JF1122: Leveraging LinkedIn The Right Way with Italina Kirknis
Italina was hunting for a job when she realized she had her own business just waiting for her to take action with. She was everywhere on social media and people were asking her how it was possible. That’s when she realized there was a need for professionals to increase their social media presence. She started rolling from there, and hasn’t looked back. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Italina Kirknis Background:
-Online Presence Expert & Speaker for Real Estate Businesses Helps Real Estate Community’s Top Realtors & Lenders upgrade their social media presence and Email Newsletters
-As a former attorney, she is now practicing her passion, Online Branding & Marketing
-Regular Inman.com contributor
-Based in San Francisco, California
-Say hi to her at italinaimage.com
-Best Ever Book: The Noticer
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
With us today, Italina Kirknis. How are you doing?
Italina Kirknis: Hi!
Joe Fairless: Hi, nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Italina – she has an online presence as an actor and a speaker in the real estate business. She helps real estate professionals and lenders upgrade their social media presence, and newsletters. She’s a former attorney and is now practicing her passion, which is online branding and marketing. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area… With that being said, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Italina Kirknis: Sure, no problem. I began in the legal field; I had this lucrative career in law, and actually just hated all of it. So I delved into LinkedIn, looking for my next career path. I started really networking on LinkedIn, built my network from 40 to over 500 really quickly, and started being really active. Actually, my phone started ringing, and professionals asked me “Hey, Italina, I see you on LinkedIn, you’re everywhere – how are you doing it?” and that’s how I got the idea of the company, because I realized there are all these professionals on LinkedIn that don’t know how to use it.
Joe Fairless: What was your answer when they asked you how you were doing it?
Italina Kirknis: It was funny, because I would actually walk that person through what you do, how I’m posting, how I’m being active, how I’m networking… Literally networking online, bringing conversations from offline to the phone, possibly even meeting. And then I realized “Oh, my goodness… I was supposed to be looking for a job right now, and I am sitting all the time talking to you.” So I go back to my job search and then my phone would ring again, and then the same thing. So that’s when I realized – okay, clearly there’s a need.
Joe Fairless: So what are some things that people do wrong that you’ve seen?
Italina Kirknis: First of all, there’s the mistake of neglecting LinkedIn altogether – “I haven’t logged in in ages, I don’t even know my password…” It’s the number one professional social media site, however people are spending more focus as far as time and posting and networking on Facebook, they’re doing a good job there, and then completely forgetting about their LinkedIn, not realizing “Hey, that’s the number one professional site.” Nurture these contacts as well, talk to these contacts; they’re actually professionals who are income earners and those are the individuals that you want to be networking with.
Joe Fairless: How do we leverage LinkedIn so that we get the best return on our time?
Italina Kirknis: First of all, as you know, Joe, nothing can take place without a conversation happening first. There’s no transaction, no one’s going to invest with you or utilize your service unless you talk to them first. So first of all, when you’re building your network [unintelligible [00:04:11].01] connection request from people who reach out to you on LinkedIn. Start the conversation. “Hey, it’s great to connect with you here on LinkedIn. It’d be great to have at least a quick phone chat with you to see how we can be a resource to each other.”
So actually seeing this as networking … Just like you walk into a room and you’re networking, you exchange cards, you maybe follow up with a phone call or an e-mail – same thing online; you come across someone or someone comes across you – start that conversation, follow it up with a phone call. Once you see it’s of value, you can even have a meeting and you just. You just never know unless you start that conversation.
I know my clients and I – we are receiving what we call service inquiries on a monthly basis from people that say “Hey, I see that you’re in the area” or “I see that you are also connected to John Smith. Let’s see if we’d be a good fit.”
Joe Fairless: I love that advice and that approach, especially for people who are starting out. Once we’re more established, then what is the next level to that, because there’s no way I could follow up with someone on LinkedIn when they reach out to me and say “Let’s have a quick phone conversation”, because all I would be doing is talking to random people who come across me on LinkedIn. So now that we’ve established that foundation of community and connections within LinkedIn, then what’s the next step?
Italina Kirknis: The next step is providing them with valuable information. Whatever it is that you’re promoting or looking to advance and further… Let’s say you’re wanting to work primarily with a certain geographical area. Say you wanna target this particular area, particularly target a market – you can actually use the LinkedIn search feature to target… You can plug in a city, you can plug in state, or a geographical so that you can penetrate this market. If there’s a certain market you wanna get into or a higher price point, you can use LinkedIn’s search filter, you can actually filter it down so that it’s really specific. A lot of people don’t even know or are aware that LinkedIn even has that feature.
Joe Fairless: Are you referring to searching to connect with people, or are you referring to only sharing information to only people within that city or state?
Italina Kirknis: Both.
Joe Fairless: Both, really?
Italina Kirknis: Yeah. Once you go ahead and you search people in a specific geographical area, then you can actually create groups on LinkedIn, so that you can say “Hey, this is for this city, or this is for this city.” You can have certain groups, and then once you are ready to send a message to the people in that group, you can do that; it’s all organized and laid out there for you.
