A leader who actively engages on social media platforms is good for business and with 7 million Australian and 380 million global users LinkedIn is a strategic fit those seeking to tap into global professional networks.
One such CEO is Craig McDonald, head of software security company MailGuard, who was recently announced as one of Australia’s LinkedIn ‘Power Profiles’.
McDonald says he has leveraged LinkedIn to expand his networks, develop strategic business partnerships and expand into 27 countries around the world.
He says the company has focussed its marketing efforts exclusively on LinkedIn because it’s a network of trusted professionals and that by engaging with people, you really know get to know who you are dealing with over time.
Although the company now pays for some premium products its success was largely driven by sharing content and developing new networks, all of which are offered free.
- Publish content
- Expand your networks
- Empower staff – allow your staff to be ambassadors
LinkedIn is now the largest publishing house on the planet, providing an unparalleled opportunity to get your views or products in front of millions of other professionals.
The key is to create content that is helpful or thought-provoking rather than just advertising copy.
McDonald says MailGuard puts a lot of effort into creating and sharing high quality content and that that apart from word of mouth recommendations, most business leads have come exclusively through this channel.
If you want to have a conversation with someone, content is proves in advance that you’ve got something interesting to say.
One of the key benefits of being on LinkedIn is that it allows you to start a dialogue with people you wouldn’t otherwise get to know.
A well-written profile, backed by content gives others insights into what you stand for and can open doors.
If you get someone’s attention, they’re probably already interested in what you have to say and that makes it much easier to get to the next level.
McDonald says that most people who respond to LinkedIn queries tend to do so in their own time, usually after work hours, where they are more open than during the day.
Likewise, people will drop into the many industry and professional groups that congregate on the platform to share news or views.
McDonald believes this provides a unique opportunity to get airtime with otherwise busy people, when they are receptive.
Make employees into ambassadors
People with the confidence to speak out are often advantaged over those who may have equally important contributions to make but are shy.
Using social media, you don’t have to be an extravert or people person to showcase expertise. You can post content, comment on the content of others or contribute to group discussions.
Regardless of personality type, you can extend networks in a way that is comfortable.
While some companies worry that employees may spend too much personal time on social media platforms, McDonald says you have to see that time as a business investment and his company provides premium profiles for those staff wishing to be more active.
“CEOs who don’t want their staff on LinkedIn are trying to suppress something that’s going to happen anyway,” he said.
“Rather than wasting energy worrying staff may be poached, leaders should focus on the positive impact that social has for engagement.
“The company message and service ethos is also amplified by encouraging all staff to hop on board.”
Research has found that 81% of executives want the CEO to be social online and that customers and employees trust them more if they are. But being a social CEO is not just about brand recognition; it goes to the bottom line.
“A CEO is an expert at their job, they have to have personality and be engaging and motivate the team,” McDonald says.
“Think about your company goals, where you need to have strategic dialogues and what you want to say. Social media can help you deliver it.”
The complete list of LinkedIn Power Profiles in Australia is available here.
Dionne Lew is the CEO of the Social Executive, an adviser to boards and senior executives on digital and social media rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred.