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Episode 166: How to Boost your LinkedIn Presence as a Consultant—with Emily Crookston

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. So on this podcast, we're going to talk about how to establish a presence on LinkedIn that is ultimately going to serve your consulting business goals. And I brought on an expert in this, Emily Crookston who is going to walk us through some of the strategies for establishing that thought leadership and posting, and engaging, and all the things that you need to do on LinkedIn to serve your business purposes, which is ultimately to get clients and be able to have the business you want. So let's get started.

Hi, I want to welcome to my show today, Emily Crookston. Emily, welcome to the show.

Emily Crookston: Thanks, Deb. I'm so glad to be here.

Deb Zahn: So let's start off. Tell my listeners what you do.

Emily Crookston: Sure. So I like to call myself the Ghostwriter for Rebels, Renegades, and Mavericks. I love helping experts with big ideas and get those ideas out of their heads and into the hands of their fans. I do that by writing business books. I define that as business development, personal development type books. And the other side of the business is my LinkedIn services. So I offer LinkedIn strategy and content creation for people who really are aspiring to be thought leaders.

Deb Zahn: That's fabulous. And it's the LinkedIn part that we're going to dive into today because I know for a lot of consultants LinkedIn is just this mysterious place. And they can't quite figure out what it is. So we're going to talk about how to establish the right type of presence on LinkedIn and ultimately use it to engage an audience and to achieve your business goals. So I'm very delighted to have you on to talk about this.

Now, I want to do a little history first because I heard that you didn't start off pursuing LinkedIn glory and fame that you actually were going to do speaking gigs, and that was going to be part of your business strategy. So what happened and how did you take what you knew about that and transform it into the LinkedIn space?

Emily Crookston: Yeah. So the first couple years of my business, first three, four years, I would say, I was getting all of my work through referrals. I was going to networking events, talking to people and people were referring me to other people basically. And it was great. I said, "OK. Well, now, I want to expand the business." Like you said, I want to do some speaking. I think that could fit in really nicely with the ghostwriting that I'm doing. Basically, what happened was the pandemic hit. I did my first speaking event on I think March 11th of 2020.

Deb Zahn: Uh-oh.

Emily Crookston: Yeah. As you know everything shut down. About a week after that, around here anyway. So I said, "OK. Well, time to pivot." I went through panic mode with lots of people in my mind who were saying, "I don't think I have a business anymore." And all those thoughts came up to the surface. So I said, "Well, I've always wanted to use LinkedIn more than I do. I know that there's potential there.

The in-person networking is great, but it's really pretty time-consuming. You have to drive to the place. You have to look around and see if anyone in there is someone you want to connect with and talk to. But on LinkedIn, it's basically a 24/7 networking event. So basically, I started using LinkedIn. And the first thing I did was to be consistent. That was my only goal.

In fact, I'm going to show up five days a week. I'm going to basically see what happens and see what I can learn here. So I had really low expectations to start with, and that really worked for me. I developed a formula. I started building my audience and I said, "I can teach this to other people."

Deb Zahn: I totally appreciate that because I have to admit, so when I first started consulting 12 years ago, I think LinkedIn existed, but it wasn't really a thing. And social media wasn't a huge thing. I've always had a love-hate relationship with it because I thought it was boring and kind of stodgy and sort of all those stereotypes. And it's gotten better. But I do know from people in my membership that there's sort of a fear of leaping into it or so much uncertainty about how you do it. So before somebody dives in and does anything, what should they be asking and answering so that they're actually doing it in a more deliberate way?

Emily Crookston: Yeah. Great question. The first thing is to take a look at your profile and look at the profiles of other people. It could be people in your industry. It could be people outside of your industry. LinkedIn has a great search bar. You can just go in there and type in any hashtag or any keyword and some profiles will pop up. And I would just start first reading those and thinking, "What do I like about this? What don't I like about it? How can I describe myself in a way that's really..." The profile is really about you telling your story.

So this is one mistake that a lot of people make on LinkedIn is that they treat LinkedIn more like a resume. So they'll have a bio in the third person. Emily Crookston is the Ghostwriter for Rebels, Renegades, and Mavericks. Right? That seems weird. People are looking to connect with you on LinkedIn. And so they really want you to say, "I'm this. I do this. I believe in this." And tell your story. So that's the first piece of advice I'd say. Just look around and get your bearings a little bit.

