This week, I’m featuring my interview with Jennifer Chenoweth, owner of The LinkedIn Gal. Jen’s incredible side-gig offers coaching and consulting to individuals and businesses as they build their professional brands through LinkedIn.
For the last several weeks, I’ve been highlighting some incredible small businesses in the Twin Cities – it’s my way of lending a helping hand to our local economy during this surreal and challenging time. To learn more, you can read the first article in this series: How to Help in the Pandemic.
You can also read previous interviews with:
- Cardigan Donuts: 4 simple reasons why I absolutely love Cardigan Donuts
- Sprinkles & Confetti: 3 important muscles you need to hustle with heart
- Lauren Kirkbride Photography: the best way to let your skills shine bright
- Gus Dean Coffee: how to flip obstacles into opportunities
Stay tuned for more interviews in the coming weeks.
Speaking from personal experience working with The LinkedIn Gal, Jen is a wizard.
She’s an expert at her craft. She’ll challenge you to think big about where you want to take your career or business and she’s not afraid to call bull$#*!.
The LinkedIn Gal offers more than just helping you fill in the various components of your LinkedIn profile. It’s about helping you build a brand, tell your story, and use the LinkedIn platform to showcase your skills.
Above all, The LinkedIn Gal is about helping you refine and achieve a breakthrough vision for your professional growth.
As you might guess, that call to action is why I wanted to talk with Jen. I believe to move beyond this moment, vision is exactly what we need.
VISION THAT’S ROOTED IN OPPORTUNITY
I asked Jen how The LinkedIn Gal got started, here’s what she said:
“I watched several people close to me go through unexpected job transitions. They were excellent at their roles and well-supported in their organizations. And, then, the business took a turn and none of that mattered anymore. When it comes to layoffs, no one is immune. I watched them struggle with the devastation of being let go and the fear of not knowing what was next. Three parts of that experience really stuck with me:
- Your love for yourself needs to be greater than the ‘love’ you get from any company. People are talented, resilient, and capable of doing amazing things – just because one place doesn’t work out doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be a fabulous sparkly unicorn somewhere else.
- You need to have a vision for yourself and your growth. Where do you want to be in a few years? What can you be doing today to get there?
- You need to share that vision. What are you really good at? What problems can you solve? And, who needs to know about it?”
As Steve Jobs once said: “Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”
There are moments in our life that will shake our sense of self-worth: losing a job, hearing some difficult feedback, and even being stuck at home during a pandemic.
Those bricks can hurt. And, in those difficult moments, we can also find opportunity.
But, it takes vision.
As you can tell, Jen’s got vision.
VISION THAT’S RELEVANT
When her friends and colleagues experienced those unexpected job transitions, Jen started to think about ways to help them:
“I noticed how short-sighted people were with LinkedIn. It wasn’t just a job search app, it was a brand building site with millions of people who could make dreams come true. The more I talked about it, the more people asked me to help them reach their goals. People shared their dreams and aspirations and I saw a glimmer of light in their eyes.”
That glimmer was the final clue that Jen needed to get started:
“At the time, I wasn’t sure I was ready to launch a business, but I pushed myself to just start.”
Have you noticed all the businesses adapting to support the pandemic?
They’re using pizza ovens to make face shields, converting clothing factories to make cloth masks, and more. Those are all examples of entrepreneurial hustle – the ability to spot the opportunity in the moment and rise to meet it with vision and action.
That’s what it means to stay relevant in the face of changing market conditions.
Even now, with the pandemic, Jen’s doing just that:
“I’m seeing two trends in my client appointments right now. First, people are taking advantage of the slow-down to invest in their growth and development. Projects have been postponed. Commute times are zero. Second, employers are winning or losing talented people through their actions right now. People who are pleased are leveraging LinkedIn to be an ambassador of the company they work for. People who are disappointed are getting their ‘ducks in a row’ on LinkedIn to hit the job market.”
VISION THAT STAYS TRUE TO “WHY,” NOT TO “HOW”
When Jen got started, she knew who she would serve and why. But, as she describes it:
“All I had was a name and a gmail address – it grew from there.”
She ran experiments about the kinds of services she could offer: LinkedIn Profile writing, then coaching, then workshops, and more.
She started small to see what was possible, all the while staying true to her core vision for her business – her “why.” The “how” evolved over time – as it should have – to adapt to different needs she discovered while operating in her corner of the market.
“I am people-centric and always on the lookout for ways to enhance the experience for my customers. In 2019 I got my ICF coaching certification and saw an opportunity to revamp speaking events into a coaching program where people actually took action. I launched a 10-week Brand Ambassador Coaching program, where I interact with customer-facing employees to drive business results using LinkedIn. I’ve been astounded by the results and look forward to growing that part of my business. I’m always learning something new to keep my ideas fresh.”
In other words, she stays true to “why,” but not to “how.”
BUILD YOUR BRAND WITH THE LINKEDIN GAL
Here’s one last pro-tip from Jen:
“October has traditionally been the second-highest hiring month. So, if you’re looking to transition at that time, you should start to clean up your brand artifacts, like LinkedIn and your resume, and increase your networking 3-6 months in advance.”
The LinkedIn Gal is open for business right now. If you’re looking to make a career change or build your brand through LinkedIn, she’s your gal.
Find out more at www.thelinkedingal.com.
A big thank you to Jen for taking the time to chat with me and, as always, for your thought partnership and brainstorming.
Stay tuned for more, right here on the 321 Liftoff blog.
Next week, I’ll share my interview with another small business in the Twin Cities – Inspire Dance Studio, which strives to inspire confidence in their students through the art of dance.
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ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line. It can feel messy. It zigs and zags. It starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok. It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself. And, that’s why it’s worth it.