Michaela is a Canadian Millennial and a LinkedIn expert, having written dozens of articles that have received millions of reads. Her LinkedIn journey started in March 2016 when an article that she wrote about landing her dream job went viral. Over the past decade, Michaela has managed the online presence of more than 100 high-profile brands and built her own personal brand to over 140,000 followers on LinkedIn.
Michaela was one of the first people on LinkedIn to openly discuss mental health, self-esteem, and reporting harassment in the workplace. After her father passed away, she started a discussion around bereavement and how it affects your career. When she launched a video campaign on LinkedIn called #letsgethonest, encouraging professionals to share a challenge that they’ve had to overcome in their career – the campaign reached over 26 million LinkedIn users.
Whilst our conversation mainly revolved around how to extract the most value from the LinkedIn platform, we talked about a number of other things too: from Michaela’s experience getting fired for reporting sexual harassment to self-confidence to dealing with rejection. I asked Michaela whether Millennials deserve the rap they’ve been given as entitled and needy – and I found her responses eye-opening. I have two favorite quotes from this episode: “people don’t owe you a job” and “a career is a relationship”.
We recorded this show while Michaela was in Dubai, speaking at a CIPD Middle East conference – so a huge thanks to Charlotte and the CIPD team for making this episode possible.
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Read the Transcript
Rana Nawas: (00:00)
Everyone I know, all over the world, uses LinkedIn. But how about this for an interesting fact? The Middle East and North Africa is actually LinkedIn’s most active region, globally. I personally find LinkedIn to be a fantastic tool and the reason is this… I have a great business network (I mean, not an epic Social Media Influencer style network, but a pretty solid one), but I don’t feel comfortable leveraging this network – enter LinkedIn, at least when it comes to introductions. I check if the person I’m trying to reach has any mutual connections with me and I request intros from there. This is how I get through to several guests on When Women Win and many other business leaders. I always prefer an introduction to calling someone cold.
Now whatever your age or your sector, whatever your need or your interest from job hunting to business development to self-development, you’ll need introductions at some point and I rely on LinkedIn a lot and I think that the earlier you start using it, even as a student, the better. Michaela Alexis is a Canadian Millennial and a LinkedIn expert, having written dozens of articles that have received millions of reads. Her journey started in March, 2016 when an article she wrote about landing her dream job went viral on LinkedIn. Over the past decade, Michaela has managed the online presence of more than 100 high profile brands and built her own personal brand to over 140,000 followers on LinkedIn. Michaela was one of the first people on LinkedIn to openly discuss mental health, self-esteem, and reporting harassment in the workplace. After her father passed away, she recently started the discussion around bereavement and how it affects your career. When she launched a video campaign on LinkedIn called “Let’s Get Honest”,” encouraging professionals to share a challenge that they’ve had to overcome in their career, the campaign reached over 26 million LinkedIn users, so of course we talked about how LinkedIn works and how to optimize one’s profile. You’ll have to listen to the end for this though, because there were a lot of juicy bits to dissect. First from Michaela’s experience of getting fired for reporting sexual harassment, to how her lack of success, getting companies to open her CV when she was job hunting, led her to use her LinkedIn community to land her dream job. We discussed the importance of confidence, self-esteem, professionalism and decorum. I asked Michaela whether Millennials deserve the wrap they’ve been given, as entitled and needy, and I found her responses to be unexpected and eye-opening. I have two favorite quotes from this episode “people don’t owe you a job” and “a career is a relationship.” We recorded the show while Michaela was in Dubai, speaking at a recent CIPD conference. So, a huge thanks to Charlotte and the CIPD team for making this episode possible. So, let’s get into it.
Rana Nawas: (02:59)
Michaela, it is such a delight to have you on When Women Win. Thank you for coming.
Michaela Alexis: (03:07)
Thank you for having me. I’m excited that we can make this work.
Rana Nawas: (03:09)
I know. A very short notice, fly-through visit.
Michaela Alexis: (03:13)
Rana Nawas: (03:13)
So thanks for making the time. Brilliant. Okay. Let’s start with the trolling and the death threats that you’ve received on LinkedIn. The reason I’m especially surprised is people get this on Twitter and maybe even Insta, but you wouldn’t think that this would happen on LinkedIn. But it happened to you.