The other thing I would say is a lot of people go immediately to posting. "I need to be posting every day." And in fact, the LinkedIn algorithm is really helpful when it comes to engagement. So you can actually sort of lurk around or be engaged in other people's conversations for a while before you even start posting yourself. It takes the pressure off a little bit. And you can kind of, again, get your feet wet and figure out what's going on before you actually dive into posting.

Deb Zahn: That's really helpful to hear because one of the advice I gave to someone who is just so resistant to it and felt guilty that she wasn't doing it is use it like a playground. Don't think about posting. Don't think about changing your profile. Don't think about anything. Get in there and have fun and connect with people you feel like connecting with. Get into conversations that are actually interesting to you, even if they're not about your core business strategy. So I love that. I get to know the platform before you're like, “Ugh!”

Now, the profile, and you've hinted on this because I've seen the third person. I think I had mine in the third person when I first started, but why is the profile so important? And what are some of the other tips that someone should think about as they're constructing a profile?

Emily Crookston: So when people search out consultant, for example, they might come across your profile and that's kind of the first place people go when they're looking to work with somebody or they're looking to connect with someone. They want to get a feel for who you are. Should I connect with this person? Or if you reach out to connect with them, they might look at your profile to see, "Oh, is this person somebody I really want in my network?"

That's the first thing. It's a really valuable piece of internet real estate, I would say because it's a really great place to introduce yourself to people. It's a natural place. People are going to LinkedIn to look for prospects. They're going to LinkedIn to look for clients. They're there all the time looking for people. It's one of the most used search engines now.

So rather than Googling you, they might go to LinkedIn first. So you want your profile to tell people what you do and more importantly who you work with should be a part of your profile. So the profile we should say has a headline under your name. There's a headline there. I think that's 220 characters. So there's quite a bit of room there. A lot of people just put their titles, but I think it's nice to have at least a sentence or a statement about what you do and who you work with if you can. And then there's the about section or the summary sometimes people call it.

In there, you get 3,000 characters to really talk about yourself and tell your story. It's a bio, but it's a really extended bio. I always encourage people to talk a little bit about personal stuff there as well. Not like your significant other or something, but some things you like to do for fun just because people connect with you on all kinds of levels, not just with your work.

Deb Zahn: Oh yeah, no. I actually love that. So when I used to work for a consulting firm, we had bios. And I put at the bottom something about my chickens because I have chickens. It was back before a lot of people had chickens and invariably people would hire me and the first thing they'd want to talk about was the chickens. So I knew how much they were actually paying attention to this is where they go to kick the tires is they want to look at a bio that's more than, "I did this, and I did this, and I did this" because what a snoozer.

Emily Crookston: Right.

Deb Zahn: Don't do it that way.

Emily Crookston: So don't be afraid to show some personality in that profile. It takes a little more work, made me a little more effort to smooth out a profile in that way rather than a bullet point list of your accomplishments. But it's really worth it. And you can play with it. That's the other thing. Don't be afraid of it being a little messy at first. Just put it out there. You can always refine it. I mean, you can edit it at any time of day. You can't really go wrong. I like actually to change mine up about every 90 days, usually if I read my profile.

Deb Zahn: Interesting.

Emily Crookston: Yeah, usually if I read it, I'll say, "Oh, I don't like this phrasing anymore." Or, "Oh, this isn't quite accurate anymore. Now I do this instead. Or now I want to talk about this new service that I have." That kind of stuff can happen.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I know some people change theirs during COVID, which made a lot of sense which is now the context in which you're operating is completely different. So don't you want to reflect that?

Emily Crookston: Yes, absolutely. Yep.

Deb Zahn: I love that. Now, I know that a lot of folks who are not social media savvy and knowledgeable about the platforms think, "OK, now I need to post. I'm going to wake up every day and think about what I'm going to post and then I'm going to do that. And I hope it works." I certainly know the problem of doing that. So why shouldn't people just say, "What am I posting today and what should they be doing instead?"

Emily Crookston: Yes. I definitely was doing this in the beginning. I'm like, "Oh, people like me. I'm just going to post whatever's in my head today." I'm like, "It'll be fun. It'll be fine." And maybe it'll be connected to my work. I really like to be seat-of-the-pants, spontaneous with my postings that felt really comfortable for me. But what I realized was I often post about similar things, first of all. I sort of follow a formula. It might not be exact because I haven't sat down and intentionally looked at it, but I tend to post about mindset, and I tend to post about writing tips obviously.

