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Becoming a LinkedIn Expert is vitally important, now more than ever, to create a strong personal brand so that you stand out from your competition.
We get to speak with Viveka von Rosen, Co-Founder & Chief Visibility Officer of Vengreso, the ultimate LinkedIn Expert. Viveka is on the podcast for not one but two episodes sharing 101 ways to rock LinkedIn. In part one, we discuss:
- Mindset: today’s modern seller must recognize that buyers have become better at buying faster than sellers have become at selling. Adapt or die to the buyers’ decision;
- Brand: establish a personal and professional presence online with a social profile that drives your prospective buyer to engage with you;
- Engaging: find and engage with your buyers by discovering and sharing valuable information to help solve real business problems.
Cofounder of Vengreso, the largest provider of full-spectrum Modern Digital Sales transformation solutions. Known as the @LinkedInExpert, she’s the author of the best-selling “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day” AND “LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand!”. She’s been named in Forbes (4 years running) as a top social media expert and is a regular contributor and has been featured in Forbes, BuzzFeed, Inc, CNN, Entrepreneur, Selling Power, and the Social Media Examiner. Her business mission is to help sales professionals and business owners create more quality and qualified conversions on LinkedIn.
- Prospecting article with the follow-up cadences
- Two-step referral methodology
- Video on video cover stories
George: Welcome to this edition of the “Conquer Local” podcast. It will be a two episode series. Recently in the studio, we had Viveka von Rosen, the Cofounder and Chief Visibility Officer of a company called Vengreso. Viveka has a long career as a LinkedIn expert, and as soon as we started working on the episodes, we recognized there was gonna be a lot of great content here.
So this week, we’re going to cover Viveka’s experience as being this LinkedIn expert. You’re gonna find her super engaging. She has a book called the “101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn”. And we’re gonna be covering off in our first episode the mindset that a modern seller must use today, then that ability to build your personal brand, and then how do you engage your audience. We’ll talk about mindset, brand and engagement when we return with Viveka von Rosen, as the “Conquer Local” podcast kicks off a two episode series around everything you need to do to be an expert on LinkedIn.
Welcome to the “Conquer Local” podcast. Viveka joining us. Viveka, really excited to have you on the show today, and I want to learn all about you, but first, I got to understand something. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a number of years. This URL, whoa. So it’s linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert. How the heck did you get that line?
Viveka: I’ve been on LinkedIn for a long, long time. Yeah, I was just lucky, the day that LinkedIn decided to release the customized URL, which I think was like 2007ish, 2008ish, I was like, oo, let me see if LinkedIn expert is available. And the reason I got LinkedIn expert is because when I was doing Twitter, my own name, Viveka, wasn’t available. So I’m like, and I was sitting next to my business partner at the time, who is also a LinkedIn expert, and I like literally typed in LinkedIn expert faster than he did, so I was just really lucky.
George: I’m shocked that you’re so competitive. No, I’m not.
Viveka: I know, can you believe it?
George: I’m not shocked at all. I’d love to learn more about your book. I’d love to learn more about how you got named in Forbes four years in a row. I’d love to learn more about Vengreso, so we’ll get to that in a few minutes. But first, let’s start talking about the bestselling book, “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day” or, and, maybe it’s and or, “Linkedin: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand”, two of your components here that you’ve brought to the table. We’d love to learn about those.
Viveka: Yeah, don’t buy the first one. “Hour a Day” is a 2011, 2012 book, so that’s like 110 in social media years, so do not buy that book. But this one just came out last week, so that means it’s a little bit more up to date. Although LinkedIn has introduced, of course they have, new features since we released the book, so there you go. But yeah, “101 Ways to Rock LinkedIn” is the latest version of my last book, and it’s written with the entrepreneur, solopreneur salesperson in mind, more than the marketer, because marketers, they understand marketing, and they can, their focus is a little deeper, whereas salespeople, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, we’re managing 10 balls in the air at any given time, and of course salespeople are always trying to make the next sale. So with them in mind, the book is literally one tip on one page and a picture on the other. It’s like a picture book for adults. So it’s really, really easy to consume.
101 Ways to Rock LinkedIn
George: Well, I get first, I gotta give you props for one thing. As I was prepping for the episode and reading through the book, my wife and I were really excited last night, because there’s a chapter in there that says, “Turn it up to 11”, and you know, spinal tap, turn up to 11, come on! Like get that Marshall amp and crank that thing can do 11. This truly is 101 ways to rock, and I’d love to understand a little bit more about some of the learnings in this book, because I’ve been doing a lot of this stuff myself. I didn’t have a book to work off of. I wish I would have found this years ago, but you know, what are some of the things that people can do to make themselves more visible on LinkedIn and rock that profile?