Michaela Alexis: (03:30)
Yeah. I mean, the reality is that humans are humans, right? So that stuff happens everywhere. It does happen less, I think probably on LinkedIn, just because you have your name associated with your account, your position and all of that stuff. But I think at the same time, and you learn this as a creator, when you put out content, it’s never about you where the content that you’re putting out is, it’s whether or not that person feels a certain way. I was triggered by the things that you’re writing about, right? So with me, I talk about things. I have been a taboo for a very long time in the business world. You know, talking about fear of failure, rejection and harassment in the business world. And these are not things that are traditionally talked about. I mean, my most recent topic that I’ve been talking about is bereavement, sharing and talking about my dad, who passed away a few months ago. And so I talked about what that looks like in terms of trying to balance your personal life when it’s a very traumatic period with your work life and how do you get back into work mode while still paying respects to your personal life, right?
Rana Nawas: (04:34)
And people had a problem with this?
Michaela Alexis: (04:37)
Oh yes, absolutely. Every single topic that I talk about, because they’re not generally spoken about a lot, people do have a problem with it. So even something as common as bereavement, you know, there are people that have said, you know, “you should keep this to yourself, this is something that you should kind of deal with on your own. And when you feel good, then you should come back into the business world.” And my thoughts are that I want to attract the types of people that understand that I am a human being. I’m not a robot and ideal with things and I like to connect with my clients too, on an emotional level. And I think that makes them the most beautiful working relationships. When you can talk about things other than just the contracts and the proposals and all of that stuff, it really does create a more meaningful connection. I’ve been really lucky to be so open with my world and everything that’s happening so that I do have those clients that love to talk to me about everything that’s going on in their lives.
Rana Nawas: (05:37)
We do create our own worlds, so if those are the people you’re looking for by putting out that kind of content…
Michaela Alexis: (05:42)
Yes, I am attracting them. Absolutely.
Rana Nawas: (05:45)
All right. Tell us a little more about the sexual harassment in the workplace. I think this was one of your first articles or videos, right?
Michaela Alexis: (05:52)
Yeah. I wrote it about a little bit less than a year after I started writing on LinkedIn. And the reason that I did it is because I’m a writer by heart. I am just that type of person, that for me to kind of move to that next level, I need to be very open about the experiences that I’ve had. And so that was one of those experiences that I felt the weight of. I had moved on, I had gotten a new job and it bothered me. It bothered me less because it happened to me, but more so because I had been silenced because of it. I was in a position where, you know, I thought it’s growing up, that if you were harassed by a supervisor, you report them and it gets dealt with. And what I found instead was that that is not what happens. In my scenario, I was treated like I had done something wrong and I was the problem and I was laid off two weeks later by the supervisor that I had reported.
Rana Nawas: (06:51)
Wow. And it’s not illegal?
Michaela Alexis: (06:53)
Yes, yes, very much so. And it was the first time I feel that I felt truly oppressed. I felt the weight of things aren’t supposed to be this way and yet they are. And to add salt to the injury, I went to a recruiter and she told me, “I’m really sorry that happened to you. Something similar has happened to me and my career, but you can’t tell anybody about that because they’re gonna look at you as a troublemaker. So just make sure when you’re interviewing that you don’t mention this thing.” And so I didn’t, and I got my new job and I felt like I wasn’t being true to myself by not sharing that story because I had gotten to a point with my content on LinkedIn that I knew, even the silly scenarios and experiences that I was having, other people were saying #MeToo, and yet I had this huge thing that I was carrying around, this experience and how could I then say, “no, no, no, that’s too much. I don’t want to talk about that.” And once I opened up about it, I think, probably the most powerful part of the whole thing was the amount of people that reached out. Some people were courageous enough to comment publicly, but other people also talked about it privately, men and women really. And I thought that was interesting and also, a little hard to hear, a little hard to hear that there are so many people that are dealing with that and also have to deal with it in the same way that I was, where it happens behind the scenes. And because there are politics, people live in small towns and people are silenced about the things that they experience in the workplace and yet they carry the weight of that experience throughout their career.
Rana Nawas: (08:42)
So, when these people would reach out to you on LinkedIn, men and women, what were the stories they were telling you?
Michaela Alexis: (08:47)
I heard a lot of the same sort of experiences. Either people that had reported harassment and had been laid off or go or people that we’re dealing with it and didn’t know how to get out of it because they were conflicted about just letting it go because they have bills to pay, they have families to feed, or there is the fear of repercussions. If you have a boss that is prominent in the business community and you report them, what does that do for the rest of your career?
Rana Nawas: (09:21)
I’ve read that 75% of sexual harassment claimants face retaliation in the workplace. And so retaliation can be being laid off, like you were. But also like you said, what do you do for your next job? You’re not going to get that recommendation, right?
Michaela Alexis: (09:39)
Absolutely. And it’s also that question. I’ve heard it from multiple people is that “what happened in your last job?” is a question everyone’s going to ask you, right? What happened in your last job? And so that was a bit of a struggle for me, but I hear that that’s a huge problem for other people because you want to be true to yourself, you want to be honest, but you can’t.