There are things that I have sort of go to topics. So I said, "Well, why don't I just write those down?" Why don't I just say, "This is the system." So on Mondays, I post about X. On Tuesdays, I post about Y. And that was a really nice way to sort of set things up. I talked about business strategy one day. I talked about writing tips another day. I talked about mindset another day. Friday was just sort of a free for all. Friday reflections on the week or something.

I found that to work pretty well for me for a while. But what I've discovered more recently is if you really stick to one topic and you get really specific, go deep with that topic, rather than broad talking about mini-topics, people will start thinking of you as the consultant for nonprofits or the consultant for whatever. So they see your name and they connect you immediately with that topic.

And that's super valuable. Also, if you're posting at the same time every day, I try to post between 8:30 and 9:00. People will start looking for you at that time. And you'll kind of build a little unofficial community simply by posting at the same time with the same kinds of topic.

I know somebody who always posts about introverts on LinkedIn. That's her one thing and she says... If you talk to her she's just, "Oh, it's so boring. I'm still looking for the tips." But it works like she's the introvert person. I don't know anyone else who posts about introversion. So she sticks out in that way. So I always encourage people to think about that one thing. And if it's hard to narrow down because it can be, especially in the first couple years of business, things feel a little bit blurry, a little bit messier, try to pick three things and let's just really stick with those things until you get more comfortable, and you say, "This is the topic I really want to go deep on." It's super-valuable to do it that way.

Deb Zahn: I mean, and I love the idea of becoming that a building authority through that sort of, not repetition because you're looking at it from different angles and you're going deeper and you're going broader. But with that thing, how does that tie into business goals? Because there are people, bless their hearts, that are going on LinkedIn for the sole pleasure of being on LinkedIn. I don't know who they are, but I'm sure they exist. But for consultants who are doing it for the sake of business, how do they tie those together so they've got a plan and a purpose and they actually go together?

Emily Crookston: Yeah, that's another good question. So in going along with what we were just talking about like waking up in the morning and deciding what to post. I like to schedule my posts ahead of time. Not schedule them. I should say I create them ahead of time. Each month, I sit down and I do a marketing strategy. And so I say, "OK I come up with topics for my LinkedIn post for the whole month. I just sit down and write them all out. And I have a spreadsheet where I keep them." But also on that spreadsheet is the goal. What is my intention for this month? I want to sign two more LinkedIn clients this month or I want to make sure I'm promoting this event that I'm going to do. I'm always thinking in terms of the business goal. And when that's there, naturally the topics gravitate that way.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Emily Crookston: So all of your LinkedIn posts, just like blog posts, just like articles that you write should have some kind of call to action at the end. And it could just be, "Let me know what you think." It could just be, "Add in the comments. Join the discussion. It could just be as simple as that, but it might also be, "Check out my services page." And I will say one thing that's important to do with LinkedIn posts is to put the link in the comments rather than in the post itself. That helps. LinkedIn doesn't want to send anyone away from LinkedIn. And so the algorithm is going to ding you if you put external links in your post, but you can get around it by putting them into the comments, or at least that's what I've found.

As long as your post has that kind of call to action, that's the place where your business goal comes into play. You can connect your content to that business goal, and you want to make sure it's not too much of a stretch. You want to be talking about things related to your business goal as much as possible. But that's the place that I recommend doing it.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I know I plan mine out. I have a tool that I used that I created to plan it out. And the first thing I write down is what the goal is.

Emily Crookston: Right. Yeah. And I think sometimes there are people who overdo it and they treat LinkedIn more like a billboard. It's just like services. Every time they post it's like, "Here are my services." I like a mix. I like to do posts that make an offer. So absolutely make an offer once a week, at least. But posts that also help grow my audience and engage my audience. So posts that sort of build on what I have, but also posts that talk to long-time audience members that I have.

Deb Zahn: Love it, love it. I think it is that mix because I've seen those people that only promote, and I've seen the people that never promote.

Emily Crookston: Right. You're like what do they do?

Deb Zahn: Yeah, exactly. I never can figure out what they do. I like mixing mine up as what I call value content, connection content, and promotion content.

Emily Crookston: Yes. Another way to do it.

Deb Zahn: They are not all equal.

Emily Crookston: Right.

Deb Zahn: But by gosh, yes, I do promote because, hello! Business.