Viveka: Yeah, well, and I want to get props to my coauthor, who’s Dayna Steele. She’s actually the creator of the “101 Ways to Rock” series, and she is literally, she was a rock star. She was a disc jockey back in the 80s and 90s, well 70s, 80s and 90s, and MC’d pretty much all of the big concerts. And in fact, in our first book, we got Brad Gillis, who’s the lead guitarist of, oh my God I’m totally pulling a blank right now. Sorry Brad. Night Ranger, oh my God!
George: Night Ranger.
Viveka: Sorry Brad.
George: See, I wanted you to say it.
Viveka: Yeah, yeah, sure.
George: But I love “Sister Christian”. I’d try and sing it but that’s not-
Viveka: I knew that. I don’t know, I was just one of those brain farts. But anyway, so she is like, she is the queen of rock and roll, hence “101 Ways to Rock”. So I was super to write this book with her, and yeah, we’ve got a ton of tips. Yeah, happy to share them with you.
George: And I think for our audience, if you listen back, we’ve had a number of LinkedIn focused episodes, and then we met Viveka here recently. We had to get her on the show, because you are one of the top LinkedIn experts on the planet. And I’ve been beating this drum for a long time, because I could not do my job without LinkedIn, and that’s not that they paid to be, well they did pay to be an advertiser on the podcast, but that’s not them paying for this endorsement. I live in this bloody thing, and I know that you do as well. So what are some top tips that you could give sales professionals, and as you said off the top, this is for the sales pro, more than it is for the organization.
Viveka: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the thing is, with the pandemic, with COVID, if you’re in sales, you kind of have to be on LinkedIn now. It’s great if your marketing department can get you great visibility on Google, and on Facebook, and on Insta, and on Twitter, and all the, you know, Clubhouse and whatever. Well, be hard for them to do it on Clubhouse, but you know, it’s great if you’ve got your marketing department creating that kind of one too many awareness type content. But as a sales person, or a business owner, or an entrepreneur, you’ve got to use whatever you have available to meet, connect, and engage, or meet, engage and connect with individuals. And the problem, of course, is we’re not able to do that right now as much face-to-face. Real life conferences are just starting to get booked out like October, November of this year, right? Trade shows, very much still virtual, and so we’ve got this great networking app, right, called LinkedIn. The problem, of course, is about a year ago, people said, oh crap, you know, what are we gonna do? And, you know, the powers that be in the companies were like, okay, you have to get on LinkedIn, and then it was kind of a good luck with that. And so people got on LinkedIn, and utilized it as the tool they thought it was, which was a resume on steroids. So mostly, if you see someone’s profile at all, it’s a resume, because quite literally, back in 2007, they had a resume upload tool that you could like upload your resume, and that’s not what people are interested in. If I’m looking for a vendor, if I’m looking for a solution to my problem, I want to meet with the individual, and I want to know how they can help me. And so the first, well it’s not the first tip in the book, but the first tip that I would recommend to anyone listening to this is make sure that your profile is buyer centric. Most of us, you know, we create a profile, it’s our resume, it’s all about us, but let’s face it, it’s the WIFT, you know, what’s in it for them? What’s in it for your buyer? How does your profile solve or at least address their issue? So from the headline, which is 220 characters now, instead of, my headline would, or my title rather is CVO of Vengreso. No one knows what a CVO is, and no one knows what a Vengreso is, right?
Viveka: CVO’s chief visibility officer. Vengreso is short, or is an amalgamation of ventas and ingresos, which is sales and revenue, but no one knows that. So if you went to my profile, and you just see some chick there with CVO of Vengreso, you might think it’s some kind of like vitality workout drink. So that’s not gonna do me any favors. What I want to do is address my buyer, and address their point of pain. So my buyer, B2B sales professionals, and sales leaders, and what do we do at Vengreso? We help them create more quality and qualified conversations on LinkedIn. Boom, done. So the first thing that I would recommend anyone listening to this podcast do is, who do you help? How do you help them? Put that in a 220 character sentence, sentence fragment, I don’t care. You can look at my profile and see how we’ve done it. But who do you help? How do you help them? And if you have the character space, not words, but characters, then you can put your title and your company. And if you put your company, do the .com at the end of it, because that helps you become more find-able too. A lot of people will search for, we’ve just been trained that way, right? So, you know, Vengreso.com, and then that way not only will our company page show up, but all of our employees will show up too.
