Yitzchok (YS) speaks with guest Debra Jasper (DJ), Founder and CEO of Mindset Digital, she works with Fortune 100 leaders around the world to connect in a fast forward world while communicating with clarity and impact in today's virtual age. Debra is one of the top "Winning Women" entrepreneurs in North America.
YS: There are only twelve females that have been selected as winning women entrepreneurs across North America by Ernst & Young. That's quite a category. Share your story.
DJ: That was it in 2018. They select winning women entrepreneurs every year. They are looking for women who are running companies that are really scalable and likely to have large success. So, it was a tremendous honor to get that award. And actually, I got to go to Monaco and meet the top five hundred entrepreneurs in the world. We need more women in the entrepreneurial space. So, I'm always trying to help other women start their own companies and do cool things out there, because there's a lot of space for more females in the business world.
YS: Now let's move on to Mindset Digital. Tell us the back story. How did you get into this work?
DJ: I was teaching at Ohio State, my Ph.D. I wrote my dissertation on the art of powerful micro storytelling. We launched the first social media fellowship for journalists in the world. We were working with CNN and 60 Minutes, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. And a lot of businesses started coming to us and saying, we love how you're teaching them to communicate and how everything has to be short, organized, and skimmable, and businesses said, can you do that for us? So, my business partner and I looked at each other and said, Why, yes, we can. And we left our teaching jobs and we launched Mindset Digital a decade ago. We've now trained people around the world. I've worked with Ukrainian Council of Ministers. I've worked in Dubai. It's been an amazing journey because who isn't trying to figure out how to break through the noise and get attention these days and get their clients to tune in.
YS: Perhaps you could explain the power of story. Why is storytelling so critical for any executive in a company to master?
DJ: Here's what we're up against right now that is so intense. Our clients have always been distracted, really short attention spans. We know that. Here's the added layer, the big challenge now is that they're not just distracted they are also distant. We're communicating on small screens and we're distressed. There's brain science behind, how do you get people to tune in when we have so much coming at us every day between Covid and the election and the Supreme Court battles. Just so much coming at us every day. And we're all trying to stay in business and get our clients to listen to us and act on what we're telling them. So, we have to communicate with tremendous clarity and impact, if we have any hope that we're going to drive action and faster responses.
YS: Why is it so important to have an online presence, especially on LinkedIn?
DJ: Because people are looking you up every day and making a decision about whether you are old school or you are savvy. We are judging each other online these days because we're not meeting in person nearly as much. And too often people make the mistake of thinking, oh, you just put up a resume that is not building relationships. Your online presence has to tell the powerful story of you. You're either driving business with your online presence or your driving business away. You may not even know, I may look you up and say, you know what, I don't want to talk to you and never take that call. Or I may look you up and say, wow, I should bring three more people into this call. So, it's an important part of doing business today.
YS: What should your mindset be when creating or posting on your LinkedIn profile?
DJ: It's not what you love. It's not what you do. It's what you love about what you do for your clients. So that really gets you focused on the reader and not you.
YS: Debra, what are the most important parts of a LinkedIn profile that a person should ensure is done properly?
DJ: Number one is visual because, of course, most of the information we take in, we take in visually. So, you have to have a professional photo, but you don't want a stuffy one. You don't want kind of that old school corporate photo, especially these days. We say casual does not mean careless, but it does mean a little friendlier and a little less stuffy. In fact, I just changed my photo, because I think in this new world, we're moving into a whole lot less of that kind of old school photo. You want to have a great visual background. You need your summary section to truly be a mini magazine bio. You need to think about your search engine optimization words, because especially if you have a common name and people look you up, maybe six of those are going to come up and you want to come up first, and then you want to think through how you make all of it more skimmable so it's easy for people to read and easy for people to take in. Which sounds a little overwhelming, but those are the critical things.
YS: What are the biggest mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn?
