Optimizing Virtual Networking, JD Gershbein
JD GERSHBEIN has supported professionals and companies seeking a greater understanding of how LinkedIn works and how they can harness the site’s full potential. He is a pioneer LinkedIn strategist, a widely-acknowledged thought leader, and a dedicated educator who acts as a facilitator of learning and brings the importance of personal branding to bear, especially in COVID-19 times. Drawing upon his background in marketing, psychology, neuroscience, broadcasting, and performance art, JD finds his passion for connecting people to new knowledge and new opportunities.
An early adopter of LinkedIn, JD has grown along with the medium, becoming one of its leading proponents. Transitioning from his traditional marketing practice, he rose to prominence as a LinkedIn profile writer and corporate trainer, before establishing himself as one of the most vivid and exciting personalities on the business speaking circuit. Through his events, writings, teachings, and broadcast media contributions, JD leads by example, inspiring people in all walks of firm striving to make their mark in the Digital Age.
At the B2B Binge event, he shares how one can leverage virtual networking to
1. PIVOTING WITH PURPOSE: The coronavirus crisis has virtualized business, increased stress levels, and imposed new demands on our time and attention. LinkedIn, in combination with Zoom, has become our lifeline. JD is finely attuned to the pain felt by so many who, for whatever reason, cannot extract value from LinkedIn, are stuck on how to tell their story best, or cannot fathom the technology. He continues his commitment to minimizing this pain.
2. LEVERAGING LINKEDIN TO RECLAIM BUSINESS MOMENTUM: Nothing like a global pandemic to derail the plans of businesspeople who had so much on the line and cloud the vision of a bright future. JD offers best-in-class LinkedIn training for companies struggling to execute their strategic plan and keep their teams engaged while working remotely.
3. DESIGNING THE LINKEDIN PROFILE THAT REFLECTS YOU IN THE NEW NOW: As one of the first independent LinkedIn consultants in the world, JD understands what it takes to communicate a value proposition through an online profile. He embraces a design thinking approach to LinkedIn profile writing, which positions his clients for the best possible impression and is engineered with their desired outcomes in mind.
AMA with JD Gershbein
Q- Tips for people who are doing events and the watch in space, how do we reach out to people? How do we promote our events?
Virtual events are starting to take on a couple of different formats. So those are the ones that we go to. And for the last six months, as we tape this here, nearing the end of August 2020, we’ve had almost six months of kind of maneuvering within the online community. Communities to see how these people are doing it. So you’re, you’re going to be in events that are moderated or facilitated by others. You may be wondering how to moderate or facilitate your events, and then there are the smaller groups, the so-called round table, discussions, peer advisories mastermind. These are all very focused conversations around a specific topic or generalized around how we’re dealing with the COVID-19 age. So all sorts of events have all sorts of different brand initiatives and all sorts of follow up stuff. Strategies. The key is that whatever the event you’re attending, be at a group session, a large group session where everybody can see each other or a one-on-one or small group session to stay connected and follow up. The key is truly in the follow-up. So you’ve got to step up and do well, especially when you unmute your microphone and speak and introduce yourself. But following up, take notes of the people who intrigued you in a group setting and reach out to them, correlate that with a view of their LinkedIn profile emails, schedule a zoom call. I think everybody now has some ease scheduler, or if they don’t, they should, you can get a free platform through any, any number of these E calendar links. Make that available to people. Let them look at their calendar cross-reference and get back to you with a date and a time and conduct yourself well in these one-on-ones. People should be interviewing each other in these conversations. It should be right, relaxed. How’s your family? You stay healthy, you wearing the mask, you wash your hands. All of that, but truly we’re coming towards people now as human beings and not sellers do not sell in these online events, you can pitch yourself, and you can promote yourself, artfully and scientifically, but don’t sell. The last thing people need right now is to sell.
Q- How do you look good when you’re doing many networking sessions?
