Connecting Deeper with LinkedIn

by Dawn McGruer

Posted on Apr 30, 2021

How can we best use LinkedIn as a marketing and sales tool to grow the reach and reputation of business and the people who run them?

Host Will Francis gets a full low-down on this from Dawn McGruer, founder of Digital Consort and author of Dynamic Digital Marketing.

Transcript below.

Connecting Deeper with LinkedIn


Will: Welcome to "Ahead of the Game," a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute. This episode is a big Q&A where we explore an area of marketing through a leading industry expert. I'm your host, Will Francis, and today I'll be talking to Dawn McGruer about how we can get the most out of LinkedIn, how we can use the platform as a marketing and sales tool to grow the reach and reputation of businesses and the people who run them. Dawn is a speaker, author, and strategist specializing in digital marketing. She runs Business Consort at Digital & Social Media Academy that trains professionals to be more effective in their marketing. She's the author of "Dynamic Digital Marketing," a popular book on the subject published in 2019 by Wiley. Ranked in the top 1% of influencers on LinkedIn, Dawn has a wealth of experience in utilizing that platform. So today I'm gonna ask her all about how it's done. Dawn, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you on.


Dawn: Oh. Thanks, Will. It's a pleasure, and, yeah, LinkedIn is always my favorite subject to talk about, so it's gonna be a great session.


Will: Good. That's great. Yeah. It just seem to be a platform that you particularly excel on. And so I suppose just to sort of set out our, you know, stall a little bit, I mean, just tell me, in your experience, how is LinkedIn fundamentally different to all the other social platforms out there and how does it specifically, how do you specifically get value from LinkedIn?


Dawn: Sure. Well, LinkedIn, if you think about it, it's one of the oldest social networks, and many people, I suppose, don't even realize that LinkedIn came out before, you know, Facebook, you know, back in 2002. But LinkedIn has always been the network of choice for me for a couple of reasons. And the reasons that I love LinkedIn at the moment is the fact that you can get reach and engagement on LinkedIn for free. So unlike Facebook, where, you know, if you're using Facebook pages, you're having to utilize things like advertising and paid social. So with LinkedIn, I've amassed maybe 30,000 direct connections and probably the same in followers. So a huge global network, but each and every time you post, it's super easy to get reach and to get the content out to the right people and target the right people. The other thing with LinkedIn is it's...because it's B2B, it's very much orientated around getting engagement and forming these deeper relationships. So for me, it's been a central network whereby I can get leads and generate new customers, but also a really valuable network of people who can be suppliers, partners. And I see it really as the key network for community and collaboration.


Will: Yes. So you're saying that think the algorithm is easier to work with or it's less kind of penalizing of organic content than other networks, do you think?


Dawn: I think because there's less. I mean, if you think about the amount of content on things like Facebook and the amount of people utilizing it, people tend to log in LinkedIn for less, they're using it on an app, but there tends to be more of a focus, I guess, on content that is geared around business. So a lot of the white noise that maybe you get on other social networks isn't there. And the peak times of usability, I suppose, is the working day across all countries. But with LinkedIn, I guess, with the algorithm, when you're posting, if you're using things like hashtags and you're categorizing whatever you're posting about in a topic, it means that you're not just reaching the people in your own network, but you're reaching people who are genuinely interested and the right people that you wanna be talking to. So I think it's an easier network to crack in terms of building quality network and targeting the audience that you're trying to reach.


I feel it's more likely that you would meet people that you connect with on LinkedIn, you know, either virtually or face-to-face in a more one-to-one basis or a group environment. And 80% of our business comes from LinkedIn. So it's definitely a network that people see and feel is central to the hub of doing business. It's not just about kind of posting what we're doing and showcasing our lives. There's a deeper element, I think, whereby transactions take place, you know, partnerships are formed, and, you know, I've had huge amount of alliances that I've met on that that has brought opportunities that I could never have planned for because you can position your content and it's much easier to get seen and found on LinkedIn than any other network because people can search by your name, they can search by content topics and also your brand or business. So to showcase yourself and stand out from the crowd, it's definitely a network that I feel once you master is so valuable. And it's a network that I would feel that, you know, has contributed, you know, hundreds of thousands, if not millions to our business, you know, through developing customer relationships.