George: You know, I consider myself to be a power user, and you taught me something in just that moment. And so I’m looking at your profile, and I see these keywords. So there’s the dreaded keyword. Also, I see your brand, but you’ve got a spin on that, where you want to drive them to the website. But I also see hashtags that are used inside your description, and this all relates back to the way that people search.
Viveka: Right, 100%, because I mean, let’s face it, the modern buyer’s way more savvy than even the modern seller right now. The modern buyer has been on Google, on all, seeing like who’s out there, what’s out there, what’s the best thing we can do, what’s the best thing we can buy. So they are used to Googling us, and Google your own name, and chances are your LinkedIn profile will show up on the first page, if not the first or second item. And so they’re Googling us, our LinkedIn profiles are showing up. They’re going over to our LinkedIn profile, and to your point, George, if it’s not optimized with keywords, with hashtags, and again, focused on them, they’re just gonna flip on by, and go to the next, and the next, and the next profile, until they find the person who they think can solve their problems.
Leads from LinkedIn
George: So you’ve built an amazing personal and corporate brand online, over 46,000 followers. I think I know the answer to this question, but I’d love to interrogate it. How many of your leads, for the work that you’re doing with Vengreso, are coming directly from LinkedIn?
Viveka: Yeah, like 100%. I mean, we don’t, it’s funny, we got this long and rather awkward, but hey, at least they used video, email the other day saying they could help us find more leads, and they could help us fill our pipeline. And I’m kind of thinking to myself like, okay, first of all, we teach selling with video and this one sucks. But secondly, we don’t actually need the help, because you can, with LinkedIn, and with the right content shared at the right time, you can really drive all of the inbound leads that you need. So fortunately, I’m not actually in sales anymore. Those who can’t do teach, no but. No, I don’t have to be in sales anymore. We’ve got a whole sales team, but I do get a lot of inbound leads, and I just port them over to our sales guys. But I mean, every day, every day I’m getting inbound leads, and it’s just because we walk our talk, which is, right, we’ve got the right mindset. We understand like social selling and virtual selling is not going away. McKinsey actually wrote a really good article at the end of last year, and they had interviewed a bunch of B2B buyers, and the B2B buyers, 83% of them said, yeah, we kinda like it this way. We like not traveling three weeks out of the month. We like not having to go to the office. We like being able to like put on our comfortable stretchy pants, go down to our office and do all of our engagement only dressed from the waist up. We like that, and so we’re gonna keep doing that. And so that mindset is what virtual sellers have to understand. It might go a little bit back to the way it was, but virtual selling is here to stay, so you’ve got to have that mindset, and then you’ve got to have that brand. You’ve got to, whether you’re one individual seller, or a team of sellers, you’ve got to represent yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and then you have to represent your company as well, with branding elements like you mentioned already. The background image. Hello, marketing department. If you don’t have multiple background images for your, nevermind just salespeople, for your entire company to choose from, you are losing out on a massive and free opportunity to create this powerful, strong brand. So background images, the headline that we just talked about, 220 characters telling people who you are, how you help, how you help them. A good picture, and LinkedIn, of course, right after I published my book, they came out with what I think is one of the coolest new features called video cover stories. You only can see it if you have it. It’s a little bit like “Harry Potter”. When you go to someone’s profile, you see their picture, and then all of a sudden, there’s this little three second video, and then it goes back to being their picture. So it’s very “Harry Potter” esque. But what’s cool about that, if you click on the orange ring around their picture, it takes them to a 20 second video message, which should be, in my humble opinion, a 20 second elevator pitch basically telling people who you help and how you help them.
Viveka: You know, and that’s, it’s just-
George: My FOMO is at 11. My FOMO is at 11. I don’t have this magical video that you talk about. I’m having a hard time-
Viveka: I know, they’re rolling it out, they’re rolling it out. Hopefully by the time this airs, everybody will have it. You’ll know you have it either on your profile or on your mobile device. There’s a little orange plus sign, so just look for the little orange plus sign that’s on your picture. That’s not actually to add a photo to your profile, it’s to add this video cover story. So you can always prep it ahead of time. It’s 20 seconds. You want to shoot the video in horizontal, and the first three seconds are gonna show, and so you can at least get it ready for the time when you get that feature.
