Tips to Stand Out for Over 50’s on LinkedIn

Episode Overview

There is a powerful group on LinkedIn that have a wealth of experience and knowledge from within their industry. Yet they didn’t have the benefit of growing up a digital native. For those that go it alone as a consultant, it can make you doubt your expertise in an online world where everyone seems to know what they are doing. For others, it will play out as managing a team of various generations.

Host Michelle J Raymond discusses how over 50’s can capitalise on their experience and shine on LinkedIn with this week’s guest Zoe Bermant CEO at ZoecialMedia.

  • Evolution of LinkedIn from early 2000’s to now
  • Overcoming the fear of not knowing what to do on LinkedIn
  • Age as an advantage for thought leadership on LinkedIn
  • Content targeted at Over 50’s audience
  • Managing teams of Gen Z – Zoe’s best tips


Good for Business Show Podcast Episode

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Good for Business Show Full Transcript

Michelle J Raymond: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Good for Business Show. I’m your host, Michelle J. Raymond, Founder of Good Trading Co. All round LinkedIn expert and very excited to be here with you. I’m going to give you my thoughts on what I think is really different about LinkedIn for the over fifties.

I did a bit of research to see what the stats are about the demographics on LinkedIn and I didn’t expect this. Over 60% of LinkedIn fit in the category between 25 and 34. If we go up to the other end 50 plus, it worked out roughly around 5 to 10%. So not a lot, but does that mean it’s not important? Absolutely not. If we’re looking at numbers of 830 million people on LinkedIn that is crazy amount of people that we’re talking about today. So if you are under 50, thanks for joining in the conversation. I fall under that category. I’m a grand total of 46. So almost there. Got a little way to go yet.

If you’re over 50, I’d love to hear about your [00:01:00] experiences on social media in general, LinkedIn particularly. How have you found it? Is it something that you find is a challenge? Is it something that it’s no big deal, Michelle, I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation. So let me know what you think.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn for a minute. LinkedIn turned 19 this year, in March. It’s been around for almost 20 years. It’s one of the oldest social media platforms, so it’s not hip and cool and trendy. Jim Woolfe, I know you’re listening , you’re a big fan of TIkTok. It seems to be what all the cool kids are doing and 50 plus can do it as well.

LinkedIn started off so basic and I’ve seen a couple of the old screenshots. It was almost just like a place that you could put your resume up. What year did you start on LinkedIn? So for me personally, it wasn’t 19 years ago. Mine only eight years ago, so a baby in the big scheme of the world .

Let’s go back 20 years around the two thousands, my experience back [00:02:00] then was more chat rooms. I thought it was the most incredible thing in the world that I could sit in my bedroom and dial up on the internet and don’t talk on the phone at the same time, and mortgage your house to be able to afford the internet.

You would get into these chat rooms and you’d be able to talk to people type, type, type all over the world. For me, it just opened up my universe and I remember talking to a person that was in Florida, other side of the world. My head was like, there is no way in my lifetime, I’m ever even going to travel out of Australia.

Now I sit here most days and talk to Michelle Griffin, who’s in Florida, my LinkedIn bestie, my power partner, and we help each other’s business grow. It’s really just incredible. The power of the internet. We moved on to MySpace, anyone else joined in MySpace? Travis Lachner, if you’re on the replay, I know you were a huge fan. It was back in our hey day. But what social media platform did you join in on? Was it [00:03:00] LinkedIn? Was it Facebook? Half the planet pretty much has used Facebook.

It’s been an evolution on LinkedIn. We’ve seen the platform move from a very basic, host your resume, to all kinds of ways that our LinkedIn profiles now are just amazing tools, to really build our personal brands.

And of course, we’re not going to forget the company brand, are we? From that perspective, we’ve got Company Pages, we’ve got Sales Navigator, we’ve got LinkedIn Recruiter. How many of these tools do we have available to us? One of the things that I like in my business is, I have a soft spot for people over 50, who doubt themselves on LinkedIn.

Here’s what happens, right? So they’ve had a career of, let’s say 20 to 30 years give or take, I’m rounding things up and down as I go. It’s my show, I can do that, right? So what actually happens is they jump onto LinkedIn because, you know it’s the number one professional platform, B2B platform and someone said to [00:04:00] you, you really need to be on LinkedIn. Great idea. But then you got on there and you looked around and then all of a sudden, everyone just seemed to know what they were doing. And then all of that life experience, all of that expertise just went. You threw it out the window, right?