Will: Yeah. No. That's some really interesting points, just unpack some of that, I think. You mentioned hashtags, you know, links in adopted hashtags, well, I think that it appeared to adopt them a bit later than some of the other platforms. Are they valuable? Are they worth using in posts?


Dawn: Yeah. Definitely. I think there's two angles for hashtags. Number one, if you use two or three hashtags in your own content, your posting, it means that your content is gonna reach a far broader audience, one that is around the content you're posting. You don't wanna be posting on LinkedIn and just posting into their base. You need to tell LinkedIn where that content needs to go. So the second angle is that all of the users on LinkedIn can go and follow hashtags for a particular topic that they are interested in. So if you position your content around, you know, hashtag topics that they have followed, then it means that you're gonna show up in their newsfeed and the chances of engagement are 10 times higher because they're getting the right content that they're interested in seeing.


Will: Yeah. No, absolutely. And, you know, we've already kind of got down to talking to the nuts and bolts of content. And I suppose thinking about that, I think there's a common misconception I come across with LinkedIn content where people feel that the content has to be quiet, kind of corporate, and I think they lose sight of the fact that it's still humans that you're making the content for sometimes. How emotive, you know, how personal can we make content on LinkedIn, or should we always just be keeping it quiet business and corporate?


Dawn: I think if you think about social networking, it's like imagining your newsfeed like a social networking event. You know, if you see each piece of content like a person in a networking event, you know, someone coming up to you and saying, you know, "I've created an infographic, I've created a video. What do you think about it?" And you try and react in a human way, it brings the essence of real-life networking, you know, to the online community. People are marketing their brands or businesses, but they're marketing it to people, not industries, not sectors. And I think if you create content with a human in mind, you're gonna get it right because we can still all have a personality and, you know, be funny, and expressive, and emotive, and share things, but be a corporate professional brand. People go onto social media to be entertained, and what we can't lose sight of is that it's not a one-way thing. We have to be posting content that's adding value to our audience, but also content that they genuinely want to see. We can't be constructing content from the inside and pushing it out. We have to be listening to our audiences, our customers, or our potential partners, etc., and be thinking about what do they wanna see, what do they want to engage, and how can they take value from maybe your insights, your tips, and your trends.


So it has to be a mix of media, I feel, and content within LinkedIn can be about what you're doing. You know, people want to see that. They want to get an essence of who you are and what your personality is, because that is the brand, you know, and storytelling is what we're doing on social media. So the people in the teams, the people in the business, it's got to be a key part of the content. We don't just want to be seeing boring press releases and, you know, corporate content and brochures and things like that. You know, the world has moved on. So video is definitely a key part and something that has got a huge amount of consumption opportunity on LinkedIn.


Will: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that's it. And I think that, you know, you raise a good point there about just, in general, this thing where so many businesses use social media and they think they're doing social, but they're not really being social. They're not acting in a social way. They're just pushing out content like they would have done 50 or 60 years ago in the channels that were available then, right? And so the challenges to business is to be truly social. Like I say, when I looked through your book, you talk about the Magic 10, and this idea...


Dawn: I'm so glad you saw that. I'm so glad you saw it. It's my favorite because when I started teaching social media and when I started working in digital marketing back when the internet began, people were using social media in this one way, push out of content, and it was like a road to communication but without the opportunity for people to interact and reply. So you have to have a balance. You have to think about when you put content out, that it's like a networking event. It's like starting that conversation, and you're expecting a reply. So you have to be able to ask people to take action. So if you want someone to comment, you know, we have to ask. If you want somebody to engage, then you need to also engage in their content too. So the Magic 10 was constructed around the fact that everyone said they didn't know what to post, they didn't have time to post, resource was a big issue, and still is. And the consistency and frequency of knowing kind of what to do and when to do it is a big thing. You know, still people struggle with what is or what are the tasks around doing your social media and getting a strategy in place.


So the Magic 10 was constructed to kind of combat those things. What it does is it tries to bring the essence of social media and what the social network wants you to do into an easy-to-do process, which is literally 10 minutes a day, and you have to do 10 interactions. Now, this gets you into the flow of actually commenting, liking, and sharing, and connecting. So what we want you to do is each and every day, if you're using your LinkedIn app, just check in with the network, say, morning, noon, and night. And each time you go on, look at the newsfeed and think about, "How can I interact in a human way? How can I treat my newsfeed like an event?" And what you need to do is if you see a piece of content, imagine that person in front of you and how you would react. So people often are more comfortable with liking a piece of content or even sharing a piece of content, but worry more about commenting. And what we want to do is encourage people to feel comfortable in commenting because you're not entering a political debate or anything like that, you're just trying to react in a normal way.