DJ: You say LinkedIn and some people think, well, it's just one social channel, but they have a lot of search engine optimization. So, it will be one of the first things that comes up online. I think of it as more than just your online presence. In a world of social distancing, everyone is doing more to look you up online long before they meet with you or even after they talk with you. One of the big mistakes is not staying engaged. So, let's say that I've looked you up online, when I link into you, I should not use the default. If I can't take five minutes to say I so enjoyed being on your radio show, then why should you connect with me? We should take 15 seconds to write a personal note about how do I know you, or did I hear you on the radio, or did I love your webinar, or your training session… some personal connection. So not doing the default is a big important point. Secondly, don't listen to everyone. And here's why. If you link into me and you're just going to spam me and I accept that, then that person may link into someone else that I know. And they'll say, oh, Debra linked into them. So, I'm loaning them my credibility. So you want to link into people you know or people that you definitely know you want to know, but not everyone. And it is fine if you do link into me and then you spam me, I can unfollow you or disconnect from you and you don't get notified.
YS: What is LinkedIn’s social selling index? What is that goal? Because people should really know the before and after. What happens before they engage with Mindset Digital and where they'll be afterwards.
DJ: So, LinkedIn has something called the social selling index. I actually don't like the name because I think it should be called the Social Influencer Index, because it's more measuring your influence. So, it's measuring, do you have a robust network, how often are you engaging with insights? They don't completely tell you the secret to the algorithm. Google “the social selling index and LinkedIn” put your name in, and it will give you a score. And on average, we see people in finance, their score is like 18. The scores can be pretty low. You want to have a score of at least in the 50s, ideally, it'll be higher than that.
YS: Once someone has built up their network, they perfected their profile and they're all set. What should be done along the way to ensure that they are keeping their score high? I guess my question really is more about the content. What are some of the content creation that is critical for a person to maintain on their LinkedIn page?
DJ: Part of it is the thought leadership, it's engaging with insights. So, it's spending a little bit more time, not just liking something, but actually, commenting. And when you comment, tell me why you liked something. I commented the other day, someone had said something about how they get so tired of seeing those 40 under 40 lists. And I commented, yes, I'd love to see a 50 over 50 list and a 60 over 60 list, you know, because there's a lot of us, over 50, including me, that are still doing cool work. I have more than 43 comments on that and tons of people have engaged and so many people have reached out to me and said, “Debra, I love this post. Let's link in. We should talk.” I posted about this work we're doing with physicians. We do a lot of physician LinkedIn makeovers. I want to say this isn't just for business leaders. Doctors are thinking about their profiles. Executives in hospitals are thinking about their profiles. And I was commenting on this and I had a CMO (chief marketing officer) at a major health care organization link into me and say, I didn't know you were doing this, and we should meet. And so, what's wonderful about that is it's much better when people reach out to you and say, I'd love to meet with you, than you desperately trying to get the meeting. This goes into when you post really thoughtful content, people think you're thoughtful and they want to do business with savvy business leaders. So, this is your opportunity to showcase a lot of what you do. Having said that, though, I was coaching another guy the other day who was running kind of academic white papers. This is not the space for that. These blog posts, the good news for all of us is they can be short, organized and skimmable and a lot more friendly. You should write like you talk, not like you text, but like you talk. And that can make them a lot more powerful.
YS: Debra, could you discuss how important it is or is it important at all for one to try to get video content on their LinkedIn page?
DJ: Yes, sure. We definitely work with you on visual assets. I have a five-minute keynote speaker reel. And when people come to decide whether to hire me as a keynote speaker, they can watch that. People don't even recognize that you can do this. So I think business leaders out there, if you have recruiting video, or you have a video describing your business, or you gave a recent talk and you have that video, you can post all of that. Our brains are wired for visual content and we're more likely to watch that. So, it's absolutely important to think about that visual. Overall, 70 percent of the information we take in, we take in through our eyes. So, you want to make sure your photo, your videos, your visual background, all of that really hangs together and is impressive.