This post has a bit of a personal touch. Well, about 867 words or personal touch. OOPS. Normally my posts are around 200 words. In this post you’ll learn how building business through LinkedIn can be done without acquisition. I am too shy for acquisition, so I had to find another way, you’re about to find out all about it.

You may not be interested in my personal entrepreneurial journey. I get it. I don’t need to read everybody’s personal account. If you prefer to skim read the find the juicy bits, there are plenty of headers to guide you. Otherwise, grab a cuppa and spend the next 5 minutes following my story of building business through LinkedIn.

THIS LINKEDIN STORY STARTS IN 2011

I worked for an organisation with about 100 employees and we hit rough weather. Regardless of how much I like commuting by ferry, especially on stormy days, this was the kind of rough weather that made me uncomfortable.

Friends said I should look at it as an opportunity. That it was time for me to start working for myself. Yeah right, doing what? Sure, I loved training, as I still do, but training in what? I’d done so many different things. Jack of all trades, master of NONE is how I saw myself.

My friends had a different view. They saw training as the thing I am good at and had in one shape or another 20+ years of experience in. I couldn’t deny that point.

BACK TO THE COMPANY I WORKED FOR

About 20 people were made redundant. All but two temporarily contracts were terminated. I was one of the two survivors. And I let out a big sigh of relief. All this talk about starting my own business. Ha, no matter what strengths my friends believed I possess, they forgot just one minor detail: I am too shy for acquisition.

I had been quite worried about my position for about 6 months. That is a long time. Ever been anxious about your future for six months? I do not recommend it. What it did make me do, was freshen up my LinkedIn profile.

I FELL IN LOVE WITH LINKEDIN

As I discovered more and more about the possibilities of actively using LinkedIn, I got quite excited about it. I was almost disappointed that I didn’t lose my job. ALMOST. I still had a mortgage to pay and daughter to look after as a single mum. I decided there and then that I would never, ever, feel this anxious about surviving again.

I thought, what is going to happen in 12 months time? Will they renew my contract again, or let me go after all? I always chose time for me and my daughter over money, so I was only working three days a week at this stage. With two days a week spare I decided to give this ‘starting your own business’ thing a go.

I would be “Petra Fisher, LinkedIn Trainer for International Professionals”.

NO MONEY TO INVEST OR FALL BACK ON

Now all I needed to do is put my money where my mouth is. Lacking the money, I invested time.
I aimed high. Though there is plenty of fish in the sea, what will make this fish stand out?
Charging high fees! Seemed like a great idea at the time…

Charge high fees, work for corporates and be one-of-a-kind. I needed to build up a reputation in order to be able to target those clients. By working on my reputation, I also didn’t have to worry about that little detail called acquisition. Out of sight out of mind.

WHAT WORKS FOR NETFLIX WORKED FOR ME

“Ten tips to …” seemed to be the best-viewed blogs at the time, so I needed to write some of those as well. Build a website, write a blog, share it through LinkedIn and Bob’s your uncle. With only two days a week for my own company, I had to use my time creatively.

If Netflix can do it, then I can do it. Why spend all my time on ONE blog sharing 10 tips? If I made it into a series of 10 posts that would last me 2.5 months. Somehow I only made it to 9. Each week I shared my blog on LinkedIn, as status update. Posted in several groups to start discussions…

FELL FLAT ON MY FACE WITH THAT

I posted blog episodes in so many groups, without really starting a discussion, that I got a black mark against my name in some groups. Meaning I couldn’t post for a period of time. This inspired me to write another series of blog posts. About group use on LinkedIn. Only three blogs this time, but they got picked up worldwide.

I have to tell you something that happened in between.

All this activity on LinkedIn did not go unnoticed. I got noticed by Mike O’Neil and Lori Ruff in the US. We started chatting on Skype and one day Lori send me a message saying:

“Uhm … I may have jumped the gun a bit, but a big international corporation asked if we have a trainer in Amsterdam to conduct some sessions at their European headquarters, and I’ve let them know you’ll do it”.

