Tuesday, April 23, 2019

David Petherick: Founder of Doctor LinkedIn™ - Episode 1014

Howard:             Hello, everybody. This is Howard Fox for Randy Ford. This is the SuccessInsightPodcast, and I want to welcome you today for a very interesting episode. As many of you know, or perhaps you don't know, I'm a big fan of the platform, LinkedIn. It is a platform for professionals like ourselves to essentially network, and network professionals. It's an opportunity to present ourselves, our brand, create content. I'm very excited today to introduce you to a colleague of mine all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland. I'd like to introduce you to David Petherick, otherwise known as Doctor LinkedIn. David, welcome to the SuccessInSight podcast.

David:                 Thank you very much, Howard. Great to be here, and thanks for the invitation. I certainly appreciate it.

Howard:             I love the moniker Doctor LinkedIn, and that is also your website as well, Doctor LinkedIn. How did this moniker come about?

 David:                 Well, it was actually something I was struggling against it for a while. I'd been writing LinkedIn profiles since ... well, quite some time ago, since 2006, in fact. When I was introduced to the platform in 2005, and then just towards then end of the year. And then a colleague of mine was in touch to say he struggling to write the story of what he did and get it across to people. He just wasn't quite happy with it. He said, “You're good at writing. You can help me with that.” I was mainly doing copywriting at that time. That's where it started. I rewrote his profile for him, and a couple weeks later he recommended me to someone else. I basically invented the service at that point. I was also doing a similar thing for some other platform too at the same time. But I quickly focused in on LinkedIn. That was the beginning of it. 

David:                 But as I was saying, the fight against the Doctor LinkedIn was simply me thinking, rather foolishly, it was a little bit cheesy, it was a little bit tacky, Doctor LinkedIn. But I had a chat with a colleague who's actually based in the UK as well. He basically said to me, “Think, David. You're missing a big opportunity here.

David:                  If you're a doctor, then you can write prescriptions, you can perform surgery. You can have other specialists and other doctors. You could have nurses.” When he said nurses, that got my attention all of a sudden. I was thinking hey, yeah, quite nice to have lots of nurses around. I took a look around the landscape of what other people were doing on LinkedIn, and how they were packaging themselves, and Doctor LinkedIn was clear, blue ocean really. And, I think, one of the things that struck me straight away was the fact that there's a great simplicity to it. You either say Doctor or you say LinkedIn. You understand what a Doctor does, a lot of people now understand what LinkedIn does, or what it's potential is. So, they understand that, you know, you come to a Doctor for help, for advice, for if something's not quite right. You'll say, “Hey Doctor, you know, maybe you can help me with this”. That's where the name started from. It was in the back of my mind for a while but I was fighting against it, thinking “Nah, doesn't quite work”.

David:                  Last week, I was in Ireland, in Cork. Talking on stage, with a white coat and a stethoscope. People get it, they understand it quite clearly. The Doctor idea runs through all sorts of different services that I can provide. Whether it's just helping with a profile or whether it's general advice in terms of how to approach LinkedIn. You know, people trust Doctors. It's stuck since then, since about a year and a half, two years ago now, when I basically set up everything with domain name, the website, and started to use that as my overriding brand. It's fun. People understand it, they like it and it opens doors for me.

Howard:             You know, it's a wonderful story and I truly appreciate what you've shared. When you and I first met I don't recall if it was because of the Doctor LinkedIn. I definitely recognized you as one of the - dare I say - leading contributors in thoughts around what is LinkedIn’s potential, how should we be using it. How do we use it wisely, appropriately, and get the full potential out of LinkedIn. Having a Doctor LinkedIn, what goes through my head is “Here's your prescription”, so, we look at LinkedIn profiles, we talk to our clients about what their goals and objectives are, what their struggles are, and then we literally can write them a prescription. I love how you're using that.

Howard:              I'm curious. You had mentioned you had been doing some other copywriting. Had the proficiency with writing that certainly has informed your success as Doctor LinkedIn, what other writing had you done that really helped you to somewhat ease into this, or to move into this space because it's a very broad space. People do a lot of different things but you are able to also assist them in communicating what their brand is.

David:                 I think almost everything. I started writing when I was interested in the process of writing when I was at school. I went to University in Edinburgh and I was studying English Literature and Language and I also got very interested in writing for the student newspaper, which was a weekly production. It was 24 pages, as far as I recall. I also was quite useful in that I could take photographs, so they wouldn't have to send a separate photographer and journalist to cover things. I came as a two-in-one package, as it were. I enjoyed doing that a great deal.