This is what we want to talk to today, and I’m really excited to have this conversation. Zoe has just joined me. I’ve asked everybody to tell us where in the social media sphere did they join us? So for me, I’m back at chat rooms. So back in the late nineties, early two thousands sitting in my bedroom, chatting away. Where did your experience of social media kick in and then we’ll jump in and introduce you after that?

Zoe Bermant: I think also what was it called? MSL, MSQ. I can’t even remember what they were called anymore. It was that long ago, but yeah, chat rooms as well.

Michelle J Raymond: Can you just share with people who haven’t come across you and your team? Who are you, what do you do and how do you help businesses?

Zoe Bermant: I’m Zoe. I’m [00:05:00] the owner of Zoecial Media. We’re an agency that works with, mainly B2B tech companies, helping them with growing their businesses.

We also work with executives, a lot of executives, like 90 executives on their personal brand. Which is like executive thought leadership. People to people social media is the future of social media.

Michelle J Raymond: Yeah, exactly. So those executives, they’ve had a pretty, I would imagine, stellar career in most cases. Do you find that they actually doubt themselves when it comes to social media?

Zoe Bermant: I think the ones we work with, they start to get into it, but they’re just scared to share themselves. I always joke telling your personal story, isn’t telling everyone you’ve got an ingrown toenail. It’s sharing your expertise and sharing your experience and your story. But they get so shy. We even had one executive, he was very senior in a very big company, like 25,000 employees. He was the head of technology and he did not want to share [00:06:00] anything personal about himself. Eventually after a year and a half of banging away at him, he finally he’s like, is that okay? It was parent’s day or father’s day, I can’t remember and he shared a post that started, “this is not a technical post”. That’s the opening sentence of his post. He had to lay it out there. This is not going to be a technical post. Interestingly, they get very nervous.

Michelle J Raymond: Yeah and you think about it like you said, are running huge corporations have been extremely successful, probably present in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people in their day-to-day life, but jump onto a place like LinkedIn and all of that confidence seems to go out of the window. I see it all the time. For me, it’s women over 50, especially is how I come across that. They set up their consultancy business and are industry experts, and really highly regarded in their industry. Put them onto LinkedIn and ask them to share that and out the window it goes. What can someone do to overcome this fear?

Zoe Bermant: So it’s funny, [00:07:00] cause I think we know this with anything, that data drives decisions. So with someone like, that tech CTO, when he shared that post without a doubt was his most successful post.

I think it had something like 2 million views and he was blown away. So it became a matter of, okay, so what can I say next? I think it’s about finding one subject or one topic that they’re that little bit more comfortable with, getting it out there and when the data comes in and they suddenly, ping, they see, and it can be something as simple as sharing a picture of their team or, talking about, I think with one female executive, exactly as you said, it was about visiting India and teams in India and it was during Corona, so she talked about, just wishing everybody well. That post also did really, really, really well. It makes sense, people relate to people. So if you can get them to draw that little bit out of themselves, that first [00:08:00] time. Let the data talk for itself, the rest comes quite easily after that. That’s what we’ve found.

Michelle J Raymond: Is it really the first one, is the first one worst and it gets better from there? Or does it go away with practice?

Zoe Bermant: It goes away with practice, I think. But I think that with anything on social media. Like the companies who want you to be funny and they want memes, and you spend hours thinking, how can we be funny here?

And then you put it out and it just doesn’t go anywhere. And then they’re like, oh, okay, let’s try it again. So you do it again and then you do it again and then after a while they’re like, okay, that was a lot of effort and it didn’t get you anyway, let’s go back to what we were doing before.

Michelle J Raymond: Do they try and copy someone else is that where it falls over? Is it, I want to be like Gong or I want to be like insert whichever cool kids, that are rocking their personal brands. Is it? Oh, that’s working really well. I want to copy that and it’s not like them or aligned to them. Is that why it falls over? [00:09:00]

Zoe Bermant: Yeah and it’s funny, it’s normally the CEO who’s like, I want to be Gong. I don’t know if you guys know the CEO of Gong, he’s over 50. He’s so cool, but not everybody can be that. And also, they are marketing to marketers and salespeople. This is a totally different audience and you get these B2B tech CEOs who go, I want to be like Gong, But what they’re not understanding is they themselves are not Gongish. They’re nothing like the CEO of Gong, so it’s very, very difficult to do.

Michelle J Raymond: Yeah, and I call it, you’ve got to create your digital twin. If there’s a Michelle J Raymond offline, and then I try and be something else online, it’s draining. I avoid it like the plague and it just doesn’t even feel like it’s fun, it doesn’t resonate with anyone that knows me. Who is this? Can the real Michelle J. Raymond, please stand up?