Rana Nawas: (10:01)
So what do we do?
Michaela Alexis: (10:01)
I know that for myself, the reality was that it wasn’t a great fit for me. And so that was the most politically correct way of doing it. But I mean, I would love to be able to be in a space where people could openly say what happened to them and what not. And I think that the business world is shifting, where people are valuing transparency, honesty and are starting to look at careers as more of relationships rather than, you know, you get hired by somebody because they’re doing you a favor; I think that’s how it used to be. And I think the more that we kind of move in that direction, the more open people are going to be during those interviews, to open up about their history and about their experiences. I think that’s a great way to start relationships off on the right foot. S.
Rana Nawas: (10:49)
So let’s take a step back, Michaela. How did you get started with LinkedIn?
Michaela Alexis: (10:54)
So interestingly enough, I was working at a local Tech Start-up, I was laid off and I was kind of at a crossroad in my career because I had kind of been going from one position to the next position with this mentality of “you take what you can get,” right? My father was from Trinidad, a super hard worker and he was that person who was just like “you work wherever and you do whatever.” And I wasn’t happy doing that. And so I wanted to find a place that I could truly call home. But I had a really hard time getting there and I had noticed that the process had changed quite a bit. Over time, people were using technology more and more when it comes to filtering applications and some jobs, where you would maybe get 10 applications before, you would get a hundred now. And I didn’t see that that was super beneficial for the job seeker. So what I did is put on tracking codes on 10 resumes and sent them out because I wanted to see how many of them would actually get opened. I’m a marketer, right? But I love strategies. And what I found was that one was actually opened; 1 in 10, one out of 10. And that was important to me because I learned really quickly that the most important skill that you can have, I shouldn’t say skill, but the most important thing that you can have while looking for a job isn’t actually experience. It isn’t actually any of those things. It’s confidence.
Rana Nawas: (12:21)
How did you make the connection between confidence and CV opening?
Michaela Alexis: (12:25)
So I think that when it comes to confidence, you walking into the room is going to make all the difference in terms of how other people see you. And I knew from past jobs that I had worked at, that I was that person that maybe probably wasn’t the most qualified, but I was the most confident person walking in. That’s how I had gotten my previous roles. So, that’s a skill that I had kind of been developing in my career. And so I knew that I needed to guard that, right? Because if I walked into a room, I needed to have that. And the problem is when you send out resumes and you don’t hear a call back, then you automatically assume that you’ve done something wrong or that you’re not good enough, right? And so I was like, I’m not guarding my confidence. This is my golden egg right here. And so I went on LinkedIn, looking back at it now, it was a bold move, but I said “I’m not going to send out a single resume. I’m going to rely on community. I believe in the power of community. And so if you hear of anything, if you have any job openings, this is my dream job. This is what I’m looking for. This is what I bring to the table.” And I didn’t really think anything of it.
Rana Nawas: (13:34)
And how many followers did you have at the time?
Michaela Alexis: (13:38)
A couple thousand. There weren’t a ton, but I still had this feeling in my gut that the community hadn’t disappeared. A lot of people say, you know, with technology, we’re so disconnected. I didn’t believe that. I just believe that community looked different. And what I found was that people just started reaching out to me. Strangers started reaching out to me saying, “I don’t have a job opening, but I love your confidence. I would love to bring you in.” And so I went from looking for a job, to going on 3 to 4 interviews a day, turned down 4 job offers in a two week period and ended up landing what was at the time, my dream job. And my first article that went viral on LinkedIn was called “How I Landed My Dream Job in Two Weeks on LinkedIn.” And I had written it, not because I expected it to blow up or anything like that, the intention was to help other job seekers because I was looking at my process and I’m like, “guys, I usually spend like months just trying to find a job, and I did it this way and ended up with a phenomenal job, doing it a totally different way,” right? That gives you back some of the control that you lose when you’re a job seeker. And that just went absolutely bananas.
Rana Nawas: (14:54)
What do you mean? How?
