In 2016, I was tasked by a client to help them increase their sales and industry presence in the UK market, specifically with the top 200 fashion and apparel brands and retailers in the region. The challenge for me was, unlike in my home country of Brazil, I had only five business connections in the […]
If still you think LinkedIn is a waste of time, your better think again.
Carlos Monteiro,CEO and founder of Biassa.
Have you ever heard of the term ‘social selling’? According to its practitioners, it’s a new way of selling that doesn’t need you to work ‘in sales’ or to be a sales expert. Your main focus could be human resources or accounting, but you can still socially sell.
Either way, social selling is here to stay and it’s the best and easiest way to position yourself professionally in Denmark (or whatever country you may live in).
Gateway to the person
So, after sending 300+ job applications once I got my visa in Denmark, I finally came to realise that before sending out any applications, I was checking ALL the companies I theoretically wanted to apply for on LinkedIn. So after striking my head against some hard walls, it was time to change my strategy.
First off, to paraphrase an old saying: It’s not enough to be good, it has to look good. So make sure your profile picture on LinkedIn looks good. I’m not saying you have to look like a top model, but looking professional surely makes a difference.
Put your picture on Photofeeler.com where people will vote anonymously about what they think. It enables you to evaluate how competent, likeable or influential other people find you. I tested it, and the difference in results is amazing.
Connect and engage
Whilst building your personal brand, it’s important to contribute. When I moved here, I had no idea where to start. Perhaps you know better.
Choose a sector you like and start connecting with professionals you would like to work with (either as a work peer, or as a service provider), but don’t be salesy. Start participating in the LinkedIn groups where these professionals participate. Share contributions, insights and comments.
Think outside of the box
Don’t do what hundreds of other people like yourself are doing. Everyone will be applying for the same jobs as you, using the same old traditional tactics.
Building your personal brand on LinkedIn might take some time (and it’s a never-ending task), but if you apply some of the tactics I have just shared, you will be able to become a lot more valuable, regardless of your work field.
Recently I was invited to share my experiences as an entrepreneur with recent grads in Odense, Denmark. I thought it was fair to re-write this story so those who watched my presentation, but couldn’t really interact with me afterward, could have a better grasp on some the things I’ve come across so far on my journey. Please feel free to communicate through this channel. I would love to, somehow, help you on your journey as well, regardless what path you choose to follow.
Some people may already know this story, as last year I shared a post talking about all my frustrated attempts in getting a job in Denmark, and how everything began. If you already know it, perhaps you may want to skip it. In this story, however, I’m being a lot more tactical and trying to share some practical actions you can take TODAY to help you move forward with your career.
Hope you enjoy it!
It all started when I got to Denmark in June 2013.
Before moving to Odense, I was the kind of person who used to receive promotional e-mails and only this kind of e-mails. I had the belief that social media did not work and Ι felt myself like an “alien” when someone would say he was recruited by a headhunter, or when someone told me that he got his position in the market through LinkedIn. This is a time not so far away, but because of all the personal changes that happened to me in the last three years, it feels way longer.
I kept these beliefs for a long time, even when I had to move from my country and started to face challenges.
The first step to the world
During 2009-2010, I worked as an intern for the Danish Consulate in Sao Paulo. Apart from washing a lot of fruits, making coffee, and becoming an expert on Excel, I gained valuable experience and I learned how to work with Danish companies seeking internationalization and expansion into the Brazilian market.
After finishing my course of Business Administration at PUC-SP my wife and I decided it was time to begin a new stage in our lives. She, after having lived 4.5 years in Brazil, and having a daughter (Ines) felt it was a good time to go back to Denmark to play some personal projects that were paused for a while and to be closer to her family. I gladly embraced the challenge. After all, I had never lived outside of Brazil.
Work on your blog? You must be crazy …
The above statement was probably the most common one among my Brazilian friends every time I told them I had plans to move to Denmark.
Let me explain things a little bit better.
During the time I worked at the Danish Consulate, I had noticed that many Brazilians who came to us came to complain about the difficulty of finding work in Denmark. Having realized that, the idea of creating a platform that could help connect these worlds so different came up to my mind.
Using my network creatively
The first thing I did to get my idea of the paper where videos/interviews with professionals at “C LEVEL” in my personal network. At first I did not have an exclusive focus in a specific sector. I had the help and the patience of many people who put up with me and gave me support – and a lot of luck too!
For a period of about 3 months I had to wait all the paperwork related to my process of legalization and integration in Denmark. That also meant that I could not work in the meantime. It was during this period that I worked full time on my blog.
While writing new articles for the blog and launched new interviews every 15 days or so, I kept asking myself: how could I be effective with my marketing content? This was a really frustrating issue for me. I did not have any capital to invest in paid campaigns – actually, I had no capital for anything.