Look, I, I shaved for you. I washed my hair. I just stepped out of the salon. I took pride in my appearance. You know, these are business meetings, folks, and the first few weeks, it might’ve been cool to show up in a hoodie. And for guys, maybe let the beard go for a couple of weeks. If that wasn’t your style or show up in a tee shirt for gosh sakes. But I mean, accessorize yourself, appoint yourself. Well, kind of step up and meet the energy of the meeting. These are now business people. We’ve been doing this long enough to realize that, okay, this is serious. Suppose you’re going to sell products and services if you’re going to sell yourself as an author, speaker, consultant, coach, or value creator or advisor level up. Dress as you would, but he can tell what I’m wearing below my jacket. So, I mean, obviously, and I’m standing up, and I’m presenting, and I’m energized. I have that right blend of waking state and energy and cortisol level and caffeine surging through my veins. I’m ready for this. I cared about this, and I think that’s the big step here, Deb is when you care, it’ll show in your gestures, your expressions, your mannerisms, your overall body language.
Q- How do I present myself better on zoom, even with restricted gadget support?
It requires a little bit of an investment. Yeah. Here folks. So if you’re going to commit to having better virtual meetings, I’m going to tilt my head a little bit so you can see my ring light, my led ring light, my gosh, $40 from best buy folks. Do you think you could swing that? As far as audio goes, I’m with the blue microphone, which is the state of the art plug and play microphone $70 from amazon.com. I mean, I don’t know. So for $110, I feel I look, and I sound good. We dress our sets appropriately behind us. We’re now living in fish, both. So people can see in our homes, which humanizes the experience as well as ideally professionally using the experience. So dress your set, decorate your set, make it interesting, but not too distracting for people so that they’re listening to you. They’re focused on you and not what you have in the background.
Q- How do we get over zoom fatigue?
I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about zoom fatigue. And I love the question, and I’m sure many folks are just waiting with bated breath for my answer. And it’s different for everybody because our brains need much energy to perform, and they need even more energy to perform at maximum capacity and zoom performance. And we can speak about zoom meetings now in terms of performance, how you perform, how you stand and deliver. It takes a lot of energy, and you have to have the nutrition good exercise on a good day. I’m at about 10 to 12, maybe sometimes even more zoom meetings per day, which consists of meetings, which consists of events that I speak at, and which also encompasses all of the one-on-one follow-ups. And I’m, I’m hoping people will want someone on one follow-up with me to see that I truly walk my talk, but the zoom is performance. And when you’re expanding that kind of energy, Yeah, it’s easy to feel it. And the brain does see fatigue and, you start to feel it later in the day, especially if you’re on your fourth or fifth or sixth zoom meeting. I’m hardwired for this. I love it. During the calls, I’m fine, but let’s say at the end of the day, I hit the wall like everybody else. And let’s say I hit my pillow pretty hard at night, too.
Q- What should I focus on initial days of building LinkedIn more followers to my profile, or a sound engagement, all the activities that I am doing?
The quality versus quantity argument is there for us. It pretty much every turn w when it comes to any aspect of LinkedIn quality, will triumph over quantity, any time having the most followers isn’t going to get you any prizes, any merit badges, a he who dies with the most connections does not win. It’s all about it. Quality and everything I’m teaching regarding LinkedIn nowadays to both individuals and companies revolve around building the quality network, the tight-knit cohesive network, where you know, people in it where you can build a center of influence network or a referral Alliance. And rather than have a lot of. People out there floating around in your orbit, who you’re not sure of, or whom you don’t remember connecting with in the first place better to have organic network builds building where you know these folks, and they can refer your business. They can make introductions on your behalf. They’ve read your profile. They’ve re-read your profile, and they know who you are and to whom they can refer you. Uh, when it comes to the profile, uh, obviously you want to take advantage of all the real estate that LinkedIn gives you in terms of character limits and make sure that your core message is articulated very well in the professional headline, in the about section and in your current open experience section and when it comes to followers, It’s great to have followers. It’s a chest-thumping feeling to know that your content is resonating with people, but you know, what size of the audience does it matter? Because you can influence a few people just as much as you can influence a lot. And when you get into that area of being a big-time influencer, it’s a huge responsibility. And there’s some liability there, and there’s some accountability there. So the key is to incrementally work your way into a situation where you’re building numbers. But you’re building good numbers.
Q- How do you would have a conversation and keep it interactive for the audiences and make them come back as you are doing it here?
