Cascading Leadership - The Show

All the Action is in the Comments - A Formula For Brand Building Success - Nick Bennett

December 13, 2022 Jim Season 2 Episode 45
Cascading Leadership - The Show
All the Action is in the Comments - A Formula For Brand Building Success - Nick Bennett
Show Notes Transcript


Nick believes that one of the most important things early career professionals can do to build their brand is to engage with like-minded people in their industry. He recommends finding content creators whose work you admire and adding value to their conversations on a daily basis. By doing this, you will organically drive people back to your own profile and begin to build a personal brand.

Nick talks about how he built his large and engaged LinkedIn community. He says that consistency and generosity are key to success on the platform. He also advises other LinkedIn users to go into the world with a curious mindset in order to build their own communities.

Nick and Jim also  discuss how LinkedIn can be used to build relationships and communities. Nick emphasizes the importance of helping others in their mission, rather than leveraging the conversation to help oneself.



"Nick Bennett: Building Your Brand"


The Benefits of Social Media for Professional Networking


The Benefits of Consistency and Generosity in Building an Engaged Community


The Power of Generosity in Community Building


The Power of Being Authentic and Building a Community


The Benefits of Community in Professional Development


The Benefits of Following Early Career Professionals on Social Media


The Most Impactful People to Follow for Community Building Efforts


Sales Team Fans: A Conversation with Nick Bennett


Building Your Brand: The Key to Success on Social Media


The Power of Consistency in Leadership with Nick Bennett

Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera 

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[00:00:00] Ethan: Previously on Cascading Leadership...

[00:00:02] Dr. Jim: that whole building a personal brand and pursuit of your own vision for yourself that's, a critical point that I think a lot of people aren't tying together

[00:00:11] Nick Bennett: I think that you, nailed it. And I don't think people, I don't wanna say they don't take it serious enough, but there's so much opportunity whether you're going to go work for someone else, whether you're just starting out in your career, 

[00:00:25] Nick Bennett: you're never gonna work for the company that you work for unless you own it. Which you may still not even work for them forever, but you're never gonna work for that company forever. Like my mom, she's worked for Raytheon for 43 or 44 years now. It's been her only job ever. And she's just I don't understand how you've had seven or eight jobs and you're 35.

[00:00:44] Nick Bennett: and I was just like, mom, like times have changed. It's just not the same mentality that it used to be.

[00:00:49] Nick Bennett: And so you have to look out for yourself at the end of the day cuz no one else will. 

[00:00:53] Dr. Jim: So if you're not doing it for yourself, you're gonna get left behind. And, I'm very passionate about communicating that [00:01:00] because I feel like sometimes people get stuck in roles longer than they need to be in there. So that's, a fantastic call out on your point. I wanna shift gears a little bit and focus the conversation around early career folks and why and how they can build their brands.

[00:01:15] Dr. Jim: So let's, talk about some of the basics things that you need to do on whatever platform you choose to do it on. What's fundamental to starting the process of building your brand

[00:01:25] Ethan: And now the conclusion of our conversation with Nick Bennett...

[00:01:28] Nick Bennett: I, think number one is engaging like finding like-minded people that you want to work with. Or, not even work with, but learn from, like for me, there's people that I look up to, like the Chris Walkers of the world, like the dgs, like the Justin Welsh shows, like the people that like, Have, even Kyle Coleman, like people that have paved the path, like from a content creation standpoint and seeing what it can do for them.

[00:01:51] Nick Bennett: Find those people that are like-minded, whether you're in marketing, sales, whatever industry, like every, industry is on LinkedIn nowadays, but [00:02:00] go engage with their stuff like every single day, add value to their conversations. Like most content creators post around the same time every single day.

[00:02:10] Nick Bennett: For me, I do one in the morning. and then lately I've been doing one in the afternoon or one in the evening. And so you just find out when they post, if you have the, bell notification on, their profile, you can click that or you can just keep track of when they post and you just show up early.

[00:02:26] Nick Bennett: Like as soon as they post, you add value. What that's going to do is organically drive people back to your own profile because they're gonna be like, Hey, look, Nick commented on this, post. This was actually pretty insightful. Huh, I've never seen Nick's name before. What does he do? They're gonna go over to your profile page.

[00:02:43] Nick Bennett: They're gonna see where you work, what you do, if you create content or not, they're gonna either follow you or send a connection request. And so it's a great way to build the base of, Hey, I'm not going into this blindly. I have at least some s semblance of a following, [00:03:00] even knowing I'm only engaging with others.

