Kate Paine works with executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals to develop their brand and share their stories which differentiate them from their competition in the marketplace. She’s an expert on using LinkedIn as a powerful personal branding tool and discovering an individual’s story which makes her expertise unique in the world of online promotion. Kay volunteers her time training members of the US Special Forces on how to use LinkedIn as they transition out of their military career.
So personal branding is a space that you support on LinkedIn. When when you discuss or talk about identifying your personal brand, what does that look like? And why is it so important to know what your personal brand is?
Well, the personal brand piece is really something that you sort of need to self identify with. I think a lot of people when they hear the term “personal brand” or “personal branding,” I think they have this notion that they’re going to go around and sort of like shake someone’s hand and say, “Hi, I’m Kate Payne, and my personal brand is,” and you fill in the blank. That’s not what it is at all. The personal brand is really similar to that other marketing term we love, it’s like your unique selling proposition or unique value proposition. Except I prefer the person the term personal brand because I think that when you’re thinking of a platform like LinkedIn, a lot of people see LinkedIn as a quote-unquote, personal branding platform. So it’s a way for you to kind of consider your expertise. Your personal brand is essentially your reputation, and your reputation is made up of your values and your integrity, certainly your professional expertise. So really understanding your personal brand and how you’re going to message that via your personal LinkedIn profile is really important. Then I add a component to that, which is a personal story, which helps make your personal brand more personalized, and really true to who you are, and helps you sort of creating that unforgettable feeling in someone’s mind when they meet you because they know your brand and they know your story. You’re now more unforgettable, so they’ll remember you going forward.
I’m the type of person that’s like, “Here are all the facts.” That’s my storytelling and it’s not that I don’t want to, I feel awkward telling the world my story. How do you help people overcome that?
So that’s, that’s sort of my niche that’s sort of my superpower is I pull from my journalism, marketing, and PR background. When I interview a person I’m working with, I really kind of go back to, “Alright, so how did you get it, why did you want to become a realtor?” or, “Why did you go into the military, and then decide to get out of the military and go into being a financial advisor?” So there’s this little nugget and I call it a nugget of your personal story that you can kind of identify and write about in like a short paragraph. So it’s not the story from the standpoint of this long bio, you know, dirty laundry kind of thing. It’s like you’re taking this little slice of a life story or that story nugget. For example, when I have people kind of identify what that might be, is when you literally look at your LinkedIn profile, I want that to really stand out in the about section which used to be the summary and that’s the most read section of one’s profile. So for example, on my profile, I start out with like, the first line is I was an avid news junkie in eighth grade. Then I go into like my internship at CBS News and then I kind of say, I learned how to become a storyteller, and now I help people find their own. So it’s like, I’ve taken that nugget and I’ve also made it relevant to what I do now. so that then sort of tying it all together and it’s not like this all about my story thing, it’s just a little slice of life. A lot of people when they start their about section in their LinkedIn profile, they don’t really know what to do. So some people either ignore it don’t have one there at all, which is not good. Or they start off with like, “I’ve been in the digital marketing world for 15 years doing blah, blah, blah.” You know, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s sort of formulaic, and it’s what everybody else does. So if you figure out what that little story nugget is, if yours, you know, you can really use that as an introduction and really hook your reader and want to learn more about you.
Let’s talk about some of the new features that LinkedIn has rolled out. What do you think is one of the best features that they’ve come out with recently?
