Driving New Business Using LinkedIn With Becky Daniels

Stephen: Hey, Becky. Nice to see you today. 

Becky: Good to see you, Stephen. 

Stephen: Yeah, it’s really cool to meet up again. We talked, probably already a month ago, and you were nice enough to talk to me about some of the things I was up to and, yeah, that’s cool. I think that’s one of the cool things about LinkedIn, that people are willing to connect and meet and talk, not everybody, but. But again, 

Becky: I am infinitely curious about other people’s businesses and what drives them. So I’m always glad to hear from another business owner. 

Stephen: Yeah. I think I’m the same way. And I think that’s one thing that I have found through LinkedIn is that most of the people that respond are.

Some of the most interesting people have the most interesting conversations, probably because of that. Why I really wanted to have you on the show today is because I’m out there trying to work with service providers. I’m always, in some cases, trying to convince them that social media is a good thing.

Some people are totally bought in. When we started talking, I immediately found out you were totally bought in. You were posting and not only were you posting, but you were generating business from it, which I think is a dream for most people. 

I wanted to have you on here to chat a little bit about that. The main question I had to start with was, how did you have the faith? What was your lightbulb moment that you knew this was going to be something that would pay off? 

Becky: That’s a great question. Do you mean my LinkedIn or my social media content? 

Stephen: I believe at some point you just started posting. What was it that you knew was gonna work? Yeah. 

Becky: So, as my husband would say, I’m about the most consistent person he knows. And so I know throughout my life, when I’ve done things consistently, even if I’m not doing them the very best I possibly could, consistent effort has always paid off for me in the long run.

And so it was, I had done a little here, a little there trying to connect with people, but it occurred to me one day that I needed to be consistent on LinkedIn. That’s the only social network that I’m a part of. But that if I really wanted to move the needle, being consistent on LinkedIn was going to provide that for me.

And so I created some calendars and what have you, and started scheduling posts on HootSweet because the other piece was, I knew I couldn’t make sure I posted at a certain time every day and things like that. And so at first it was kind of scattershot, just throwing some stuff out there, but over time, I feel like I’ve created my own personal tone and voice that I’m using, which is my natural tone and voice.

I’m not putting on any airs or anything like that on there. Just saying what I would say to a business owner that I’m talking with or anyone. It’s just that consistency and producing something almost every single day, and knowing from my life that consistency will always pay off, is what made me sit down and just do it.

Stephen: Yeah, that’s cool. I saw that post you just did the other day. It rang true for me too, because I’m starting something new and there’s always these unknowns. I would say consistency sometimes is my Achilles heel. Because I am a creative person and I like to, I dunno… just sitting down and doing some of those things sometimes can feel like you’re not getting what you wanted out of it right away can be tough. 

So consistency. But even before that, how did you know that LinkedIn was a place that you could actually get business? Why did you choose LinkedIn? How did you know that being consistent there was going to pay off? 

Becky: So my work is, I do bookkeeping and profit advisory work with small businesses.

My work is strictly business to business. I had tried to do a little marketing, going straight into businesses and contacting business owners directly. 

And because I’m not on any other [social networks], I’m not on Facebook, I’m not on Instagram. I’m not anywhere else. I have personal reasons why I’m not on any other social networks.

LinkedIn seemed like the safest place to do it, where I wasn’t going to find too many political discussions. I wasn’t going to see a lot of fighting, a lot of carrying on. The more I saw on LinkedIn, the more I saw that was true. And there was so much good information for business owners on LinkedIn and ideas and these little tidbits. I knew I could on a daily basis produce a little tip that you could use. 

Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And then, so then tell me how the journey started. Did you start posting every day, or how did you get started?

Becky:  It was the month of July. I was doing my workout about a week before the end of June and in the middle of it, a light bulb went off.

And I said, because what I’m always striving for with clients is for them to feel free in their businesses, get to where they’re really enjoying running a business. And being proactive instead of reactive and not feeling like their business is happening to them. But instead they’re turning it into this money-making machine that they can use.

And so it occurred to me that July was the perfect time to have kind of a themed set of posts. So I did “31 days to freedom in your business.” So it was a full 31 posts that I did. And I did that entire thing in two hours. And it’s because first of all, it’s the first time. So all the ideas were new ideas.