Michaela Alexis: (14:55)
So I knew that something was strange when I came home that day because I couldn’t log into the APP. Every time I tried to use the LinkedIn App, it would shut down and it would be glitchy. So I’m like, okay, that’s weird. Anyways, then I went to the desktop version and at the time they still had like stat areas where you could actually see how many people looked at your profile but that wouldn’t work. And then I started looking at the connection requests and it was just climbing and climbing and climbing. And I remember writing that something weird was happening. And within a week period, I had gone up to 11,000 followers and just kept growing from there. It was really exciting for me because, I started to do a little bit of research because I’m like, “why is this resonating with so many people?” And I found that it was, you know, relatable. It was helpful. It was conversational. It was a lot more casual than a lot of other pieces that I had written but it was exciting. And then I started to do research and I found that the third most popular topic on LinkedIn for articles was self-esteem. So that was my “aha”” moment because I realized that, you know, people were saying that there is a personal on the professional self and yet the way that they were consuming was totally different. They saw that, they wanted that information. We just didn’t want to admit that we were looking at that information. So I felt like I had found a place for me, where I could grow my community.
Rana Nawas: (16:27)
When you say the third most popular thing on LinkedIn, so obviously I have to ask you what numbers 1 and 2 were?
Michaela Alexis: (16:30)
So, employee engagement and recruiting is usually pretty far up there. And that makes a lot of sense because a lot of people are looking for jobs on there. So they’re looking for tips in terms of how to get that career. But, it goes back to me saying, you know, talking about confidence, your confidence is the most important thing that you can have through your job search. But that was even non job-seekers that we’re looking at self-esteem, right? Because we all have those fear of failures. I mean, before I was laid off, that was my biggest fear and I feel like that was a turning point for me because I remember as it was happening, it was horrible, but then I felt so free because I was fearless. I had lost that fear. The thing that I was most afraid of in my career, the thing that I kept avoiding, had happened and I am still alive and still kicking. And so it really did give me a lot of confidence. So, I had just found my home and I had just started writing about my experiences, why I chose the job that I did, my job interviews that had gone horribly wrong, like all of the things that, you know, at first I didn’t think would be of any interest to anybody other than myself. And what I found was that people were really hungry, just like you see, for Youtubers and people on Facebook, for somebody to come in and talk about their personal experiences but in the professional world. So, I essentially call myself a Career Blogger / Logger because I just share my career and for some reason it’s interesting to people.
Rana Nawas: (18:05)
You say that a lot of the stuff you do is under the confidence and self-esteem umbrella. So, what tips do you have for people who want to work?
Michaela Alexis: (18:13)
I want to develop their confidence. I think the biggest thing is understanding a career as a relationship because I think a lot of job seekers go in for an interview and they’re thinking, “oh my gosh, I hope I get the job. I hope we get the job.” And you have to realize that you are a talented, experienced professional who comes with great value to that company and you need to be assessing them as much as they’re assessing you. So I think once you can get to that point where you understand that this is a transaction, this is a relationship, I think that really does change quite a bit.
Rana Nawas: (18:50)
I agree wholeheartedly. And that’s why I’ve never been scared when I go into an interview or when I apply for a job or that fear of failure doesn’t exist because in my mind, if I don’t get the job, we’re not a good fit for each other.
Michaela Alexis: (19:02)
I think that people really struggle with the idea of fit, when it comes to their career. The job that I ended up getting, I didn’t realize this at the time, but I had actually interviewed for it three years prior…
Rana Nawas: (19:15)
Michaela Alexis: (19:16)
…and didn’t get the job, but I was super professional about it, like sent an email after thanking them for the interview. And at the time I didn’t have enough BtoB marketing experience. It was literally a fit issue. And what they did is that even though I wasn’t a fit, they kept following me to see what I was up to. And then once I had the experience, they were like, that’s our girl. Right. So, it’s not a myth that that fit is right. It’s a two way street and I we weren’t right for each other at that time. But I think that also points to the fact that you always have to be professional and that the business world is just as much about relationships as your personal life. And I see people, I’ve been on both sides, I’ve been the employer, the hiring manager and the candidate and I have seen horrible behavior from candidates where they didn’t get the job and they’ve complained about it. Or they complain because you didn’t get back to them quick enough and things like that. And it always boggles my mind because I just want to be like “you don’t understand what you’re doing. You could have had a relationship.” I mean, I have a relationship with people that I’ve interviewed with. I send them Christmas cards every year.
Rana Nawas: (20:31)
Wow. I didn’t know anyone still sends Christmas cards.
Michaela Alexis: (20:33)
But you know, as much as you know, if you don’t get a job, people don’t owe you a job, right?
Rana Nawas: (20:40)
Michaela Alexis: (20:40)
And I think if you can understand that and just having that idea that it’s a relationship and if it’s not a good fit, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean that that can’t be an ally for you down the road. So I think really understanding that this is an investment and sometimes you need to invest money, confidence and time into relationships as well. So I think that does come with the confidence though, when you realize that it’s a relationship.