Well, their whole user interface has changed, and it didn’t change drastically, but it’s very white. It’s looking very much like Facebook and Twitter so I’m not real thrilled about that. I liked that LinkedIn had a little bit of an aesthetic structure. But some of the new things I like, their privacy and settings is probably one of the biggest changes and it’s so you can make your user experience much more the way you want it to be. Because a lot of people when they’re on LinkedIn, especially if they don’t use it a lot, they’re like, “All I do is get these annoying notifications.” Now you can go in and really create the user experience you want. So they created more privacy and settings, which makes that user experience much more the way you want it to be. They also came out with stories and some people are finding really great engagement with stories. I still haven’t wrapped my head around stories on LinkedIn, because I barely wrap my head around it on Instagram and Facebook. I mean, it’s funny, I know, you’re asked me like, what’s my favorite and now I’m telling you kind of the opposite. To me, stories are really something that just belongs on Facebook and Instagram. I mean, what are you going to do in the course of your business day, that’s going to be so particularly exciting that you want to throw it out there for 24 hours. So I haven’t wrapped my head around that, I’ve tested it, and it’s kind of gotten average engagement. But you know what? Just because LinkedIn or any platform creates a new feature doesn’t mean you have to use it. Again, you should always be utilizing these features if they’re aligned with your personal brand and your efforts on social media. The one thing I love the most on LinkedIn right now is the Featured Block and I think it’s completely rolled out to everybody. It’s on your personal profile page and you don’t see it there if you haven’t taken any kind of online asset and made it a featured link. So if you want to feature a post you just wrote in the feed if you wanted to feature a LinkedIn article that you’ve done on the publishing platform, if you wanted to link to anything on a website, anywhere on the internet, or if you wanted to upload an infographic or a PDF, you now have this really great Featured Block and it creates this really big visual block in the middle of your otherwise text-heavy profile page. You can put up as many links as you want, some people have put up like 60, but it’s like this side-scrolling thing, so I don’t advise that. So I put in four to six things in that featured section and you can change them as you go. But it’s a way to get targeted eyes on something and it’s finally something LinkedIn did, where you can literally click on that piece of content in the featured block, and it will take you directly to that online asset. Whereas before, you could have up to three websites in your contact information, and you still can. But when you click there, it’s a two-click process to get to the final thing. It’s just a way to really get targeted eyes on something you really want people to see on your profile page.
So can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?
I just had one today, actually. So you know, we all know what influencers are right? And LinkedIn, actually, long before they opened up publishing to the average user, there were a lot of quote-unquote, LinkedIn influencers out there like the Richard Bransons and the Arianna Huffingtons of the world. So now anybody can be a so-called influencer on LinkedIn. They’re rolling out newsletters, which is a subscription thing. They’re certainly still in beta with LinkedIn live, you do have to apply for it. But there are all kinds of ways that you can now become an influencer. So anyway, I’m part of a virtual summit that’s going on this week called the LinkedIn Lead Generation Summit, and the woman that’s putting it on is a woman from Australia, Kate Hore-Lacey is her name. So she got 21 speakers to share some lead generation tips of which I’m one of the speakers. One of the speakers, the primary sort of keynote, if you will, is a New York Times bestselling author, Dave Kirpan. He’s written the Art of People, and he’s written some other books about social media in general. Anyway, he did his video today and I was watching the recording this morning and I thought, “Well, I’ll go in and see if I can connect with him,” you know, somebody who’s got almost a million followers, it’s really hard to have a meaningful networking conversation. He was actually sharing some of his best practices and so I actually took his advice, went into LinkedIn, I followed him on his profile, and then I found a way to send him an inmail and I very rarely do that. I sent him a very nice message saying, you’re the keynote, I’m one of the speakers. I’ve read your book, I would really love to be connected here and I just kind of gave a little blurb, about, you know, what my talk will be about. I didn’t try to sell him or pitch him, and within five minutes, he accepted my request and wrote me a really nice note. So you just never know, and you’ve got to try and find ways to kind of do some work around some time.
So regardless of the size of our network, and how many people are in our community, it’s extremely important to nurture these relationships. How do you best stay in front of or nurture these relationships?
