in executive search, and has recruited top executives worldwide in a variety of industries. You can see Jane’s complete bio by going to www.growthignitersradio.com, episode thirty-seven, and scrolling down to “Bio.” Jane, welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio.
Jane Howze: Hi Pam. Hi Scott. It’s a pleasure to be here today.
Pam Harper: We’re so glad you could come back and continue this conversation. We were just getting wound up in episode thirty-five, and the thing that was so interesting is that you said that when you’re researching candidates for CEO positions and other top executive positions, not being on at least LinkedIn was a red flag to you. Can you just remind us about why that would be?
Jane Howze: You know, Pam, I think that LinkedIn has become such a mainstay of a way that you not only put yourself out there, but put your company out there. If we’re checking someone out before we call them and there’s no LinkedIn I go, “Now, why would they not be on LinkedIn?” I think this is especially true for executives who are over fifty-five years old. I feel like if they aren’t on LinkedIn they’re probably not current − and I could be wrong, and I’m always willing to be wrong, but it kind of seems out of character, especially since over twenty-five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are on LinkedIn now. It just seems more the exception rather than the rule.
Scott Harper: Now, social media is becoming more and more important to CEOs. We’ve been reading about that in the news, and some people are a little nervous about it. What makes LinkedIn a good choice for CEOs and other top executives who want to get a foothold out there in social media?
Jane Howze: You know, Scott, LinkedIn − it’s so easy; a lot of the other social media forums require participation. Twitter − if you’re going to be active on Twitter, you’ve got to participate. You’ve got to engage, and LinkedIn allows an executive or anyone to put their toe in the water without asking much in return. By that I mean you can sign up, get your secretary to put your picture on, with minimal background, and you are on LinkedIn. And that is really … You won’t get a whole lot out of it, but at least you will be there, so it requires very little in terms of time or effort to be on LinkedIn.
Scott Harper: I suppose like lots of things, what you get out of it is what you put into it. Can you give us a success story about a CEO that you know who made good use of LinkedIn for advancing his career or her career?
Jane Howze: I can give you a really good story about a CEO that I know who wanted to be on a public board, and that seems to be the one question that we get a lot from CEOs − “I’ve done a great job with my company, how do I get on a public board?” Not everybody uses LinkedIn to recruit board members, but LinkedIn is so detailed and so able to be categorized now [that it is a great resource for that.] Say you wanted somebody who went to Johns Hopkins, who has worked at KPMG, who was a CEO. Someone who knows how to use LinkedIn could be that specific and come up with names, and I have a number of executives who were able to be contacted for other CEO positions, be contacted for boards, be contacted for opportunities because they were found on LinkedIn.
I bet I have probably helped maybe ten to fifteen senior executives sign up for LinkedIn in the last five years, and not one person has not thanked me after they’ve signed up for LinkedIn.
Pam Harper: It’s a very interesting time, I think, with LinkedIn because what I’m hearing about is that LinkedIn is becoming increasingly powerful in its capabilities. But there are a lot of people, at least that I see, who are under utilizing it. They’re not updated, or there are no posts. What do you see as untapped opportunities to build a more powerful LinkedIn presence − we’ll talk about this at a high level, and then go deeper into it in the next segment.
Scott Harper: Going beyond LinkedIn as an online resume…
Pam Harper: Exactly.
Jane Howze: I think LinkedIn is a great way to talk about what you’ve accomplished, and also for those CEOs who have no interest in ever changing positions or even board service, it’s a great way to highlight your company. LinkedIn − five years ago didn’t have company profiles, but now your company can have a profile, and people can follow your company much like they might follow somebody on Twitter or something. And so I think it’s − at a minimum − it’s a great way… say you’re going to a college campus; your company is going to interview engineering graduates and they might look up the CEO and see what the CEO’s profile is and say, “Oh, the CEO went to Colorado School of Mines. That’s where I am. That would be a great company to go work for.” A lot of the ways LinkedIn helps are intangible, but they are really important, far reaching effects.
Pam Harper: One of the things that needs to be emphasized is the idea of it being social, so it’s very different than say just having an online resume.
Jane Howze: It is indeed, Pam, but it can also be just an online resume, and not even a resume. I know when I call on prospective clients myself, most of them will look at my LinkedIn bio; I’m not changing positions, but they have a sense of what are some of the articles I’ve written, what are some of the speeches I’ve given, who am I connected to that they would know, and many times when you know people in common that is a great bridge to the next step of your career.