Joe Fairless: Okay, I’m gonna use my example, because that’s the best way I can think of using an example off the top of my head… I have investors in markets across the U.S., but I’ve identified the top seven markets that my investors live in. Therefore, if I wanted to create content for just them in each of those markets – and let’s just use one, for example Los Angeles – then the approach… This is where I wanna make sure I’m thinking about this correctly based on what you’ve just said – the approach I could take is create Los Angeles-specific real estate investing articles that I think they would be interested in, and then create a Los Angeles group and then share it within that group after they’re in the group? Is that correct, or did I miss something?
Italina Kirknis: Exactly, you’ve got it. And that’s just one way. The other thing I would say, to answer your question, how do we make this more advanced, what do we do to make the most of LinkedIn – the other piece I would say is if you’re really good especially at sharing content on Facebook or some of these other sites, don’t forget to share this content on LinkedIn as well, because that’s another set of eyeballs, another audience to get in front.
Joe Fairless: What should be our focus when sharing content on LinkedIn versus Facebook? Do we approach it differently in any way?
Italina Kirknis: Absolutely. Now, we’re remembering that our audience on LinkedIn – they are professionals, they are higher income earners. They are professionals, so we need to make sure that whatever we’re saying does relate to professionals. We’re not sharing pictures of our nieces and nephews and things [unintelligible [00:08:47].15] at happy hour; we’re not sharing that kind of content. It’s common to see that on Facebook and it’s appropriate to see that on Facebook.
On LinkedIn, what we’re doing is being sure to tie it into being a professional, to being (in this case) and investor, being a business owner, that kind of thing. As long as it relates to that audience, they can relate to it. One thing people say – “I don’t know… Does that mean I’m only sharing articles? Does that mean I’m being super corporate?” Absolutely not.
The best thing I can do is just give you an example. One day I was really tired; it was about two o’clock in the afternoon, and what do most of us do at two o’clock in the afternoon?
Joe Fairless: Oh, we all take naps. [laughter] Oh, just me? Okay, never mind.
Italina Kirknis: We go get a nap in the cup – we go get a cup of coffee. Have you ever tried going to a coffee shop at 2 o’clock in the afternoon? No, because you’re taking a nap.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, right. [laughter]
Italina Kirknis: So you don’t know this, but yeah, everyone else is out in line, getting a coffee. And on this particular I said “Italina, you’re tired. You might as well just take a nap, instead of having a nap in a cup.” So I took my yoga mat from the trunk of my car, it was a beautiful day, I put it under a tree and I took a quick 10-15-minute nap. Then I woke up refreshed as ever, productive for the rest of the day. But I thought “Wow, this is really cool, what I just did, what just happened – I decided to take a nap instead of rushing for a cup of coffee… I bet a lot of professionals could relate to this”, so I shared it on LinkedIn, I found a picture of a yoga mat, I shared that story. It received a lot of engagement because all those professionals could absolutely relate to needing either a nap or a cup of coffee at two o’clock in the afternoon.
Joe Fairless: I remember listening to one of Tim Ferriss’ podcasts and he’s a proponent of that type of approach, taking 15-20-minute naps whenever you need to, just like the power thing. Okay, that’s great. So it was not an article that you were sharing, but rather it was an experience that was helping you as a professional, and it was also something that people were either envious of or enlightened by. Okay, cool.
Italina Kirknis: Right, absolutely. The thing is everything on LinkedIn doesn’t need to be super corporate, it doesn’t just have to be articles. Again, it’s adding value to the professionals in your network. If you are going to share articles, I highly suggest first of all to share your own article. And then number two, if you’re gonna share someone else’s article, read it and give your two cents on the article.
For example, frequently when I see articles being posted on LinkedIn, it’s just the article, and there’s nothing from you. You’re promoting the writer of that article, you’re not promoting yourself; you’re not showing your own expertise and how you’re so good at what you do and why people should work with you. So what I suggest if you are gonna share someone else’s article — the best post that I saw was “This article answers questions on what to do prior to investing.” A person gave their two cents on what the article was going to be addressing. So then we get to see your thought process, we can see “Oh, you are smart”, or we get to see some of your brilliance.
Joe Fairless: How do we judge the success of our LinkedIn approach?
Italina Kirknis: Sure. What’s great is just like Facebook, LinkedIn gives you analytics. So you can actually see — each individual post that you share, you receive analytics. It says right there, “This post reached X amount of people.” Of course, you can also see how many people liked and commented, but as we all know, people who look at your post and who enjoy it don’t always like or comment. So it does show you the stats on not only how many people saw it, but it even shows you the job titles of the individuals who looked.
For example, when I share a post, it will say “X amount of people who have the title ‘real estate broker’ saw your post, and X amount of people who have the title ‘salesperson’ or ‘financial advisor’…” and it even shows the company. [unintelligible [00:13:07].25] it gives you specifics on who’s viewing your content.
Joe Fairless: Is there a dashboard so can compare articles, or do you just have to look at each article individually?
Italina Kirknis: On your own profile, where it says — for example, on my profile where I see all of my activity, all of my posts, it’ll say “Italina’s activity”, and I can look at all my posts that I’ve shared, and for each individual one, yes, I would go to individually and look at the analytics for each.