So if you genuinely liked the image or the article, or the insight, or the trend that that post represented, just say, "Great article," or comment in a normal way. And I think the thing is, is once you've done it two or three times and you realize nothing detrimental happened, then you get into the flow. And honestly, the difference it makes when you are commenting, liking, and sharing, and bringing this to an entity, this is when true social networking comes into play because guess what? People talk back, and the more activity you bring, the more activity comes back. So it's this ebb and flow. And comment, liking, and sharing is one part. So that means that you're always gonna be interacting in a really positive way, strengthening and deepening your connections and relationships with these people in the audience, and you've got half a chance of turning the connections into either paying clients, or partnerships, or bringing that relationship into fruition.


Then the second part is about growing your network and making sure that you've not just got a stagnant network of people who are coming to you, choosing you. Because one of the complaints I hear about LinkedIn is, you know, that we get headhunters coming to us or people are trying to connect with us we don't know. Well, the rule of thumb is if someone's completed a profile, and you go and check out that profile, and they look like a real-life human being that could be a positive part of your network, well, why not connect? But you don't just wanna be sitting there. You wanna be proactive and driving your network so that you're canceling out the white noise and the more quality people you connect with, then you're building this great target audience, but you're also gonna see more things in your newsfeed that are uber-relevant to you. So you have to comment, like, share, connect, and each of these actions that you take, so comment, liking, and sharing, is one interaction. And then the aim is to try and connect with 10 people a day. And I promise you, if you did that even for a week, two weeks, a month, or whatever, you're guaranteed to double your network and your engagement. It can't fail. And it's a process I've used for the past 10 years, but it's the most valuable because it brings social media into context of, "This is what I need to do when I need to do it."


Will: I mean, it's insanely basic in a lot of ways. It's almost like telling people, right? "Here's a phone, and what you have to do is when someone talks down one into the phone, you talk down the other." Do you know what I mean? It feels like it's such a basic instruction, and yet so many of us lose sight of that because when you're in a marketing role and you're tasked with social media or you're running your business, you think, oh, you know, you're under this pressure to just get stuff out there and just keep pushing stuff out there, and you basically use it like a megaphone, just blasting messages out there. But, of course, you know, LinkedIn, like every network, is algorithmically driven to varying degrees. And what you're talking about, it shows the algorithm. I turned up, and I turn up every day, and the algorithm wants more of that. It wants to show and surface more of that. Whereas it actively hides the people that just turn up with their megaphone, right? So that will work now more than ever, you know, and I think it's a really good actionable and practical tip for our listeners. So thanks for that. And, you know, the other kind of side of LinkedIn, when I bring up linked in with people, a lot of people then ask me about social selling, this idea of social selling. We hear a lot about that concept. How do you see social selling working and giving a business value in the context of LinkedIn?


Dawn: Sure. So social selling for me has always been the heart of networking, and it's something that I think people struggling in terms of understanding exactly what does it mean. Well, social selling is actually weirdly the act of not selling. And what happens on social media is there's this compelling kind of urge where we want to be promoting products and services and selling all of the time. You know, "Here's a product, buy it, buy it, buy it." Actually, you will sell more if you do two things, which is position your products and services by showcasing what you're doing and getting other people's opinions on it, you know, having things like case studies, testimonials, interviews. People will understand what you do more so, you know, by if you took a picture at an event, or you were meeting a client, or telling people what you were doing. And what it does is it's like a pulsing radar. We see what you're doing. And, you know, by showcasing things like your accolades and your awards, what you're doing is building this picture and perception about your brand, and you're getting awareness, people understand what you're doing. And quite often, I'll meet people who will say, "Well, Dawn, yeah, I saw that you won this award." You know, they may not have comment, liked, or shared it, but you're keeping your brand in the mind's eye, you know, and keeping a perception out there that you are growing and scaling.


