T = Tony Arena. K = Karen Tisdell.
T: Karen Tisdell – great to see you.
K: Great to see you too tony
T: Thanks for coming along for the interview. To the BCI offices. Karen you describe yourself as a Linkedin profile writer. Tell us about that
K: So when i started my journey on Linkedin ages ago (like 2005, i was an early adopter, and used to be a recruiter) using Linkedin to head hunt people. And i discovered when i was a recruiter that you could use it not just to head hunt but for people that you wanted to employ but you could also use it to look for clients. So i started my business in 2009, starting writing profiles, and from about 2015, late 2014 started training people as well. But my core thing is that Linkedin profile writing.
T: So there’s alot of aspects to Linkedin but you’ve decided just to focus on that particular niche
K: Well, i do train people only on free and premium, i don’t train anybody at all on sales navigator. I think there’s so much capacity on free and premium and i’ve niched into that profile writing because i think most people don’t publish on Linkedin because they’re embarrassed about how their profile looks! You know, it’s like going to a business network event wearing your pyjamas
T: without business cards or something
K: Yeah or without business cards! So for me, i really feel strongly that it’s important to get out there and connect with people, and it’s important to be posting on Linkedin but you want to be looking your best before you do that. So that’s why i think that profile writing is so important.
T: Great. You’ve seen alot of mistakes made by small business owners, tell us some of those
K: And i’ve made alot myself!
T: That’s the best way to learn, making them! But what have you seen, what’s good and what’s not so good?
K: I think we all come from… especially people of our generation, i think we come from that mindset of advertising. You know, we’ve grown up with advertising, and we’ve grown up with going, ‘oh i have to put my products and my services first!’, and i think that instead we need to give value first. So i think instead of just pitching, ‘this is my product!’, ‘this is what i do!’, ‘this is my service!’ i think we instead have to think in all of our client interactions, what are the questions that our clients have, and how we can shape content that answers those questions, so i think that by solving our clients questions, we demonstrate our expertise, we give value, it doesn’t cost anything, and it goes viral!, you get organic reach so it doesn’t cost you anything to post, and that’s your best efforts
T: Buy your time
K: So i think the number one mistake that people make is to sell.
T: But we’ve come from the advertising space. In small business, we didn’t have a big enough budget to do brand marketing so we went straight to telling people what we sell, how much it was, what they were going to get from it and that’s the temptation i suppose. Do people make that big mistake in trying to sell too early?
K: Yes, trying to sell. And even too early and too late, instead i think it’s about giving value. I think we really need to give our best tips, give all of our best ideas away.
T: I could talk to you for two hours today but we have to pick out the particular topics that could be relevant and good tips for our people… tell us your thoughts on using video in your posts firstly.
K: I think video is really important. It’s something i really have to push myself to do (i love writing) so for me you know i really want everyone writing and i really think writing is lovely. But the truth is we’re actually pretty suspicious of what we’ve read of the written word. Video makes people feel like they know you. They see how you’re portraying it. So i think you’re far more likely to get conversions and get buyers if you’re doing video.
T: So you’ve got that ability to put over your personality and people can see the real you as long as you are presenting the real you
K: Yeah, absolutely! And i think in this Covid time that real you can get away with being alot more human than in the past. I really love those videos where you’ve got a dog in the background or something… or a child walks past, i think video more than ever now doesn’t have to be such a slick production.
T: We’re not only just forgiving but we like the idea that the dog is barking in the background, cause that’s our dog, and that’s our son or daughter interrupting the video
K: Or a little grandchild running in the background! So i think that video is just so crucial.
T: You talk to people and say ‘are you on Linkedin?’, ‘oh no, i tried that and it didn’t get me anywhere’. What are they doing wrong?
K: Expecting a quick win. As we were saying before the cameras started rolling i’m lucky to have got this new newsletter feature and i think that’s cause i’ve consistently shown up time and time again so i think people just give it one shot, their phone doesn’t start ringing and they think ‘oh i’ll never try that again!’ and i think you just need to understand that even if you’re not getting alot of likes and comments on your posts, people are watching. One of my clients said to me the other day – ‘Karen, i’ve failed. I’ve produced a piece of content and it’s only had 450 views’ – and i’m like, would you be unhappy if you were on a stage standing in front of 450 people? it’s like, no – that’s kind of what you just had. Can we put in context here? Think about it as a long game.
T: Covid-19. We’ve been stuck at home, we’re all on zoom, we’re all on Linkedin talking to people, how has that changed out world and how should we approach this now in light of being stuck at home and wanting to get our message out? How do we use Linkedin that way?
K: I think just being real. I think we need to talk about our values alot more than we did in the past, i think that people want to connect with people on a deeper level you know? don’t you reckon?
