Skip to main content

Getting LinkedIn…

Click this logo to make contact with me!

Many people still don’t harness the power of social media platforms like LinkedIn, says Mr. Loadlink.

Ever woken up with a sinking feeling as the events of the previous night (some of them, at least) come flooding back? In truth, my partying days were over a long time ago and I’m grateful that my moral compass remained pointing north most of the time anyway. Further, in my heyday we didn’t have smart phones or social media tracking our every move, giving us opportunities to post our thoughts, and our friends or foes the ability to capture our shortcomings in photos or videos and upload them where the world (and our parents!) could see. Smart phones must bring a whole new dynamic to the heady years of young adulthood.

It’s certainly a changing world, one where we have to deal with trolls (a confrontational or quarrelsome internet user) and catfish (a person who pretends to be someone else online for ill-gotten gain). Our data is no longer kept safe at home or reserved for paper envelopes from the bank marked ‘private’. We’ve all read about Cambridge Analytica gaining access to information on up to 87 million Facebook users, while data leaks are commonplace where a password of no more than a few letters guards what was once kept in a safety deposit box in a safe, down a long staircase, behind a secret door.


A troll is a confrontational or quarrelsome internet user that negatively reacts to a person’s content or targets them with varying degrees of abuse

But—and it’s a big BUT—we too readily look at the negatives of social media. Come on, did you really used to board public transport and chat to the person next to you? No. We clambered onto the carriages with the same disregard for fellow passengers as we do today and then covered our faces with a broadsheet newspaper. We would tut if someone sneezed and roll our eyes when a dog owner asked for room for their twin Great Danes.

I don’t buy into the scathing criticism youngsters get for “always being on their phones”, nor do I give credence to the suggestion that the upcoming generation are unlucky that they’ll never get a chance to play outside with sticks and pushbikes.

Brand you

There is a lot more incredibly positive behaviour and interaction on social platforms than there is bad. And professionally we have opportunities to upscale our businesses and develop our careers that we’ve never had before. The biggest game-changer, and the crux of this blog, is the rise technology has given to the personal brand. People now have greater control of their image, reputation, and destiny than ever before. There are cynics, of course, who say there’s now more scope for embellishment, but not every curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé printed on paper was 100% accurate. Again I stress that we haven’t devolved; we’re not now a lying race of con artists.

Take professional networking site LinkedIn, for example. There, people can constantly update a profile and connect with whoever they want. Someone even in the early months of employment can showcase their assets, skills, interests, and ambitions, whilst making connections with peers, competitors, and prospective future employers. There’s no need to smuggle paper business cards out of the office to make a private contacts book, or secretly submit a CV to a recruitment agent. We’re now proud owners and ambassadors of our own brand; we control who is attracted to it and we can monetise our abilities more efficiently than ever before—if we get it right.

This is a culture everyone, including employers, should embrace, not fear. I’m passionate about my staff growing their personal brands, particularly on LinkedIn; so much so that I even offered them participation in a one-day course about the platform a week or so ago that I had experienced myself earlier in the year. Our digital profile pictures, bios, posts, likes, comments, and more say so much about us and can yield such results that I felt it was important to back up use of the site with as much intelligence as possible.

I won’t plagiarise specifics but I wanted to share some of the general points garnered in the hope it, first, encourages readers to get more actively involved in LinkedIn and, second, that they do so with the greatest possible impact.

We discussed the use of emojis during the course; I have no problem with adding relevant, fun graphics to my LinkedIn posts

We discussed the use of emojis during the course; I have no problem with adding relevant, fun graphics to my LinkedIn posts

Sell later

The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone looking to use the platform to grow their brand and / or generate revenue, is to engage, collaborate, and share long before they try to push themselves and / or their product onto a contact. The most powerful salesperson in an industry is he or she that is renowned as an expert in that sector. Thought leadership status isn’t gained overnight, however, and can never be acquired without authentically demonstrating a commitment to the positive change of a marketplace.

“Here I am. Buy this,” won’t work. Once a good reputation has been earned, then there’s no harm in presenting a solution to a problem. The recipient will recognise it as a sales pitch but will likely welcome it.

It’s a slow burner, but I’ll incentivise you: LinkedIn offers users access to 500 million people. Each user has an average of 400 connections so every connection one makes opens up ‘second’ connections to the tune of the same number. The most effective way of growing connections is to engage with a target audience. The site makes it easy to locate people by industry, while a deeper drill can identify professionals with a certain job title. Researching what they’re talking about or having sleepless nights over gives a potential contact a magic formula; they can become a problem solver. A request for connection with a polite note gets the ball rolling.

LinkedIn allows users to network with like-minded individuals across the world

LinkedIn allows users to network with like-minded individuals across the world

The leaders of the course Straightpoint (SP) employees took charted the route from ‘known’ to ‘liked’ to ‘trusted’. One can’t leap from one to the other without taking time to post relevant content, interact with other people’s posts, and communicate as an individual. That last point is important because people, as we know, buy from people. LinkedIn is a place where professionals go to hang out with like-minded folks. It’s like the canteen in a workplace or the break room on a jobsite; one has to be friendly, likeable, and add value to the community to be accepted then welcomed back.