The other thing is with social selling, it's about doing the things like the Magic 10, forming deeper relationships on LinkedIn. And this is something that I feel very passionately about because digital marketing is a huge process. There's a lot you could be doing. And I'm kind of encouraging people to slow down and work smarter, not harder, and kind of less is more, more quality content, more quality reaching out and making connections. So instead of just connecting with someone on LinkedIn, I would urge you to connect in a deeper way, you know, have a really good look through their profile. When you connect with them, pick something personal out of that profile and tell them that's why you're connecting. And then to take the relationship even further forward, if somebody connects with you and maybe sends you a message on LinkedIn, instead of going to the standard response, which is reply, type in your text, etc., stop for a second and think about how could you make that different. And one thing that I do which has increased our engagement by 373%, which is pretty massive, is just pressing the microphone in the messages and leaving a voice message back. So if someone reaches out, instead of giving them texts that they get every day, they're gonna be far more receptive and also you're gonna be far more memorable to them if you actually speak. And this is a big difference.


So I think it's just slowing down and thinking about the actions. How could I make this relationship better? How could I take it to the next level? Why am I connecting with this person? What do they need to know about me? We do not want to receive the types of inbox messages that say as soon as you connect, "Hi. I'm Brian. I sell X, Y, and Z." Because as soon as that happens, it's like walking into a meeting and handing a proposal before you even know what that person is to you in your network. So don't sell, build the relationship, fact-find, and you will stand out with that person. I've had relationships that I've been connected with people for 20 years on LinkedIn, and they stay in my network because, obviously, they're finding out more and more and the same vice versa, and we're building an online community.


Will" Yeah. That's really interesting way to hear about that. So, I mean, it's sort of saying depth over breadth or rather quality over quantity.


Dawn: A hundred percent.


Will: Hello. A quick reminder from me that if you're enjoying our podcast series, why not become a member of the DMI so that you can enjoy loads more content from webinars and case studies to toolkits and more real-life insights from the world of digital marketing? Head to, sign up for free. Now back to the podcast. And so, I mean, for social selling, in particular, do you think LinkedIn, in general, is more suited to top-of-funnel activities? Is that driving awareness, or does it come into play through all the stages?


Dawn: I think all the stages. I mean, I think it's definitely the sort of network where people start to find out about brands and businesses. It's a great network to storytell, but for lead generation as well. I mean, literally from the minute that people engage in your brand, the way that LinkedIn is structured is it tends to be people first over the business pages. You know, people buy people. I've always been an advocate of building the network through the people within the organization and then sharing the content onto the page. So it's a people-first approach, and I think it can help in all stages of the customer life cycle and old aspects of, you know, right the way from brand awareness to reconnecting and keeping people in your network and account managing them. So, for me, I think it's a network that's really underutilized. I think there's still a lot of people who don't know how to use LinkedIn.


Will: But I think that's one of the confusing things. So I just wanna clarify what you've said there. On every other network, it's all about the company, and then people are really wary about personal profiles, particularly some sorts of organizations, right? What you're saying, though, is that it's all about...well, it's primarily about the personal profile and building relationships through your personal profile, and, yes, some stuff can get reshared onto the company page, but the company page is never really gonna move the needle in terms of business results. Is that essentially what you're saying?


Dawn: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think all the brands, if you go and have a look at it, they're using a figurehead within the business to represent, to be the face of the brand because it's more personal. And LinkedIn to me is as closest you can get to a physical networking event because it is about connecting and talking to people. And it's not just about seeing brands and pictures and things like that. It is about the team and the culture. And you will see a lot on LinkedIn that people share that, about not just what they're doing as a business, but what they're doing for their teams, how are they helping society, what are they doing in the world of charity work and sustainability to the environment. And I think that's something that we all want to know. So it's definitely a positioning over people first, for sure.


Will: Yes. Okay. That's interesting because like I say, you know, that's still news to a lot of people because of the way they've used other social networks for their brands. And so it is very different, LinkedIn, but do you think that it can work alongside the other kind of consumer platforms, if you like, and be quite well integrated with them in terms of marketing activity?