Well, I’m hoping that I’m just as engaging as hell right now. And that people in our city were ready to get ready to put something in the chatbox saying, JD, I have to have a one on one with you there. There’s no way that I could go on without one and create a consumer craving about yourself. Some so many people phone it in during their virtual meetings, or they put themselves off a video or unmute their microphone. And they’re their non-participants, even though they’re there. And one thing that I encourage at all my virtual events, the ones that I produce is, Hey, I want to see everybody.
I want to see the gallery of faces. I want to see people engage, looking at the screen, making eye contact with their webcam. Their sets are well lit. There, they’re not out of frame. Do you know what I mean? Or they’re, or they’re not sitting like this or, or, you know, or they’re not engaged, or they’re not looking through and checking emails or on their phone texting. I mean, again, engagement is key. We want to know that people are listening to us. I certainly, as a speaker at your event, uh, want to know that people are listening, and I’m going to do my best to make sure they get a good return on their time. And if you’re taking 15, 20, 30 minutes, Zoom calls with people, respect their time as well. Show up, be genuinely interested in what they have. I have to say because if you are, they’ll generally be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Q- What tactics would you implement to generate high conversion leads?
I think we do need to move away from the lead generation mindset and focus on opportunity. Generation lead generation has become quite a predatory sales term these days. And some so many people are leveraging LinkedIn and absolutely. Most undesirable way, they come at you under the guise of wanting to connect with you and build a relationship. Truly all they want to do is sell you a product or service that you don’t want or need. And these days right now, if you’re going to sell a product or service, and I know that there are folks on our call who do sell products and services and need to sell more of them.
Build a relationship. First, don’t come at people with a pitch. Don’t hammer them over the head with how cool you are or how cool your company is, or that you’re the industry leader, uh, really approach them from being fact-finder, uh, put your finger on their pulse, ask them questions that go right to their pain. And if, if you can. Feel that pain. And if your solutions are strong enough to alleviate that pain, then you can start creating the sales moment and merging down that path where you can talk about what you do, right. And people will believe you. And yeah, I believe the strength of your solutions when you get to that point, when you show that you care, I can’t tell you how offensive and intrusive certain sales practices are right now—all these things. People want to do is generate leads. Marketers are coming to people on LinkedIn with the idea of using LinkedIn as a lead generator. We need to move away from the transactional and into the relational and focus on opportunity generation.
Q- What others do’s and don’ts of a virtual networking session?
I mean, you know, when you’re in a networking event like this, now I’m, focused on you. I’m here to deliver. So I hope that what comes back at me afterward, there’ll be some nice words, some good vibes, and everything, but when I’m at a meeting, I’m paying attention to who’s on my screen, and I’m, I have LinkedIn up. And basically, what I do is I minimize my, my zoom screen, and I put it right over my LinkedIn screen so that you can tell I’m making eye contact with the webcam right now, but I’m looking at a little version of you with LinkedIn in the background. So as I see people, and sometimes I’ll even take a picture, a screen capture of all of the people on, at the meeting, and I’ll follow up with them later. I’ll review the profiles. I’ll decide. If there’s someone with whom I’d like to connect and then I’ll send them an invitation, which Is going to be personalized. So if you want to make an impact with people today, personalize every piece of correspondence, but especially the LinkedIn invitation to connect, because it’ll show those folks that you care. Uh, it’ll be a date and a time stamp marker for them. Because if you’ve shared a virtual experience, they may forget who you are in the next. Several months and not remember where they met you or how they connected with you. And by putting that on the invitation to connect, they can archive it later and see, Oh yeah, we met at B2B binge. Okay. I remember now, so you always want to allow people to place you. It’ll help you when you come back and try to achieve top of mindedness down the road.
Q- How do you use virtual networking to get a job?
Job seekers are tasked with being their networkers. Now career advancement, mirrors, business development, and they are also trying to generate opportunities. Mining opportunities from their existing networks are, is the key. And most people. Even before the pandemic was getting to their next role, all of you are positioned through their networks. I’m not sure what the bulletin boards offer on LinkedIn. I think that you’ve got tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people going after the same job, firing off these resumes to besieged, human resources, people, and hiring managers. When, in fact. Networking into companies or, uh, leveraging relationships to gain introductions into companies becomes the key. So you use networking to find out who these folks are, what companies they work at. And if you have a relationship that can get into that company and maybe get your resume kind of move to the top.