An expert once told me that just when a person thinks they’ve got their feet sufficiently under the table to start discussing a sale, that’s when they shouldn’t. “Give, give, give, give some more, then ask,” he said.

Face it

There are seven key elements to a LinkedIn profile: photograph, professional headline, summary, experience, recommendations, skills and endorsements, and contact information. I want to highlight two for further exploration: a person’s photograph and their summary. They were focal points of the aforementioned course content and I see glaring mistakes made in relation to both when I’m on the site—and I’m on there daily for varying periods of time so I feel equipped to judge.

In fact, I’m in the top 1% in both my industry and network social selling indexes (SSI). I tell you not to brag but to point out what can be achieved through a bona fide commitment to an industry and a dedicated, long-term strategy.

The simple criterion for a profile picture is a clear image of a person’s face, as they would look in a business situation. A sun lounger shot is a bad idea (unless one is in the sun-bed trade!) as is one of someone standing outside a tavern in a Hawaiian shirt. A clear, sensible head and shoulders photo is much more effective. It doesn’t have to be boring or neutral like a passport picture, but it must be akin to the professional as they would walk through a boardroom door or report for an interview. It’s a mistake to use a very dated or flattering image because people will be disappointed by the real-life version and, moreover, it might create doubt over an individual’s integrity.

What does your profile picture say about you

What does your profile picture say about you

If they’ve been prepared to mislead on their photo, where else has the truth been given scope?

When writing a LinkedIn summary, stay away from jargon. Nobody really wants to meet a motivated, creative, enthusiastic, passionate, successful, driven, experienced man or woman. Assume visitors to a page or potential connections know that about a person already. Think about how you would speak to someone you met at a conference and write in the same tone. If you’re funny, crack a joke. Refer to yourself in the first person and be interesting. If you shake someone’s hand during lunch at a seminar, you’re unlikely to say, “This is Ivor Bighead and he is a motivated, talented, strategic, all-round good guy with a proven track record,” are you? “Hello, I’m Ivor, I’m hear to learn about ABC and I’m also looking forward to tonight’s networking party,” would work a great deal better. It’s the same on LinkedIn.

Like it

As with most social platforms, the fulcrum for most activity on LinkedIn is the ‘Like’ button. The easiest way to acknowledge a person’s post is to click it so they get a notification. The platform’s algorithms also detect the engagement and filter content accordingly. A dozen likes doesn’t mean 12 people have read something, however. The research that was alluded to in our session stated that users typically get one like for every approx. 140 post views. If a post gets 11 or more likes in the first hour, it will be categorised as ‘popular’ by the algorithms and be made visible to a lot more people, dramatically increasing the chances of it going viral. It’s another reason why it’s important to be relevant, interesting, and non-commercial. Can you see a post like, “Buy my amazing shackles,” going viral as people rush to interact and snap up the stock? No, thought not.

Post content your target audience will like

Post content your target audience will like

LinkedIn is just one social media platform. SP is active on many others, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. There isn’t time to detail our strategies for each in this blog but it’s important to note that tailored content for each vehicle is crucial. There are apps that allow users to post to multiple platforms at the same time but I don’t believe engagement levels are as high as when a Twitter post is targeted for a “look at that news” hungry audience or an Instagram post is photogenic and more laden with hashtags.

Search #loadcell for SP content.

Good social media posts include a call to action, as do most blogs. So call me! I’d be happy to discuss further the matters raised in this article and welcome all feedback.

Mr. Loadlink

Bank On It…

In his final blog of the year, Mr. Loadlink explains why a presentation at a recent networking event provided much food for thought heading into 2017.

They say breakfast is the most essential of feeding times. It turned out to be just that earlier this month (December) when I was invited to attend a networking session over the all-important, opening meal of the day.

Not only did the coffee and sustenance prepare mind and body for another big day, but also the content was equally nourishing. Guest speaker was Henk Potts, director of global research and investments at Barclays, who touched upon all the hot topics that have been aired in boardrooms all over the world of late.

Potts wrapped up anecdotes and bite-sized forecasts about Brexit, the state of the oil and gas market, exchange rates, Donald Trump, and more. He shared them with those present almost as though they were breakfast treats. The difference, however, was that these snippets, while just as moreish, offered more than a short-term sugar rush.

The insights Potts was offering were more dietary supplements or stimulants that will help us business owners and thought leaders run faster, last longer and hit harder in 2017, providing we took the right dosage and consumed them sensibly. To be taken after eating and washed down with a soft drink, the brainy banker’s breakfast bites were hugely satisfying.

If I had to take just one thing from Potts’ morning message, it would have been his references to uncertainty. He said nothing is more certain heading into next year than the damage we can do to businesses, the economy and our all-round stability, by being indecisive or using these all too familiar signs of our times as excuses to dither.

Trump cards

Show a bias to act, he meant. Get stuck in. It doesn’t matter whether one is a Brexit backer or has a Remain campaign t-shirt screwed up in the bottom of a wardrobe. Regardless of the percentage of business contributed by the oil and gas market during its last (barely memorable) boom. Despite fluctuating exchange rates and one’s opinion of the new USA president elect. The only Trumps that really matter are those among the cards we play.