[00:03:01] Nick Bennett: So if you're looking to get. Engaging with 10 to 15 others, you can go higher, you can go lower, but you have to engage on a daily basis. 

[00:03:12] Dr. Jim: It actually speaks to one of the objections that I often hear from early career and even mid-career and senior career people who aren't active on social platforms and, that's, I don't have anything to say.

[00:03:23] Dr. Jim: Nobody cares what I. and I don't even know how to start. And your point about, hey, you don't have to be some sort of. Deep thinker. You just have to find, out what you're interested in, go find the people that are talking about it, and then ask them questions or advance the conversation. And that normally will have a feedback loop back to your profile.

[00:03:44] Dr. Jim: Another thing that you pointed out, and I don't know if the audience caught it, but you said you post in the morning, And once in the evening, and you might post in the middle of the day, but that's really all you do.

[00:03:54] Dr. Jim: And so that debunks another thought about [00:04:00] how you leverage platforms. People are under the oppression I don't want to hang out on here all, day long. And nobody is doing that. Nobody that's doing it well is doing that. Really we have periods where we'll post and then we'll disappear for a while and, that's it.

[00:04:13] Dr. Jim: It the, assumption that this takes like. Massive amount of time to do. No, it, it doesn't. What I want to call out is you're consistent about showing up in a particular way every single day, and how has that helped move the needle for you in terms of building your community? And for those that are not familiar with Nick, he's got one of the most robust engaged communities that I've seen.

[00:04:36] Dr. Jim: He is got 30, almost 35,000 people that are in his community and everything. Like he could post a pickle. And there would be probably a million views about and comments about some pickle jar picture that he posted. , 

[00:04:50] Nick Bennett: It's, so interesting because it's I, never actually I, actually had no goal with creating content.

[00:04:57] Nick Bennett: I was doing it as like a pandemic hobby [00:05:00] and then it turned into a community. And I think that's how you have to change your mindset. Have the mindset that LinkedIn or whatever social platform you're on, it's a community. Everyone wants to embrace community or leverage community. How do you do that?

[00:05:14] Nick Bennett: And I think it's, all about the give give, before you ask. Anyone to do anything. Like I early on and I've started to do less and less of it just because I don't have the bandwidth anymore, but like I was taking one to two calls a week from marketers that would reach out to me saying, Hey, I'd love to pick your brain.

[00:05:33] Nick Bennett: Just wanna learn more about field marketing or A B m I would do it. That was no issue. That one to two turned into seven to 10 a week and I was still doing it, but I was starting to, get to the point where, This was really hard. I was spending 30 minutes each call on a weekly basis going over things, just giving it away for free.

[00:05:54] Nick Bennett: And now I'm definitely more selective about how I spend my time, [00:06:00] but I still try to leverage the value of everything that I post on LinkedIn is for the community, it's for giving back. And I'm not the type of person that will pitch you on something like, cool, if you wanna go buy Alice, if you wanna.

[00:06:14] Nick Bennett: I, I sell an ABM course for 20 bucks. If you wanna go buy that, I give most of my stuff away for free outside of that. And I think that's the mindset, a mindset that like a lot of people need to have, because a lot of people are all about the ask ask, versus the give give, 

[00:06:31] Dr. Jim: You, just hit on two things that I absolutely just preach about, which is go into the world with a curious mindset. . So that will actually create your own community around you because you're going in and building this brand and building your community with the intent to learn. So I'm, naturally biased towards that.

[00:06:50] Dr. Jim: But the other part that you mentioned is the generosity component. You should always be going out or at least trying to be the person that gives two or three times more than [00:07:00] you ask, because that's how you actually build an attraction model and build a, beneficial relationship for all parties involved.

[00:07:07] Dr. Jim: And you're probably gonna be familiar with this, but Steve Watt talks about it all the time. People are on LinkedIn to advance their own agendas, their own careers, to accomplish their own missions. And if, you want to build authentic relationships and communities, your number one purpose should be, how can I help them in their mission versus how can I leverage the conversation to help myself do something that I want?

[00:07:29] Dr. Jim: And there. It might seem like the same thing, but it's not. It's, a subtle difference in how it makes that other person feel. And, really people have taken this whole community building component to it and abused it because they'll, engage in your posts and say things and they'll connect with you and then they'll still send you a seven paragraph value statement as soon as you connect.

[00:07:52] Dr. Jim: And that's not giving, that's not operating from generosity. . 

[00:07:56] Nick Bennett: Yep. Yeah it's, so interesting too, because. And I'll [00:08:00] give you a perfect example of this. This was before I joined Alice, but at my last company I had someone that would engage with my content. He was a sales rep at this company and he engaged with my content for a while.