So I wasn’t having to figure out what I’ve recently posted on, and things like that. And then maybe I took a week off in August and that’s when I was like, no, it’s got to be every day. Like I have to have this for every day. 

Stephen: And you’re doing the weekends too. 

Becky: I have been, and I don’t think I’m going to continue to do the weekends. I don’t think I’m getting enough from that to warrant having to come up with nine or 10 additional ideas a month. 

So most recently in October, I’ve done “31 days of scary things in small businesses,” and I’m looking forward to November. We’ve done scary. So I think I’m going to go a little more upbeat. 

Stephen: And the first time, I didn’t quite make the connection, but then I was like, Oh, it’s Halloween.

Yeah. I think that’s a good way to do it too. And the themed ideas make you commit to something for a longer period of time. 

Becky: Yes. And there are people I don’t even know in real life that I swear check in on it every single day and will comment and whatnot.

And those folks hold me accountable, even though, like I say, I don’t even know them, but I feel like they’re holding me accountable in a way. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me posting. 

Stephen: So then what’s your overall strategy? When somebody comments or likes your stuff, do you reach out to them and have a conversation with them?

How do you, what’s the big picture that you operate from? 

Becky: Yes, I do try to, if it’s someone I don’t know, I do try to have a conversation with them at least and see where our common ground is, where we can work with one another in some way. I try, I’m not a hundred percent, but I try to always comment back, when someone has made a comment and tag them in it, things like that.

And I just basically try to keep up with it in the way you would hope someone would do. I try to always think about if I’m posting on someone else’s, what would I prefer? That they respond to me in some capacity, even if it’s something small or whatever. 

Stephen: Yeah. I always like to think of it as it is like a place to network.

Yeah. So it would almost be like somebody coming up to you and saying something and then you’re just not responding. You’re just like, or just walking or walking away. 

Becky: Exactly. And these are people who are responding to what you have to say. So these are the champions that you could wind up having, especially someone like me who is so strictly business to business. I have to have referrals. That’s where the work comes from largely.

So finding these people and determining, demonstrating what my voice is, what my priorities are, how I help business owners makes it so that when some of these folks, when they are talking with someone and they’re like, “Man, I need a bookkeeper. I’m struggling with this.” My goal is to be consistent enough, be in front of them enough that I am at top of mind so that they’re not saying, “Oh, I could probably find you someone.” They’re like, “Becky, you need to get in touch with Becky.”

Stephen: I see. Cool. Yeah. So that’s a good question. Maybe I’ll have a series of questions, but after you started posting, how long did it take? How long did it take for you to see results? Because that’s often a question that I get from people. 

Becky: Yeah, so it’s a combination because it wasn’t just posting.

I also had to deliberately grow my network and I’m still working on that. I’ve taken some time off to deliberately grow my network, but it’s hard.

It’s hard to piece all these things in, and like the consistency part, I try to never send a connection request to someone that I don’t know. And if not, I put a little note in there like why I am connecting. 

And so I can always tell if I’ve done too many, cause I start being like, “Oh, I don’t know why I’m connecting with you. I just want to, I just want to click send instead of taking that extra step.” And that’s when I know I have to stop that. 

Stephen: I think that’s really interesting the way you go about it, because you have all these natural, like human, elements to it.

I’m not sure I’m saying that the right way, but you bring common sense into it, like you have that thing in your head that’s, “Hey, if I don’t even know what to say to this person, then why am I connecting with them?” 

Becky: And also it’s because it is exhausting to go through and search people’s profiles and find people that you have common ground with.

It’s exhausting. And so if you get to where you can’t come up with something for multiple people then, because I can find common ground with anybody, so if I can’t find common ground with people, then I need to stop and come back tomorrow instead. Because it’s wasteful to make the connection without talking, without saying something and trying to start that conversation.

Stephen: Yeah, I hear ya. one thing that is plenty of those. and I’ve been experimenting with this a little bit too, is like sometimes though when I see a connection request, I almost, or when I see the message in there, I’m always thinking, I know this person’s going to immediately try to 

Becky: sell me something.