Emily Crookston: Exactly. Yes. LinkedIn is for business. There's nothing wrong with that. I always think of Facebook as more social. I don't use Facebook too much anymore, but LinkedIn is definitely work-related. It's social as well. It rewards you for being on the platform. It works better if you can find the parts that you like about it and that you can actually enjoy being social on LinkedIn. I think you're working with the algorithm.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And not be boring.

Emily Crookston: Yes, and not be boring. But don't forget to promote as well. Don't forget.

Deb Zahn: That's right. That's right. I can't only post pictures of kittens. I occasionally have to also say, "Oh yeah, buy my stuff." So what are some of the go-to types of content that you see perform well?

Emily Crookston: Stuff that has a personal connection, stuff where you're being a little bit vulnerable always performs really well. I saw somebody's post this morning and it was like, "I was woefully underpaid for the first 20 years of my career", this kind of thing and telling a story about how she figured out that she was underpaid. She's clearly trying to tell people, or she clearly wants to tell people her story so that they don't make the same mistake that she made. Those are always posts that are going to do well.

I have a friend who she says every time... She has these cute little business stories coming from her teenage daughter. And it's always her daughter pitching her an idea or her daughter has come up with a business idea, these kinds of posts really connect with people. Also, anytime you can talk about your results, everyone loves... Case studies are necessary and important and great things to have on your website for a good reason because people want to know what the experience of working with you is like.

And part of that experience of course is the outcome that you get for your clients. So any success stories that you have. You don't need to talk about your clients in particular. You don't need to mention their names at all. But if you can say, "Here was the service that I performed for them. Here's how it worked. Here's how the process went and then here were the results." A mini-case study almost. That's a really good post to share as well.

Deb Zahn: Now, I've noticed. And again I know enough about the algorithm to know that it will reward and punish me to serve LinkedIn's business purposes. Not mine. It's for business purposes. If it's going to serve mine, it's because I'm going to pay for it to serve mine. That's their business. I've seen things like Carousel or Swipe files because they keep people on longer. What are those types of other things that you see that LinkedIn rewards?

Emily Crookston: Yeah. So that's another thing that has changed. I've seen a change in LinkedIn over the past couple of years. So I still think that they favor text-based posts or text-only posts. I've only really posted text-based posts. I do pictures occasionally. I do videos occasionally. But my text-based post performs really well. But you're absolutely right that if you have a lot of visuals that go along with your business if you have images and graphics that could lend themselves to being Carousels, there's nothing wrong with playing around with those.

There are people who have said, "As long as I post an image with my post, my post does well." So I have heard people talk about how images and carousels boost their engagement. So I always say feel free to experiment. Do some text-based posts, do some carousel, do some posts with images and see how it goes, see what works for you because it really does depend a little bit on the audience.

I will say that video actually performs the worst for me. But clips of videos, short videos perform pretty well because often people will share clips. So if you have a little 32nd clip from a podcast that you're doing and you share that, often people will share it because there are quick tips that you're giving in that little clip. So that's a good tip.

Yeah, my videos...I'll post full interviews and they have to be under 10 minutes for LinkedIn. Video can't be over 10 minutes. But those longer videos don't perform as well as other things.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Because they require a commitment. But I love what you said about also being vulnerable because, again, one of the things that I know I didn't like and I've heard other people don't like is that LinkedIn can just feel so stodgy and boring. Everybody is doing great. And I will tell you the highest performing thing I posted ever was a 3-second video. My hair looked like crap. I wasn't wearing business clothes, da, da, da. And I was talking about how I went down a Candy Crush rabbit hole because I was avoiding doing work that I was afraid to do. I was just vulnerable, and I didn't care about anything else. Oh my goodness. That did extraordinarily well because everybody was like, "Oh my God, I did that."

Emily Crookston: Yes, exactly. Anything that's relatable, people are looking for that. I think they're hungry for connection. I've heard LinkedIn is only for job seekers and people looking for job candidates. And oh, it's only for corporate people. It's so not true. That was true 10 years ago. That's not true now. Everyone is on LinkedIn. Every business owner is definitely on LinkedIn. Consultants, everybody is there.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, a hundred percent. So I know one of the other things that consultants worry about or fear or the thing that stops them is creating all the content because I have to do a website and I have to do a blog and I have to be on the podcast and I have to, you're telling me I have to be on LinkedIn. When do I have time for this?

