M&C Saatchi, Love, Bonito & Kepios on how to use LinkedIn for connections and business

The aim of the list is to shine a light on business leaders that are using social media to assert themselves as opinion leaders.

LinkedIn published its 2018 Power Profiles list in Singapore in August, with its Marketing Power Profiles list consisting of marketers from both traditional and disruptive businesses.

The aim of the list is to shine a light on business leaders that are using social media to assert themselves as opinion leaders, adding their voice and expertise to the wider community.

Notable names like Dione Song, chief commercial officer at Love, Bonito and Avtar Ram Singh, head of strategy at Falcon Agency made the list again this year, while new entrants include Kabeer Chaudhary, managing partner for Asia Pacific at M&C Saatchi Perforamance and Simon Kemp, founder and chief executive officer at Kepios.

Song, Chaudhary and Kemp sat down with The Drum to share lessons on how they are making the platform work for them, as well as what professional success means to them, how LinkedIn can keep marketing relevant and be a brand’s secret weapon, and how engagement and networking on the LinkedIn platform has led to opportunities.

Professional success

For Kemp, professional success is about reputation and business growth, which theoretically go hand in hand. That is why, to him, LinkedIn is a good way to get conversations started.

“Conversation on LinkedIn can go in lots of different directions depending on how you want to nurture them and build them,’ he explains. “You can use content to inspire a conversation to start but the conversation depends on where your audience wants to take it.”

The former managing director of We Are Social Singapore also points out that a lot of the frustrations that marketers face in day to day life are helping clients to understand a lot of the basics of marketing, whether it is digital or any other kind of marketing.

“It is good to be able to put content out there on a regular basis that helps people get past those basic questions. The inspiration to guide them towards better activities. You're not investing so much time in your day to day to get them to a base level, I suppose. I find that one of the most rewarding things,” he adds.

Sharing Kemp’s sentiments, Song adds: “Professional success is about building a legacy, a corporation, and a team - building something that truly matters. When it comes to my team especially, this means developing talent and enabling everyone to discover their strengths and maximise their potential to become independent, inspiring, collaborative and nurturing leaders in their own right,”

Chaudhary, on the other hand, has a different view. To him, professional success is how one empowers people around their team, the people that they work with and their connections on LinkedIn. He believes that by doing this, they can get something back from these people at some point in time.

“Empowerment really engages me in terms of professional success and that is something that I try to do as well. Obviously business growth is something which is directly attached with professional success,” he explains.

“That’s something which I clearly have been able to see through LinkedIn as well because the platform has created a lot of engagement for us. A lot of conversations and a lot of openings which actually creates a great place for dialogue.”

On the other hand, he observes that for some people, it is always ‘just about me and my success’. “I think as a community, if you actually` look at it, if you empower people, it actually gets back to you. It's kind of karmic. I really believe in that,” he adds.

How engagement and networking on the LinkedIn platform has led to opportunities

Chaudhary speaks from experience about empowerment, as he reveals that seven years ago when he had just completed his MBA at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, he had contacted Kemp, who was still at We Are Social, on LinkedIn because he wanted to learn how to enter the marketing industry.

“I wrote to him, and I was like, "Hey, are you looking out for someone new?" He gave me very good feedback, saying "Hey, we're not looking for anyone, but why don't you come. We have this social night thing at We Are Social, come out and have drinks with us. We will talk, and you will learn about the industry,” recalls Chaudhary.

While Chaudhary was unable to make it for the event, he was impressed with how Kemp readily talked to complete strangers on the platform. “When we talk about empowerment, I picked up a little bit from Kemp there. There's this guy who's running this big company and he's allowing me to join his network and say, "Hey, let's have a conversation.”, he adds.

Even though Kemp has forgotten about the exchange he had with Chaudhary, he says it was a natural reaction from him as one is supposed to be on LinkedIn engaging with people, adding that "if you don't want to do it, you shouldn't be on the platform".

“One of the bits that I find most rewarding about it is, that you can connect with people who are in a position, whether they're starting their career or whether they're making a change,” the Englishman adds.

