Richard Bliss is a LinkedIn expert and social media coach, not a paleontologist. However, he warns business executives who give little thought to their LinkedIn profiles that they are in danger of turning themselves into dinosaurs.
"Your inability to master a 21st century communication tool calls into question your ability to lead a 21st century organization," Bliss states bluntly.
Many people meet these days through social media, Bliss said, "and that means we have to start thinking as leaders and solopreneurs that our digital presence defines who we are long before we are able to reinforce it with our physical presence."
Bliss shared his insights into how organizations can use LinkedIn to their advantage in the September episode of the 21st Century Business Forum, a monthly webcast that features one-on-one interviews with some of the nation’s most prominent business minds and thought leaders.
The show, hosted by Clay Young and sponsored by CHI St. Vincent, aims to inform and inspire Arkansas business leaders — executives, managers and entrepreneurs — with engaging interviews that yield practical advice for leading organizations and achieving success.
Bliss said if an organization is trying to recruit younger workers "and you're the CEO and your recruitees go check your LinkedIn profile and you've got no banner and an outdated photo and 82 connections," the potential recruits are going to think, "Do I want to go work for this individual?"
The leader must realize "you're the No. 1 salesperson at your organization, you're the No. 1 recruiter at your organization, you're more valuable as a marketing asset than anything else your marketing department can spend money on," Bliss said. Consequently, he said, "Make sure you are representing yourself and your organization (online) in such a way that it's demonstrating value to your prospective customers, partners and fellow employees."
Bliss stresses that LinkedIn is far more than a place where people come to post resumes and hunt for jobs. He said it is a tool that companies can use to engage with prospects and customers in a way that drives business.
The Bible teaches that it is better to give than to receive, and Bliss applies that same concept to the process of building relationships via LinkedIn.
"Online, so often we find ourselves asking, 'Hey, can I have this connection request? Hey, can I have this meeting with you? Hey, can you open this email? Hey, can you go watch this YouTube video? It's ask, ask, ask, take, take, take."
"What we teach is to flip that around," Bliss said. "Give."
But what can you give? Well, you can give a like to something a prospective client or customer posted on LinkedIn, Bliss said.
"But more than that, if they've posted something, take the time to read it and then comment (on it) with insight," he said. In so doing, you not only show interest in what that person has to say, "but it also helps my audience understand the value I'm giving" to others and can encourage them to connect with you and perhaps do business with you, Bliss said.
"That giving -- giving a comment, giving advice, giving in a conversation before I ask for anything -- is critical to being successful online," he said.
Watch previous episodes of the 21st Century Business Forum here.