Pam Harper: That’s true. We say six degrees of separation…
Jane Howze: Exactly. Exactly. For instance, I was speaking with a new client on Friday and the first thing he said was, “I looked at your LinkedIn and you’re connected to Sally Jones.” I said, “Yes. She’s been a client for twenty years.” He goes, “Oh, well I know we will do good work together. I know you will do a great job because Sally is very picky.” There’s a lot of benefits to knowing people in common as well as… I’m not a big proponent of just putting your resume on LinkedIn, but I am a proponent of using LinkedIn to connect with people and using those people to connect you with other people.
Pam Harper: Connection is what it’s all about; it’s a small world.
We’re going to take a quick break, and when we come back we’ll talk more with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of The Alexander Group, about establishing a powerful presence on LinkedIn. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at www.businessadvance.com. We enable successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and growth, and if you like what you’re hearing, spread the good word. Go to www.growthignitersradio.com, select episode 37, and use the share links for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter at the top right of the page to tell your social media community all about us. Use #GrowthIgniters. This will help extend our reach to all of the people who can benefit from this series.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. Scott and I are talking today with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of The Alexander Group. Jane, how can people find out more about you and The Alexander Group?
Jane Howze: We are on the internet at www.thealexandergroup.com, where you can read some of our blogs, some of which are about social media, LinkedIn, and how to leverage those tools for your career. That’s probably the best way to learn about us.
Pam Harper: Okay, and we will also have a link to that as well on the Growth Igniters Radio page for this episode. That’s going to the episode 37 page at www.growthignitersradio.com. Jane, in the first segment we discussed some untapped opportunities for using LinkedIn, and we were talking about how powerful it is for connecting and the whole idea of six degrees of separation. What would you say are the key career considerations for CEOs in establishing a LinkedIn strategy that incorporates this idea of connecting?
Jane Howze: First of all, I tell people… in fact I helped a client sign up for LinkedIn the other day and I said, “Get a basic profile.” I think the first thing is to get comfortable just having a profile and a picture, and then take a step back and figure, “What do I want to come of having a LinkedIn profile?” Do you just want it so you don’t appear outdated? That takes five minutes and that’s all you need to do. Do you want it to help you land a different type of position, or do you want it… many CEOs use LinkedIn as a way to connect with their employees, a way to connect with business partners, a way to connect both business partners going up, and the people who are your own vendor. I think the important thing [to think about] is what do you want to have come out of LinkedIn.
If you’re thinking, “I would like it to advance my career, so maybe I would be called for additional opportunities,” then start dipping your toe in more. That, to me, would be a more detailed profile and connecting with as many people as you can. If you’re a CEO, connect with your investment bankers, and yes, they’re on LinkedIn now too.
Pam Harper: That’s true.
Jane Howze: Connect with your law firm. Connect with the people with whom you do business. Connect with other CEOs. That would be the second step I would recommend.
Pam Harper: That, in a sense, what you’re talking about with clear objectives; I guess that’s what I’m saying. There are so many ways to use LinkedIn that everything you’re talking about is a very simple strategy, but in a sense you have to be focused on the objectives that you care about the most.
Scott Harper: Start with the end in mind. Yeah.
Jane Howze: Exactly. And one other way that I’ve seen CEOs use LinkedIn − and you wouldn’t think about it this way − but I know a company that was considering someone for a very senior position, and they found that they, through LinkedIn, knew several people in common. It’s a really easy way to inquire informally with the people you knew in common. Obviously, you want to protect someone’s confidentiality, but to say, “Oh, well you know Bill Smith. Great. Do you mind if I talk to Bill about you?” “Oh, absolutely.” It’s kept a lot of companies from making bad hiring decisions by running traps through LinkedIn and knowing people in common.
Pam Harper: Make sure that where it say “ask so-and-so about Bill Smith,” for example, people really do ask each other about that.
Scott Harper: There it is.
Pam Harper: There it is.
Scott Harper: Jane, you’ve mentioned in our previous conversations that there are a number or fears or considerations that make CEOs and other executives a little nervous about going out into social media, including LinkedIn. The fear of the unknown, regulatory concerns… Are there other obstacles that come to mind that can get in the way? What’s your advice to people for overcoming these things?
