The Attachment Point #5: How Has Social Media Affected Your Career?

Our fourth edition of The Attachment Point features our panelists discussing Social Media and Careers.  If you’d like to join us and see what Slack is all about, check it out here

Tony Canas: Welcome to our 5th Slackchat. This week we’ll be discussing social media’s effect on your career both positive and negative

Chris Stanley: Perfect I’m excited! Can I just start chatting?

Tony Canas: Absolutely, take it away

John Bachmann: I’ll tell ya, I’m excited to talk about this topic as it’s a tale of two stories for me.  Went from basically zero online presence and not even having a LinkedIn account in June of 2016, to where I stand now – with I think around 800 connections now and using several social media platforms.

Ryan Deeds: I agree I feel like linkedin has been transformative for me in the last 18 months.

John Bachmann: I’m with you, Ryan.  I owe it a lot to Tony Canas!  At first when I saw the connection request from him, I honestly thought it was spam!  But looked into him further and that got me to writing my first article for Insurance Nerds and that has opened so many doors for me

Ryan Deeds: In mid 2016, I made it a goal to start writing more articles on linkedin. I had written a few but nothing with a plan. I was able to keep on track for a while and soon after was offered a position on a board of advisors and stock in a insurtech startup based on some of the topics I had written about. I was also able to slowly entice Steve Anderson to have lunch with me after peppering him with articles I had written. I think getting thoughts down in articles is a critical skill for today’s professionals that really want to stand apart.

I also think that in years previous there was a little confusion about what platform to be on but now I feel like Linkedin is the platform that you must have a presence on and that seems to far outweigh any of the other networks

Do y’all see the same thing?

John Bachmann: I agree that you must have a presence on LinkedIn, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it “far outweighs” the others…maybe it’s the Gary Vaynerchuk influence on me

Ryan Deeds: Where else do you spend time? And what kinda engagement have you seen from those places? And I agree I think it is about your goal and audience

John Bachmann: Twitter has been extremely beneficial to me.  I got tied into a club (5AM club) where insurance professionals are getting after it while folks are still sleeping and holding each other accountable, motivating each other, etc.  Not only am I getting those benefits, but I’m part of a fantastic community that supports one another

Chris Stanley: Similar story here. No online presence or accounts until October 2016 then I decided to go exclusively with LinkedIn due to less competition and easier to stand out thab on Facebook (I cant compete with kittens…. who really can?) And it took me to a full time online business training the next generation of adjusters and having a thriving podcast and 2500ish connections.

Negative sure….. some people think because you are active on social that you aren’t legit

Also I make a ton of mistakes because I do so many things and it’s easy to see mistakes now due to social media…. also pack dog mentality can get ugly if people start get ugly so I hate that about social media.  98% all positive about social media though for me

Tony Canas: I’ve been on LinkedIn for ever, but it wasn’t until I started writing articles and sharing a lot of content that it started paying off, and I have a lot of success to talk about, but first I want to talk about when it’s gotten me in trouble!

I worked at a very large carrier that brought in Yammer and started encouraging its use. I jumped in like a fish to water, and became VERY active on it. I met a lot of people and connected with many in other offices, truly felt connected to the broader company. But I learned the hard way that not everyone was accepting of the platform

Some of my leadership believed that I was “spending all day on Yammer and not getting anything done”. The first part of that was true, but the second part wasn’t. I was getting my work done, and even helping teammates on their work. And all my activity on Yammer was positive and encouraging. But somehow it was still perceived as wasted time by some of the leadership. It got to the point where they told me not to use it during work hours.

Chris Stanley: WOW

Tony Canas: Needless to say, this was very discouraging. I felt like I was being punished for being visible while technically not being a people leader.

Chris Stanley: That’s insane, yeah we need encouragers out there. I can’t get myself to spend long enough reading and scrolling, but you thrive off of that. You are an asset

Tony Canas: And this happened at two roles in two separate departments, it wasn’t just one overly traditional leader. It was like there was an unwritten rule that even though this was an official company tool, and the company trumpeted its collaborative nature using Yammer as an example, there was an unwritten rule that if you’re just an independent contributor you’re not supposed to be visible. I was also told not to opine on topics outside my department EVEN if my responses were technically accurate and positive.