T: The way to write and find out about your values is to write them down and then just remind yourself on a daily basis or on a daily basis that they are your values and that you’re living up to them… values are a bit like when someone asks me ‘what’s your selling proposition?’ well you know, sometimes you can’t nail it, give good service, i’ve got good prices… But your values come down to who you really are and if you can get that across in a message i think you’re really lucky.
K: I love your idea about writing them down because i heard Maret Fuglio say if you have too many values, it can be harder to make decisions and even harder for people to see what you stand for. if you have crystal clarity on what are the two or three things you really stand for and showing that.
T: I want to talk about getting your message across indirectly, and i know you love stories. Tell us about using stories as a way of getting your message
K: I love that Simon Senec TEDx talk that’s really old now where you talk about your why, why do you do what you do… and i think that’s the core of a really great story – why do you do this? why do you, as a Business Broker, why do you buy and sell businesses for people? Why that? Why’d you do that and not stay in accounting or something… I think it’s about the why that really connects people
And i think that’s more indirect. It’s not such a selling, ‘i’m trying to flog you something!’ but it’s that… that’s what i’m hardwired to be really interested in.
T: As an instance, you are a generous person… because quite often i’ve said ‘look Karen i want to pay you for this!’ ‘oh it’s only ten minutes Tony’… i find it hard to pay you sometimes so that’s one of your values! You believe in giving to people. But you didn’t say to me… Tony, i’m generous! You showed it by you behaviour.
K: I believe in generosity and that’s a really core value of mine… and i think that by giving help, it’ll come back ten-fold… And you have had tried to pay me on one instance and i was like no! It’s only ten minutes here and ten minutes there, but you’ve introduced me to so many people… And so i think it’s not about producing content or turning up Linkedin to pretend to be helpful, but actually being helpful.
T: Part of your business model
K: Yeah i think it should be part of everybody’s, give value, share expertise.
T: Authenticity: is this the real me? Are you seeing the real person? What’s a tip on being authentic apart from ‘let’s be authentic’, how do you get that message across that this is you speaking?
K: I think by not thinking about you having a customer in front of you, but having a younger version of yourself in front of you, or a friend in front of you. How do you want to help them? I think it’s about putting that helping first ahead of money, and counter-intuitively, then you get more money… people refer you.
T: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far this year?
K: I shouldn’t tell this story but the biggest mistake i have made this year is because, with Covid, it’s been very difficult to keep track of the days right? right? hasn’t it?
T: What day is it? I know what day it is, i’m just asking you!
K: I know today is Thursday!
T: I know we’ve got that sort of blanc mange sort of going on where we don’t know what day it is and i had a whole lot of webinars that started at 12:30 and then i had one webinar for a client, only 220 people on the webinar, thought it started at 12:30, turns out it started at 12! I realised that at three minutes past 12 when i got out of the shower and i ended up running the webinar with my hair soaking wet and dripping down my face and in a bathrobe, (and i’m blushing as i say this) but i did switch off the video so they didn’t get to see me in the bathrobe. But oh my god, how embarrassing!
T: There’s some authenticity for you! Straight out of the shower!
K: Straight out of the shower, no make up, no moisturiser on, just dripping wet and of course when i’m talking in a webinar it’s like i’m on a stage, i’m waving my arms around and there’s literally bits of water flying everywhere and oh my gosh… i end up only being six minutes late into the webinar and the person who was running it and had just been doing a Q&A and stuff like that but six minutes staring at a screen!
T: She’s really just getting ready Ladies and gentleman, she wants to be perfect for you!
K: Worst mistake i’ve made.
T: Now, we’re trying to see the future. We’ve had a look at the trends that have come out of Covid… we’re at home, we’re trying to hone our video skills, we know all the businesses that are doing well and those that aren’t, we’re counting our blessings if we’ve still got a business that we can run from home. Let’s just stargaze for a second – what could the future bring do you think out of this whole catastrophe? I’ve got some ideas, but what are yours?
K: I’d love to hear yours. My grand-dad was such a big figure for me growing up (my parents are British, both my grand-dads were in the second world war) but one of them i was very close to and he shared alot of stories… and i loved his stories of the sense of community that really happened at the end of the second world war, people really pulled together… and i really think that what the world has been through has been like another world war, except it’s affected every single country around the world! and so i think that we are really coming back to a stronger sense of community, stronger sense of wanting to know who i am, who you are, how we connect, what we have in common. So i think the future is just going to be even more immense for Linkedin as people are looking on Linkedin for going ‘who are my tribe?’, ‘who do i want to be working with?’, ‘who do i want to be doing business with?’, ‘who do i want to associate with?’, ‘how do i build referral partners?’, ‘how do i find them? how do i communicate with them?’. So i think it’s going to be more community building online.