Jane Howze: The biggest concern beside regulatory … I know some of the brokerage houses would not let their brokers have LinkedIn accounts for some time, and I think that’s changing, but the biggest concern, Scott, I see is that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with, one, the technology. “Oh, boy. Is this going to be complicated?” There’s this feeling of jumping into the unknown, but once you do it, it becomes so automatic, almost, that it becomes easy. But the biggest thing I see for people, especially people in the last third of their career, is just the technology. “Is this going to be too complicated for me to have to use, and what if I screw it up and I post something wrong or something like that?” That’s the biggest hurdle, I think, for people especially over fifty.
Pam Harper: What is the advice, then, in case somebody really does post something wrong; they don’t really want it to be seen. Is there anything they can do?
Jane Howze: LinkedIn is something that requires not participation other than your profile, and my advice to people is you don’t have to post articles. In fact, on LinkedIn, there’s some people I see that post articles every day − and I pretty much assume that that is either their marketing people or their assistant doing it, or I figure they’ve got too much time. I just don’t think LinkedIn is that kind of … I think Twitter is more for that kind of engagement, and that’s a different commitment − and probably part three of our segment to talk about, but I think I would advise people just use it yourself.
You don’t have to do much, probably forever if you didn’t want to, except accept invitations and ask other people to link in with you who you think would be a valuable contact and who you know. You can do that, and if there are things you want to add, it’s pretty easy to share information. And if you make a mistake you can delete it; the delete button is big and you can easily delete. It’s not like you’re putting out a press release over the wires and it’s in every newspaper. You can delete pretty easily if you do something wrong.
Pam Harper: In a way, it seems like if we focus on the connection aspect of it all, it puts things in a certain amount of perspective, and the good thing is that you can delete if you have to. But just focusing on what you do want to accomplish ultimately is where it is.
Jane Howze: Pam, I’ll jump in here and say that I think probably ninety percent of the people on LinkedIn, including CEOs post very, very little. They mainly get their toes in it and start connecting with other influencers, other people with whom they do business with. My summary of LinkedIn is that you want to put yourself in a position to be found. Found by whom? Found by people who might recruit you. Found by prospective employees. Found by prospective strategic business partners. Just visible.
Pam Harper: That sounds like a good place to take another quick break, and when we come back we’ll talk more with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of The Alexander Group, about some immediately useful ideas for getting the most career benefit from LinkedIn. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: Pam, can you tell our listeners why clients engage us to speak at events, conferences, and company off-sites?
Pam Harper: They’re seeking new insights for dramatically accelerating company transformation and growth. They’re also seeking new leadership insights about themselves, their teams and their organizations, so they can make bold new decisions about strategy and implementation. It’s been especially rewarding to find that some of our company off-sites have resulted in break through decisions that have generated as much as tenfold growth over five years.
Scott Harper: Contact us today at businessadvance.com to arrange for a brief call to discuss your needs and options for helping you achieve your most important goals.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last two segments Scott and I have been talking with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of The Alexander Group, about social media as a career enhancing tool for CEOs, and especially building a more powerful LinkedIn strategy. Jane, how can people find out more about you and The Alexander Group?
Jane Howze: We are at www.thealexandergroup.com, and on our website you will find numerous blogs and columns with great career advice for senior executives.
Pam Harper: All right. And, again, you can also get access to that by going to the episode 37 page at www.growthignitersradio.com. Back to our discussion. We’re at the point where we like to talk about those immediately useful ideas. As soon as people are done listening, what can they do to start putting a LinkedIn strategy together? I know you said strategy, not so much − but getting a more powerful LinkedIn presence?
Jane Howze: Pam, I like the phrase “LinkedIn presence.” I think that’s really what you want to go for, and take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Number one, do you have a picture? If you don’t have a picture that sort of dates you as well, and we even wrote a blog several years ago about what type of picture. It’s not the type of place..
Pam Harper: Type of picture?
Jane Howze: … that you want to have a picture of you with your family at the beach, or you and your dog.
Pam Harper: No art photos or anything like that, right?
Jane Howze: Believe it or not, I did a search a few years ago and thought I’d check out one of the candidates and, honest, he was in a bathing suit with sunglasses on his LinkedIn. He thought he…
Scott Harper: That’s more like Facebook, perhaps.
Jane Howze: Yes. He thought he would brand himself and use the same picture throughout Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. You name it, and without … I go, “God. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Pam Harper: No. No.
Pam Harper: But it does say something about his personality? Now, doesn’t it?