Rana Nawas: (21:05)
Yeah. I think confidence is the bedrock of your professional life as much as it is your personal, I completely agree. Michaela, you talk a lot about behavior in the business world. You know, you just said you’re a Hiring Manager and some candidates behave badly. You know, Millennials get a bad rep today. In your view as a Millennial and a Millennial thought leader and influencer, is this bad rep justified?
Michaela Alexis: (21:32)
So it’s funny that you mentioned that. I just spoke at a CIPD’s conference and awards and I talked about hiring your next Millennial star. And this really all sparked from an article that I wrote on LinkedIn called “Millennials; Not a Dirty Word,” because I received an email from a CEO who told me, “wow, you’re not as entitled as most of the Millennials that I’ve met.” And it was the strangest compliment I think I’ve ever gotten.
This has existed since the beginning of time. There’s always been this kind of attitude towards the younger generation. It’s crazy to me to even think that I’m part of the younger generation at this point. But I don’t think so. I think that there’s a misunderstanding. I think there’s a misunderstandings between generations, period. I think there’s a lot of things that come across in one way to older generations that are actually very different. So I’m a perfect example is this idea of entitlement that I see a lot of times from both sides. I’ve heard it from my bosses. I have heard it from my business partners and I’ve also heard it from co-workers who are Millennials, this idea that Millennials come in and they’re expected to be given the corner office right away, right? They want things to happen right away. And I mean there’s probably some truth in that in terms of the fact that we come from a culture where there’s instant gratification. You grow up with the Internet, all that stuff.
The other side of it is this is probably the generation that has the most student loan debt in all time. And for many people, you don’t have time to wait to climb the ladder. I know for myself, you graduate and you’ve got to find a job that you just work your way up and hope you eventually make a salary that is sustainable. You need to make that salary work for not just buying food and shelter and all that stuff, but also to pay off those loans. And so I think that there’s a little bit of, I don’t want to say desperation, but in some cases, absolutely. When you are burdened with student loans and it can come across as this entitlement where you get things done quickly. So that’s one of them. I think that there’s also this idea that there’s the constant feedback requirement, that companies always complained to me about. It is that our Millennials, they want constant feedback and reassurance that they’re great. I think that feedback… I don’t understand really why that’s a negative thing because I mean feedback is very different to compliments, right? So if you’re looking for instant compliments, that’s one thing. But I think that when it comes to Millennials, yes, we’re looking for more feedback than previous generations, but that can be positive or negative. And why is that a bad thing? If you have an employee who’s asking you, what am I doing wrong? What can I improve? Isn’t that better than having someone around for years where they don’t want to hear that feedback? I think that’s a fantastic thing and I think that there is more of a value placed on having an open flow of communication.
So Millennials do want to have direct relationships with their supervisors, kind of across the board. That whole hierarchy of the CEO, that never speaks to the intern, that’s going out of style, right? People want to be able to not just communicate with other departments and other generations, but also learn from them. And I think that’s part of it as well. You know, when you grow up with the Internet, you have access to so much knowledge and information. And so when you’re in the workplace, of course, why wouldn’t you want to ask questions and have direct communication with a CEO that has 20 years of business experience? I mean, I love to seek those people out. Mentorships are bigger than they’ve ever been. Advisory boards are huge. All of those things are really important because it’s, again, that constant flow of knowledge. And I think that if you can learn to embrace that across the board, it is a way that a company can grow much faster than they ever have been able to.
Rana Nawas: (25:38)
Yeah. I definitely think that the workforce today and people coming through are much hungrier for self-growth and self-developers. Then sort of my dad’s generation, my parents, it was just we go in, we do our thing and we leave.
Michaela Alexis: (25:54)
So, one of the biggest things that Millennials are looking for is a purpose in their work and creating meaningful work. And what’s really wonderful about LinkedIn is that I sometimes refer to it as a free online university. This is the first time in history that you have people that have usually worked in silos, kept their head down until retirement and then left, able to share their knowledge with the world. I mean, this changes so much when you start to think about the amount of information that can be passed on globally, is astounding. Ad I mean I’m a little bit jealous of people who are coming out of school now because this is the first time where the playing field is really level. If you want to build a personal brand, if you want to have access to some of the greatest minds in the world, you can. That to me is so exciting. I remember when I first started out on LinkedIn, I read a book, went online, posted a review of the book and then the author jumped in on the comments and he started kind of talking back and forth with me. And I just sat there, and maybe this is just Dorky, but I was like, this is incredible, incredible that you can go on, for free, have a discussion with the Author of a book that you loved, about the subject, right? When could you ever do that? So I think there’s a huge opportunity here.