Anyone else had any negative career experiences because of social media usage? Was it ever a liability?

Chris Stanley: Only when people didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate or didn’t like that I spoke as an authority vs just the crowd

Lisa H Harrington: Tony Canas Yeah, this was common for a long time with social media.  I helped an employer see the value in connecting to clients but it was a hard sell. I was an early adopter in LI, FB, Tw, but still not up to speed on much else. LI calls me an “all star” because I get in there about every day for something. It really helps me keep up with trends and info about what’s going on in the biz. Now that I’m consulting again, I post daily to FB and weekly articles on LI.  LI is terrific for learning who is who in the industry and how to best approach their needs no matter what services you provide. I’m just starting with Sales Navigator too

Ryan Deeds: Should producers new to the game write on linkedin? Do you think it helps them sell business or build trust?

Lisa H Harrington: Definitely Ryan Deeds In my opinion as long as it’s positive all exposure is good exposure. It also will help them articulate who they are and what they’re doing and have a great source for information about them to be available with a quick link. Some even use their LinkedIn address in their signature line.

Ryan Deeds: I’ve had such a hard time with getting them to write. Finally, I have one that has published 2 articles but the rest are tough. Have you seen anything help move them in that direction?

Tony Canas: Ryan Deeds , are you seeing a generational difference? Are young producers more friendly to writing articles?

Ryan Deeds: I thought I would, but I have just as hard of a time with the younger as the older. The fella who is writing is a younger person, but the majority of our producers are under 40, and they seem very reticent as well. They want to know how many words will it take to sell an account, and it can’t be looked at like that.

John Bachmann: I think it really comes down to the individual though.  Some may be fantastic article writers, others short form.  You may have great folks that tell a great story and then more that are great on camera.  There are so many ways to get the message out these days with articles, short form, podcasts, vlogs, etc. that it doesn’t matter the medium, as long as you’re getting it out there.  It’s all about driving attention and clicks

Lisa H Harrington: I wonder if you could just come up with a schedule and topics. Sometimes it just takes a little structure around it instead of expecting them to come up with it on their own. If you assigned dates and topics (and really even number of words if that helps get them started) it would be fine. It may not come naturally to them but obviously it does to you and you could give them that framework.

Tony Canas: I talked about how social media hurt my career a little, I wanted to make sure I got that warning out. I’m glad it hasn’t happened to anybody else here, and I really hope that things have changed and employers have realized the value of employees engaged in social media!

On the positive side social media has had HUGE effects on my career. I found out and networked my way into a leadership development program at a different office thanks to Yammer.

Then I have met literally thousands of awesome people on LinkedIn and this has led to incredible opportunities coming my way. Even my current job, literally came from a LinkedIn connection who loved my book and recruited me to come work for his firm. He would’ve never known about the book had it not been for LinkedIn, heck the book might not have existed since so much of what we wrote on the book came from ideas we got from what other people posted on LinkedIn over the years and the discussions that emerged around it.

John Bachmann: Thankfully, I’ve only seen the positive side and it has definitely boosted my personal brand.   For example, my regional vice president was blown away when he was talking about superstar independent agents and I was able to say, “oh ya, I know X, I was speaking with them on Twitter this morning” or “I connected with X on LinkedIn and we recently were on a video talking about health in the workplace” — this was all made possible by getting out on the different platforms and connecting

Ryan Deeds: I haven’t had Social media hurt my career….yet. On the positive side publishing on LinkedIn did help broaden my connections, get me a few presenting spots, helps those around me understand my passion for our industry and give me some good ice breaker material to send to targeted connections.

Tony Canas: I believe that in a world that no longer offers lifetime employment you have to differentiate yourself and make sure people know who you are. Designations and education are one solid way to do that. A strong and positive presence on social media is another great way to do it.