George: Well, for those of you playing at home on the home version of the “Conquer Local” podcast, Viveka is now up to five things she’s taught George, and we’ve only been doing this for about 10 minutes, and I thought I was a frigging LinkedIn expert. But you do have the real LinkedIn expert, according to your URL.
Viveka: Yeah, hey, that’s what my URL. It’s on social media-
George: You’re living up to it.
Viveka: It must be true.
George: Let’s talk about LinkedIn stories, which was released a few months back. Like any new thing, I jumped on it, started doing some stories. Don’t do it every day. Are you seeing that that is a valuable component?
Viveka: So like you, I had immense FOMO. I even hacked the system to get them early, and then LinkedIn figured it out and then they took them away, and then they gave them back to me. And I was, to your point, I was super active on stories when they first started out, and they were great for building engagement, because anyone who comments on that story, it goes into your inbox, and it’s an opportunity for you to start a conversation, and that’s what we’re all about at Vengreso, creating those quality conversations. That being said, I am so not like, that’s probably one of the reasons I’m not as into Instagram or Facebook, because the stories are really time consuming. And what I realized is, that’s kinda my job is to be visible, and if I’m having a hard time creating decent enough content utilizing stories, then is the average sales person gonna do it? Probably not. That being said, it’s a differentiator. It will make you stand out it, and it does absolutely generate conversations. So while I don’t do it myself, I still think it’s a pretty cool little feature.
George: How careful do we have to be in the LinkedIn environment to not be Facebook, Instagram esque, where we’re oversharing every frigging component of our lives, and it becomes unprofessional.
Viveka: Yeah, exactly. And what we’ve noticed, of course, with COVID, and with us being at home more, and with our home offices maybe being the kitchen table, right, or our bedroom, in some cases. Like those lines have blurred a little bit, and so what you’ll see is the content being shared on LinkedIn has moved a little bit more into the personal as well as the professional. That being said, if you want to pull your dog, your wife, your spouse into an update, into the content that you’re sharing, still try and twist it a little bit to the professional. Like a big thing that was coming up was your dog is your colleague, right? So share what your dog’s doing, then end it with in the office, and so “My colleague is scratching his butt in the office”, right? And so that things like that, which was a blend of the professional and the personal, that’s a little bit more accepted on LinkedIn right now. But yeah, LinkedIn is not the place to show your foodie pics. It’s not the place to do your math quizzes. The problem is with the algorithm, it’s a very simple algorithm, and so the more people who comment on the math quiz and go, this doesn’t belong on LinkedIn, the more amplification it gets. So just ignore those things that you don’t feel belong on LinkedIn, and for the content you’re sharing yourself. Yeah, people like dogs, puppies, babies, et cetera, so if you want to pull yours in, and share how working at home or whatever has made you better at what you do, 100% go for it. But pure personal pieces of content, eh, I still feel like they don’t have as much a place on LinkedIn. We want to keep those platforms separate.
George: So as the LinkedIn expert, you also, over the past four years, have been named in Forbes as a top social media expert, and a regular contributor with Forbes, Buzzfeed, Inc. Magazine, CNN, you know, not small names. How have you been able to accomplish that, Viveka, in getting your name on some of the biggest news outlets on the planet?
Viveka: Yeah, so first of all, the four consecutive years being named on Forbes, I gotta be honest, was like 2009 to 2013, ’cause I had a lot less competition. I do contribute et cetera. A lot of times just because of the visibility that I’ve generated, they come to me, “Hey, can we have a quote?” I’m now positioned myself as a thought leader, and I’ve somehow convinced other people of that too. So they’ll usually come to me with a request, but there’s no reason that anyone can’t do that. I got the name LinkedIn expert ’cause I was lucky, but I then spent the next 14 years proving it was true. You can absolutely, no matter what industry you’re in, no matter what job you have, you can position yourself as an expert in that particular arena. And if you’re not getting all these inbound requests for work or for quotes, you can absolutely start creating relationships with people at those different types of magazines, or those different types of forums, or those different types of blogs that you want to be aligned with. And eventually, once you’ve connected to them, you’ve shared content, they see it on their feed, you can actually reach out to them, “Hey, I’m available for a quote if you need it”, and it might be the perfect timing. They might’ve been looking for someone like you at just that moment, and be like, sure, you know, what do you think about? So you can absolutely force those relationships, but you want to do it in a way that’s not obnoxious. So you always want to, so again, mindset, and then branding, and then engagement. You always want to engage first with your prospect, whether it’s a buyer, whether it’s a donor, whether it’s a candidate, whether it’s a author, or a writer, or an influencer. You want to engage with their content first. You want to create that type of visibility, and then go for the invitation to connect, and after the invitation to connect, then provide value, actually right in the middle of the invitation, you should provide value. And only then really have you earned the right for that next call to action, whether it’s an invitation to a meeting, or just can you comment on, but we call it the PVC, right? You want to personalize, add value, and then put in that call to action. But too many people get on LinkedIn and they’re like, “Hey, want to connect? Buy my stuff.”