Rana Nawas: (27:19)
I think you also use LinkedIn right. So I mean many people would post a book review and might not get the attention of the authors. So perhaps you can give our listeners some tips on how to use LinkedIn right, or make the most of it.
Michaela Alexis: (27:32)
I mean we’ve been talking about confidence a lot. Confidence is probably the hugest thing when it comes to LinkedIn. So there are people from different demographics and the biggest thing is students. I speak to students a lot and their struggle with LinkedIn is that they haven’t made it yet, right? They don’t have the experience yet. And I tell people, if you are born, you have a voice, you have a story, your opinion matters, right? Because we need those perspectives to grow. And there’s lots of times where there is a perspective, especially with a student, just like I mentioned with the student loan debt, most people of other generations wouldn’t even consider that, right? So you have to share those perspectives. And so when it comes to students, I know I wanna know what it’s like to be somebody that’s graduating into Tech today’s world because I’m not gonna know otherwise, right? So I try to tell students all the time that you have a voice. Start talking about it. If you’re doing an internship, talk about your experience as an intern. Talking about the courses that you’re taking and how you feel about each subject. You know, I have a lot of clients that are women. Women struggle. There’s this difference that I have with clients who are men and women. The men are much more likely to go on and create the articles, create the videos and do all the things. My female clients are the ones that really struggle with it not being perfect yet, especially, you know, “I’m getting my hair done next week, so I’m gonna kill those videos next week.” And I try to tell them, I mean, people aren’t looking for perfection. I think that we all have that profession perfection fatigue, don’t we?
Rana Nawas: (29:12)
Totally. And this comes to episode 49, I recently had Reshma Saujani on When Women Win, the Author of “Brave, Not Perfect.’ And one of the most listened to TED Talks on the planet is about how we raise our boys to be brave and our girls to be perfect and we reward them for perfection early on in their lives, which then translates to what you’re talking about, 13 years later.
Michaela Alexis: (29:35)
I mean, I love the work that I do because I feel so grateful to be able to pull those stories out of people whose voices deserve to be heard. But I think that there’s so much missing there. Part of the issue too is that women… On every platform, even on LinkedIn, there’s so much harassment there.There are so many people that are on the platform that are leaving the platform because they’re getting harassing messages, men that are hitting on them in their private messages that are commenting strange things on their videos, that sort of thing. So I think that’s probably gonna be in the next battle for LinkedIn; how to really combat that. There’s also kind of a cultural issue with that as well because there’s this idea that if a man hits on you, regardless of what platform it’s on, and even if you’re there to work and find work, then you should be flattered. And if you’re not, then you’re not grateful, right?So, I think that’s a really big issue. And I think that sometimes with women, they might go on and create a video or an article and they find that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. And I think that’s hard. It’s hard when I hear that because I think that if you can, try to push through, there has been so many challenges that I’ve come across on LinkedIn. It’s been three years. I’ve heard and seen a lot and if you can push through, there’s so much on the other side. There are so many people that you can touch and impact if you can share your story. But I also understand the idea that it is really difficult to be in that position, it’s definitely difficult the first time you get a mess. So I do these little videos that I post on LinkedIn about, for example, the motherhood penalty, you know, which is how the pay gap grows for women once they have children and other things like, you know, how to have better meaning. Why don’t women speak up in meetings? And so I share some stats about that and every time I post that, it triggers certain people, right? And you’re going to trigger and the first time or two that you trigger people and they post a comment that’s kind of abusive, it really gets your skin up, doesn’t it? Gets your hair up, I don’t know what the phrases. But I like to switch my brain. When I’m a creator, I go into creation mode and I think about it from a business perspective. You want those people, why is that? Number one, you want to give your community a chance to stick up for you. That can actually solidify your bond and your relationship with your audience. The second reason is that regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, your message is now spreading to their entire network. Most people have like a minimum, probably 500 connections. So I always think about it in my head, I’m like, especially the bigger the follower, if you have a big audience, you can say whatever you wan, go tahead. I mean, obviously you’re going to go ahead and report anything that’s harassing or anything so I try to always keep my audience in mind. So if there’s something that is, sexist, racist or just anything that’s demeaning and could be hurtful to members of my community, not necessarily to me, but to members of my community, then I will report it. But otherwise, I mean you, that’s always how I’ve thought of it, is I thank you for the exposure because you do find that there are people whose entire network probably doesn’t think that way, right? The chances of that are very slim. And I’ve actually found in multiple scenarios where somebody has discovered me through one of their connections, who ended up disconnecting so that we can be connected, which I mean, I love it.
Rana Nawas: (33:17)
So let’s dive more into your expertise. Your expertise is LinkedIn Optimization. So what are your top tips for our listeners on how they can make the most out of their LinkedIn profile?
