Julie Livingston of WantLeverage Communications On How to Use LinkedIn to Dramatically Improve Your Business
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Livingston.
Julie Livingston is president, WantLeverage Communications, a New York City-based public relations and integrated marketing consultancy. She specializes in elevating “under the radar” C-suite leaders and companies, raising their public profile, promoting their thought leadership and competitive advantage. A LinkedIn content strategist, she helps C-Suite leaders to amplify their brand messages, increase followers and deepen audience engagement.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve worked in the fields of public relations and marketing for more than 30 years, including strategic communications planning, placing executives in the news, content development, securing strategic partnerships and speaking engagements in a variety of industries. My corporate experience includes staff positions for Fortune 500 companies — Liz Claiborne, Scholastic — as well as for smaller, entrepreneurial enterprises in consumer products, technology, healthcare, associations and education marketing. I’ve always been inclined toward entrepreneurship and launched WantLeverage Communications in 2014, a full service PR and integrated marketing consultancy specializing in elevating “under the radar” C-suite executives and companies. Early on, I immersed myself in social media and specifically, LinkedIn, as I saw how fast it was developing into an important business networking and business development platform. Almost immediately after I started posting PR and marketing content regularly, I shared stories of my work and experiences as an entrepreneur. People commented on the quality of my posts and how the value I delivered, that my content was having a direct impact on their marketing choices.
Leveraging the power of LinkedIn has attracted clients to my PR and marketing consulting business, and now I’m helping C-suite leaders and companies on this vital social media platform- to deepen engagement with their key stakeholders through strategic communications and relationship building. Today, social media platforms such as LinkedIn provide a rich opportunity to tell one’s brand story using real time messaging. LinkedIn is another valuable resource in my ever expanding PR and integrated marketing toolbox, along with media and content placement and social media, forming strategic partnerships and more, on which to build one’s personal or company reputation.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
In 2010, I was developing programs for social influencers and had to jumpstart my knowledge and fluency in social media. It was exciting but also overwhelming and I kept getting tripped up, by the nuances of each platform, especially on Twitter. At the time, I was a volunteer leader for New York Women in Communications, a professional organization and was leading a committee of young professionals and mid-career women. I approached one of the younger women and asked her if she’d consider mentoring me on Twitter. She smiled and asked “Me, mentor you?” alluding to my senior level experience. “What can I possibly teach you?” I assured her that we could learn from each other, that our experience levels didn’t matter.
It was our openness to learning and sharing We created a reverse mentoring relationship, where she mentored me in social media and I mentored her about finding the right career path. When we started, we’d meet at her office where I would learn the ins and outs of Twitter by looking over her shoulder. It was mutually beneficial — we enjoyed helping and learning from one another, and realized that our age or professional status didn’t matter. Later, I introduced a more formal reverse mentoring program to New York Women In Communications and later spoke about the benefits on Fox News.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was posting on LinkedIn for a client and thought I had signed out of her account. Unfortunately, I didn’t double check that I signed out. It turned out that I inadvertently posted a lengthy comment on her as her, and not me! Soonafter, she sent me a text message asking, “Did you just comment on my LinkedIn account as me, because it sounds as if I’m complimenting myself” It was embarrassing but also comical, and we both laughed about it.
After that experience, I learned to slow down and check things twice after each step in the content posting process. The nature of social media is to provide short, bite size commentary. Slowing down my process helps to ensure that a) I’m in the right account, b) that the layout and spacing of each post is correct and easily scannable (the reason I use bullet points), c) that there is a “call to action” message at the end to encourage audience engagement, and d) that the hashtags used are highly followed.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
There’s no question that LinkedIn, which now has almost 740 million users, including 55 million registered companies, is the go-to social media platform on which to increase valuable business contacts, connections and build relationships with key audiences.
As a public relations and marketing professional, I recommend LinkedIn as a primary platform on which my clients should raise their visibility and build their thought leadership so they get noticed and engaged by potential clients, strategic partners, job talent and journalists who are looking for sources and subject matter experts. This is particularly critical for C-suite executives, as they are “the” brand ambassadors who must lead the way for a company’s digital transformation and digital presence.