[00:08:11] Nick Bennett: I knew that he wanted to, sell to us, but he never, approached me about trying to pitch me, trying to do any of that. I would say probably about four months in of engaging on a regular basis. He shot me an email that pulled specific pieces of my LinkedIn content out into this email and added a ton of value into this email that was highly personalized for me.

[00:08:34] Nick Bennett: I was honestly blown away. And I don't typically reply to, really any cold outreach, but that this caught my eye the way that, that he did it. And two weeks later, I signed a $35,000 contract with him and his company for, what they were offering just because of one, the way that he engaged, the way that he did it.

[00:08:54] Nick Bennett: And then two, the way that he went above and beyond in personalization and realized my pain points and how they, their company [00:09:00] could specifically add value. 

[00:09:01] Dr. Jim: I'm never gonna bang anybody for. know, Doing their research and like having something tailored than that. But nine times outta 10 when you're getting a message right after you connect, it's not that it's, some bot version message that gets like thrown up into your inbox.

[00:09:16] Dr. Jim: So we've talked about being consistent as a key element in building your brand. We've also talked about how part of the brand building effort is leveraging and building a community around you. How do you actually do this in a way that's authentic relative to the level that you're at in your career?

[00:09:33] Nick Bennett: I think it's just being, staying true to yourself. Like just be who you are. Like so many people try to pretend to be something that they're not. And I, know this for a fact because there's people on LinkedIn that I personally know have met in person and the way that they. Post content and act on LinkedIn is 1000000% different than who they are in real life.

[00:09:53] Nick Bennett: And I call 'em out on it all the time because I'm, friends with them and they're just like, yeah, I put on like a separate show [00:10:00] because I want people to think differently about me. And I'm like, why? That literally makes no sense to me. You're not. , you're not staying true to yourself. You're not being authentic.

[00:10:08] Nick Bennett: You're trying to fake something to get people to like you for something that you're not. And when they do meet you in person, they're gonna be like, Hey this isn't the person I've built a relationship with for the last year, or whatever. So I think that's the first piece. I think the second piece is, Talk about stories.

[00:10:25] Nick Bennett: Everyone has stories. Regardless if you're in high school, college, just outta school, brand new in your career, doesn't matter. You're working on something within a personal project, a professional project. Just talk about that project. Talk about the way that you went about doing it, the successes, the failures.

[00:10:43] Nick Bennett: People don't talk about failures enough. I don't get it. I fail quite often. I'm okay with saying that because I learn the lessons that have helped me, progress me in my career from those failures, and I think it's, just talking about personal stories that tie it back to a. [00:11:00] Overarching theme and those, that's honestly, that's the content that I love the most.

[00:11:05] Nick Bennett: When you tell me about projects or something about you that you're working on and the way that you went about solving it, which again tells you how the brain works, how or what you're passionate about, it just makes it so much more relatable versus me posting. , go out there and be awesome. Yeah, like I , I could post that and yeah, some people would probably like it, but does that actually add value at the end of the day?

[00:11:31] Nick Bennett: And stories add value, fluffy stuff does not add value. 

[00:11:35] Dr. Jim: I will tell you, Nick, if you go and post a single sentence on go out there and be awesome, you're still gonna get 500 likes and a thousand comments on it. But I get what you mean The saying like vanilla surface level stuff like that is it's a version of doing things wrong in the same way or, probably not the best way to do things in the same way as commenting on [00:12:00] somebody's post and saying, oh, great post.

[00:12:02] Dr. Jim: Oh, this is awesome. You want to advance the conversation. But I wanna link this back to tell your story and, tell what's going on, because I think that's absolutely critical, especially as a, as an early career person because. We, talk about community and we don't really link it into what that means in terms of your professional development.

[00:12:20] Dr. Jim: Because if you write about, Hey, I had a brutal day and I'm an S D R, and I called 200 people, nobody talked to me. The one person that picked up the phone yelled at me, and this is what I said. Like the amount of support, if you post that, and I've seen it, that you will get from the LinkedIn community on, hey, hang in there.

[00:12:38] Dr. Jim: But more importantly, here's what you can try to do differently in terms of getting to the people that are more likely to answer. Here's what you can do differently to get better results next time. That's the value in it because, Like I'm a big ass nerd when it comes to stuff like learning and development and, coaching and that sort of stuff.