Viveka: I mean, I think, right, anyone of us could go to our inbox right now and like put in comments, right? How many invitations do you have to connect that are pure sales pitches?
Building Personal Brands
George: Right, which is not what you want to do. So the interesting thing is, you are talking about four of the biggest media brands on the planet. Let’s come back to the title of the podcast, which is “Conquer Local”, and you know, our audience of local sellers, and I get asked all the time by local sellers, how do I build my personal brand? I’m in Wichita, Kansas. And I love Wichita, by the way, I’ve been there four times. Not sure how I ended up there four times, but I have been to Wichita, Kansas four times. And the place that I grew up in is way flatter, so that’s not a flat attack. But my point is, let’s look into the local market, and I believe if you went to the Wichita Eagle, which is the local newspaper and said “I am a digital expert, here’s my brand online. I would love to be a contributor to provide”, again, with that idea of value, so you’ve got to have the right mindset. You’ve got to have built that brand, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in Wichita, Kansas, or Rosetown, Saskatchewan, Canada-
Viveka: That’s right.
George: The market is going to have some brand there that wants to amplify your voice, if you bring that right branding, do you agree?
Viveka: Yeah, 100%. In fact, that’s how I built my brand, right? At first I was doing a lot of trainings in local chamber events, back when we had chambers of commerce, and we met face-to-face. So a long time ago. But yeah, I did a lot of local chamber stuff around my area, you know, there’s four or five different chambers in the Northern Colorado area, within maybe 15 miles of where I lived. And so I did a ton of that, and then one of those local chambers had an international association, and they said, “Hey, want to come in and speak for us?” So yeah, absolutely build your visibility locally, and because the world is flat. No, I’m not a flat Earther, but because of the virtual aspect, we can do business, depending on what our business is, with anyone, anywhere, at any time. And now I get brick and mortars, that’s not the case, but if you have a product or a service that truly does have a virtual aspect, that you can deliver to anyone, at any place, at any time, then build both of those visibilities, right? Build your local visibility, which will help to grow you into a national or an international visibility, and also just go ahead and try for that national and international visibility at the same time too. You just never know what is gonna be the thing that sparks, but I love what you said. Look at those local places, and start engaging with them. Just engage with them.
George: Well and be available.
Viveka: And be available.
George: It doesn’t mean that you can’t do your day job, but part of making sure that you get that publicity is being available. So, want to be on my podcast? Yes. Want to be in an interview? Yes. Like that is the answer. Now, there are some publications maybe you don’t want to be in, but I would say the answer is usually yes, as you’re building that brand, then you may be a little more choosy as you move forward. But in the early days, and when you’re building that brand, it is, yes, I will put an article in the church circular. Yes, I will come speak to five hardware store owners, you know, whatever it might be, but yes is that answer. Viveka, I hope you don’t have anything going on for the next little while, because I’d love to continue this conversation, if that’s okay.
Viveka: Sure, yeah absolutely.
George: So we’re going to, let’s stop here, and we are going to have Viveka come back and join us next week, right here on the “Conquer Local” podcast, so stand by for that.
George: Well, there are so many great takeaways from Viveka, the rocking your LinkedIn profile. She co-authored that book with Dayna Steele, and you know, how do we put ourselves into the mind of the buyer, and be thinking about that as we work through the LinkedIn platform? You know those leads that are coming in, you’re getting those inbound leads, you have to communicate with them with that right mindset. And we also talked about that great new feature, where you can have that video in the banner, which is super cool. I can’t wait to try that. And then we talk a little bit about that branding, and why it’s so important. So thanks to Viveka for sharing that information. You can carry on the conversation in our community, and we’re also looking for your feedback, if you have ideas for upcoming episodes, we’d love to hear from you. And we’re looking for those reviews, wherever you are consuming this podcast. If you love it, please tell others and leave us that review. We appreciate it. If you don’t, let us know what we need to do to improve by reaching out to us directly on my LinkedIn profile. We’ll be back next week with more from Viveka von Rosen. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.