Leveraging my PR and marketing experience, I manage the LinkedIn strategy and content for a number of C-suite executives. After working with one CEO at a management consulting firm for a year, I’ve watched her engagement and views steadily rise. To date, there have been numerous positive business outcomes, including contact made by a colleague with whom the CEO hadn’t spoken to in a decade. Reading the CEO’s regular postings reignited that relationship. After seeing my client’s content on topics that matter to her business, she reached out to schedule a meeting. In fact, her company was grappling with an issue similar to one described in a LinkedIn post I composed. This resulted in an initial six figure contract for my client’s company.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
If you want to improve your business and raise your professional or company visibility in the marketplace, LinkedIn is the ideal platform on which to tell your brand story, attract new followers and build relationships. Although it may not instantly affect the bottom line, like other sales oriented social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, the more active you are on LinkedIn, the more successful you will be in generating new business leads and promoting your competitive advantage over time. From my extensive experience on the platform, here are 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically build your business:
- Promote Products, Services: Because you can create and control the content and messaging, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful marketing platform on which you can promote key brand messages. For the VP at a consulting firm who leads a new practice area, we’ve been developing content that illustrates the benefits of a new service offering. We’ve crafted this narrative in a very easy to read, bullet pointed format, using clever graphics and hashtags so target customers can locate the content. Using a tone that is casual and approachable, we cite real problems and challenges that companies face in their daily work and how they can be addressed and solved.
A few weeks in, my client was contacted by a colleague in his network who wrote, “I didn’t realize that you offered this service, and that’s just what our company is in need of right now.” They are currently negotiating a contract.
- Attract New Talent During The Great Resignation: Organizations are only as good as their people. With The Great Resignation raging on, and the ability of employees to work from anywhere, US employers continue to face a highly competitive talent pool. When it comes to job posting or job search, LinkedIn is the place to be. It’s estimated that at any one time there are 15 million job openings advertised and 49 million individuals use the platform to search for jobs each week(source:LinkedIn).That’s why I encourage clients to share stories about their unique company culture, employee satisfaction, and team collaboration on a regular basis. One of my clients, a technology CEO, does this consistently, sharing stories about employee benefits and perks, snapshots which illustrate the company’s progressive culture and why it’s actually a fun and satisfying place to work. This stream of content has helped to brand herself as a culture maven. She not only sends LinkedIn In mails to prospective employees and contractors but has a steady stream of interested individuals reaching out to her.
- Elevate Thought Leadership: Experienced leaders have a unique opportunity to promote their thought leadership on LinkedIn by posting and publishing articles. This establishes you as a subject matter or industry expert and reinforces your organization’s competitive advantage. Your brand or company name becomes more well-regarded and remembered. Once your perspectives on industry issues are noticed by a bigger audience, there’s the potential they will unleash a slew of additional marketing opportunities. A client, the CEO of an investment house, was contacted more than once to appear as a guest on multiple podcasts and be featured in articles because of his compelling thought leadership. This led to potential clients reaching out to his company for representation.
- Generate New Business Leads: LinkedIn has a variety of worthwhile service upgrades that are enormously helpful in identifying new business leads and building out one’s database. I use Sales Navigator which allows you to find the names of key decision makers at prospect companies. It’s literally like opening a vault of insights and information. Being able to search by title such as Chief Executive Officer or Chief Marketing Officer is a huge time saver and has allowed me to increase the number of qualified new business leads with whom I stay in touch by publishing LinkedIn articles and sending InMail.
- Exponentially Grow Your Network: The amazing thing about developing a solid presence on LinkedIn is that it makes it easy to expand your business network. I’ve met so many individuals outside of my sphere because they’ve commented on my posts or I’ve identified them as a qualified lead and started a conversation via the Inmail feature, which allows for experimentation in fostering new contacts. I’m proud that in working the platform over time, I’ve built a strong following — people who opt in to follow my posts — as well as connections -contacts with whom I have a 1st degree connection to. Interestingly, when I started my PR and marketing consultancy, I was focused on consumer products, but after diving in and using LinkedIn, I was able to branch out in other more lucrative areas.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement, I’d start a foundation that would educate young people about financial independence and online entrepreneurship. Teaching young people about managing their money and finances from an early age, and mentoring them to set up online businesses. would provide them with confidence, resources and the foundation for success later in life. I’d love to see that happen.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
If I had my wish, I’d love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Brené Brown, the noted research professor, lecturer and author. I’m consistently drawn to her content and motivated by her incredible insights and wisdom about people and organizational behavior.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!