[00:12:57] Dr. Jim: And it's proven out like [00:13:00] people learn faster and better when there's a group of minds together in pursuit of a same mission. So how do you replicate that in a non-classroom environment? Who are the people in your community that are early in their career? That other early career professionals should follow in terms of, okay, I get the authenticity bit, but what does that look like?

[00:13:21] Nick Bennett: I don't have the names off the top of my head, but there is people there is some people that, I follow that are like 2000 people that follow them or ju under 5,000 even.

[00:13:33] Nick Bennett: But they put out really good stuff and there's like groups of, a lot of them are actually on the sales side. Like sales, S D R B D R side. . But there, there is those people out there and I, wish someone like when you always see these lists that are put together on like LinkedIn, everyone always tags like the people with like, all like the followers, but I don't see as many lists of like people with say under 5,000 followers, who should I be [00:14:00] following under 5,000 followers?

[00:14:02] Nick Bennett: That's something. That I think a lot of people would enjoy because it's the up and comers, like those people with under 5K now in another two years are gonna be in the same place that like, like I'm in right now. And it's just, you have to, it's it's like sports, like you're, it's the minors, like you're working with the miners, you're grooming them to get them up to the major league level.

[00:14:24] Nick Bennett: And you're working with them because you wanna support them. You wanna see that next generation evolve and continue to grow, and everyone continues on their journey, and then they'll do that for the next generation behind them. 

[00:14:36] Dr. Jim: Actually you just gave me a writing idea because I got a bunch of people in my network and I'm, one of those people that are growing my community.

[00:14:44] Dr. Jim: So I have a bunch of people that I, think are less than 5,000 in their communities that, that. Really like their content. One particular person that I will single out, and this is specifically D directed at anybody that is super early in their career, is Jonathan Eng. So [00:15:00] he is an s d R at a company called Nook and or Nooks, and he might have three months of experience in that role and he is constantly posting about his journey and check out some of his engagement.

[00:15:15] Dr. Jim: like one of the things that he recently posted was a, question and, the structure of this is phenomenal just from a marketing perspective because you're, hooking 'em in and then you're telling a story and there's a c t a, so what's a good way to improve? Cold calling, seeking to understand problems.

[00:15:32] Dr. Jim: like, how much better can you get in terms of engaging a community in mutual problem solving? And then he goes into a series of things that he listed and check out this engagement. So this is somebody who's got probably like a thousand people and he's gonna end up on my list that I put together of of, that.

[00:15:51] Dr. Jim: But he's got 109 people that have engaged with his post and like 28 comments. With his community of only a thousand [00:16:00] people or a thousand followers, he's getting that level of engagement. He's gonna be the next Nick Bennett. I'm, putting it out, out there right now. So I, think that is a great example and I think that's a great call out on your part.

[00:16:13] Dr. Jim: When it comes to, Hey, there. There are a ton of people that you could follow. Let's, talk about the people that are most impactful in terms of your community build efforts. know, You cited a couple of them, Justin Welsh and you and I think a couple of others came in, but who are the people that you religiously follow that you've learned a lot from in your community?

[00:16:32] Nick Bennett: Yeah, I would definitely say honestly the, entire team at Refined Labs. Just the way that they think about marketing. Has been really good as it starts at the top with, Chris Walker, Megan Bowen Cassidy Shield, but the entire team, like they've built an army that creates so much LinkedIn content around tactical and tangible marketing advice from literally from the top all the way [00:17:00] through to like even the junior people that are within that company.

[00:17:03] Nick Bennett: They're posting things about Google ads and stuff that like, I don't know a lot. , but when I read it, I'm like, wow. That's actually pretty interesting. For someone that doesn't know a lot, that helps me out a ton. So they're definitely, I would say like I follow their entire team. If you're looking for someone with like content, Brooklyn Nash is another really good person who just, he does a ton of freelance contract work for B2B companies that are in like the, or he's doing content for them, but he always has some really good takes.

[00:17:33] Nick Bennett: If you're looking for ab m stuff. Karina Owens from Gong is, another really po Devin Reed from Gong, another huge team fan of, his the JB sales team, Morgan Ingram John Barrows, like all of them are definitely solid. 

[00:17:49] Dr. Jim: Vlad and Andre and the full funnel guys have a, phenomenal.

[00:17:53] Dr. Jim: Steady stream of content and I've learned so much from just their stuff. And that's, how I actually [00:18:00] ran into you like about a year ago. 

[00:18:02] Nick Bennett: They're good too. And I would say also Erin Balsa , there's so many people, I don't. I know I gave the advice of fine 10 to 15 others, but like for me now, like I just scroll when I have the free time and there's people that always show up at the top of my feed because like I just engage with their stuff and it's really, good.