 

Stephen: So sometimes I will, I won’t even send a connection. I’m like, I want to talk to this person, but I’ll just send something and I won’t put it in a message. Just because sometimes I notice that people, I dunno, I think LinkedIn is getting pretty bombarded with all those direct messages and people are just getting tired of it.

Becky: What frustrates me is the, and you get ’em, everybody gets these messages from people, like I looked at your profile and I could completely fix your business and do this, do that. And you should hire me. And I’m like, you don’t know anything about me. And yeah, because the bedrock of my work is knowing my clients and working with them and helping them by coming alongside them.

So I do not in any way respond to someone bombarding me with sales messages when they don’t know anything. 

Stephen: Yeah. I almost wonder, does that stuff actually work?

It must have some small percentage that they know if they send a million of these they’re going to get one person. 

But I still think that goes to speak to why it works so well for you is because you have all these common sense things.

It seems like to me, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re just taking the things that you do naturally as a person working in your community and you just apply to those things in LinkedIn, where you could probably do it at a little bit more higher scale.

Becky: Yeah. And because I work with clients around the country, it’s a great plan.

It’s much better for me than going into a local chamber meeting or something like that. It’s great for me on LinkedIn to be able to reach people around the country, and through LinkedIn, I’ve been able to get into a couple of networking groups that are nowhere near. One I’m in is in Chattanooga, Tennessee and one of them’s in Minneapolis.

And I’ve really made friends in this group of women in Minneapolis. It’s just a strange little connection. 

Stephen: Is it a virtual? Is it a virtual group? 

Becky: That’s a group that was in person and has gone virtual. I’m out, I guess, if they go back in reverse.

Stephen: Correct. But, okay, cool. So you’re going through this process, but how long did it take before you started seeing clients come in or business being generated? 

Becky: Yeah, I would say, I’m trying to think. By the end of August. So within, I’d say, within six weeks I had… actually the beginning of August.

So within five or six weeks, I had picked up the first client from this effort. And that one was particularly rewarding because he messaged me and said, “I have some bookkeeping questions.” Yeah. I’ll sit and talk to you about bookkeeping questions, why not? And so I really wasn’t expecting him to be interested in my working with him.

I thought he just had some questions and as soon as we get on, he was like, “I’ve been following your posts. And I like your voice. I like the way you’re talking to business owners.” He said, “I assume that’s how you speak with your clients.” Yeah. And, he was like, “So I want to work with you.”

And it was really gratifying for me having put in the effort and doing the legwork to get to that point. It was really gratifying to have someone not just say, “Oh, I found you on LinkedIn.” But instead to say, “Because of the content you’re putting out that has made me want to work with you.” 

And there was never… I created a proposal. I did all the things and within a week he had signed on with me and he’s one of my best clients, because he listens to me like he values what I have to say. And, so I would actually say that for me, that’s one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, attracting people that really value the work I do.

Stephen: Yeah, that’s right. Because they already understand what you’re all about and that’s specifically why they reached out to you. Because they want that kind of… yeah, that’s cool. Oh, this is a question. Did they interact much with your posts or did they just… 

That’s one of the most interesting things that I’ve noticed. A lot of times the people that reach out to you are not the same people that are interacting with the posts. 

Because I’ll do a lot of stuff around marketing and so on. So I’ll have people that are in marketing interact with it, but those aren’t going to be the people that are going to work with me. I just happen to have interesting things in common with those people. 

Yeah. So do you get that as well? Like people from your industry also interact with your posts? 

Becky: I get a lot of CPAs and a lot of attorneys or people that work with CPAs and attorneys that will comment, which is great because for me, CPAs and attorneys are great referral sources.

So that’s fantastic as far as I’m concerned. And it’s giving them an opportunity to reach my community that I’ve created, which is great. That’s part of the whole networking thing of course. 

Stephen: Yeah. I think that’s the other important thing to identify. Referrals are obviously awesome.

Okay. But what this allows you to do is expand that network. I always think it’s like word of mouth at scale, in a certain way. The more connections you make, someone’s engaging in your post or engaging in somebody else’s posts. And I think that’s what it’s all about, not just posting content, but actually getting out there.

Because I looked at your profile right before we came on and I noticed you were out there commenting and liking other people’s posts as well. 