David:                 The essence of it, still, is about telling stories. You know, finding out the facts, distilling it down and then deciding what's the headline, what's most interesting. How do we illustrate this visually. And so, the process of writing a story for a student newspaper isn't radically different from the process of writing a profile. You've just got to think about editing it down, focusing on the most important factors and telling the story in a way that, I suppose, makes the subjects understandable or legible. Also, you've got some sympathy for the people you're writing about. Certainly, I do, when I'm writing profiles, because they are offering you a situation where they're trying to change something. They're maybe trying to get a new position. They recognize that sometimes they are not the best person to write about themselves. They may be very good at writing, and they may be very good at what they do professionally, but they suddenly have a mental block when it comes to thinking “how do I describe myself”. It's that point at which they realize that maybe some professional help would be useful.

David:                 I also was writing a lot of advertising material when I left university. I started my own little agency, in effect, doing a lot of copywriting. A lot of it at that time was for print, this was in the late 80s. We hadn't really had the internet or websites, that was still some way away. What people wanted to do was to present themselves then in the same professional manner and bring across the values of their business or them individually. It's just that the medium was slightly different, it was going into print in those days. Obviously that has changed and evolved since then. 

David:                 I actually started coding websites in 1996 when most people really didn't know what a website was. They hadn't really heard of it and it was a novelty, an extreme novelty. These were the days when finding stuff on the internet, there was no Google, there were things like Yahoo and there were things like AltaVista and various other different search engines. A lot of them have gone away with the dodo since then.

David:                 The landscape changed and I realized that having a technical skill of being able to create websites was fine, it was in demand, I made a good living for a couple of years creating websites where I wasn't really controlling the content, but I was just giving them a framework in to which they could put their words and their images. I realized that in order for a website to do its job properly the element of story-telling and the elements of editing were still just as important. What I was doing evolved more as time went on, into helping people decide what goes where, what to prioritize and then helping them to actually write it effectively. Writing for a website is not radically different from anything else, but you have to consider things like search engines, you know, what do you put in your headlines so that a search engine can find that and how do you structure it technically.

David:                 And so, I suppose evolving that into a situation where you now look at LinkedIn as an online tool. It has the same similarities in terms of, yes, you've got to write a good story, you've got to make it interesting and you've got to edit it down, but, also you've got to think about it technically, to some extent, in terms of the structure, the headline, the job titles, the way that you describe things in certain ways, the skills that you put in and the priorities that you give information. So, it's kind of been an evolution but it's just been the same process that's always applied from my point of view of just, being interested in telling a good story. The technical medium has just evolved from being a print newspaper to being a static website where you didn't have any social media at all and then, now, it's moved along into a completely different beast. It's evolved so quickly.

David:                 I remember, I was looking through some back images of what the LinkedIn website used to look like and in 2005/2006, I think it was, the image of LinkedIn, they had the logo, it was still there, but they were advertising the fact that you could reach over 5.5 million professionals. Which, at the time, was like, “Hey, look at all these people I can reach online, fantastic”. But, you switch to 2019, you've got more than 610 million professionals on LinkedIn.

Howard:             And growing.

David:                 Absolutely. Growing at, I think the rate is still roughly 2 people a second, since we started this conversation a lot of people have joined LinkedIn.

David:                 One of the things about LinkedIn that people find slightly difficult is it doesn't really come with an instruction manual. They understand how to fill out certain pieces of information, they are prompted to do that, but one of the difficulties people have is they create a profile, it's out there, they think "That's great", they've got a good photograph, "I've got a good profile", and then nothing happens.

Howard:             You know, I'm curious. You're bringing up quite a bit that we see here, especially with individuals who are going through transition or looking for a job. They've lost their job, they need a job. You also described the rate of growth of LinkedIn. It's now well over 600 million. Why, from your perspective, why do people create a LinkedIn profile? Or why should they?

David:                 Yeah, why should you. Well, I have a kind of, three strands to what I always tell people about LinkedIn. The first one is you need to be visible. Online, in terms of visibility, people are going to Google you, or they may use other search engines, they might Bing you.

