Using LinkedIn Effectively

Using LinkedIn Effectively

These days, LinkedIn is overflowing with content. There are more users and more choices than ever before, but also more noise and sales pitches. These factors, along with algorithm changes, make it harder to stand out on merit alone or gain wide exposure simply by having a large network.

Yet LinkedIn remains one of the best places to get noticed, build your reputation and grow your business. It’s often the first place people look when they want to know more about you. Whether you’re in business, planning a career move or want to be seen as an industry expert, knowing the rules of the game can help you take advantage of all the benefits this powerful business network has to offer.

Here are our top 3 tips for using LinkedIn effectively:

Content

Whether you’re a prolific publisher or only write an occasional post or article, remember to leave your ego at the door and write for your audience. It’s ok to share a win every now and then, but always focusing on yourself is a big turnoff to your network – ultimately damaging your reputation and encouraging people to unfollow.

Whilst LinkedIn is a business network, it’s also a social platform – so use it as it was designed to be used:

  1. Participate in discussions
  2. Share your knowledge
  3. Share others’ content
  4. Acknowledge others’ successes
  5. Offer help

Language

Often the impact of your posts and articles is as much about the language as the subject. Your audience will quickly form an opinion of you based on the words you use – so make sure the ones you choose feel natural and express your message clearly. Industry terms and jargon have their place, but use them selectively: it’s great to demonstrate your knowledge but if your audience doesn’t understand or it doesn’t enhance your message you’ll look like you’re showing off.

Be precise and concise: your audience’s time valuable, and their attention span is short. Numerous messages are competing for their attention, so make every point count – is it relatable? Useful? Does it provide a solution or benefit?

Get familiar with the most common keywords and hash tags in your industry, and use them every time you post. If your audience is looking for an expert, they’ll be more likely to find you.

Images

I’m often asked, ‘should I have a profile photo?’ The short answer is yes, always!

First impressions still matter and we all want to connect with a person, not a generic placeholder graphic or company logo. But make sure it’s good quality – blurry or dark shots, or an image cropped from your last wedding or Christmas party snap are worse than no photo at all.

Quality images also play an important role in your posts. Generally speaking, posts with an image attract more engagement, but don’t let that stop you publishing a well worded text only post – sometimes this can be just as powerful, especially when the newsfeed is crowded with image posts.

With over 500 million members, LinkedIn remains one of the biggest and most influential social media networks for business worldwide. The high volume of content may have made it more challenging to be seen by your target audience, but it is possible to cut through the clutter by being more strategic in your approach and staying true to the platform’s purpose as a social platform. Being a contributor rather than a broadcaster is the most effective way to get noticed, be recognised as an expert and grow your business or career.

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Megan Edwards is the owner of mWords Communications, a boutique content marketing, social media and training company. She has over 20 years’ experience in marketing communications, and currently specialises in consulting, copywriting and leading LinkedIn Strategy workshops for small business owners and corporates.

How this 95-year old fashion brand has beaten all odds to stay relevant

How this 95-year old fashion brand has beaten all odds to stay relevant

Melissa Gibson and Warren Sanders, Directors at Buckle | 1922, share the challenges and opportunities in reviving a nonagenarian Australian label to style today’s modern man.

Buckle | 1922 opened its doors over nine decades ago to provide locally manufactured, authentic Australian-made men’s fashion accessories. It goes without saying that this Australian business has had its fair share of ups and downs, surviving everything from World War II to the Great Financial Crisis, and now the rise of ‘fast fashion’. Based in Stanmore (NSW), Buckle | 1922 continues to manufacture men’s leather belts and braces from its 1000sqm operation in Sydney’s Inner West.

While catering to both the ultra-conservative and the fashion aware, their customers have a commonality; valuing quality and locally manufactured products. We speak with Melissa Gibson and Warren Sanders, who purchased the family business from its fourth-generation owners in 2013, to learn how they are spearheading this heritage brand into the new fashion era.

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Buckle | 1922 survived some of the century’s major global and domestic challenges. What are some present-day challenges it faces?

Technology. The growth of online channels is phenomenal. If you are not on it, you will move backwards. When we first started with an online fashion retailer ‘The Iconic’ in 2013, orders were small and sporadic. Fast forward to now, and we send weekly stock orders into their warehouse to keep up with demand. But in saying that, it’s not the death of brick and mortar retailers. Our independent category is as strong as ever. Consumers will continue to enjoy ‘the art’ of going shopping, provided that their brick and mortar retailer offers a unique experience or product mix.

Globalisation. The world is moving at such a rapid rate, and the speed (from the runway) to market is in fifth gear. No longer do Australians lag a season behind in fashion. We are at the same pace with Europe and America. It’s so important to plan and get the right styles, colours and products in place before you miss the boat – time is of the essence.

How do you balance the product range between adapting to new fashion trends and maintaining the heritage appeal of the brand?

It’s exactly that – a balancing act. We are constantly looking at what is happening locally and abroad. We regularly introduce new products, product categories and colours to keep fresh and relevant. Consumers are savvy and look for something deeper in the accessories (and other items) they purchase. Knowing that their accessory was handcrafted in Australia yet in line with fashion trends provides a product with personality and character.