This is what I say to people, the more that you just be you, there is no other you on [00:10:00] LinkedIn, just bring that to the table. That’s why you’re successful offline. We’re not asking people to be a LinkedIn version of themselves is the words that I often use. And I’m sure you probably bang your head against the wall with some of your clients sometimes going, just be you. It’s such simple advice, but it’s actually what works. But is age an advantage or a barrier for becoming a thought leader on LinkedIn, do you think?

Zoe Bermant: I actually find it to be a barrier. The reluctance level is much higher, the older the person is, but I think it’s like that. Some of our executives, as you say, they’ve got years of experience. They’ve run technology companies. They’ve raised millions, sometimes more than millions of dollars and then you say, we need you to embrace social media and it’s like, I don’t know. I think it’s because they don’t understand it. So what we do is we take people through a training [00:11:00] of what happens on LinkedIn, like what actually happens, how does the content get into your feed? And it’s really amazing. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that when you go into your feed, normally your first three posts there, one will be a first connection, the next one’s a promoted post and the next two or three, you’ll find something that’s a second connection, but someone you’re connected to has liked or commented. And you’re saying, oh, look, that’s appearing there because you’re connected to this person and they liked it. So if you think about the people you’re connected to you think the people that you, that work with you are connected to. If you’re all engaging and liking, that’s how your content is showing up.

Now, if you want to be top of mind, share a voice, different people use different terminologies. If you want your company to be out there, then you need to start engaging. So we take them through this very logical, step by step of how LinkedIn is actually working and they go, “Ah, [00:12:00] that makes sense.” I can start to see if I’m connected to the right people, and all my employees are connected to the right people. We’re all engaging with each other’s content. You’re not just putting up a company webinar and you’re putting up the company white paper, but you’re actually talking about value and pain and you’re getting into the people that you’re talking to’s head. I say this is where we come in. We come and help you with that. Then they start to understand it. At first, they’re like, okay, let’s try, let’s go in. We’ll try it, we’ll do it two or three weeks but they start to see results really, really quickly. As I say, data drives decision. That makes the difference.

Michelle J Raymond: Another Zoeism that you can add on to one of your coffee mugs.

Zoe Bermant: Yeah, I totally, I was just sitting there thinking I need a mug for that.

Michelle J Raymond: Absolutely, and did you notice, I haven’t used the word that you don’t like the most in this conversation so far? I will use awesome in this conversation just for you, but I think you gave me a leave pass because I’m Australian.

Zoe Bermant: [00:13:00] Australian is totally okay. It’s when Americans say, awesome. That’s when I have a problem.

Michelle J Raymond: I love it. I agree with you, training is such an obvious answer to fear because there’s so much assumed knowledge, unwritten rules, things that happen on LinkedIn, that you can make small adjustments for big impacts.

LinkedIn isn’t complicated, when you get the basics right. Like you said, just have conversations. Everything is just about how do I have a conversation with someone? It could be a post. Might not be. Could be a comment. Could be a direct message. There’s all kinds of ways that we can have conversations, but I’ve found even recently, the more that people invest in training, it’s like, this weight comes off the light bulbs, go on and then it’s like, oh, is that all I’ve got to do? Oh, so now I can focus on what I need to and not get overwhelmed by, a new feature, new feature, algorithm, new feature, algorithm, which is what the [00:14:00] noise on the platform sometimes is. So for me, I think training’s the answer for confidence, and it can be done in a few hours. Someone like myself can step people through and actually go “Hey, this is all that’s going on here” and take away the mystery.

Zoe Bermant: One of the things we do, one of the tricks is to say, okay, listen, social media is unknown and it’s overwhelming, there’s no doubt, but pick five people, 10 people that you really need to be visible to and let’s just engage with those people. Do it for two weeks, look at their profiles, comment on their content, like things, get visible to those 10 people .

If you make it into a bite-sized chunk, that’s something that people can embrace, because then they don’t think I’m going to go in there and I’m going to get swallowed up in 10 hours of what am I doing on LinkedIn? For example, we worked with an IOT manufacturing, technology company [00:15:00] and they told us very specifically, we are in negotiations with Formula 1. So I’m like, give me the names of the executives that you’re currently talking with and let’s plan content that’s relevant to them about manufacturing in the automobile industry and the future of manufacturing in the automobile industry. Give me some bites that would resonate with them. So we plan the content accordingly, and we just engage during that negotiation period with the Formula 1 execs.