Michaela Alexis: (33:30)
So I think the most abandoned area on LinkedIn profiles is your summary, which is really your introduction to the person who’s visiting your profile. And I think that it’s a great way to share your why, share what you’re all about and share how to get in touch. And I’m a big believer that people don’t care about where you work or what you do until they know who you are. I think they need to see that you have similar values, similar personalities and they like and trust you. And so that really gives you a really great place to share that story about how and why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it kind of connects the dots for the person who’s reading it.
Rana Nawas: (34:11)
And should it be in the first person or third person?
Michaela Alexis: (34:14)
Always in the first person, that even comes from LinkedIn. So that third person perspective is out of style and it’s been out of style for a while and now it’s come again. I like to think of LinkedIn as your house and how do you invite people into your home. You wouldn’t say “hi, I’m Michaela, would love you to come in and Michaela would love for you to have a seat,” it’s weird, right? So I think if you can kind of think of it that way, that’s probably the easiest thing to do. I love to do a giveaway because, again, think of it as your home. So you invite somebody into your home. What do you usually ask? You say, “can I get you something to drink?” Right? That’s just naturally what we do. So what about with your profile? If you look at my summary, I love to include a gift and that could be, a white paper that I’ve done, a checklist that I give away, free access to something. But there’s no hidden agenda or anything like, it is a gift for the person, you know, 10% off of course, or something like that. So a real gift for the person who’s visiting your profile. And I find that really effective. I also think that I’m thinking of your profile as a career museum because a lot of people will just have texts on their profile. But I think when you start adding artifacts, especially people…Oh my gosh, the amount of people that say that they are video experts and have zero videos on their LinkedIn. A profile matters, this is your portfolio, right? So imagine yourself going into museum. If you just saw a text all over the wall, it’d be pretty, I would be kind of bored. So it’s important to have different formats; if you have a video, great. If you have links to your website, awesome. There is no excuses for not having media on your LinkedIn page because there’s so many different things that you can do. I know that when I started my solo-preneur business, I really struggled because I didn’t have a website yet. So I’m like, what can I put under my experience section? And so what I did is I took my LinkedIn recommendations from clients that I was working with, turned them into images and then attach them as images under my experience section. I’ve seen other people that have taken their summary, turned it into a script and then they create a video. So it’s a video introduction. So the amount of ways that you can be creative with that are so many different options.
Rana Nawas: (36:35)
Okay. So summary.
Michaela Alexis: (36:36)
Summary is a biggest one, adding media and also really paying attention to your introduction card, which is your profile photo, your background photo, and your headline.
Rana Nawas: (36:47)
Oh, okay. So tell us a bit about what your profile photo looks like? I don’t think I have a background photo.
Michaela Alexis: (36:52)
So your background photo is a great place for you to share a little bit more about who you are and why you do what you do. So again, you want to think of somebody who goes to your profile as a busy professional. Imagine them, they’re on their coffee break, they’re drinking their cup of coffee and they’re looking at your profile. They’re trying to decide in two seconds whether or not you’re somebody that they want to work with. And most people have this idea that people are just going to sit there and scroll through your entire profile and then decide. None of us have time for that, right? So your introduction card, which is your background photo, your profile photo and your headline is really your first and sometimes even the only impression that you can make on the person who goes to your profile. So people should ask themselves, if somebody were to visit my profile right now without scrolling down, would they know what I do for a living? And if the answer is no, then it’s time to do a revamp.
Rana Nawas: (37:44)
Great. Thank you for that. Did I ask for three? Because you gave me three. That’s amazing! Brilliant. Okay, so we’ve time for some rapid fire questions. What is a book you’ve gifted recently?
Michaela Alexis: (38:04)
A book I’ve gifted recently… I love anything by Brene Brown. I think that regardless of what somebody is going through in their life or career, I think that is pretty universal. I really love gifting the Four Agreements as well.
Rana Nawas: (38:19)
I’ve read that book. I love that book!
Michaela Alexis: (38:20)
Yeah. It’s one of those books that you read and you’re like, “I don’t know if that’s affected me,” and then it affects you. You start to see it in your everyday life. And I think that it really comes down to empowerment. I think that the more empowered you can feel, the more you can go into the world and attract the right people, attract the tribe that you need to grow, learn, connect and all of that stuff. And so anything that I can give to people that can give them that solid foundation, I think is probably the best gift that you can get.
Rana Nawas: (38:50)
How do you deal with the overwhelm, especially as you’re active online and there’s just so much coming at you online?
Michaela Alexis: (38:55)
Rana Nawas: (38:55)
What’s your top tip for dealing with all that?