Becky: I try to. That’s the piece, because I’m not really on social media, that has been much more difficult for me to take on because it’s not a natural habit. 

Stephen: But for other people’s insight, a lot of people don’t actually post much content. They actually just go out there and engage with people.

Because especially if you’re engaging with someone that is getting a lot of engagement, your comment will come up and your picture will be there. You can actually get quite a bit of visibility simply by commenting in a thread that has a lot of action. 

Becky: Absolutely. And that’s something that, like I said, I need to do better on. I just haven’t. Because part of that was I wanted to have enough content there that if I did say something that piques someone’s interest, they could look me up and know about me from what I said previously. 

Stephen: Yeah, they can go into your profile and then check the content that you’re creating.

Yeah. There’s so many interesting ways that it all weaves together. When I’m talking to people, it’s sometimes exhausting because I’m trying to explain all the different ways that it could happen. 

Becky: Yeah. 

Stephen: This is something that I’ve been telling people lately. One of the mistakes people make is to go on there to find leads. If that’s the purpose, then somehow it doesn’t work because your mindset is such that your behavior changes. Yeah, I’ll be honest. Even for me, I had to think about this. Yeah. It’s the same mentality as when you go to a networking group. If you’re there to get business, then nothing happens. 

And if you think about who does the best at a networking event, it’s always the person that’s running the event, putting in all the time and helping out everybody in the group. And then the next level is all the people that are just referring business back and forth.

And then there’s the few people that are in there only for themselves. And you find out that it’s not working well for them. 

Becky: Yeah. You’re describing the in-person version of content marketing. You’re the person who’s running the event and doing all the work, the person who’s adding value to everyone else’s experience.

That’s for me, with the stuff I put out, what it’s really about. Making sure I am providing value to business owners. Whether you ever work with me or not, I want there to be something that I’m posting that resonates with you or makes you just take a slightly different perspective or look at what you’re doing.

Stephen: Yeah. That consistency one hit me. I was like, dang. She really got me with that one. Yeah. So then, what are your plans going forward? I know when we first talked, you talked about how you wanted to hire people. So are you going to continue down this road? Are you going to… because in a way I consider you part marketer. 

Becky: I know that’s, what’s really funny is I’m not. 

Stephen: But you are though, right?

Becky: I do love to give unsolicited advice. 

Stephen: So what’s your plan? You’re gonna grow the business a bit. Are you going to start to invest more on LinkedIn, more on content? Do you have a strategy planned out or is it you’re just going to… 

Becky: Right now it’s just about posting every day and continuing to grow my network and I have certain KPIs about the number of times my profile is viewed.

I think for me, 

Stephen: Tell me a little bit about that. The KPIs that you, yeah. 

Becky: So my leading KPIs, I should pull them up if I’m going to sit and try to talk about them. My leading KPIs are the number of views that my posts get. And, the number of times my profile is viewed in a week because I think that’s what’s important if I’m putting out content that is really of value.

And that is really making people pay attention so that my profile will be looked at. 

Stephen: Okay. Let me ask you a question about that because I have lots of times when I’m talking to people and they say, “Oh, my post was only viewed 500 times or 300 times or 200 times. Do you mind telling me what your average is for a post?

Becky: It’s not really that much, but what I’m able to, what that KPI in particular does is it forces me to pay attention to each post and how many times it was viewed so that I can take that knowledge for future posts. 

And yeah, I had one and this wasn’t even one of my scheduled posts, but it was about Julia child and she talks about flipping an egg. And when you flip the egg, you have to believe the egg is going to flip or you can’t flip the egg. 

And it’s one of my favorite little stories. Poor children have heard this a hundred thousand times every time they’re trying something new. I talked to them about flipping eggs and and so one day I just thought, this is something that means a lot to me. I should share this. 

Stephen: It’s almost like having some faith or something. 

Becky: Yeah. Yeah. Faith in yourself. And the strength of your convictions is what she says. And so I posted about that and I think I got three or 4,000 views on that because it resonated with people so much. And then a couple of weeks ago I posted, maybe it was just last week.

It’s a little clip from Schitt’s Creek about…the funniest show. And it’s about tax deductions and the father comes in and the son is, “Oh, these are all write offs.” And he’s, I don’t think what a write off is. And so I wrapped that in that one, got a couple thousand views, but it’s not a ton.

