Stories engage and are easy to remember. Public speakers, politicians and marketers have long known the power of story. When it is authentic, relevant and useful a story builds trust and shares values. It can also overcome initial objections to being sold to.
I confess. I hate writing my own bio. But I actually like writing someone else’s. I think a lot of people have trouble writing their own bio and it shows. I have been editing speaker bios for an upcoming foodservice conference over the past few weeks. As interesting as the speakers are, for the most part, the bios would put you to sleep. They read like resumes, or worse. Now, I understand that a bio should contain certain facts, but who said a bio should be devoid of personality? Bios I see on websites aren’t much better. And it’s too bad, because I always like reading bios and I think others do too. As a content writer I often write bios for websites. Here are my suggestions for writing bios that excite rather than sedate. 1) Don’t feel obligated to include every job you ever had. Put the focus on your current position, as that is what is most relevant to your audience. Only include past positions if they had a significant influence on your career. 2) Explain how it was that your work became your passion. Why do you like it? When did you know you found the right career? 3) Let your voice shine through. In a post on Grammar Girl, Julie Wildhaber calls a well-defined voice “the bridge between you and your audience: It helps your readers understand who you are, and it helps you engage them and keep them coming back for more.” What do you want to say about yourself? Are you serious, light-hearted, ambitious, determined? What adjectives describe you? To what do you attribute your success? Do you have a mantra? Inserting a quote can be a great way to let readers hear your voice. 4) Include something personal or unexpected. When we wrote bios for the accounting firm Lipschultz, Levin & Gray, we asked the top executives to share a “stand-out memory” of their accounting career, as well as some advice. Who knew that we would learn about counting meat carcasses or working by flashlight? It’s proof that there are interesting stories to be found in every career. 5) Common convention calls for writing your bio in the third person; so if you are submitting a bio for a speaking engagement you definitely want to use that format. For bios on the web, remember to keep paragraphs and sentences short for easy reading. It’s true that we are often our own worst promoters, so why not hire a professional writer and take writing your bio off your “to do” list. A professional writer can tell your story in a way that will make customers want to do business with you. Now for today’s special. Tell us why you hate writing your own bio and enter to win a complimentary 200-word bio written by Content for Biz. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comment box below.
In a recent study by marketing automation firm Pardot, B2B marketers ranked LinkedIn higher than Twitter and other social media networks for its value as a lead generation tool. If you are spending time and resources to develop quality content, distributing your content on social media networks such as LinkedIn is a great strategy. Not only can you share content with your immediate network, but you can expand your reach by posting content within relevant LinkedIn groups. However, there are some dos and don’ts you will want to consider:
Do be thoughtful
Thoughtful interaction and quality content will position you and your company as a market leader and encourage prospects to engage with you in other ways. If you offer compelling content along with a link to your website, visitors will visit your site to read more. At that point they may decide to download a whitepaper or subscribe to your blog. That’s generating a quality B2B sales lead.
Don’t over automate
While it is convenient to send posts out as an automated feed to your LinkedIn status, the real value of LinkedIn comes from posting to relevant groups. Be careful to match the right B2B content with the right B2B audience for the best return. Sometimes I post in foodservice groups, sometimes in construction groups and other times in advertising/marketing groups. Just as in a “real” conversation, your voice shouldn’t dominate. Decide on an appropriate frequency based on the activity of the group and the response you receive. Remember it is as important to give as it is to receive. Share interesting articles from others as well as your own content.
Don’t be too commercial
Certainly if someone is looking for a supplier (it happens more often than you think), throw your hat into the ring. However, the discussions you start shouldn’t be overt sales pitches for your product or service. Lately I have seen group moderators clamp down on overtly commercial messages. Obey the rules of the group and post in the appropriate section. Often there will be specific places to promote events or jobs.
Assuming your content offers educational or entertainment value, don’t hesitate to share. People will respond if your message is on target and your website traffic will often tell you more than LinkedIn likes or comments. What no one wants to see is 60 discussions without any comments. That is not the value of social media.
