When Chris Reed first arrived in Singapore more than a decade ago, he didn’t know anyone.
“So I started using LinkedIn to reach out to people and ask ‘do you want to meet’,” explained the Brit.
But Reed did not just want to foster social ties; he also wanted to build professional relationships. “Actually, I’ve got all my jobs from LinkedIn,” he added.
If LinkedIn has worked for Reed, he now wants it to work for others in Southeast Asia. Last year, he founded Black Marketing, an international marketing consultancy firm that specialises in developing and managing professionals’ and companys’ LinkedIn profiles.
He is now global CEO of the company, which has grown rapidly in just one year, expanding from its Singapore base to now have offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Toronto, New York, London and Sydney.
Today, Reed has one of the world’s most viewed LinkedIn profiles with more than 22,000 followers and has been repeatedly named top ‘Social Seller’ in the Asia-Pacific region. Focus Asean spoke with Reed to find out the ins and outs of LinkedIn and why companies cannot afford to overlook this B2B social network.
Why should businesses take notice of LinkedIn?
Linkedin is one of the largest publishing platforms in the world. There are 364 million professionals who want to connect, learn, engage, share and respond. If you’re not on, you’re really missing out. For a company, it’s a great way to engage with all your stakeholders from investors to potential employees, media to existing employees, who could become your greatest brand advocates.
What advice would you give to a business looking to expand its customers or brand via LinkedIn?
First of all, as a CEO or executive, you need to put time into developing your own personal page first. Have a professional photograph taken of you looking into the camera that captures your personality. Then write out your summary and experiences first – in the first person, not the third – and source website links, videos, PDFs to visually illustrate it. Then you can send personalised invitations to connect with people in your industry and people in your company.
Get that right and then look at your company branding. For example, develop a showcase page that features the products you offer, also what jobs are on offer because a lot of people use LinkedIn for finding jobs.
A good example is where the company page is very engaging, has lots of graphics and content that are well-thought out – it goes without saying that if your content is good then people are more likely to want to work for your company. You should also join 50 active and relevant groups to maximise messaging and content sharing and create target lists using the premium services.
Another important factor for a company profile is getting all of your employees on board and getting them to share the content to their connections.
Also, when posting content on LinkedIn, try to talk a lot about the kind of industry you are in, not just pushing your own company’s products. LinkedIn has a 1:1:4 guide to help you. One part ‘hard sell’ posts about your company; one part ‘soft sell’ posts about your industry; four parts unrelated posts about your region, the economy, talent, marketing, innovation, leadership, people – anything that is not directly related to your company and industry.
This way, ‘hard sell’ posts about your business will have greater engagement and more traction with your connections, and people will more likely check out your personal and company profiles and may be interested in your business.
A great example is ANZ bank; they’re not just talking about their own products, they’re talking about the latest developments in the industry, or anything of interest. It’s about bringing the connections in to warm-up the brand of ANZ.
Is LinkedIn all about connections?
In order for your content to go viral you need more connections for more people to share it, but your content needs to be engaging and compelling – it can’t be spam and it can’t just promote your company. But it’s very much about quality of connections as well as the number, but you need the number really. The way LinkedIn works is that the more ‘1st’ connections you have – that is people you have invited to be connections and accepted, or you’ve accepted – the more ‘2nd’ and ‘3rd’ connections you have – those who are connected to your ‘1st connections’. If you don’t have that many ‘1st’ connections, it reduces your ability targeting new clients or professionals.
In your opinion, is LinkedIn better for the already developed, larger companies, or better for SMEs and startups?
Both. We have multinational clients and SME clients. The great thing about LinkedIn is that it’s an equaliser. Everyone gets the same size personal and company profile, and the same sharing and publishing abilities. If you’re a smart SME you can punch above your weight.
If you target the right person in the right kind of way with the right message, then it really doesn’t matter how large or small your company is. More sales teams from SMEs are now on LinkedIn and are using that it as their primary database.
What makes a great LinkedIn profile?
The best profiles are those that post on a regular basis, have a lot of content and actually engage with their connections on a regular basis and use it as a content management vehicle. Obviously, I would say mine is one of the best. I spend so much time working and improving it each day.
Compared to other social media, such as Facebook, what does LinkedIn offer that is different?
It is quite difficult to compare. LinkedIn is a B2B network and Facebook is a P2P network, so Facebook is personal and LinkedIn is professional.
You can do things on LinkedIn that you can’t do on Facebook. You can’t find the CMO (chief marketing officer) of a particular company, you can’t build databases or contact lists, you can’t target individual people for marketing, and you can’t use company pages in the same kind of way.
It’s like this: If you approached a potential CMO on a Saturday with his family after a few bottles of wine and you say, ‘have a look at this content’, that would be Facebook.
But if you approached the same person on LinkedIn, then they would expect it, as it’s a business network.
Can you talk a little about your company and what your offer to clients?
Black Marketing is a premium, personalised, boutique-marketing consultancy. We specialise in enhancing your personal LinkedIn profile – making you a ‘top influencer’ – your company’s LinkedIn profile, creating B2B content to engage on LinkedIn and helping you market your products and services through LinkedIn to win new clients.