Kemp then gives an example of how a lady contacted him on LinkedIn out of the blue from South Africa, asking him for advice on taking the plunge to start her own agency after spending 12 years on the client side. She had been following the content that he had been publishing for a while and knew that he used to run an agency.

“She said, 'Have you got any advice?' I thought, 'It's just fascinating. There's this lady in South Africa, who we do not necessarily have a conversation, but we are sharing things on a regular basis.' It is not like if she was a client in South Africa, where she could go, 'I'll fly you over. Let's have an hour-long coffee' and then you can disappear again,” he explains.

“You know it was a Sunday night and I was watching something that was not really engaging me on TV and so I'm like, 'Here's some tips.' And we ended up having quite a nice conversation backwards and forwards. And she was like, 'I find it really interesting this.' And, I was like, 'What is it like in South Africa?' And you wind up realising that suddenly you have made a connection with an individual. Whereas, some of the time you go to a conference, you have got these people who are sitting there taking pictures of your slides, but you never get that interaction with them in the way that you can on a LinkedIn.”

Kemp adds that it is moments like these that make the magic and while it is nice to get a thousand likes on a post, when somebody connects with you, you get that human benefit back. “That is where you are going to say 'that is what I do this for'."

How LinkedIn can keep marketing relevant and be a brand’s secret weapon

According to Chaudhary, he gets a lot of questions about how he keeps his personal brand and his agency’s brand on LinkedIn separate. He believes that the best way to start is giving opinions that engage and start a dialogue.

“Imagine that you have been given a stage, which is LinkedIn, in front of your entire professional network, which is thousands of people and even beyond that. Your whole industry is there. Now, what would you like to say to them? What information would you want to give to them? You want to share a picture of your cute dog? Do you want to share a mathematical quiz which says 11 + 11 is equal to 4 and 12 + 12 is equal to 6?” he says.

Having an opinion for yourself, which also represents the brand, is great because that is how you differentiate yourself from the others, adds Chaudhary.

“It is important for us as a business-to-business agency to be able to create a dialogue. Be it a partner or a vendor, or the client, you are actually creating a dialogue where you are inviting similar, like-minded people to get in touch with you,” he explains. “It could be a client who gets in touch with you because they think your thinking is aligned with them.”

“Or it could be a business that wants to partner with us and create better marketing strategies for our clients.”

Reiterating on his earlier point on empowerment, Chaudhary says he genuinely feels that when he dishes out information and knowledge about the industry without thinking of the return, he can network with them.

At the same time, he adds that when putting content on LinkedIn, one should always be ready to receive feedback, as that is the only way to get better.

“You can say, 'Hey, this worked, this did not work. I probably need to put it out there in a certain way'. It is always test and learn. If you are like, 'I'm the managing director' and you close yourself, with a fixed mindset, that doesn't really work,” explains Chaudhary.

“If you also close yourself and say, 'This is my opinion and I am the head of whatever', and you put it out there, be prepared to get a lot of shitty trolls on LinkedIn who go after you for no reason.”

For Kemp, he has discovered through LinkedIn that both his personal and agency brand is a consequence of everything that he does, so he tends to sit down and adjust a lot of beautiful ideas of what a brand represents, its positioning and its values.

“In reality, when you sit down day to day, and you have conversations with your audience and you're putting things out there, the things that they reflect back is what your brand actually is. And you can choose to either change that conversation if you don't like what you see, or you can change what you think you're representing to match what's having the greatest value,” he explains.

“I send stuff out into the world of LinkedIn and when it comes back, I go 'I much prefer that version of my brand than what I imagined it to be'. Because it is as much about your personality and your character as an individual, as well as your company. Well, it's not like you're a big corporate and you're standing up and speaking to the stock exchange. That's not really the way this thing works.”

Social networking in general, whether on LinkedIn or anywhere else, really enables word-of-mouth through digital channels as it adds a layer of public dialogue and conversation to advertising, and fosters transparency, which is crucial in allowing consumers to get a more balanced and informed perspective, concludes Song.

"A brand that’s able to master this would be able to win consumers through its own engaged consumer base and their sentiments and word-of-mouth, meaning not only free marketing but also one with a strong and positive ripple effect," she explains.

To see the full list of 2018 Power Profiles for Singapore, click here.

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