What was really interesting to me was the CEO said to me afterwards, thank you. I have to tell you a story, I walked into the boardroom the day we went to sign and close the negotiations. It was before Corona, where we actually walked into boardrooms, and the CEO that we were meeting with or the executive we were meeting with, he said to me, the first thing, like the opening sentence was “congratulations, I see your daughter just graduated at university”. He’d been following me and reading what I was posting on LinkedIn. And he [00:16:00] said, “I didn’t believe you in the beginning, but now I’m converted.” and we’ve three years been working with him and multiple people within the organisation where they are constantly, posting and engaging on LinkedIn.

Michelle J Raymond: It’s less overwhelming and there’s more chance of it being successful when you’ve got a strategy at play. That’s what I’m hearing. Is that we do the strategy up front. You get to understand and learn how it works, and then you see the results. And of course, why wouldn’t you want to keep going?

It’s a no brainer after that point. You and I have a very similar philosophy as far as all of that goes. But for anyone that’s listening in, that’s maybe over 50 or somewhere around there, it doesn’t really matter your age, but if you are listening into this and you’re scared of getting yourself out there and having these conversations, these seem like really simple steps, but they’re so effective, break it down into smaller chunks, like Zoe just said.

Now types of content, let’s go the other way, say the person that we want to target is over 50. Is there a kind of [00:17:00] content that you think works best for this audience?

Zoe Bermant: I’ve never really thought about it. We often get asked to be more conversational and more ‘Gong’ like as you said earlier, and then I’m like, but we’re targeting middle-aged men, in very techie roles or like software architects and I’m like, I’m not sure that language is going to work. I’ve often found that the more direct you are and even technical sometimes with those audiences, the more the content resonates. They don’t want the fluff, they don’t want the super creative stuff either. So yeah, I guess there is a language that works for different ages, but I think the opposite could be said as well for Millennials and Gen Z. Without doubt you have to talk in a different way to them.

I definitely think there is content that you need to think about the tone. You need to think about the value. They’re less [00:18:00] interested in fluff. They just want straight to the point. What is the value to me here? But I’ll let you in on a secret, Michelle, I don’t know if you found this, but even with younger people, I find that if you just stay straight and you keep the content valuable and stop trying to be so clever all the time, unless you are a B2C brand like Pepsi or Burger King, and you’re a tech brand, just go straight to the point.

Like, why are you trying so hard? Because you’ve got like such a minute percentage of opportunity to actually engage someone with what you do. Why would you waste it on a joke or on a meme or something that isn’t necessarily going to connect them with your brand and what you do or why you’re different from a competitor and how can you help them. At the end of the day is the difference between success on social, if you ask me.

Michelle J Raymond: Look, again, no disagreements from me on this one because, like I said, become your digital twin, If you are not sending memes, like [00:19:00] I think the days of sending joke emails were back in the nineties, when we started in chat rooms, that was really cool back then you would send, all those jokes and forward them on because someone sent them to you.

These days you’ve just gotta be you. We’re gonna say this probably 50 times in this conversation is just be you. The person that’s been successful in your career, successful offline. Just bring that person to LinkedIn. It doesn’t have to be anyone different.

I learnt this lesson myself. I shared just last year, I got to Christmas and I just felt wrecked and exhausted because the person I was putting was a particular version of me, which wasn’t false, but it was missing lots of other parts of me, like that I care about things and I’m passionate about helping other people and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m authentic and I want to share about what works and what doesn’t work.

Now this year when I do it, what do you know, just by being me and I don’t care what anyone else’s version of “me” is. You don’t have to be like me or like Zoe. You just be you and then all of a sudden I’m surrounded by all these amazing [00:20:00] people. That are a reflection and enjoy me being me. You don’t have to try and copy Michelle. You don’t have to try and copy any influencers that are on LinkedIn. You just have to be you and that’s what works. I had to swallow my own medicine, over Christmas and I can tell you, it is so much easier now. It’s enjoyable again. It’s fun. It doesn’t feel like I’m out to prove something. This is the message I want to most get across for over 50’s, anyone actually that’s listening, is just be you. Take the best of you and share that with people on the platform.

So you’ve got a team of Gen Z for the majority and millennials.

Zoe Bermant: Mainly millennials. Lately we’ve been hiring a lot of Gen Z.

Michelle J Raymond: How do we deal with these, Gen Z, Millenials, that are on LinkedIn? If we’re on the other end, we’re over 50 and we need to interact with them. How do we do it? Is there any tips?

Zoe Bermant: I got to be honest. It’s really hard. We were in a conversation, on these WhatsApp groups a few weeks ago and you know, how [00:21:00] people say roll on floor, laughing and laugh out loud.