Michaela Alexis: (38:57)
Have a system in place. There’s no other way to do it. So I like to think of my business as a franchise. So what that means is that if I gave the keys to my business to somebody tomorrow, would they be able to run it? If the answer is no, then I need to add more systems into place. So things as simple as content creation. Yeah, there’s things that I do like on the fly as they happen, but for the most part I do a lot of batching, especially when it comes to my company’s page on LinkedIn because I travel a lot. So usually about mid-month, I’ll sit down and I take a look at my content bank, which is just ideas that I come up with throughout the month of things that have come up. So questions, people ask me things that I’ve observed with clients, all that kind of stuff. It’s all in a document. And then I create my calendar. I color code everything because I’m a big believer in the “serve-serve-serve-sell” model. So, you have some content that’s focused just on service and then you have some content that’s your pitch, right? So probably every fourth day is a pitch. So whether it’s speaking workshops, you just need to remind people what you do. It sounds so crazy, but people just forget, right? And sometimes people will say, “oh, I really love your content, but what do you do again?” So I never want to be in that position. And so that really helps me, by color coding everything, knowing which audience I’m serving and then where I’m going to be selling. So yeah, definitely having a system, batching and re-purposing.
I’m a big believer in re-purposing. So, a big key piece would be a podcast like this and then you would take different pieces so you could have images and then you could overlay some texts like an answer to a question or a really cool quote from the interview. You could divide it into one minute, two minute videos and post those. You could post an infographic, especially if you’re a solopreneur, you run a small company. I mean we always have this idea that when we post something, the whole world sees it. And that’s really not the case. So you can actually re-purpose the same content. There are some Youtubers, big Youtubers, who will re-purpose the same content once a week. That’s a little too much for me. That scares me a little bit, but I’ve learned once every 20 days is perfect.
Rana Nawas: (41:15)
So if I’ve created these short videos, then I can release them again?
Michaela Alexis: (41:19)
Yeah. Why are we always in creation mode? Because again, if it was a value to one person, at some point it’s going to be a value to other people who didn’t see it the first time.
Rana Nawas: And you can actually just say, in case you didn’t catch this the first time…
Michaela Alexis: but you don’t even need to do that.
Rana Nawas: (41:35)
Michaela Alexis: (41:35)
You don’t need to do that.
Rana Nawas: (41:37)
Oh – booboo.
Michaela Alexis: (41:39)
You certainly could but if you look at Instagram, one thing that’s really popular is that they re-introduce themselves to their followers once every month, once every two months. And that’s something that a lot of other platforms don’t really do, we don’t think about doing that, but it’s a really good practice. Because if you are gaining new followers every day, which hopefully like most people, you are, then you have new people to introduce yourself to. And there’s new people that don’t know your story yet. And so it’s important to constantly be and create as much evergreen content as possible because the more that you do that, the more that you can re-purpose it.
Rana Nawas: (42:13)
Yeah, like a podcast.
Michaela Alexis: (42:15)
Rana Nawas: (42:17)
Awesome. Okay. And one last question we had, what is a question you wish people would ask you more often?
Michaela Alexis: (42:24)
I think probably what drives me.
Rana Nawas: (42:25)
What drives you?
Michaela Alexis: (42:31)
I think what drives me is that feeling that I have, like when I’m on stage and I look out in the crowd and I see this moment where I just see that glimmer that I’ve transferred something that I am so passionate about into somebody else. I’m really lucky because I truly believe, because I’ve experienced that myself, that LinkedIn and what I’m doing has changed my life. And so if it can change somebody else’s life, I mean, what greater gift is there in the world than to impact other people? And whether that’s through writing, whether that is through speaking, I mean, it really doesn’t make any difference. It’s just the greatest feeling in the world. And I think that’s really the only way that you can continue because sometimes the obstacles are so great that the only thing that will make you continue posting is knowing that, you know, maybe you’ll touch one person that day.
Rana Nawas: (43:23)
That’s what drives you – love it. Michaela, thank you so much for your time. Where can listeners find you?
Michaela Alexis: (43:30)
I mean, I hang out online pretty much 24/7. You can find me on my LinkedIn homepage @MichaelaAlexis, on Instagram @MickAlexis. I’m trying to think of where else… Oh, mickalexis.com is my website where you can find my services and blogs about how to grow your LinkedIn presence.
Rana Nawas: (43:51)
Brilliant. Thank you so much. And we’ll put all these links in the show notes.
Michaela Alexis: (43:53)
Yes. Awesome. Thanks for having me. This was fun.
Rana Nawas: (43:57)
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