T: So it’s coming back to your original point of how do we talk to our people on Linkedin (if we have got people), you want to speak to people in a way that they want to speak to you, that’s the community you’re building, then once you build this trust, then they may do business with you… or they may refer you someone else.
K: Absolutely – so giving content, giving ideas, personalising invitations to connect… and when someone accepts your invitation to connect, dropping them a voicemail or sending them a note on Linkedin and saying ‘hi, i thought you might be interested in this’ and giving something away… just giving. It’ll come back.
T: Karen, we’re gonna add some things after this interview in the comments section when we post this. It’ll be people that you really like on Linkedin, people that you follow and why. Do you have one person that you really go to Linkedin to read about?
K: Oh gosh… i’ve got a bit of a crush on Amy Blashka (i’m sure i’m mispronouncing her name) – B-L-A-S-C-H-A… Amy’s content is just so beautiful. I just love it. It’s very heartfelt, but it’s very practical… It’s not just all fluffy stuff and it’s not rhetoric, there’s a takeaway in every single piece of her content… and i love that.
T: What about doing it yourself vs. hiring someone to do your content?
K: I think the ideas have to come from you. So i know people who do outsource their content creation and it’s done very well when the ideas are theirs. So i think you do have to be in a habit… You’re in your business, you know your business better than anybody else, so i think you have to be in a daily habit of ‘what questions have my clients asked me today?’ – that’s a piece of content… and you have to really detail the answers before you potentially hand it over to a content writer. So i’m really fence sitting on whether you create your own or whether you go to somebody else… But if you got to somebody else you can just say ‘create me a piece of content about this’ you need to give them the question, the answer, your client avatar, everything.
T: Otherwise you’ll be surprised in the wrong way when you read some content.
T: Karen. I sat down with you in the City and you looked at my profile (you had looked at it beforehand), you told me ‘Tony, this is what you have to do’. I would advise anyone who is asking the question ‘is my profile right?’ – first up, have a look at Karen’s profile on Linkedin, you’ll find all sorts of little tips, the emails, the headings, the telephone number, right at the end, all these identifying features.
K: Call to action… Yeah we changed yours alot didn’t we! And i didn’t even write yours! I just said ‘here are my thoughts on what you could change’… and it’s made a difference to you hasn’t it?
T: That’s my big tip for the day – get Karen. Do you come and see people personally or do you prefer online consultation?
K: This is about the third or fourth time i’ve left the house in months so i’m doing everything still on zoom. No traffic jams… i’m busier than ever but without the rushing around, without the traffic.
T: We’re gonna close up (unless there’s any other thing i’ve forgotten to ask you or any other tips you could give)… but here’s one thing. I really am looking at this whole storytelling thing at the moment. I’m trying to build my message around a story… whether it’s digging into history or finding someone like you… we’re telling a story now as opposed to me just putting something in print, that’s the idea i like about bringing a message to life in a way. Where do we find stories? How do you, in your day-to-day life, say ‘there’s a story… i’m going to use that story!’ – Do you research, does it come to you? How do stories come to you?
K: I love stories. But for me, it’s about getting crystal clarity on what might work. So i try my stories out with my clients before i ever say them to camera. Everybody is doing client meetings whether they’re virtual or otherwise, just practice your stories, and your stories are like jokes – what’s the punchline? What’s the take-away? What’s the metaphor in this? So for me, it’s just about creating something very simple that comes from my past, or my childhood. i’ll often start my stories with ‘my Granny once told me’, or ‘my dad used to say’… these things i’ve grown up with
T: Something interesting
K: Something personal so it sounds real and feels real
T: And it is real. Here’s my tip for the future. What have we got at the moment? We’ve got alot of people out of work in the acting game, in the film production game, there’s not alot of film going on (not produced film), there’s alot of actors out of work… and there’s alot of business people who are on their zoom, or on their video, talking on Linkedin, that really need a bit of training. I think there’s going to be alot of education coming across from the arts to people…
K: There already is… I’ve been working with some beautiful people called ‘transition hub’ and they’re all ex-professional dancers (like ballet dancers) and theatre people and they’re doing some beautiful work. Olivia Solomons is doing some great work… there are so many actors and actresses using Linkedin and teaching us how to show up.
T: Someone sent me a profile… Mo McCrae… Very impressive. One of the best video shots i’ve seen from someone who’s out of the production area.
K: I’ll have to have a look. There is a Simon McCrae… I’d have to have a look.
T: Karen, it’s been most enjoyable, and most fulfilling, and we’ve learnt alot.
K: And we’ve even socially distanced! We’ve had the plant here… should we elbow tap?
T: Thanks for your time
K: Thanks for the interview.