[00:18:19] Nick Bennett: But there isn't like a list for me anymore that I go to on a daily basis. . 

[00:18:24] Dr. Jim: So that's basically Nick saying, I'm too big for Lis

[00:18:27] Nick Bennett: no, I just I don't have the time what I do actually. So as soon as I hit post I, mute the post. Just because I, if I have any unread notifications, it like really stresses me out.

[00:18:38] Nick Bennett: If not just for LinkedIn, like just in general, like I can't have badge notifications on my phone because like it'll bother me like I need to. Eliminate those. And so that's why when I mute stuff, I actually don't have to get notifications. So it makes me feel good. 

[00:18:53] Dr. Jim: Yeah I, think I should probably do that too.

[00:18:56] Dr. Jim: That's good advice. If you're getting in the habit of regularly posting to keep [00:19:00] your focus on the things that are important make sure you mute your posts so that way it doesn't take you away from the other stuff that you're doing. When, people are looking to, find you and learn more about who you are as a person and what you do at Alice whether it's field marketing or what Alice does specifically, where can they find you?

[00:19:17] Nick Bennett: Yeah, absolutely. LinkedIn is probably the best spot I do reply to. Every dm unless you're just gonna pitch me on the first thing, then I won't reply to you. But if you just have a question like DM me, like I will reply to you usually within a day or so. Then you could also find me on TikTok now.

[00:19:34] Nick Bennett: Been trying to spend some time there. Twitter, I still do stuff. Not as much. LinkedIn's your best shot for sure though. 

[00:19:41] Dr. Jim: Yeah I, think for the most of the people that I engage with because. I, lead a sales team and I've been on the production side of sales. Most of our audience is on LinkedIn, so that's where we spend most of our time.

[00:19:54] Dr. Jim: But I think when you're looking at the power of LinkedIn, it's the largest and longest running [00:20:00] ongoing business conversation that you can ever insert yourself into. So if you're in a business function of any sort, you'd be silly to ignore. Leveraging that to if nothing else, build your network and build your community because your next job can, actually appear from your level of engagement there.

[00:20:19] Dr. Jim: But there's so much more than just that, that that can be done. I wanna, I want to tie this all together. So on the topic of building your brand and especially building your brand effectively as an earlier, mid-career or novice social platform person, what are the key things in terms of foundational things that people should take away from this and can execute tomorrow to start the process of building their brand. 

[00:20:44] Nick Bennett: It's just en engaging authentic relationships. Get out there and just people have strong point of views. Regardless if you have nothing to say or not bring your point of view. If you disagree with me as well, like that's another thing. If you disagree with me, do it respectfully.

[00:20:59] Nick Bennett: Absolutely, [00:21:00] open my eyes to ways that I haven't thought about before. I am a hundred percent okay with that. And I think that's, the mindset there. I think it's just consistency. Even if you're engaging with others, you still have to do it consistently. Trust is built on consistency, and I think that's where people fall off.

[00:21:17] Nick Bennett: Like whether you're creating your own content or engaging with others, you do it for a month or two months or three months. Feel really great about yourself, and then something happens and you stop for a month or two, and then it's just like you lost all the traction and the momentum that you had. So focus on those things.

[00:21:33] Nick Bennett: And then the last thing is just give, Before you ever ask for anything. Like sh show up for your tribe or for your community, and be there to make sure that you're giving value. And then when the time does come where there is. Needed. You've built up enough trust that people would be willing and maybe they might not even be able to help you, but they can at least probably point you in the right direction at that point.

[00:21:58] Dr. Jim: That is[00:22:00] phenomenal advice. Nick, awesome conversation and realistically, if we didn't have anything else to do, we could probably chat about this stuff for, quite a while. So I appreciate you carving out some time and and rocking the backwards hat. I, had that as a policy. If you weren't gonna do the lawn mo.

[00:22:15] Dr. Jim: You, had to have the hat Absolutely. So thanks. Thanks for hopping on. Just for those who have listened, hopefully this conversation has delivered some actionable insights . If you want to catch this episode, we are available on all major podcast platforms.

[00:22:31] Dr. Jim: We are under the cascading leadership handle on LinkedIn, on TikTok, on Facebook. We're not we're also on YouTube, so you can find us there. Nick Bennett is everywhere especially on TikTok. So definitely follow him in all the places that he's available. Thanks for joining. Make sure you like, subscribe, comment, share, download all the things that you do when when you're engaging with our content.

[00:22:54] Dr. Jim: And have a great rest of the day.