Q- How do we go to networking events, boost branding for you, and how can we take leverage of it at this point?
Nobody’s going to forget me here today. That’s how virtual networking works. You show up well, you’ll be remembered and, and if you want to be forgettable. Take yourself off video on mute your mic. Don’t contribute to the conversation. You’ll you won’t build a brand for those people who truly want to stand out who truly want to build a brand. And this is the time to do it. Without question, it means just showing up well at your meetings. I don’t mean to reinforce the notion, but, but it truly does come down to that. Every zoom call treats every zoom you can call as an opportunity to build your brand.
Q- What should be the ideal presentation versus conversation on zoom or any other virtual networking platform?
It depends on how often you’re invited to present, uh, or, or when you speak or when the conversation turns to you. These larger events are only as good as the people facilitating them, and I’m an experienced facilitator. So when I have people at my events, I could ever room of five. I could have a room of 105, and I’m going to try to involve everybody and engage everybody now at the bigger meetings. Many times, you’re not going to get a chance to unmute. You’re going to be there to absorb information and content. Yeah. But that said, at the smaller meetings, especially if the facilitator creates a safe environment where idea exchange can take place as I. And very focused on doing everybody participates. Everybody’s learning. Everybody’s contributing ideas, moving the conversation forward. You don’t want to get off the call. You don’t want to get off the call. So I love those meetings, and I keep my zoom room open for a half-hour an hour. After the event, people are still networking. So networking is just that we are in the virtual world. We can get a pretty good idea based on the technology as to how people look, uh, how they’re engaged with us if they’re making good eye contact with us, uh, what they’re contributing to the chat room. Um, it’s important for people to, uh, to do things in the chat room as I’m doing right now. And that is, it should come as no surprise to people that I have a LinkedIn account. I am putting my LinkedIn profile URL into the chat room. If you’d like to review my profile, you’re always welcome, folks. And if you’d like to connect, I think by now you’ve realized you a better personalizing invitation. Here’s the thing about a summit like this? I mean, We’re in a global pandemic with, with, at this point until further notice. We’re not going anywhere. We’re not meeting people. We’re consigned and confined in the virtual world. Let’s make the most of its businesses getting done. People are pushing forward. More leaders are emerging every day. More people you want to plug into. I’ll have this bubble of time now to, to do some things, to push some projects forward, maybe it’s writing a book or a white paper, maybe it’s to collaborate on a joint venture. People do have immense time now to do this, even though we’re busy. There are new issues there. There are new things to keep track of. And if you’re a young parent raising kids and dealing with virtual learning, if you’re taking care of elderly parents, whatever the case may be, we’ve all got those, those family constraints. But for the most part during the Workday, we’re not commuting. We’re not losing time and traffic jams on the highway systems. We’re at home. What can we do to move the needle in our businesses right now? And I ask that to everybody, whatever it is, do it become proactive and get things.
Q- Family members or pets who are like making guest appearances on your zoom calls, how do you deal with it?
Well, I don’t have to worry about young kids coming in. My kids are grown out of the house and hang with us. Yeah. Now and again, I’ve got an 80-pound golden retriever who kind of senses that I’m on zoom, and it’s important. I was in there, but you know what? It’s okay. I think we’re more laid back and relaxed on a lot of this stuff. I mean, in back in the day, if you were on a business call, a very important conference call and the dog was barking, or the kids were crying, you had to excuse yourself. It was, and you were not looking that is being professional, but you know what? We’re in our element. We’re showing up to meetings and flannel jammies right now. And, and we’re comfortable. We’re relaxed. And you know, what a lot of that stuff has provided the framework for us to do really good business and have great conversations because we’re in, in our element. I mean, it might not be the best environment for you, but, um, for the most part, set yourself up in a great space, a quiet space where you can focus and concentrate, and you feel grounded where you can talk to the webcam as, as it’s your friend and you’ll have great meetings.