Dawn: Yeah. I mean, I think the thing is, is if you have your profile set up correctly, you'll be bringing forward, you know, things like video from YouTube, you will have other pieces of media on there. It could be articles you've written on other networks. So the thing is, is I think people will visit your website from it, they'll connect with you on other social networks because people show up differently on each network. And I think people like that flavor. Quite often, I'm connected with people on multiple networks, and they'll see me on Facebook, or Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. So I think we're used to that. And I think you can cross-pollinate. You know, if we're doing an event on Facebook, I would market it through LinkedIn. I would promote events that we're maybe doing on Clubhouse and newer social networks.


And I think the thing is, is people are omnichannel now, you know, they're used to kind of going on to, you know, one network then the next. And I kind of expect it, you know, and they might go and check out your Instagram. They might go and check out your Twitter account. And I would say the most connections I get from people connecting with me on LinkedIn are coming from things at my email signature so that we know that when we communicate with people, you know, through other online channels, that they will go and have a look at your website, your social media, and often the first touchpoint with your brand, you know, if someone Googles you, could be through LinkedIn or one of these other social channels. So I think we have to have a presence across the board, and we have to choose our channels that we're gonna show up as a brand. But LinkedIn is definitely my primary channel, the one that I would say I spend probably the most time in.


Will: Yeah. So I guess off the back of listening to this episode, our listeners are gonna think more about their LinkedIn presence and might wanna go and kind of essentially improve their profile. So if I was gonna give my LinkedIn profile a bit of a rewrite, have you any general tips for that?


Dawn: So doing a profile judge [SP] is definitely something I would encourage to do.


Will: A judge. I like that.


Dawn: A judge. Yeah. You wanna do this maybe like every 6 to 12 months, because, you know, it's the showcase of who you are. And it's not about talking about the business. It's about who you are in the business and what you represent. So you wanna shine online in a way that you are being true and authentic and people need to understand not just the features of, you know, Dawn McGruer. They wanna know the benefits, too, of like why they're gonna connect with me, what the value can they get, what do I stand for. So I think in a profile it's important to have a good friendly picture on there that just represents something that you feel is, you know, you. And it doesn't have to just be overly corporate, but it's something that is smiling. You know, so many pictures on there just look really stern. You also wanna have a nice cover page that showcases kind of a little bit about you and what you do. But in your profile, one of the things that is so important is that I want my profile to do all the work, and I wanna be able to show up in a context that I'm working smarter, not harder, that I can show up for 10 minutes a day and create value from this network. So if you get your profile showing up in the searches, then people are gonna find you. And that means you're not having to do all the effort, that you can be found, you can be seen, people can read your profile.


So people will do a search on LinkedIn. And one way that you can improve your profile to appear in those searches is about getting your keywords on there. So people endorse you for different skills. You can also include those keywords in your profile.


Will: So anywhere in the profile, like your job title, your, you know...


Dawn: Yeah. I mean, on my profile, you'll see that it's kind of structured in a way of kind of who I am. My profile, the way that it reads is me talking as I would as a person to someone explaining why I do, what I feel passionate about, what I stand for, my mission and vision, and what I've done in my career, and, you know, what I do for my clients so that when someone's reading a profile, they have to have a reason to then take action. I also would encourage not just keywords, but also pointing a call-to-action. You know, how do you want people to communicate with you? Do you want them to reach out to you, message you? What sort of work are you interested in? Why are you on LinkedIn? So it's less of the CV approach. It's more of the authentic person that you wanna be seen on LinkedIn for and the things that you feel that would be important to help someone and not just selling yourself to someone. So I would say getting your keywords on there, writing in a nice way, nice visuals, but also having things like featured media. You can take a post and feature on your profile. You can put videos, PDFs, anything that you feel is gonna bring that relationship closer together. They're gonna find out more about you, and then they're gonna wanna reach out and get in touch with you.


Will" Yeah. That's great. Good advice. Something I often wonder is, should you accept everyone that sends you a request?


Dawn: I think the thing is, is I always say, if someone sends you a request, you've got to look at it like they've taken time to do this. Now, there's these awful bots on LinkedIn that people use to just spam.


Will: And I definitely receive those requests.


