BTG Contributor, Christy Van Der Westhuizen, shares how to build your personal brand, as well as your company’s brand, on LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn? At its core, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform – so want to build your business? Use LinkedIn!
-Just get started!
-Make a custom profile URL
-Get active! Comment, like, post, share!
-Give recommendations and ask for recommendations
-Join industry-specific groups
-Post relevant content
-Share other people’s relevant content
-Follow relevant influencers in our industry
-Tag people in your posts
-Be an active commenter/liker
-Hashtags are your friend!
Learn about BTG Network sponsorship opportunities HERE.
Christy Van Der Westhuizen 0:00
In order to really boost your presence and therefore boost your company’s presence, or your community’s presence, I think posting at least one time a week is great, more than one time is even better. I know people sometimes, myself included, that post daily.
Welcome to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network. This series is sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. Each week you’ll hear from a thought leader discussing topics that are relevant and impactful to the senior living industry.
Hi, welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. I’m Christy Van Der Westhuizen, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Legend Senior Living. In this series, I talk all things senior living sales and marketing, but I promise even if you’re not in the sales and marketing role, either at the community level or corporate level, this podcast is for you. And actually, aren’t we all on the sales team, or shall I say, revenue generating team? Because without revenue, we don’t have a senior living business, so yes, we are all on the sales team. So if you didn’t know just a few weeks ago, I made a huge leap of faith into a new role and a new state. My husband, along with our seven year old daughter, Delilah, and two dogs, made the trek from Orange County, California to Wichita, Kansas. Over a three day period, we went from California to Nevada, to Arizona, to Utah, Colorado, and now home to Wichita, Kansas.
So now I want to talk about one of my very, very, very favorite subjects, LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn. Shocking, I know. So many of you I have met on LinkedIn, and connected with on LinkedIn, and follow on LinkedIn. So chances are if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re already on LinkedIn and if you are not, here is your sign. Do it, today! Do it, get on LinkedIn right now. So we’re gonna go ahead and start talking about LinkedIn basics. I think LinkedIn is great for building your personal brand, but also your company’s, or community’s, brand on LinkedIn. And so LinkedIn, for me at its core, it’s a professional networking platform. Now, of course I love Facebook, and Instagram, and Pinterest, and whatever social media thing there is at the moment. Tiktok, how could I forget TikTok? But for me, LinkedIn is the go to every single morning when I get up and I’m kind of just scrolling on my phone, I always, always pull up LinkedIn first.
If you’re new to the LinkedIn game, I wanna give you a couple tidbits that I think can set you apart from the pack right in the beginning. So when you create your LinkedIn profile, just go to linkedin.com, upload a professional picture. So aim for professional but friendly. Now sometimes it can be a casual picture but it just needs to have a professional vibe to it, but it can also be very friendly and very fun as well. I think you also should upload a professional background header photo. So if you look at someone’s LinkedIn profile, at the very top left is their profile picture. That’s what they look like, but the rectangle behind it is totally customizable. You can put quotes on it. For example, I had a quote that said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” And it was a confetti background. You can choose something like this or you could go very classy. Linkedin has a couple to choose from, but you can also just Google LinkedIn background header photos and you will probably find hundreds if not thousands to choose from. So you can always upload a background header photo to really customize your LinkedIn profile. Definitely complete all profile sections to your best of your ability. So that includes your current position and previous positions, of course, expertise, skills, and certifications.
Once you’ve done this, now it’s time to start building your network. And so the first thing that I would recommend that you do, is to search for people that you know already and connect with them. The easiest way to do this is find people that you work with already, and then connect. That’s the connect button at the top and it has kind of a little plus sign next to it. That’s how you can request a connection for someone and then they can approve it, which 99.9% I hope that the person approves it, but they have the option to approve it or ignore it basically. So that’s number one. Search for people that you already know. Easiest way, people that you work with, or providers that you have worked with, business partners that you’ve worked with, vendors that you’ve worked with.
Okay, so then next to build your network, search for people you’ve lost touch with. So that might be from a previous job or from your college or university years, and connect with them. And then by the way, it is absolutely okay to add people who you haven’t met in real life. That is what the platform is for. And for the record, most of the people that I’m connected with on LinkedIn, I haven’t met in person because most of the people really started utilizing LinkedIn, especially for senior living during the pandemic to connect with others on a business professional level.
That was when all of the conferences and in-person events were paused and put on hold. So for the most part, I would say 75% of the connections on LinkedIn. For me personally, I still have not met in person. So go right ahead. Even if you’ve never met this person, go ahead and request it because chances are they will want to know who you are too, and connect with you. Okay, so those are the very, very, very basics of LinkedIn.
A couple other things to think about when you’re creating your LinkedIn profile is you can create a custom profile url. It doesn’t have to be LinkedIn, 125972359, or whatever that LinkedIn assigns to you. You can actually create a custom version. So for example, mine is linkedin.com/in. That’s i n slash christyvdw. Your custom URL must contain three to 100 letters or numbers. Try not to make it 100, but make it very easily identifiable.
Okay, so now that you have your LinkedIn profile ready to go, now it’s time to grow your LinkedIn presence, which is personally one of my favorite things to do. And if you haven’t already, please connect with me. I would love to connect with you.