Jane Howze: It does, and he wasn’t right for the search I was doing. Because I figure if I’m checking him out, other people on the board would have checked him out, and it just wasn’t good judgment.
Get a picture, get a profile. You don’t have to do an online resume, just a background. Tie your LinkedIn profile to your company’s LinkedIn profile, which may be even a fourth segment of our talk here, but that would be the main thing I would start with, and then start connecting with people. If your employees ask you to connect, absolutely connect with them. It’s a way for them to feel connected with the CEO of the company, or with one of the senior executives of the company. It makes them feel a part of something bigger, and you don’t really have to check LinkedIn.
You don’t have to post daily, but start using it for contacts and then slowly branch out if you want to add content about your company, or content of speeches that you have made. I know one client that will post when he’s on CNBC. He will post that, and as much for the employees as for the greater public to see what is he doing, where is he appearing.
Scott Harper: There is another feature that I’ve seen and find kind of useful, and that is skills and endorsements. There is a section where you can add things that you are skilled at or areas of expertise, and people can say, “Oh. Okay. I know that this person is good at that.” It’s another way − if you’re looking at other people you want to connect with − we do this as well. We say, “Oh. We want to endorse our friend or our connection for this skill.” It goes to them; they know that they’ve been endorsed, and it’s a way of reaching out and strengthening that connection as well.
Pam Harper: Have you used that very much?
Jane Howze: If you log into LinkedIn and you look up somebody it will say, “Do you think they’re good at audit committee work, or do you think they’re good … ?” You hit yes, and you do it without thinking, and I think it is a great way to strengthen [relationships]. I also think that a lot of executive search firms, when they’re doing board searches, sometimes will look on LinkedIn and say, “Well. I want someone who could be on an audit committee.” That’s one of the categories that you could list, and people look for very specialized things nowadays. I think it’s great to use those categories or descriptors that describe who you are and what your background is, especially if you want to be found for a better, a different opportunity, or a board position. Those categories are very important.
Pam Harper: Having that in addition, say, to a recommendation or two from somebody that you want to be affiliated with or associated with…
Jane Howze: Yeah. The recommendations are an interesting thing, and it’s if you had a couple of recommendations where somebody says, “Gary is the best CEO I’ve ever worked for. Visionary. Inspirational leader.” If I saw somebody with fifty recommendations I’d go, “Man. They’re looking for a job. They’ve got too much time on their hands. Why are they going out and soliciting these recommendations?” You don’t have to have recommendations but if you do it is absolutely more about the quality rather than the quantity.
Pam Harper: Less is more, sometimes.
Jane Howze: Yes, and sometimes I have to laugh at some of these. I’ve seen people say, “Well, I have done yard work for Bill Jones for fifty years and he’s a great guy.” That’s not what you want. You want people who have said, “I have reported to Bill Jones and he was a great leader,” or something like that.
Scott Harper: Keep it professional.
Jane Howze: Again, the quality. Yes exactly.
Scott Harper: Keep it professional. Right.
Pam Harper: Absolutely. All of this really is very doable, and you’ve given us some great starting points. And as LinkedIn continues to develop I guess I would say that it’s important to stay tuned to what more powerful kinds of capabilities it has. But at a minimum, you’ve given everybody a good place to start. Any last thoughts you have on this topic?
Jane Howze: Yes. LinkedIn is changing, and so if we have this conversation in a year I will be talking about different ways to use LinkedIn. It is incredibly powerful. I would encourage people listening to put their toe in the water if they haven’t. You just never hear people ever leaving LinkedIn once they get on LinkedIn, but the final thoughts I would say is set your privacy settings so that if you look at other people’s profiles it doesn’t show who you are, and secondly I would say you may want to limit what type of unsolicited emails you get so you don’t get bombarded, because they will bombard you with emails but you can turn that off, so you can check in with them, they don’t check in with you.
Pam Harper: Thanks so much, Jane. We really are glad that you could share this time with us and be on Growth Igniters Radio again.
Jane Howze: My pleasure.
Scott Harper: Thanks Jane, and thanks to you out there for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to today’s conversation, share on social media, find out about upcoming episodes, or open a conversation with us go to growthignitersradio.com and select episode thirty-seven.
Pam Harper: Until next time, this is Pam Harper…
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success and leaving you with this question to think about:
Scott Harper: What am I going to do this week to take my LinkedIn presence to its next level?