Dawn: Oh, they're horrific. And you can tell. So when you're gonna look at the profile, you need to make a judgment, like, you know, have they filled in? Are they active on LinkedIn? Are they posting? Do you think they'll be central to your network? It's not about will these people buy from you, but you can generally tell if it's a nice, personalized connection. And do you know what? If someone's taken the effort to do that, why not connect? Because you're not asking them to move in. You don't have to live with them forever. And if you don't like them in your profile, you can just click remove, and they'll never know. So it's a bit like when, you know, people visit your website, you don't tell people to get off your site if you don't know who they are. But if people engage and take it a step level and send you an email, you'll choose how you want to, you know, have a relationship with that person. So I think the thing is, is that if it's a spam, just get rid of it, and if it's someone who genuinely has taken time, why not accept it because these people will have networks themselves. And every time that you are interacting on LinkedIn, their network has seen that too. So, you know, it's important to think about not just one person you'll be reaching, but it could be a whole host of other people that you would pull through into your network through that one person, a bit like the six degrees of separation.


Will: Absolutely. No, absolutely. Another question. So they're all my LinkedIn questions I've been meaning to ask someone are coming out now. What do you think about InMail?


Dawn: I think the thing is, is I would use it as my last resort, okay? So, generally, if you're growing your network in a meaningful way, in the right places with the right people, then 9 times out of 10, you can get introduced to that person. And I always call it warm calling because if I use somebody to get in touch with someone else, it's almost like they're kind of giving me that social proof that, you know, I should be spoken to and I'm a good quality person. So InMail, for me, I think I've maybe used maybe twice in the past 10 years, because I think there's always a route round it. And I might go and start comment, liking, and sharing that person's content, getting myself in the radar, and investing time. And the thing is, is if you try and make contact with someone through a recommendation and they don't wanna talk to you, then maybe they don't wanna be connected to. So, you know...


Will: Yeah. Get the hint.


Dawn: Not always does everybody wanna talk to you really. So InMail for me is an absolute last resort because, you know what, there's always other ways. I mean, I use @ mentioning to kind of get myself in their eyeline. I might share some of their content, buddy them up by comment, liking, and sharing. I might even just connect with them, and I don't know them, but I put a note on their personal note that says, "Do you know what, the reason I'm with you is this." And I'll have looked at their profile in advance. If they still don't wanna connect to that point, I don't think it's worth an InMail. So there's people who wanna, you know, not connect, and we should leave them be.


Will: That's true. A Iot of the requests I get are people who...they include a note with a request. And usually, people who include a note are the people that I ignore because, in the notes, they say that they are, you know, investigating a potential partnership or something like they provide a service I'm actually not at all interested in. And often, thank God, you know, actually, in some ways, if you'd not bothered with that text to, you know, basically declare I'm a salesman and I'm approaching you, I might have accepted it. But, obviously, the right thing to do is to include a note, but not just declare your sales in it. So actually find a common ground and write something unique and bespoke and personalized, right?


Dawn: Well, this is it. When you connect with somebody, you know, you shouldn't have this sort of sales-first approach. It's about the person and the value in your network. So if I'm contacting someone, I need to be thinking about what value I'm adding to them, not the other way around. So I would never, ever suggest putting notes and saying, "I want to talk to you about X, Y, and Z." I mean, it's just the wrong way. I would get them into your network through something that is, as you say, well, more personalized, look at the profiles, see what asynergy there is. And, you know, quite often I'll connect with someone because I've just seen that they actually live down the road or their offices are in my, you know, area. And, you know, people go, "Oh, you know, you must know such and such." And that's the way that dynamics and people work. We don't want someone to go, "Well, I'm looking to find out who the procurement manager is," and, you know, it's just wrong in so many ways. And if you were a networking event, you would probably find that that person has walked away from you and used every excuse to get away. It's not right. So relationship first, sales second.


Will: Absolutely. You know, and, I mean, the way that I've used LinkedIn for kind of sales-type activity, it's as a directory and basically finding out who has a certain role at a certain company and then maybe just knowing their name, I can use something like Hunter, which is a tool that tells you email address formats for companies. And so you'd find out his And that's another way, you know. I'd even do that before using InMail or a spammy request to connect. I think so... Yeah.