So here I was. I had quite an impressive video on my website. Had delivered one in company training and was asked by Mike O’Neil and Lori Ruff to deliver training on their behalf.

NOT BAD FOR A SOCIAL WORKER TURNED SELF-PROFESSED TRAINER

Not long after, I was invited to come to the US to co-facilitate the 10th annual LinkedIn event Mike and Lori organise. I was flattered, felt special. It took someone else to point out to me that it worked both ways. They had been able to advertise this 10th event with an international speaker all the way from Amsterdam!

HOW DID I USE LINKEDIN TO GET HERE?

I clearly identified WHO I wanted to reach and WHAT message I wanted to send. You’ve probably heard about the “Know, Like and Trust” factors in order to be able to do business. Here’s how I applied them.

GET PEOPLE TO KNOW YOU

Make a lot of noise so people have heard of you! Make noise on LinkedIn by sharing knowledge. By sharing industry articles by others. By liking and commenting on updates of other people. Every activity you conduct on LinkedIn increases you visibility in your network. Ideally comment rather than like. It allows you to share little snippets of your expertise, adding value to your network.

GET PEOPLE TO LIKE YOU

The easiest way to get people to like you is handing out presents. Share valuable information that doesn’t directly lead back to your website. Endorse people if you think they are really good at something. Write a short recommendation without being asked. It does wonders for your likeability.
More importantly, it is actually really good fun to do.

GET PEOPLE TO TRUST YOU

Apart from the obvious: don’t tell lies. People trust you if they relate to you. Make sure some of your personality shines through in what you do. Your values, the fact you care about how your work impacts and benefits your clients. Focus on the other.

HAVE A ONE-TRACK-MIND

Make sure you stay focused on your expertise and the target audience you wish to reach. I am interested in sustainability; my daughter was recycling before she knew there was such a word. Yet I rarely like an interesting update on LinkedIn about sustainability.

People connect with me for my LinkedIn knowledge. I want to be predictable. If you see my face come past in the non-stop stream of updates on your homepage, I want you to automatically pause to see what I said. Because you KNOW it will be about LinkedIn, Networking or Personal Branding.

HOW ABOUT THE ACQUISITION?

But how did I get around that nagging little detail, that acquisition thing? I didn’t! Easy as that. Well, most of the time. I am good at what I do because it is within my comfort zone. Acquisition is not, so I am not going to create anxiety for myself. By being active on LinkedIn for about 30 minutes a day, staying focused on my topics, aiming for my dream clients, I have not done any active acquisition. Prospective clients approach me.

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF

I once accepted a project because it was big. It would be a great experience, could lead to new things yet I completely ignored a nagging little feeling that I was not actually going to enjoy this project.

I pushed that feeling away with rational arguments. How I was capable of pulling this project off. How it would really put my name on the map within the Dutch market. How the money was great.

Putting my name on the map within the Dutch market. What was I thinking? Didn’t I, in part, keep my own company going after the initial employment panic had gone, because I love operating in English? In an international environment?

LIFE IS A JOURNEY (Ralph Emerson Anderson)

That is when I found the missing piece in the puzzle of my LinkedIn use. I needed to sharpen my target audience and let go of doing everything bi-lingual. Operating in English is what makes me happy. Happy trainer – happy clients. This was my journey during the first four years I was in business. It led to me being a well-known LinkedIn trainer in The Netherlands, Australia, The UK and the USA. You can see the locations of my clients pinned on a map at the bottom of this page.

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

  • I can tell you how to fill out your LinkedIn Profile.
  • I can show you how to use the different features of LinkedIn.
  • Yet none of that is going to get you anywhere… If you don’t listen to yourself!

Identify what makes you happy, what puts that spark in your eye?

Who do you want to work with?

And then, only then does it make any sense to put all my tips and tricks into practice.

>>> Have a question how LinkedIn can help YOUR business? Pop it in the comments! Other thoughts and compliments most welcome as well. <<<