I’m so glad you brought that up because I’ve been doing this now for nearly six years and LinkedIn is really like my platform of choice. Even though I work with the foundational work on personal branding, LinkedIn is my tool of choice. I do not have a lot of connections and that’s totally by design. I’m actually one of those people that truly wants to make connections with people on LinkedIn where I feel like when I’m serving them and connecting with them and nurturing them, that I want to feel like that the circle is not small, but just more intimate. So I’m not one of these people that connects with every single person just to build up my numbers. I care more about my numbers, if you will, on Facebook and Instagram. Even then, I don’t worry about it as much. But on LinkedIn, I really want those connections to be just more intimate and I feel like even though I don’t have multiple thousands of followers, I’ll get there at some point. But I also feel like I’m walking the talk because I teach the people I work with the same thing. You know, don’t just accept an invitation because you want to get your numbers up and there’s a lot of people that are using LinkedIn who are spamming, and I don’t want those people in my network, either.
So let’s talk about building your network. What advice would you offer the business professional who is looking to grow there, there are a number of relationships that they have?
Well, certainly and this is true on every platform and I know you would agree with me 100% on this is you need to have a Service mindset first. So when you are putting out content, you need to think of yourself as an up other LinkedIn is to not think of yourself as a resume, but instead, think of yourself as a resource. When you are positioning yourself from the LinkedIn platform, you need to be seen as a resource. So whatever content you’re putting out, put out everything you know about that topic, whatever world you’re in. Share that stuff, share other people’s content, reshare other’s content as well if something aligns with you, put out videos, put out some of your own promotional stuff, too. But back to that good old fashioned 80-20 rule, 80% service, and 20% of your own stuff, here and there. That’s the best way you’re going to serve your people to build relationships, and then lead to either a connection on LinkedIn, which then may lead to a transaction at some point. But always go into it with wanting to build the relationship and build the network first and nurture it by giving them really great content and serving them.
Let’s go back to your 20-year-old self. What would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regard to your great career?
My 20-year-old self would have been a junior in college. I think I would have told myself to step forward more. At the time that I was 20, I was actually in college in New York City and I’m from Vermont so that was a major culture shock. I was interning at the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, so I was in a pretty cool internship. A lot of the people I had admired from journalists we’re literally walking through the building all the time, and I had to get away from being starstruck and really do the job. But I think I was a little too shy and didn’t speak up enough or ask questions enough. So I think what I would have told myself back then is to lean in, step up, raise your hand, wherever you want to call it. I certainly do that now and that’s why I’ve gotten where I am and doing what I do in my business. I mean, it’s been a major characteristic of what I need to do in my business.
So we’ve all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you would love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
This is going to sound so trite, but I would absolutely love to meet Ellen DeGeneres. I followed her since she was on Carson, like when she was brand new. Actually from the degrees of separation, years ago in the late 90s, I worked at one of our state colleges here in Vermont at Johnson State College and Ellen DeGeneres;, his mother was on a speaking tour, and she came and spoke at our campus. So I met her mother and the reason she was speaking out, was it was at the time that Ellen was coming out as a gay woman. Her mom went around and told the story about how it was hard for her when she first learned but how she came to be very accepting and loving of that. So I always felt like I had this little hint of closeness to maybe someday meeting or and if I ever did, I could say, “Oh, I Met Your Mother.” Not many people could say that, not that her mother would remember who the heck I was.
Do you have any final word or advice offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
You know, I keep it real. I think that’s why that my use of personal story really resonates with people is, I think a lot of people when it comes to LinkedIn, think they just need to show their professional side, and you absolutely do. But also, don’t be afraid to let people peek behind the curtain a little bit and see who you are as a whole person. When you write in your LinkedIn profile, speak and present yourself in the first person in a conversational tone. Some people still using like, the third person, in their bio, speaking about themselves in the third person in their profile. That’s not a way to try to connect with people, you know. Be that on LinkedIn as you would be in real life, so that get the real you so keep it real. You don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty, but be authentic and be relatable.
Connect with Kate:
Kate’s Website: https://www.standingoutonline.com/