Emily Crookston: Right.

Deb Zahn: So I know the magic of repurposing content, and I know you do other types of content too. So what kind of advice do you give folks for easing their burden through repurposing so that they still do all of the things that help them, but without being buried under it.

Emily Crookston: Yeah. It's so true. Marketing is a full-time job. When you're also trying to run your business, it can feel like the biggest burden. First thing I'd say is focus on one platform. You don't need to be on all the social media platforms. Absolutely not. Whatever one works for you. Instagram is the one because you have a lot of visuals. Maybe you're a photographer> You've got a lot of images to share. Make that your primary.

I like LinkedIn because that's where I get clients. So make that wherever you're finding people. That should be your social platform. That's the first thing. But yes, absolutely repurposing content is magic and it can really save you in a lot of ways. First thing you can repurpose all the content.

So I now have two, three years of LinkedIn posts, and I've saved all of them. I go back and reuse posts all the time. I don't usually cut and paste word for word. I've seen other people do that, and it's fine because you're always getting new people into your audience. And honestly, people aren't reading your posts so closely that they're going to memorize them.

Deb Zahn: That's all right.

Emily Crookston: In most cases.

Deb Zahn: They didn't get the tattoo, so don't worry.

Emily Crookston: That's right. That's right. So if it performed well before, it may perform well again. You feel free to reuse it. But I also really like I write a blog post twice a month for myself and I make that blog post either it's a post itself, go see my blog or I'll take a piece from that. And if I have a blog with three tips, that's three LinkedIn posts. Again, I won't do word for word most of the time, but I will expand on the tip.

I think about, "Well, what if I were going to write a standalone blog post about this one tip, what would I say about it?" And I turned that into a LinkedIn post. LinkedIn posts themselves can be up to 3,000 characters, I think. So that's actually almost a short blog. That's 500 words or so. You can take LinkedIn posts and expand them into blog posts.

I mean, there's all kinds of ways to do it. You can take your written content and obviously turn it into a video. So there's all kinds of ways to repurpose and don't be afraid to get creative about any of that. Do what you can to take the burden off. The other thing that helps me is scheduling things ahead of time or at least I like to think of the topic on a different day than the day that I write the post or the blog.

Because now I know in the back of my head, "OK, I've got three topics for LinkedIn posts next week. They're in my spreadsheet. Now, I can go and write the post in about an hour or something." So that kind of something really takes the burden off. When I wake up in the morning and I'm like, "I don't have anything to post," that's when it gets tougher. And that's when I go back to the old posts and pull something if I can.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I think the recycling, I think batch producing, all of that is powerful. Now, I'm curious what your experiences with... So you can do LinkedIn articles which I've seen sometimes perform. My highest performing one is Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is Attempted Robbery. That was the title-

Emily Crookston: Yeah, that's great.

Deb Zahn: Because I felt that and I tried to be a little provocative and it just was like, boom.

Emily Crookston: Nice, yes.

Deb Zahn: And then other things are just like wah-wah. There are articles, there's newsletters, which is a new feature, which I've had more success with. What do you think about those newfangled things that LinkedIn is doing?

Emily Crookston: Yeah. So articles for me have never performed very well on LinkedIn. My very first article that I ever posted before I was even using LinkedIn did very well. But since then, I have never seen a LinkedIn article for myself or my clients do very well at all. I encourage people to post those on their blogs if they have a blog instead.

And yes, newsletters are great. It's a really good way to expand your audience. I haven't done a LinkedIn newsletter personally, but I know a lot of people who've had great success with those. It's a good place to start. If you don't have an email newsletter. Using LinkedIn that way is a good way to go. I like to do regular posts. Those are the things that we create for our clients within the service and having a strategy behind that is always really key.

A lot of people think they need to be on LinkedIn. I see people say, "Oh, do I need to be on LinkedIn seven days a week?" And I always say, "No, you don't." I started five days a week. And that was a pretty good pace for me. I could keep that going. This year I've backed down to three days a week. So I do Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday now.

So I recommend that if you can do it three days a week or five days a week, great. That's a really good starting place. You'll learn a lot being on the platform that much. There's something like 700 million people on LinkedIn and only 1% post regularly. So there's a huge opportunity. You can become well-known in your field on LinkedIn, and it's a huge business advantage. And all it really takes is posting just regular posts three, five times a week, and engaging

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And paying attention.

Emily Crookston: Paying attention.