First things first, you have your profile, it’s custom. You have a great profile picture, you have your background header photo customized, as well. So next thing to do, get active. Comment on people’s posts, like other people’s posts, post your own posts, share other people’s posts. Give recommendations to people in your network. That is a sure fire way to get recommendations for yourself. So to give recommendations, basically that’s a testimonial of working with someone or knowing someone. And that way when you give recommendations, I believe LinkedIn automatically asks for them to give you a recommendation back. So that’s a great way to really get testimonials about what it’s like working with you or working for you by third parties, other people. It’s not just you saying how great you are working for yourself, but it’s other people too. So that’s a really great way to help boost your profile and the completeness of it. So ask for recommendations from people in your network. So again, when you give recommendations, definitely ask for them as well.
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And now, back to the show.
Join industry specific groups, and Bridge the Gap podcast and the Ambassador program, is one of those very ways to get really involved and to get to know people very personally. But of course you wanna support each other’s businesses as well. And I think that that’s what makes LinkedIn so great, is that you get to know people personally but also very professionally as well. And then definitely download the LinkedIn app to your phone.
I love when I do lots of longer posts, I’ll use my desktop version, but for the short ones or posting pictures that I already have on my phone, I definitely utilize the LinkedIn app on my phone to have kind of a seamless way to post content and stay on top of notifications. And so I have it set where I get a notification if someone comments on something, or tags me on something, just so I can stay as active as possible in a timely fashion.
Okay, are you ready for the secret recipe? Just kidding. But it is a way that I have really encouraged my community teams to be more active on LinkedIn. So in order to really boost your presence and therefore boost your company’s presence, or your community’s presence, I think posting at least one time a week is great, more than one time is even better. I know people sometimes, myself included, that post daily, but I think the perfect LinkedIn recipe lies in a few things. And I think one should be a photo or a group of photos. That’s one post, one might be a video, because video is really important now in building your business, and sharing videos specifically of you or something that you are passionate about. And then one share.
I mean by that is, if you find something really great and really relevant for your own audience and someone else has posted it, go ahead and share it. But make sure you tag the person and tag other people who you think might find that article or post or video or group of photos. Interesting or valuable. I think photos of professional events. So that might be chamber meetings, or happy hours, or drive through events, or conferences, especially for you at the community level. You’re doing that weekly or sometimes daily. So make sure to post about it, and especially tag the people in the photos. So for me, that’s one, quick fire, way to really expand your network is tagging relevant people in your posts, in your photos.
Another idea is to post team member photos. So if you’re at the community and you’re doing something really special, whether that’s team members, helping residents, dressing up in costumes, showing your company your community spirit, recognizing team members for doing a great job, that is another way that you can utilize LinkedIn to really promote your company culture as well.
Then resident and prospect events. So it might be pre-event photos, so something like getting ready for the car show event at insert name of community, and then posting post-event photos as well and tagging the relevant people there.
In addition to posting photos and videos, I think posting great content is incredibly key to being a successful LinkedIn influencer, if I could say that. Sharing your own insights, best practices, ideas and stories is a sure fire way to make an impact in the industry. You can ask questions to your network, you can run a poll, you can give kudos to whether it is people in your own company, or outside of your company. I think that you can also use LinkedIn to become a company advocate. So if your company is posting something, for example, let’s say it’s case manager’s week, then reshare it on your personal LinkedIn page, tag other people on it, maybe that’s your own company teammates, and cheer on your own company peers through your comments. So if you see a team member post something really inspirational, or really thought provoking, or really fun, definitely comment on it. Show them that you are paying attention and that you are cheering them on in the process.
Another way to utilize LinkedIn is to follow relevant influencers for our industry. So there’s a way to follow people as well. So yes, you can connect with them, but you can also follow them as well. And so one way to really boost the attention, is to make comments on their posts. So, and to really start a conversation with the original author of the post. And for me, this is a great way to align yourself with a top influencer in the industry, and also be considered a thought leader in the industry. So be an active commenter, and liker of lots of posts, and get active, engage with your network by commenting and liking their posts when they show up on your feed.
And then, last but not least in the game of LinkedIn is, hashtags are your friend. So here are some to try. #SeniorLiving, #SeniorHousing, #SeniorCare, #IndependentLiving, #AssistedLiving, #MemoryCare, #YourCompany’sName, #SeniorLivingProfessionals, #SeniorLivingCommunities. I mean, the list could go on and on and on, but that is another way to expand your reach as well. Because you can actually follow certain hashtags and then you may not even know the person that posts something, but if they hashtag a certain key phrase that you have followed, you will see their posts. That’s another way to see content that is posted from people that you may not know. So that’s a really great way to expand your networking as well. So I hope you enjoyed this quick crash course of LinkedIn essentials.
For me, I don’t think I would’ve even known about Bridge the Gap if it weren’t for LinkedIn, and connecting with Josh and Lucas and Sara and really becoming professional friends, but becoming personal friends as well. I hope you felt that you got some essentials covered as well as some tidbits to improve and increase your network. But for me, it’s just another way to feel like you are making a difference by posting relevant content, by posting innovative content, to really get your senior living industry peers to think differently, or to broaden their understanding of what senior living, and maybe what your company does that’s unique and different than the rest in the industry.
So I hope you enjoyed this, and that you connect with me and so many others on LinkedIn because of this podcast. I hope you have a great day and I can’t wait to talk with you again. Happy LinkedIn. Bye.
Thanks for listening to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network, sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. For a full library of episodes, visit btgvoice.com.