I’m not getting a ton. I don’t have a ton of followers yet. And like I said, that’s something I’m really intending to improve on in the next little bit. 

Stephen: I think that’s what’s so cool about your story and why I wanted to focus in and talk with you about it, because some of the people that I’m helping get really nervous when something gets just 500 likes.

Or enough likes. That would be good, 500 views. Where else are you going to get 500 people a day looking at your stuff? That’s not going to happen very often. Then to your other point, too, I’m glad that you mentioned that because it’s not enough just to post and not pay attention to what’s going on.

You have to start to post. The way I look at it, you have to basically figure out what can move the needle a little bit. If I change this or I post about these different topics, you have to feel comfortable. I almost think you can’t graduate from that first level, like you can’t get your yellow belt until you know how to manipulate the system a little bit. You have that capability. 

Becky: Yeah. And so for me, that’s forcing me to go back and look at the number of views I’ve gotten, and of course that’s a direct correlation to the comments and the likes that I’ve gotten on a post.

But going back and paying attention on a weekly basis to the number of new connections I’ve made and the number of people who have looked at my profile. I’ve got this pie in the sky idea that to be where I want to be, I need to have 600 people like that. 

That needs to be my rolling 90 day average or whatever that I need to be at 600. I’m probably off on that, but it’s an aim for me. It’s giving me an aim where I’d like to be and trying to get where I’d like to be. And then my lagging KPIs come down to the number of actual one-to-one conferences.

One of my leading KPIs is one-to-one conversations, but then my lagging, it comes down to the number of prospective clients that I have talked to. And then the number of actual proposals I’ve put out. And then of course, the number of accepted proposals. And I keep those on a monthly basis just because it can take some time to get through that process.

Those leading KPIs, really, they propel me and they’ve really forced me to put the legwork in that will lead to those lagging. And if the lagging don’t turn out that I know I’m not doing something right, 

Stephen: Then maybe that means the leading indicators are the wrong ones or something.

 

Becky: Exactly. 

Stephen: That’s interesting. That’s cool. That probably comes from your small business understanding, the leading indicators and the lagging indicators, because those, I know what they are, but I don’t think most people would even use that terminology when they’re… 

Becky: That’s like my favorite thing 

Stephen: Now that is cool.

One of the best analogies I saw on this, I can’t remember who told me about it, but they were talking about mattresses. Like, how do you sell mattresses? How do we know how many mattresses we’re going to sell? One of their biggest indicators was how many people laid down on the mattress or how many people brought their wife or their significant other to the store.

Because if they didn’t, if those things didn’t happen, then you wouldn’t sell it because nobody’s going to buy a mattress without laying down on it. So they would have all these things to get people to do that. So they’d put stuff on the ceiling, and say, “Test the mattress out, lay down on it,” because they would want people to do those actions.

Becky: Cause then that would propel them to. And that’s again, for me, the big one is the number of times my profile is viewed because I believe that I offer something unique. My background is in industrial engineering. So for me, much of my work is about simplification and making sure that business owners are getting information in the way that they need to get it, to be able to make good, strong, solid business decisions.

And so I need people to see more about me, to get a better idea of who I am and what I’m bringing to the table and offering. And so I consider that a leading indicator for me, even more than hits on my website or anything like that. 

Stephen: Yeah. I almost think LinkedIn can really almost replace your website.

Becky: It can. I haven’t replaced my website. I will say cause of course you can see most of the time who has viewed your website, your LinkedIn page. And one of my favorite things is to see where someone has viewed my profile. And then I can see that someone from that same geographical area has looked at my website and then a lot of the time, almost all the time, I’ll get contacted by that person in one way or another after that. 

Stephen: That’s cool. 

Becky: That’s fine. 

Stephen: I really liked your story because it even calms me down. Sometimes I get so caught up in things. I’m always trying to optimize things. Your story was just so simple and just straight forward.

Really it’s just human that I wanted to hear more about it and I’m pretty sure that a lot of people want to hear your story because it’s so simplified compared to the way a lot of people tell you what you have to do. 