After studying about digital marketing on the Internet, I started to realize that LinkedIn was “The tool” and that it would help me to do what I was seeing, and to have a voice in the crowd.
I started to understand how LinkedIn works and to realize that through it, I could participate in specific niche groups within LinkedIn.
I also figured out how to link my LinkedIn account to my blogging platform and I quickly realized how important it is to use this tool frequently.
I also saw how important it is to customize a message and to explain why we want to connect with a potential contact. Here in Northern Europe, people are generally open to connect, but the tool is used in a very professional manner.
After all these insights and learnings (which were happening in practice, believe me), I gradually got out of the dark. My articles were read, the blog had more hits, and the interviews had more engagement. I also started to receive emails from complete “strangers” who were praising the work I was doing.
From blog to startup
The day I discovered that the Danish government had released my paperwork and that I could live legally here, I immediately started looking for work.
I sent over three hundred applications for various companies in different sectors and sizes. I was never called in for an interview… At the same time, I continued to work with the Blog, posting continuously interviews and articles.
One thing I noticed was that whenever I would look for some job positions, I ended up using LinkedIn, and, after reading an article by Neil Patel, An Expert in Digital MKT(strongly recommended to all) I changed my tactic. I began to introduce myself as Carlos, founder of a blog that dealt with business matters in Brazil, which is interested in connecting companies and creating future opportunities.
This tactic changed my connections and leveraged decision makers here in Denmark…
Later in November 2013, I received a message from a manager responsible for the expansion of a Danish company in Latin America. He gathered the articles and interviews that I had published and called me in for an interview. After two interviews, in one of which the CEO of the company in question was present, I was hired to help them in their entry and expansion in the Brazilian market. This was probably when I had my first “A-HA” moment.
Quality content generated often could establish my position in Denmark as the “knowledgeable Brazilian guy” and could bring me more customers. From there on I did not look for more jobs, and focused on expanding my network and generating content.
BIASSA IS BORN
With time, more customers were showing up, and along with these customers the same question kept on coming up:
“What is it exactly that you do Carlos? You have this blog, you are generating interesting content, but what’s your focus?”
I really had no answer to this question. In fact, my only goal was to get a job by using the blog, but all of a sudden I had the chance to open up my own company.
I essentially helped companies in the decorative lighting industry, transport, breweries, e-Commerce, education and maritime.
It was only in Nov 2014 and after many lessons that I had the opportunity to join another Brazilian who is already out of Brazil for at least 10 years. Together, we gave a new face to Biassa which has now become a business development company focused on connecting, developing and helping high-performance technology companies (SAAS, eCommerce, Educacão, Fintechs) to expand and grow their businesses in Brazil and other Latin American countries.
This is a briefing of what has happened to me the past three years. For me, the most important lesson of this whole story is one. Attitude. At no point in life can you have all the tools and knowledge to your disposal, and not without testing anything to practice.
A mistake I did here on LinkedIn: I tried to connect with people without customizing messages; I tried to sell without creating any kind of prior relationship, but I learned my lesson, and I am still learning and evolving. I did not stop halfway.
Today, Biassa is expanding. We have five people working in the company. LinkedIn is our main tool to warm up and build relationships that may eventually become a business. We have created a solution called Get Introduced, fully focused on the concept of Social Selling.
To sum up:
Have attitude. No one is gonna come to you if you don’t show why you deserve it.
Be bold: Try different things. Videos worked great for me, and helped me to stand out of the crowd
Ask for help, be polite and be grateful: Other people will help you, I have no doubts about it. Be humble, ask for help, and help without asking. Contribute, generate content without having to be asked for, and be grateful. The reward always comes back.
I believe we are the creators of our own fate; thereby we have responsibility for our actions our future and ultimately for the results we achieve.
So hopefully what you will be to take away from here are some nuggets of some of the few things I’ve done to create opportunities for me.
A moment of productive idleness is worth gold!
During a time of “productive laziness”, I decided to count how many messages I could find on my LinkedIn Inbox related to the question “How to find a job?” or along the lines of “Can you get me a job?”. So far I have come across 105.
Carlos, How did you get a job in Denmark?
The last gentleman who asked me this question is a highly qualified professional in the financial services/consulting industry in Holland. As we exchanged ideas over LinkedIn, he told me he had been applying for jobs in DK for nearly a year without any success. I cannot speak for any other country than DK, so I told him I would presume that finding a job in Holland would probably be just as challenging as finding a job in DK for any foreigner. He partially disagreed as his girlfriend from Denmark found a job in Holland quite quickly.