David:                 Interestingly, Bing is actually becoming more useful as a search tool for people because Bing is owned by Microsoft and, guess what, Microsoft own LinkedIn. Bing is able to surface more data about what's inside a LinkedIn profile. I have seen some tests where you see a lot more information appearing on a profile just by keying in someone’s name. If people meet you or if they do an interview with you, if you apply for a job, you can have a cell number, you can have an email address, but, even if you don't add your LinkedIn profile address, it's pretty likely and it's more prevalent perhaps in the US than it is in other countries, it certainly is more prevalent than in the UK, but, they're going to Google you. They're going to find out a little bit more about this person. They're probably going to come across your LinkedIn profile if you've created a LinkedIn profile. And, what you've got the ability to do with LinkedIn profile is go beyond what's on your resume or on your CV, you can tell more of a story. You can put pictures there, you can go into more detail and more depth than you need to do, or you can do, in a couple of sheets of A4 paper.

David:                 The resume is constrained by a need for brevity. You've got to convey the main facts about yourself. But with LinkedIn you've got the opportunity to tell a longer story and to get more detailed about certain aspects of what you've done.

David:                 One of the key factors about the way in which you could use LinkedIn is that you can say things in a different way there. There's a slightly stunted language that seems to have become the norm for a resume, where you'll have lots of bullet points and you'll have short staccato sentences and you'll have active verbs. It doesn't always translate very well into what you see on LinkedIn. I usually advise people to differentiate between a resume and LinkedIn in a very simple way of just thinking about it as a completely different function.

Howard:             That's very good advice.

David:                 What I'm trying to say here is that the function of your resume is to describe your suitability for a role and the function of LinkedIn is to expand upon that. What you can do, as it's a social network, you can add recommendations, you can have people endorsing you for skittles. You get an element of social proof. So, you know, a resume pops up, you think “this guy looks great, he's got this qualification, he's done that, he's worked here”, and then they go to the LinkedIn profile and they see that you've got twenty recommendations for a role. That you've got lots of endorsements for all the skills that you say you have that are in your resume. So, there's an alignment there. There's a confirmation. People go to your LinkedIn profile for, in a recruitment way, they look at it for more information, for confirmation, is this person who they say they are and do they actually stack up. They get social proof from LinkedIn.

David:                 The other thing that you get from LinkedIn is obviously something you can never have on a resume. People can see what your network is like and they can also see what your interaction with other people is like. They can go see your activity on LinkedIn. If there's no activity that could be seen as a negative thing. In other words you're not involved, you're not engaged. But, if you've written articles that demonstrate your area of expertise and if you've interacted with people and give them supportive comments, and again, without pushing yourself down their throats or your product if you're in a sales role in a company, you're helping people and you're showing people that you'll empathize with their concerns. And so, people get a much closer indication of looking at your LinkedIn profile and your activity on LinkedIn of what kind of person you are. Again, if it's a hiring situation it helps them to make that decision. There's a lower risk. They can say “Well, I've checked their LinkedIn profile and everything looks good there, everything looks positive. Let's talk to him, let’s have him in and Let's have a chat”. Whereas, if they see your profile where there's very little information, there's no photograph or a bad photograph, and it doesn't seem that they've taken much care about it, even if you've got a great resume, that's going to count in a negative way.

Howard:             You know, you also are bringing up an important point we see here still in the US, that individuals don't have a LinkedIn profile. My sense is, and I hear this in engagement and also anecdotally, if I am recruiting for a position and the candidate doesn't have a LinkedIn profile, there is a good probability that person is going to get passed over. The recruiters, the managers, are looking at your social presence, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and being the professional site that it is, not having it can be a detriment, almost as detrimental as having a profile but nothing substantive there for the recruiter, the manager, to corroborate.

David:                 Absolutely. That's not just true in the US, it's certainly the case in the UK. Quite a number of organizations now are recruiting on LinkedIn and they are using the very useful feature where you can simply click to apply and rather than uploading a resume, it will essentially send your profile to the recruiter. Your LinkedIn profile becomes your resume. It may be the case for some companies that they only recruit on LinkedIn, so, if you're not on LinkedIn, you're not going to get hired, full stop. It just won't happen because you're not there.

Howard:             That's very true, very true. I am curious, given your evolution from the advertising and copywriting, now to the proficiency with LinkedIn, you've worked with many clients over the years. What I'd love to hear from you is perhaps an anecdote or two about some of the success stories that you've had with your clients. What were their struggles and how did you help them to resolve why they came to you and through the use of using LinkedIn?

David:                 To give you one example -- The problem they had was they were very busy and they were very successful, and therefore they had never had time to look at their LinkedIn profile. Well, when they reached a certain point in their career and they'd sold a few businesses, they'd exited successfully from them and they were looking for new things to do.