Do mind your manners
When someone comments or likes your post, I think it is important to acknowledge them. Send a private message and let them know their opinion is valued and that someone is listening. Or reply publicly and keep the conversation going. It is no different than how you would interact face-to-face. The truth of the matter is that while only a small percentage of a group usually comments, many more read. Encourage interaction and comment and “like” other posts in the group. It feels good to know your content is being read and others feel the same.
Do choose groups wisely
It can be time consuming to monitor the activity of the groups, to post and comment regularly. LinkedIn limits the number of groups you can be part of to 50 because they want people to be engaged. Be sure the groups you join includes the types of individuals and companies you are targeting. Size is one measure of a group, but I think quality trumps quantity. I like to look at the number of discussions and in particular the number of comments posted in a given week. LinkedIn Reports this on the overview page for the group. Click on the stats icon and you can find all sorts of demographics. For example, the National Restaurant Association Group has more than 14,000 members. Last week there were 28 discussions and 100 comments among the group members–that is a very active group. If the group is open you can click on members to see exactly is in the group. If the group is closed, ask your direct connections how active the group is, and who the members are.
It’s important to know who you are targeting when identifying groups. There are more than 871,000 groups of all kinds on LinkedIn: vendor groups, alumni groups, professional groups. Of course you may want to target customer groups, but what about groups who are natural referral sources for you. Keep in mind the objective of the group as well as the people who are in it when posting your B2B content. You can even start your own group on LinkedIn.
Do take note of what people are discussing
LinkedIn Groups are a gold mine of content ideas for B2b marketers. As a B2B content writer, I like to see what is generating interest among the groups. Where there are comments, there is usually an idea for a story or blog post. For example, this week among the National Restaurant Association LinkedIn Group the most active discussion was centered around Starbucks adding alcohol to its menu. On Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine Group, people were discussing Revit.
Share your favorite LinkedIn groups with us here.
How to Share Your Posts with LinkedIn Groups
I use the LinkedIn share button that appears at the bottom of each post on our website, and type in the name of the group where I want to post the content to. Unfortunately, the names of the groups don’t all pop up until you start typing, so you need to know the names of the groups. I only post to groups that I believe will have an interest in the content.
Finding and sharing content from your supply chain can add credibility to your site, show support for your suppliers, and educate your website visitors.
Despite 17.7% unemployment in the construction industry, companies who rely on skilled workers should be worried about attracting talent. The Associated General Contractors recently reported that more than 600,000 workers had left the industry over the past two years. They may have landed jobs in other industries, gone back to school, retired or dropped out of the workforce. The bottom line is that even a modest upturn in activity could make it make it more difficult for your business to recruit the talent you need. Construction equipment dealers as well as contractors, already face a shortage of heavy equipment technicians.
So what does this have to do with your online presence? Think of your website and social media sites as 24/7 recruitment tools. These are the places where interested candidates will come first to find out more about your company.
Does your website copy or visuals say anything about what it is like to work at your company? Are there employee events? Is there a sense of camaraderie?
Are you offering a job or a career? Does your website copy say how important technical positions are to the success of your operation? What benefits do you offer? What makes working at your company different?
Construction is among the most dangerous professions. Workers want to be safe. Does your website demonstrate your commitment to employee safety?
Employers need to attract a new generation of workers – Gen Y – born between 1981 and 2000. In a 2010 OXYGENZ research project from Johnson Controls, 96% of Gen Y respondents wanted an “environmentally aware or friendly workplace” and 57% said they want their employers to perform well above regulatory compliance. Does your workplace address these needs?
Waste Management makes itself appealing to future employees. Its Careers page sends a strong message that the company is all about being green. Messages are targeted to specific audiences to ensure all feel welcome and appreciated. Website copy calls operational workers “the backbone of our daily operations.” Technology, professionalism and safety are emphasized.
On Facebook, a special tab for WM Careers features videos about working at Waste Management, links to jobs, recruitment fairs and an online application.
Is your workplace social? Use social media sites to let prospective employees know what it will be like to work for you. Showcase your involvement with employees and the community.
You can ensure a talent pipeline by talking to grade school, high school students and college students about careers in construction. In person and online, you need to send the right message to future industry professionals. Work with a content writer to find the perfect message for your business.