Deb Zahn: So I know one of the other things you talk about, and it's hard for those of us that are introverts is also engaging with others. So it's not just a, "I will post and I'm going to go take a nap." You got to get in there because it's about relationships. So talk about what does that engagement look like and kind of what's the sweet spot for folks who might be like, "How am I going to do now something else in my day?"

Emily Crookston: So I always encourage people to be on LinkedIn 20 minutes a day. And if you have to work up to 20 minutes a day, that's perfectly fine. If you start with five minutes, you can absolutely work your way up there. And while you're there, most of that time will be spent engaging with other people, commenting on other people's posts. And you can just simply scroll through your newsfeed and look at whatever's jumping out at you. You don't need to be too intentional about where you're commenting.

The point of starting with LinkedIn is to build that audience and figure out how the platform is working. So don't be too picky in the beginning about where you're commenting. But wherever you feel like you can leave some value, add to the story. Don't just say, great post. That's what the react button is for. You can like things, but leave a substantive comment. Leave a couple of lines there. And the more you do that, the more the algorithm will sort of reward you for that.

It'll start showing you things that you're interested in, right? It'll start showing you the profiles of people who you commented on in the past, that kind of thing. And then if you've written your post ahead of time, which is the other piece of advice, all you're doing is cutting and pasting the post in there during that 20 minutes. I like to do 10 minutes of engagement, post 10 minutes of engagement. It's kind of a sandwich.

Deb Zahn: Oh, interesting.

Emily Crookston: I've heard before that LinkedIn rewards you for engaging before you post, rather than just jumping in and posting. And I found that to be true within my own experiments that I've done. That's kind of my standard morning routine with LinkedIn.

Deb Zahn: I'm laughing because I'm totally doing it wrong. I've been posting and then engaging like when I have a break, usually when I'm in a room with foster cats, or I'm going to be totally honest, when I'm in the bathroom.

Emily Crookston: Yeah, sure, when you got your phone.

Deb Zahn: I'm like let me say hi. Now, everybody's now going to visualize that. I apologize. I'm not doing it when I look at yours, trust me. But I didn't know that there was sort of a strategy to it. So that's actually helpful to hear.

Emily Crookston: Yeah, it really does reward you for giving before posting your own. So this is one reason I don't recommend using a scheduler. You can use a third-party scheduler to post for you on LinkedIn. And if you really want to do that OK. But you make sure you're engaging. Make sure you're still on the platform. That's not a shortcut that's going to help you. So make sure... Like I said, the engagement piece is almost even more important than the posting.

Even on the days when I don't post like Mondays and Fridays, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm engaging those days as well and building my network. And that's the other thing I would do. During that 20 minutes, you could take some time to connect with more people.

Anytime I read a post and I see some interesting comments from folks, I'll connect with those people. So that's a good way to help build up your network. And the more people in your audience, the more people are going to see your posts that just stand to reason.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Emily Crookston: And then if you can find 20 minutes later in your day to come back and respond, especially to people who are commenting on your post, that's really important as well and just keep the conversations going. It's nice. So I try to do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon, but the minimum I would say is 20 minutes a day.

Deb Zahn: So that's super helpful and that seems doable. Now, how do you know if it's working? Because I know people get really excited about what are called vanity metrics. And you're going to post and people like it and they comment and that's all good because the algorithm likes it. And sometimes obviously you hear crickets, but how do you know it's actually doing something for you?

Emily Crookston: Yeah. Good question. So again, we can say LinkedIn's algorithm is meant to serve LinkedIn's purposes. It's not meant to serve ours. So I encourage everyone to get really specific about their goals for LinkedIn. If your goals are to increase leads like people who are reaching out to you and asking to do business with you, then come up with a number and experiment until you can hit that number. Play around and see what happens. And then you ignore everything else. You ignore post views. You ignore the number of comments on all your posts. If you're getting the leads that you're looking for, then LinkedIn is working for you. It's doing its thing.

Vanity metrics, post views are absolutely vanity metrics. I definitely favor comments over post views. If I have a post that has a thousand post views but only a couple of comments, I'm not happy because I'm really trying to start conversations on LinkedIn. And I think if thought leadership is one of your goals, if speaking gigs is part of the reason you're on LinkedIn, then you really want to be starting conversations with your posts. And you want to sort of take a look at those posts. If they're not starting conversations, why not? Are you not asking the right questions?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Emily Crookston: Everything you try, I say, give it at least a month. Don't give up after a couple of weeks and say, "Oh, it's only crickets." Are you being consistent? Are you showing up and posting at the same relative time? Because that can make a really big difference. Are you there every three days a week or five days a week, whatever you've committed to. That's why I started when I started. I just focused on consistency as my only goal.