David:                 One of the things they were interested in doing was doing more talking at conferences and events. They found me on LinkedIn, you know, that's the channel where most people tend to find me, I create a lot of content on LinkedIn, all the articles and I just try to help people and I demonstrate my knowledge by giving away my knowledge for free. That's the secret sales sauce that I have. Some people see it and they think “Yeah, this guy seems to know what he's talking about, let me set up a call and we'll take it from there”, but, just this one individual had a specific need in that he just said “Well, what on my profile doesn't really -- It tells the story of what I've done but it doesn't tell the story of what I want to do next”.

David:                 So, essentially, we sat down, we did this by Skype rather than face-to-face as he was in another country, but, we identified the things he was able to talk about and they were quite broad, he had a great deal of expertise. Essentially, we just created a new role for him, we created a company page, which was actually just himself, there's no need for it to be an LCC or a corporation, you can create a company page for yourself as an individual on LinkedIn. And, under that heading of the company we then made him an employee of himself and we added details of the topics that he would speak about.

David:                 So, he said speaker on topic x, y and z and we talked about that specific area that he had expertise in. He'd done a few speaking gigs and though, it wasn't the main focus of what he wanted to do, he realized that it was really good fun and that it was really interesting for him. He enjoyed it, it was as simple as that, so he wanted to do more of it. So, we took some quotes from some people who'd had him speaking, added that to the profile, and I think it was about two or three weeks after we made the changes to the profile and made it live that he dropped me a line through LinkedIn and said “I've just been asked to speak at three more events”.

David:                 It's working, they see it. We just simply made some simple changes to the profile, changed the land, shifted focus a bit. Structurally made a slight change by adding the company page and the result was he got what he wanted from LinkedIn. He got more of these invitations to speak and he got more opportunities to tell his story. Essentially, he enjoyed it.

David:                 Coincidentally, that's same individual put me in touch with a number of other people and a couple of the people that he put me in touch with, in order to help them with their profile, were probably in the same situation, in that they were looking for a new position. You know, they had been working for a few years with organizations. They weren't unhappy, but they thought they could do more, they thought they were maybe worth more, they wanted to expand their horizons a little bit, maybe work for slightly larger organizations.

David:                 Both of these cases it was the same process where we had an interview by Skype, or by Zoom, and I basically asked them questions to find out more about what they wanted to do, looked at their skillset, looked at their past experience, looked at some of the material they used in their resume or CV as they tend to call them in the UK, and wrote their profiles for them. It was only actually about three or four months after I'd written them that I heard, I mean, I heard from one of them very quickly, they said “Hey, I just got hired”, and, you know, it's done the job that we wanted it to do. He was hired by his, I can't mention any names but you know, the dream company in the tech-sphere, hired him.

David:                 The other individual who was recommended to me from the first guy who was looking to do more speaking, three or four months later I heard that - The news from him was actually in a tweet that he put out - His tweet said “Hey, David's a genius. These two people got 40% more money and got hired as a result of him fixing their LinkedIn profile. I recommend David”.

David                  It was a slightly unconventional way to find out the news because it's not always the case that people disclose what their salary and rises have been, but I was able to give people a significant raise in their income, and have them working for companies that they really were aiming to work for. Essentially, all I'd done was listened to their story, rewrite it for them, and put it out there. Obviously, the work is up to them, to get that position, to do the interview, to go through that whole process. Those are some examples where the needs were different but the results were positive and came through relatively quickly as well. It's very satisfying to do that kind of work.

Howard:             Most definitely, it's very very satisfying and I am curious. In 2019, we're just entering the second quarter, we probably could go on and on about how LinkedIn is going to evolve, but I'm curious how you're going to evolve? Have your ideal clients, your target customers, your audience - Is that changing or is it anybody that comes to you that finds you, that expresses an interest that need help? Or are you perhaps changing that formula that little bit, or that recipea little bit?

David:                 Yeah, it has evolved and changed over time. LinkedIn was a hugely different beast in 2006 than it is in 2019.    One thing that I have found, even in the last six months or so, is that rather than having to write everything from scratch doing what I call the full bypass of a profile where you've really got to pull it apart and reconstruct it from the ground up-

Howard:             You've got those medical terms down pad, I can tell.

David:                 Yeah. The full profile bypass is major surgery, but it's becoming less and less necessary because people are acquiring the knowledge, and they are looking at other peoples profiles. They are working it out for themselves. They're going on the internet and Googling it like people do with their medical advice. You don't always get the best medical advice using Google, I hasten to add, but, you'll find out useful things you can apply yourself. What I've found has been more and more the case is that I'm doing micro-surgery. I'm just doing a little bit of a tweak to the headline, rewrite the summary, maybe just pay some attention to the way that some of the text is put together and the language, the tone is sometimes something that needs to be worked on, especially if someone is trying to transition from one industry to another. You've got to talk about transferable skills. But the nature of it has become that there's more small surgery to be done. Just simple, quick fixes rather than extended, major fixes and/or major changes to what people have on their profile.