Becky: Yeah. It’s not complicated if you have skills and you have knowledge. Most people who love what they do have these things and they have information that they can share. Then it’s not hard. It’s just a matter of being consistent, which is the hard thing for most people. 

But coming up with a way to build that consistency into your life in a way that is pretty foolproof and pre-decided. That’s how I like to think about it. Like I’ve already made the decision that I’m going to post every day. So now I just have to actually do it. So I’m not leaving myself the option to… 

Stephen: Yeah. The commitment thing is the one thing that saved me in the beginning. And interesting for me, I switched careers. While I was posting, COVID hit, and I actually switched from one thing to another. 

And that was a pretty weird experience because I’m making content about one thing, and then I just switched into a whole different thing. But commitment was really the only thing that kinda helped me do that.

Cool. Maybe just tell us a little bit about what you do and how you help clients and where they can get a hold of you. 

Becky: Yeah. So I do bookkeeping and profit advisory work with small to medium sized businesses. All the businesses I work with right now are between 1 million and 5 million in gross revenue, gross annual revenue.

But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t work with someone bigger. It just happens to be the range I’m in. What I do is first of all, I’ve produced really high quality financial statements and I take such pride in getting things right. And having things laid out in a way that you can really use the information.

Stephen: To make actionable decisions. 

Becky: Yes. And that means it has to be on time, but it also means that it has to be laid out correctly. There is a particular way that financial statements are supposed to be laid out, and I can tell you, every time I have taken books over from another bookkeeper, they haven’t been done. It hasn’t been laid out correctly. 

And so for example, one of the primary ways that you can judge the financial health of a business is looking at what’s called their current ratio, the ratio between their current assets versus their current liability. And if you don’t have everything laid out correctly, then you can’t calculate that. 

And that’s a quick, easy way to determine if you’re getting better or getting worse. And so that’s an important piece and you can’t do it if the financial statements aren’t in the right order. 

Stephen: Is that a leading indicator of something? 

Becky: It’s a leading indicator, it’s really a lagging of your solvency, but tracking it.

So as a math nerd, I can say that the Delta of the slope of that curve is going to show you how you’re progressing. If things are getting worse, or if things are getting better. So that’s the foundation of the work that I do.

But the real work is in working with the small business owners to really build their financial foothold, their financial foundation so that they aren’t in debt, because every dime you’re spending on servicing debt isn’t profit. And so I really work with my clients to get out of debt, come up with ways to minimize that. Or at the very least come up with real protocols to determine when it is okay to take on debt. 

Stephen: When is it actually serving you? So that’s when it’s really giving you leverage of some sort, I would assume.

Becky: It’s when you’re truly creating an asset from that. So you’re purchasing a building. That’s great debt. You should definitely take that debt. Not definitely, but that is really good debt. But if you’re taking on debt to pay payroll, then we need to look at something because those are cash flow issues.

Absolutely people have cash flow issues, but at some point you really have to look at things and say, where are my operating expenses? That’s why we aren’t cash flow positive. How can we change the way things are happening? And sometimes that could mean changing the terms for your accounts receivable so that maybe instead of a 30 day window, you want to go to a 20 day window.

So there’s a lot of stuff like that I work with clients on too. Just create an environment where they can really be profitable and really meet and exceed those goals that they had for themselves when they first started out. 

Stephen: Very cool. What’s the best way people can get a hold of you?

Becky: Certainly by email, which has too many S’s. I’m going to say that upfront. It’s Becky at Daniels, with an S, business solutions.com. I’m not creative, that’s not my thing. So it was just whatever kind of came out effectively. Whatever said what I wanted to say. 

Stephen: l’ll also link to your stuff.

Becky: My website is Daniels business solutions.com and you can learn more about me there and about my chickens. There’s how much I love football and basketball. And then of course on LinkedIn, find me on LinkedIn. 

And, my phone number is (423) 802-9829. Although I’m on calls so much. I don’t usually answer the phone, so you can text me though. That’s a great way to get in touch with me. 

Stephen: I really appreciate you coming on, spending a little bit of time and giving me some insight about it and then helping other people as well. And so I really appreciate you coming on today. 

Becky: Thanks for having me, Steve. And it was great.

Stephen: Yeah. Thank you. I’ll see ya. 

Becky: All right, bye.

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