Dawn: And I think sometimes, you know, just if you want to connect with somebody and they accept, just leaving a lot of voice notes or something, and I got a message today, actually. I just dropped a note to a customer that came up in my newsfeed, and I saw a post, and I hadn't connected with them since pre, you know, COVID. So I just sent them those notes saying, "I've just seen this post. It was a really interesting article I read, and so I'm just reaching out to say hi and check you're all good." And then that customer came back to me and said, "Do you know what, Dawn, I've just been actually looking at doing X, Y, and Z, and we need some training." You know, so I didn't sell him that message. I was just literally touching base just to do some account management really and, you know, being personal. And then you get business on the back of it. So I think that's a far nicer approach than trying to hunt people down through email or, you know, any of the means. Just try and connect in a genuine way and then, you know, see how people are and just stay, you know, touch base, if you've seen what they're doing, or they've won an award, congratulate people, you know, but do it in a personal way.


Will: I mean, for me, that that's one of the core kind of strategies or tactics for social selling. It is selling without selling. It's approaching people and adding a bit of value. It's saying, "Yeah, I saw this thing. Thought you'd find it useful." Not asking for anything back. And that's hard. You know, I just run into so many marketers. They're hardwired to put in some sort of "Click here. Buy now." You know, and they find it really hard to just offer value and then walk away without asking for anything back. But that is how you build relationships.


Dawn: It's a fast, stronger positioning.


Will: It is.


Dawn: I totally agree. You know, positioning is a very powerful tool when people can see the authenticity of who you are and what you're doing. And I think the thing is, is, you know, social media, we want things to play out. We wanna see how that person is doing through the brand, the business, and so on. So your content has to give that essence too. And it's not, as you say, all about promotion. I mean, we try and kind of encourage people to post on LinkedIn, thinking about theming their days so that, you know, they don't fall into the trap of, you know, sell, sell, sell, but they talk about inspirational stories one day, you know, it could be informational stats and facts the next day and giving tips and insights. So having themes will give you a stronger context, but also a consistency and frequency that people will come to accept and also love, you know, and they'll start, you know, commenting, liking on your Tips Tuesday, or your Wisdom Wednesday, or whatever you're gonna be doing.


And I think people like that. They just wanna know that they're not being sold to. So this is why things like live video is great on LinkedIn because it's not the big corporate whooshes of logos. It's just you showing up, talking to somebody, and just being true to who you are. And if it's an interview, people will listen, and get involved, and talk back to you. Whereas if it's just sell, sell, sell, people don't have that need to engage unless it's actually relevant at that time and they're in an evaluation stage of, you know, wanting to purchase. And how often does that happen? So it's about being there and being there for people when they are ready to buy. But LinkedIn, for me, I get people who will recommend me or training courses who have never worked with me but have just been connected with me. So, you know, the referral source of LinkedIn is massive, you know, and people will just go, "I see Dawn McGruer all the time. I know she does digital marketing. She's got a book. Get in touch with her." You know, and to have people being your PR that you've never even worked with is amazing. And that's how strong content and community can be on LinkedIn.


Absolutely. Yeah, it is. I know our time is running short. I've just got a couple more things to ask you about, really. It's been really interesting so far, but I'd love to hear, I mean, you touched on video, how are the best people on LinkedIn using video, and where do you think that's going on LinkedIn?


Dawn: I think we're definitely going for the shorter video, quick consumption, funny, entertaining. You know, the types of videos I feel work even when I do a quick 60-second or 90-second video would be something...I did one, which was why your content is boring, and it was just basically talking about the fact everyone says, you know, "If I'm not getting engagement." I always say to them, "Well, maybe you need to think about if your content's boring." People want the novelty. I think they're sick of the same stuff. You know, there's a saturation of content online, and we just wanna cut through that and bring a little joy. So I think quick consumption on-the-fly content where you can bring, you know, value and tips. I might just give three nuggets away in a video in 60 to 90 seconds and ask people to DM me, get in touch, or comment. And I think they're far more powerful. So I think we'll see more of that. People do like interviews. People like to hear what's going on because it's a bit like reality TV in the world of business. They want to get facts and see inspirational people and how they got there and their journey. So I think less is more and the good news is, is that non-sort of, corporatey kind of video where it's, you know, hugely polished, something that's done on your phone, I think people just embrace that. You know, walking along, talking, and just giving you as you are, you know, and I think people buy into that more.


Will: Yeah. Absolutely. I totally agree. And as a last kind of point to explore, how do you use LinkedIn ads, and how do you think that, in general, people can derive the most value from LinkedIn ads in supporting their businesses?