David:                 And in terms of the type of customer - It's great for me because there's huge variety. I don't work in any one particular sector or any one particular industry, even one particular geographical area. The last count it was 27 countries. That's the number of different countries I've produced profiles for people who are living in those countries.

David:                 But, one thing that has evolved slightly is that I'm now asked more often to help a company with its approach to LinkedIn, rather than just an individual. Often the help will actually involve coaching or training individuals within that company in order to present them better on LinkedIn. So, they may all have little fixes for their profiles, or it may be that they'll be a need for some consistency so that all the people, maybe the key people in the company are all talking the same language and have an alignment with everyone else's profile. A bit of common text sometimes so that everyone gets the same message no matter who they are viewing within the company. Sometimes, in small to medium organizations I've been asked to rewrite everyone's profile, and then they've brought in a photographer, and they've done a whole lot of head shots, and then they'll relaunch a company page. Everyone in the company will look good because they'll all have great head shots, and they'll all have an alignment in terms of the industry they are in.

David:                 I came across a company recently, who had about 40 people working for them, and they were working in 12 different industries. They hadn't really thought about this issue in terms of visibility for their customers. Most of their employees were in the wrong industry. So, we aligned all the profiles to be in the same industry, we had some common language in a couple of paragraphs of text, which were consistent across all of their profiles, which helps a little bit in terms of search visibility within LinkedIn and beyond LinkedIn.

David:                 The work has evolved from firstly more lengthy interventions, if you like, to shorter ones, and also companies are becoming more aware of it and they are investing on behalf of their employees in doing better things on LinkedIn and using it more effectively.

Howard:             I think that's a wonderful occurrence. Many companies don't perceive correctly that their employees, their staff, are their brand ambassadors, and investing in not only themselves as a company to learn how to use LinkedIn, but also to encourage their staff to also want to use LinkedIn too and have a nice, consistent brand throughout.

Howard:             David, in the time we have together - Most definitely want to let our listeners know if they want to find Doctor LinkedIn, what's the best place to do that to learn more about you and your work?

David:                 Well, go to DoctorLinkedIn.com, or you can find me on LinkedIn, obviously, as well. There's a company page for Doctor LinkedIn, so, simple typing of Doctor LinkedIn into LinkedIn search engine should surface me. Or, obviously, they can just look for me under my name, which is a little bit difficult to spell. It's Petherick, P-E-T-H-E-R-I-C-K, if you Google me you'll find that I kind of dominate the results there because, you know, I've been online since the last millennium. I'm a dinosaur, but I've evolved quite quickly.

Howard:             Oh, yes. Listen, I really appreciate the time you're spending with us. Before I bid you a good-
                             night, because I know it's probably 8 or 9 O'clock in the UK right now, we have a little piece at the end of our show we call the “Insights2go” that we'd love our guest to share something, a book, an idea, a quote, a success tip, something that they feel our listeners should want to know more or learn more about.

Howard:             So, what would be your Insight2Go for our listeners?

David:                 I think very simply it's, “Be original”. Don't go for a convention to describe yourself, go for a unique way to describe yourself because everyone's unique and a lot of people fall into the trap of describing themselves on other people’s terms. I think that's a big mistake because everyone wants to work with individuals, nobody wants to work with descriptions or categories or types. So, I suppose if I was to summarize it, it's just be yourself and don't be tempted to water your character down or water your personality down just because you see other people tend to be doing that. You've just got to be proud of who you are and be proud of your differences as much as anything else.

Howard:             Fantastic. David, hang out for just a minute while we sign off. Folks, there you have it. David Petherick. Doctor LinkedIn. We're going to put his contact information on our website, so you can certainly check him out, his website as well as his LinkedIn URL. For my co-host, Randy Ford, this is Howard Fox. Thank you for joining us on this episode on the SuccessInSight Podcast.
                            Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, go out there and have a phenomenal day.


David Petherick is the Founder of Doctor LinkedIn™  David is a master at making professionals visible, legible & credible on the LinkedIn platform. He advises small & medium-size business on the use of LinkedIn, and is a globally recognized expert and speaker on all things LinkedIn. David invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn and to visit his website at https://doctorlinkedin.com

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