Deb Zahn: Because I think what happens, and I get it if you do it a couple times. It doesn't look like what you hoped it looked like. I think people have... And I blame cat videos. They think everything is going to go viral. And I get it.

Emily Crookston: Of course. Yeah, we all want to go viral.

Deb Zahn: But that's not what this is about. And so I do like to try it for a while because I think what a lot of people do is they look at the likes and the comments and it's less about their business strategy, and it's more about their self-worth strategy.

Emily Crookston: Yeah, right.

Deb Zahn: It doesn't help.

Emily Crookston: Right. And again, if you're looking at the engagement side of things and that's kind of heavy in your mind, then you're going to be less likely to worry about those metrics on your own posts. Your own posts are only a piece of what you're doing. If you start a conversation with someone on their post and they become a client of yours, what you're posting doesn't matter in that instance. So focus on that.

Deb Zahn: And I will say, I don't get the crazy engagement that like a lot of people get, and I've gotten clients through LinkedIn. And often what it does is they see something on LinkedIn, they're like, "That's interesting. Let me go check out her podcast. That's interesting. Let me go check that out."

So they're kicking the tires and it makes them want to go do the next thing and kick the tires. So I've learned that those things matter, and yes, I need to do things related to those, but that's not the be-all and end-all.

Emily Crookston: Yeah. And the fact is a lot of the time, the prospects who find me are not people who comment regularly on my stuff. They're people who've been watching the conversations happening and being impressed in some way. And then they DM me. So that's great. The other strategy is DMing people yourself. I don't do this very much because I am getting the leads that I want coming to me, which is great. But you can also start conversations in the DMs with people who you might notice someone following your profile or following your posts. You could engage them if they look like good prospects for you. Just ask to have coffee with them on Zoom or whatever. Start a conversation that way.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And I love them, it's a conversation and it's not an immediate sale.

Emily Crookston: Right. Importantly, yes. People do not like it very much when you've come into their DMs and start pitching them right away.

Deb Zahn: It happens to me every day, and I've never once responded to any of those.

Emily Crookston: Yes.

Deb Zahn: We have no connection.

Emily Crookston: No. They're often bots, but just don't do that. You're building relationships. It's a networking platform. Think of it as a networking platform. You wouldn't go into a networking event shouting about your products and your services. Say, "Hi, how are you? Pleased to meet you."

Deb Zahn: Oh, I love that. I love that. So where can folks find you if they need the help?

Emily Crookston: You can obviously find me on LinkedIn. I'm at Emily Crookston there. You can also find me. My company is The Pocket PhD. So I'm There, you can check out my blog posts. You can also see my LinkedIn services and the place to get started if you're interested in upping your LinkedIn game would be my LinkedIn roadmap. And that's basically an audit of your profile and all the activity that you have on LinkedIn at the moment, so I can give you some actionable tips for building that presence.

Deb Zahn: Wonderful. So you know I'm going to ask you this last question which is when you're not a LinkedIn rockstar and helping other people become LinkedIn rockstars, how do you bring balance to your life, however you define that?

Emily Crookston: Well, I've been practicing classical yoga now for eight years, about eight years. And that is by far the number one thing that keeps me grounded. It keeps me sane. I try to practice four or five times a week. And when I'm doing that, I am my best self and I'm my best business owner. So I love yoga. I love meditation. I love all things self-awareness. So I think as business owners, one of the most important things you can do is get to know yourself because if you are not functioning well, the business is not going to function well. And so much goes back to the personality and the person who is the founder and CEO. So you've got to take care of yourself first.

Deb Zahn: Oh, I love that. Love that. Well, Emily, thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been fabulous.

Emily Crookston: Thank you, Deb. It's been so much fun.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content, and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is one is if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

And then the last thing is, again, if you've gotten something out of this, share it, share it with somebody you know who's a consultant or thinking about being a consultant and make sure that they also have access to all this great content and all the other great content that's going to be coming up. So as always, you can go and get more wonderful information and tools at Thanks so much. I will talk to you on the next episode. Bye-bye.

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