Dawn: I use LinkedIn ads rarely, sometimes use them for clients. We use them in the funnel for anything that's free. So they're marvelous for things like free online events, and summits, or, you know, in-person, free guides, white papers, things like that. They're a lot more costly than other social channels. So, you know, you tend to have to have a higher ticket event to get a good return on investment. So this is why if you're promoting something for free, you'll get a good take-up because you're adding value if it's a guide or an event or something like that. We do a lot of online webinars where we use arts to reach, you know, a volume of good quality people. But, to be honest, 9 times out of 10, I don't think you need LinkedIn ads. And, you know, the thing is, is you've got such an amazing reach opportunity and engagement on LinkedIn without the need to pay. This is why so many people who were, you know, avid Facebook users and, you know, turn to LinkedIn because the opportunity was there without the investment and budget. It's just, if you put the time in, you can get an amazing result.


Will: Yes. And that's the thing about paid versus organic, I think, in any channel, isn't it? That it's easy to just go for paid. It's a quick and easy, although it will be expensive option, but if you want a sort of permanent and ultimately, you know, not free, but something that sticks around and that brings back value to your business over time without you having to constantly pay money, then it is about putting that extra time and effort into building your presence, even a community that we say in these spaces. Well, thanks, Dawn. That was very, very insightful. I feel like I've learned a lot. I need to go back and listen to all this stuff and process it, I think. Just, I really like... I know you've given us so much insight already, but I really like to kind of round off with some practical tips for our listeners, things that they can try straight after listening to the episode.


Dawn: I've got a good roundup. I've got my, I'll say, seven steps to LinkedIn success. They're just quick, easy things that people can kind of take, so tangible kind of actions. So the first one is kind's a bit of a recap of things we've done, but the first one would be to comment, like, and share the Magic 10. So 10 interactions a day, commenting, liking, and sharing, each one, one interaction. Second one is remember to build and grow your network. So connect with 10 people out of your choice that you feel will be valuable in your network. Third one is to judge your profile and make sure that your profile really sings who you are and what you stand for and that you're using all of the keywords if you wanna be found and just do a quick search and see where you come up on there.


The next one, number four, is to try and get into the habit of posting. You know, even if it's...if you're not posting at all, once a year would be better. But ideally, you know, once, twice, three times a week, you know. And the thing is, is if you were sharing content, you know, you can classify it as a post, but just remember to put your own kind of mark on top of it and your own slant of what you're asking people to do, and then you can take the glory of comment, likes, and shares. And then number five is to reply with a voice message. Take action, just do one voice message. Someone gets in touch with you, an inquiry or something like that, just leave a voice message and see how powerful that is. And number six is, in your posts, ask for action. So don't just expect us to comment, like, and share. If you want us to do something, ask us to comment. You can use polls and things like that to get that interactivity, but ask us because we will definitely be receptive.


And the number seven is my cheeky way of getting in front of other people and getting to a broader network. So we've talked about hashtags, but as well as including hashtags, putting in @ mention. So even when I share content, you know, it could be someone like the Telegraph has posted something, I'll share their content and say, "Thanks @Telegraph." And I'm shamelessly getting myself and my profile in front of all of their audience. So it's a completely legitimate way, but it's these clever little tactics that will just make the difference of, you know, reaching more people. So hopefully that was a helpful summary.


Will: Oh, that's amazing. I love that. Thank you so much. Well, thanks, Dawn. Really appreciate that. I feel like we've learned huge amounts. Where can our listeners find you, your business, and your book online?


Dawn: Absolutely. So easiest way is to go to If you can't spell that, you can always type in Business Consort, which is the academy, the Digital & Social Media Academy that I founded back in 2005. And you can find the book and also my podcast on revenue error on there. And, of course, you can connect on LinkedIn. So I am the only Dawn McGruer on there, so you know if you find me, you've definitely got the right one.


Will: Fantastic. We'll do exactly that. Thank you so much, Dawn. Really appreciate your time.


Dawn: No problem. Thank you so much for inviting me.


Will: See you.


Dawn: Take care.


Will: If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to Thanks for listening.

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Dawn McGruer
Dawn McGruer

Dawn McGruer is a multi-award winning speaker, international business success strategist and best-selling author of Dynamic Digital Marketing. She also hosts the business & marketing podcast Dawn of a New Era – Top 5% Global Ranking Show. You can connect with her at her website and on LinkedIn.

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