John Bachmann: Absolutely, Tony!  There’s a book I love, The 80/20 Manager, where they speak about Super Connecting.  Long story short, there are red lottery tickets and green lottery tickets that can all cash you in with the jackpot.  The red tickets are the time & resource commitments like education and the green tickets are your personal connections.  Each ticket is just as important for you to cash in on your jackpot!

Tony Canas: I’ll have to check that out. Personally, I think the book Known by Mark Schaefer is very useful to understand this new world we find ourselves in, and how being visible in a positive way can pay big dividends

Chris Stanley: Obviously LinkedIn is fantastic in my arena of independent auto adjusters. You can connect with companies and decision makes in seconds verses wishing you knew who to talk to. Getting a start on new accounts is way easier, lead generation has an entirely new form.

Ashley Fitzimmons: Here to chime in – up to this point, Social Media has only helped my career, thankfully. Until two years ago, I honestly didn’t think much of LinkedIn. I didn’t realize what opportunity was there or how much you could really leverage it. At this point, I don’t use LinkedIn directly for new business leads. I say directly because I do get leads indirectly from agents I’ve connected with out of state and have cultivated a relationship with.

As much as I love helping and educating my clients, I love helping to motivate other agents as well. And the positive energy I get from motivating other agents ultimately makes me come back to the office and make me want to be an even better agent. I say it all the time – but it’s cyclical. I help them. They help me. It’s a win-win for everyone. I’m so fortunate for the network of incredible contacts I’ve been able to create on LinkedIn and I’m looking forward to growing that network and reaching even more people!

Tony Canas: Awesome, Ashley. I’m really curious if you’re doing anything special, because  you really seem to have built a powerful network in very little time. What’s your secret?

Ryan Deeds: She is the Beyoncé of insurance

Ashley Fitzimmons: That’s just it – my secret truly isn’t a secret. I found mixing passion & candor is a magical combination. I am by no means reinventing the wheel with the topics I post and discuss. But what I think is working is the fact that what I post about is relatable and with purpose. I want to reach the agents that are feeling stuck, complacent, defeated – whatever it is – and make them realize they aren’t the only ones out there going through it. I’ve gotten so many messages thanking me for speaking up – that it motivated them and was a relief.

I don’t just post to post – I post with purpose.

Ryan Deeds: Well I think our industry needs lots more with your spirit and attitude and I’m always glad to see your posts

Ashley Fitzimmons: Thanks so much, Ryan Deeds – I appreciate it !

Tony Canas: I wonder what advice everyone has for those who are not super comfortable putting themselves out there. What advice do you have for them on how to do it right?

Ryan Deeds: I dont know if there is a do it right – I say just do it and adjust your style as you go. Everytime I publish anything I’m freaking out like omg how many things did I misspell what if I am really dumb and my ideas are bad? But ultimately I think the act of getting it out there makes it easier each time. I would also say don’t expect miracles and try to be consistent (which I am bad at)

Ashley Fitzimmons: Before you post – ask yourself if it is going to help and/or educate someone and if it provides a positive message.

Great point, Ryan Deeds – with don’t expect miracles. Response to posts and growing a network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, consistency and cultivation.

John Bachmann: On the connecting end, don’t be afraid/intimidated to reach out to people you look up to or influencers. Having said that, don’t just select ‘connect’ on your phone or go right out of the gate with an ‘ask’ or a sales pitch.

Send an attached message of why you’re reaching out, some content that you’ve taken to heart, how they have already helped you indirectly, etc.  For the most part, the reason for their content and the reason they’re an influencer is because they’re in the game of helping people.

But as Ashley Fitzimmons and Ryan Deeds say above, don’t get discouraged. Stay patient, keep doing the work and good things will happen

Ryan Deeds: I would echo John Bachmann – if your primary reason for connecting with someone is to pitch a product that’s not gonna work very well. Build relationships, become the authority in a specific domain by posting relevant content, try and bring value and a new perspective and then sales will come

Tony Canas: Never send a connect request without a personalized message!

Ashley Fitzimmons: I couldn’t agree more. I wrote an article about connecting via LinkedIn.  It can be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it!

Tony Canas: Thank you everybody for your participation in SlackChat #5. With this we are closing this one. See you next time!


About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

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