Putting a Community Together
Before moving to Denmark, all I knew FOR SURE was one thing. From the moment I would step into this country, it would be quite challenging to find a job.
Enters Denmarkbrazil.com ( A blog I created before moving here)
As time went on, I kept on creating content. I also began to study more about digital marketing. What I learned from this time is that when you create content, people will check it. If it resonates with them, they will “like and eventually share it.”
Creating Denmarkbrazil.com not only allowed me to share knowledge on business in Brazil but it also gathered a community of people interested in the Brazilian and the Danish market.
*Nugget 1 Like-minded people = Higher chances of creating business opportunities
“See Me, Like Me, Trust Me, Hire Me”- Simon Gray
I am a big believer and a huge advocate of a sales development “modality” known as Social Selling. In fact, there is much hype in regards to Social Selling nowadays, and I believe that part of it is due to all the publicity LinkedIn has been pulling out.
According to Tim Hughes, a Social Selling expert that I follow, (whom I suggest you follow too), organizations are changing the way they do business. Hughes points out in his book “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” “Companies are now seeking out and rewarding change makers into the organizations that can go out and find ideas, products or services in the greater world that can be brought into the benefit of the business…All this means that most of the buying process is done even before the sales person gets involved with the opportunity”.
Now let’s translate Hughes statement for any company owner ( consultant, startup founders, you name it) looking to validate their ideas and most importantly: Sell their product or service.
The interaction between the readers of my articles and myself initiated conversations. If someone liked an article on LinkedIn, I’d take that as a permission to begin a relationship. I would then send a customized connection request thanking them for liking my article and asking for a feedback and what other topics they’d like to hear about.
Initiating Conversations is without a doubt vital for revenue creation ( or finding jobs). Simon Gray says that to find an opportunity, especially in the so-called ” hidden market” people need to see you, create some sort of empathy with you and then they will hire you. The most efficient way to start conversations for me has been through social media.
*Nugget 2 Producing Content, Connecting With People & Being Active On Social will help you start conversations
Still not convinced? So take a good (hard) look at the example below:
The first deal I landed in Denmark was because of a former CEO and founder of one of the most traditional Danish companies, let’s call it “Gold Mine A/S,” had been reading and following some of my articles.
He referred me, without knowing me personally (and without my acknowledgment) to another Danish company that he was sitting on the board.
Later the CEO and the Business development manager explained me that they heard from one of the board members (the CEO and founder of GoldMine A/S) that a Brazilian guy was generating some interesting content on business in Brazil.
Insight: #: Never underestimate the power of valuable content. People read and value it.
Another example of how content can drive conversations and revenue as a consequence of it, is this one: http://bit.ly/2eOulgP.
This article had good engagement, and it brought me two great meetings and from one the meetings one client.
But wait! One client, because of one article?
#Nugget 3: Find out what your audience would like to read about and produce content from your own angle. You will crush it! But hey, be original, be yourself ok?
Social Selling & Buying Influence
One recent report from IDC from 2015 shows that social buying is directly correlated with buying influence. Further, research from Forbes indicates that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Another study on Hubspot showed that only 1 in 4 sales people understand and know how to use social media to sell.
Influencing buyers. Social Selling. What the ¤#Q¤%#3 are you talking about Carlos?
All the experience I have acquired generating content, interacting with other professionals, initiating conversations, sharing content has helped me to build a foundation and a good understanding on some of the mechanisms of community building and influence creation. Plus, it helped me to build a “personal brand”
The importance of building a community is vital for sales enablement and development. By building a community, you will find like-minded people, share experiences, exchange ideas and eventually be able to earn money as well.
# Nugget 4: Building a personal brand makes the conversation much lighter. People will know more about you than you imagine, and they will be curious!
To Sum Up
Build a Community:
In most markets, there will be competition. So why not stand out from the crowd? Why not build a community around yourself on a subject you believe you are good at? Why not add value to your community by creating authentic content and engaging, connecting and starting conversations?
Educate people. Share your thoughts and ideas. Most importantly, add value to whoever is going to consume what you are producing or sharing. An excellent way to build compelling content is by interviewing, for example, other professionals that are authorities in their fields.
Connect with people. Go to offline events. Establish your presence online, so you can create an “excuse” to connect.
To close it out
If you’re not selling socially, you may not be able to find a job in Denmark. I built a blog and a brand around marketing on LinkedIn, and while I don’t have a job, I have something better – my own business.
Creating a community around the subject # business between Denmark & Brazil was “the real deal”for me. Then nurturing this community with interesting content that they were interested in was what really made the difference.
If you do some of the things I suggested I cannot guarantee you will find a job, but I can guarantee you will start getting noticed.
Believe me; it’s worth a try.