Unlike fast fashion, it’s not just ‘another thing’. When an accessory is purchased from Buckle | 1922, it is marked with the name of one of our craftspeople to emphasise where and who made their product. Our website also features details of the production process and introduces our craftspeople to the world.

Melissa-Gibson-Warren-Sanders-Buckle-1922-craft-tools

What inspired you to purchase the business from its fourth-generation owners?

It’s not often that you come across a business with such a heritage-rich history behind it. We were also blessed to have a team (or work-family) that are extremely passionate about what they do. We got wind that the business was for sale in early 2013. The previous owners were in retirement phase, and their children were not interested in taking over the business.

Both Warren and I worked within Buckle | 1922 (as National Sales Manager and General Manager, respectively) prior to taking the leap of faith. Even though the business at the time was 91 years old, we believed that it still hadn’t reached its full potential.

Three things you’re most excited for the business in 2018

Our launch into the UK. Melissa is off to Solihull (near Birmingham) in January 2018 to launch our brand in their market. We have two active agents introducing and familiarising their market with the brand. Launching into a new market requires lots of attention, and we know to make this successful in the UK, it requires time.

Growth in the online space. The Iconic has become a very important trading partner. It provides us with more opportunities to present our brand to a broader market.

More new styles. It’s always very exciting to launch new styles and products. We have new shades of tan leathers and really ‘out-there’ brace elastics arriving in March 2018 which we hope will offer the same excitement to both our retailers and end users.

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Visit www.buckle1922.com.au to see the latest from the house of Buckle | 1922.

Photographs by Oscar Colman.

Empowering small charities and businesses to maximise social impact

Empowering small charities and businesses to maximise social impact

The Growth Project brings charity and business leaders together in a unique personal development program to foster effective collaboration.

Contribution to charitable causes has gained momentum among businesses and individuals over the years. The organisational mindset towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) has also seen change, primarily moving from a once-a-year contribution or ‘annual report formality’ to a mechanism for actively engaging and working with the community.

The Growth Project (TGP), a social purpose organisation established in 2015, takes this a step further by establishing a collaborative relationship between businesses and charities to create a positive impact on society at large. TGP facilitates an innovative 12-month personal development program for a cohort of 10 charity leaders, matched with 10 business leaders, and touches upon a range of topics including Building Networks, Governance and Creating Shared Value.

TGP’s Chairman Martin Mulcare shares how this program – offered at no cost to charity leaders – is enabling small, successful charities to maximise their social impact while providing leadership development opportunities to business leaders who are willing to make a difference.

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How are ongoing collaborations benefitting the businesses and charities involved with The Growth Project?

The most obvious benefits are the sharing of skills and experiences for mutual gain of the leaders involved. This manifests itself into remarkable improvements within both the businesses and the charities. For example, one of our sessions is focused on building better strategic plans. Being able to share ideas and past examples are obviously helpful. However, the value-add comes when these leaders apply their insights in practice, whereby it begins to shape the thinking of their respective teams, as well as to improve their planning skills.

At another level, we have seen several business leaders join the board of their partner charity to continue their contribution after their program completed. We now have evidence of valuable co-operation between members of different cohorts. We have also seen the growing involvement of other elements of businesses such as input from the CBA Innovation Lab. More significantly, the collaboration at an organisational level is fundamentally changing the way that charities and businesses engage.

What is the key to establishing these partnerships so that they are effective?

Effective engagement means working together as equals, with a common purpose and common values, to solve social problems for the benefit of the community – and the business. This means being very selective about choosing charities. The criteria need to be based on the charity’s alignment with the business, not the emotion in their story nor the personal interests of the business owner. It’s not easy and it requires a lot more thought than that needed to write a cheque. It also requires a different mindset.

Graduation night of TGP's first Sydney's cohort, the Albatross Group

Graduation night of TGP’s first Sydney’s cohort, the Albatross Group

In your view, how can businesses, especially SMEs, work together with social purpose organisations to make charitable initiatives a part of their strategic plan?

Let me give you a simple real-life example that Phil Preston uses to explain the concept of “shared value”. A real estate business may choose to support its community by giving a $200 cheque to the local fete. It could, at a higher level, encourage its employees to participate in the local fun run to raise money and promote teamwork.

However, their strategic solution would be to partner with relevant local charities to help its customers who are experiencing trouble with rent payments (e.g. through sickness or unemployment). This could be by way of an intervention plan, supported by the real estate agency, to help the family remain in their home (and sustain their rent).

After an established career in the financial services industry, what inspired you to pursue this initiative?

I was inspired by the vision of TPG’s founders, Peter Baines OAM and Larry Fingleson. I had been involved with a single charity and was looking for a more suitable means of impacting the charity sector, in a more profound and enduring manner. TGP offered me a means of directly influencing 100 charity leaders over a five-year period, to build sustainable organisations. The format of the program also appealed to me – I couldn’t find anyone else in Australia with a similar proposition.

What are you most looking forward to for The Growth Project in 2018?

  • Selecting two new cohorts, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne, each comprising another ten charity leaders and business leaders
  • Gaining further evidence of the power of collaboration and implementation
  • Clarifying an ambitious vision for TGP beyond 2020

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Learn more about the program at www.thegrowthproject.com.au