Imports, exports, production, even the cost of breakfast, are all negatively impacted by uncertainty, Potts argued. If the market and outside world aren’t providing the security we seemingly crave, we’ve got to at least be certain about our own goals and the actions we need to take to achieve them. If it feels right, it fits the business model, an audience is ready to consume it, go ahead and launch the load cell, hoist, hydraulic press or whatever else it might be. Invest in the equipment, team and marketing. Create certainty.

To be clear, Potts didn’t add the next bit—but I’m going to. I think industry could finish the calendar year stronger, and do so with a greater degree of tenacity and certainty. As the cultures that celebrate it prepare for the Christmas season, there is a tendency to coast towards the festive period and the end of the year. I’m not going into Ebenezer Scrooge mode here—I hope everyone has a restful and enjoyable time with his or her friends and families—but do we really have to go into a holding pattern for a month?

We’ve had a strong second half of the year, like many other businesses we network with, but I fear valuable momentum is lost by a ‘Leave it until next year’ attitude. It’s the same as the ‘Let’s wait and see how the oil and gas market looks in Q2 2017’ or ‘I’ll see how hard Brexit hits’ mindsets that Potts warns us against. Feasting on turkey is one thing, but starving a business or industry of productivity for weeks beforehand doesn’t lead to a Happy New Year for anyone.

Culture of certainty

I’ve blogged about diversification before and it’s been a big part of the culture of certainty that we’ve created at Straightpoint. It’s not an attitude of presumption or arrogance about end results, but of confidence in our direction and conviction in our methods. We went ahead and launched StageSafe, a 3t load cell dedicated to the theatre and live events industry. We pressed the button on a research and development programme before unveiling Proof Test plus (or SW-PTP) software. We immersed ourselves deeper into the marine sector. And we committed to go the distance with the transportation industry. All because we were certain it was the right thing to do—so we did it.

We’ll stick at it too. Yes, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has reached an agreement on lower oil production that will surely fuel growth, and oil prices might be about to hit $60 a barrel, but that isn’t going to signal a Straightpoint walkout from the markets we’ve diversified into. Certainly not.

We’ve worked hard to broaden our horizons and we don’t want to revert back to increased dependency on the oil and gas market. Of course, we welcome a likely bounce back in the offshore sector during next year, but we’ve had record months in H2 2016 without being reliant upon it and it’s important we retain that diversification to lessen the peaks and troughs associated with too deeply embedding oneself in any cyclical marketplace.

Preaching to the converted

I remember referencing Potts’ speech to Mike Duncan, managing director of the Gaylin Group of companies during a recent trip to Dubai. Neil Brodie, of Rigmarine’s (a Gaylin company) Kazakhstan facility; and George Ball, of the company’s Azerbaijan location, joined us for productive meetings. As I alluded to in my last blog, Mike and his team have shown conviction and certainty in recent times to continue a growth strategy despite the oil and gas market’s coolness. It was good to reflect on 2016 together.

Actually, I’ve extended an invitation to Mike to guest blog in my place early next year. He’s accepted and I’m looking forward to giving a kindred spirit the opportunity to connect with our audience. Having recently opened Gaylin’s sixth hub in South Korea—others are in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and China—it’ll be good to get a different, and truly global perspective on the offshore and other markets. Watch this space!

After formalities, we took the opportunity to go to the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, where we saw England start the day with a dramatic victory over Scotland in the quarter-finals. Given the Scottish roots of Mike, Neil and George, it was good to punctuate the business babble with friendly banter as England continued their quest to what was eventually to be a bronze medal-winning campaign. If you get a chance to attend the event I’d thoroughly recommend the atmosphere, carnival spirit and world-class sport to anyone.

Distributing the plan

Upon my return I’ve been engaged in planning activities, largely centred on business development and marketing for 2017. A presentation will be given to all staff early in the New Year, including many of the core values shared in this blog over the last 12 months. Prevalent throughout are references to our inbound marketing endeavours, for example. I also travelled to Straightpoint Inc. headquarters in Camarillo, California this month where much of the focus was on reviewing the year before I’ll return in January for 90-day planning.

A significant change in global focus is a commitment to develop our existing distribution network rather than looking to significantly expand it, as might have been the case in earlier years. In 2016, for example, we named around 20 new partners across the world. That was very much aligned with a goal to add partners to the network, but now it’s about motivating, educating and inspiring existing distributors to be the best ambassadors for the business possible.

Others who sell through distribution channels might consider a similar change of focus. It’s one thing to have a rapidly growing network of partners, but what opportunities might be slipping through the net because they’re not fully aware of the capabilities of a product range or are lacking sufficient knowledge to effectively communicate a solution out in the field?

Barclays’ Potts will be pleased to hear we have committed to a number of product launches in 2017, which I can’t say too much about yet but they’ll certainly feature in upcoming press releases and blogs.

That’s all for 2016! Continue to connect with us on social media over the holiday period and use the hashtags #loadcell and #belowthehook to engage.

Mr. Loadlink