They were talking about how that’s no longer used anymore. And it’s now something on the floor dying, crying and I’m like, I don’t get this conversation. I was going to write a post about it. I must’ve sat and written this post like 50 times and then never posted on LinkedIn. But it is actually really difficult because there’s a whole new level of language and understanding you have to put in there, to be able to manage people, but also understand, like, it’s really funny. I’ve got a few now who are great at TikToking. They’re great on Instagram. And I’m like trying to push them to go on LinkedIn and they don’t want to be there.

And it’s funny, what they’ll say is “social media isn’t for me,” and I’m like, but you’re doing Reels everyday and funny Reels are creative Reels. They see it as two [00:22:00] totally different worlds. There’s Reels and there’s TikTok. And then there’s LinkedIn. And they’re already kind of set, you know, they got their first or second job. They’re really happy they’re growing within it.

I’m trying to explain to them without telling them, if you build your professional brand, when you ready to move on from Zoecial, cause you know, everyone moves along eventually. Your professional chances are going to be much higher. So you’ve got it on both spectrums. You’ve got these much older people who are struggling to put themselves out there. And you’ve got these younger people who are out there in very creative ways, but don’t understand that they can have a professional persona online as well. They’d like shy away from it. And it’s really interesting to me. I’m like every day it’s this weird dichotomy and I don’t know how to overcome it. I haven’t yet found a secret .Like with the executives we work with I f ound this formula. That you break it down, you train them, you get them into getting it out there. And then once it’s out, they use the data. [00:23:00] With our younger generation, some of them are starting to embrace them, they share on LinkedIn. But they’re not yet. And that they’re not quite there yet. It’s like, oh, they’ll take their TikTok’s and put that.

Michelle J Raymond: It’s really interesting. It’s like literally the whole age spectrum. I guess the message that comes out of this, is it really doesn’t matter what your age is and this was just a topic of conversation that we wanted to have. It really doesn’t matter. Cause there’s people in all ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between that are literally doing the same thing. Going I don’t want to put it out there.

I don’t know whether it’s an anxiety around being judged in a professional setting. I’ve never quite got to the bottom of it. My secret way of getting around it with people , especially the millennials, Gen Z, you get them to create content on the Company Page. Because then their face doesn’t come up and they’re very happy to do it.

But they don’t want to do it on their personal profile. You can drag them, kicking and screaming, no chance. But ask them to do it on a [00:24:00] Company Page- winner. And so that’s my one way of getting around it. Then when they get used to it, then we go, okay, let’s just step over this way a little bit.

Zoe Bermant: The content on your personal, but it does much better, data drives decisions.

Michelle J Raymond: I think it’s about having both. Because they may leave. Your business is your business. Obviously personal brands, I’m all about get the best out of both, and so if it’s a safe place to start, then start there. Then come across and nurture them and empower them, and have these kinds of conversations.

So I love to wrap the show up each week, Zoe, with a tip that we can leave someone. That may be listening and going. You know what? I’m really struggling with this, I want to be successful on LinkedIn and get started. What do you think is the first thing that they should do?

Zoe Bermant: Start with something small. Just go in, pick people you work with and start engaging with them. Brings you visibility to the people they’re connected with. So start very [00:25:00] small and take baby steps along the way. I actually think you said something really, that triggered for me.

You said, people don’t want to step out of their comfort zone and don’t want to do something different. But we’re also telling you to be yourself. So don’t step out of your comfort zone, find what you are comfortable with and just bring it to the platform. And if that means you’re very straight, very technical, or taking your company content and sharing it, that’s already a first step.

So go start with what you’re comfortable with and get on there. Consistency will bring you results. And then from the results, you’ll have a drive to want to do more. So that’s my tip.

Michelle J Raymond: I am just going to say ditto for me, just take that small step, baby step, safe step. But take a step. Because what I’ve discovered on LinkedIn is it’s lots of little baby steps that a couple of years down the track you turn around and go “whoa, how far have I come?”

I still have these moments every day where I look and [00:26:00] go my carousel sliders. I don’t really like them now, but if I look back at the ones from 12 months ago, oh my God, I really don’t like those. I should give myself a break. I should really be proud of what I’ve achieved, what I’ve created. I’m never going to be a graphic designer. It’s not my skillset. So anything that I produce is better than nothing.

I think that’s the lesson is if you’re prepared to learn, no one’s judging. I think LinkedIn’s a pretty tolerant and safe platform. We’re not really overwhelmed with trolls and people like that. So, grow in front of other people. That would be my advice.

Thanks Zoe for your tips.

Thanks everybody.


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