Joe Fairless: Okay. What’s something else as it relates to LinkedIn that we haven’t talked about that we need to know about?
Italina Kirknis: I would say the basics is the profile. The profile itself, I think the average user thinks “Oh, this is just an online resume.” Well, if you’re in sales, if you’re an investor, if you’re in real estate, you want it to be more of a marketing piece than a resume. You’re not looking for a job, so you don’t need it to be a resume. So use it as an opportunity to actually share what you’re doing, what sets you apart, what sets you in the business, what sets you apart from all the other bazillion real estate professionals out there.
For example, a lot of people don’t even have their summary up there. Use your summary as an opportunity to share the niche market that you’re working in, what sets you apart from other real estate professionals, the kinds of things we can expect in working with you, and a call to action. So it’s more of a marketing piece than just a resume or just a list of companies, real estate brokerages that you’ve been moving around to.
Joe Fairless: Let’s switch gears if we can to e-mail newsletters.
Italina Kirknis: Sure.
Joe Fairless: What are some suggestions or best practices that you have to have an e-mail newsletter that your recipient then shares out with their friends because it’s so darn interesting.
Italina Kirknis: Right. Well, as you can imagine, I’m on a lot of real estate professionals’ lists, so I receive their newsletters and I get to see either how awesome or how lame they are. So I would say the ones that are not as inspiring are the ones where I’m only getting the market report, I’m only getting these stats and so forth. Yes, that’s all important, but again, also add your own two cents, share your brilliance. Based on these marketing stats that you’re sharing, what do I do with this information? Based on that, what are you seeing? So use it as an opportunity to share your accents, your brilliance.
Our e-mail newsletter – we’re addressing problems or questions that people have in the business. You wanna do the same thing, keeping your ear out there… What do you hear people complaining about? What are people asking? That’s what your next e-mail newsletter should be addressing.
Joe Fairless: And then any tips or suggestions or best practices for anything else as it relates to newsletters? I know it’s a large question, so take it whichever way you want to.
Italina Kirknis: Utilize video in your newsletter. Your newsletter shouldn’t be this huge thesis, this huge verbiage, this e-mail that someone definitely needs a cup of coffee just to get through the newsletter. One thing I would say is keep it short and concise, and obviously, use video. Video is huge. People are gonna be more willing to watch a quick few minute video than read paragraph after paragraph. So instead of writing, or as a way to mix it up, just writing what you’re gonna say, say what you’re gonna say on a video, and put that in your e-mail.
What’s so great about that is in your subject line you can put in “VIDEO” and we’ll know right away that’s a video; they look forward to it, and then whatever it is that you’re addressing. In my case I’ll do a video, and then three tips for making the most of LinkedIn. They know right away what they’re getting, and that it’s a video, and they’re gonna be more excited about that.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience as an online branding and marketing expert, what is your best real estate investing advice ever for real estate investors?
Italina Kirknis: Well, as we know, it’s a saturated market, there’s lots of investors out there, brokerages out there, a lot of people and a lot of options, so how are you setting yourself apart? I would say one great thing is that social media, whether it be LinkedIn, or Facebook, or even promoting through our newsletter list gives us a way to set ourselves apart and show our personalities, and that’s what people fall in love with.
So what I would say is be careful about trying to be just so professional where your personality is not flat and one-dimensional. Yes, you can be yourself hopefully, while still maintaining a level of professionalism. But use the online world, treat it as if it’s your own true e-Hollywood story where you get to share yourself, your personality and who you are, so people will be more inclined to work with you.
Joe Fairless: Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Italina Kirknis: Okay… [laughs]
Joe Fairless: I love the laugh, and I’ll take that as a — oh, you did say okay too, so you’re laughing and saying okay. Double plus. Alright, first though, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: Okay, best ever book you’ve read?
Italina Kirknis: Oh, wow… That’s really hard, oh my God. The Noticer, we’ll go with that. The Noticer.
Joe Fairless: Noticer?
Italina Kirknis: Yes.
Joe Fairless: Okay. What’s the best ever way to get the most amount of e-mail subscribers in the shortest amount of time?
Joe Fairless: Best ever CRM or e-mail database software program that you recommend?
Italina Kirknis: [laughs] For simplicity, so people who are just like “Oh my God, I’m so scared of technology”, for simplicity I would just say using MailChimp for constant contact. But I love, I love, I love Contactually.
Joe Fairless: Contactually?
Italina Kirknis: Yes.
Joe Fairless: Why?
Italina Kirknis: Because it alerts you as to who needs to be contacted, and keeps that in front of you in case you’re not on top of it.
Joe Fairless: What’s the investment on a monthly basis or annual basis for Contactually?
Italina Kirknis: I don’t know…
Joe Fairless: That’s fine, I’m just curious. Best ever way you like to give back?
Italina Kirknis: I love giving back to my high school. I went to a really, really great high school and I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I love that they give scholarships to people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford to attend; it’s a private school. So I love giving back to my high school.
Joe Fairless: Best ever way the Best Ever listeners can get in touch with you?
Italina Kirknis: They can obviously call me at 501-712-1918 or text, and they can also connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook. It’s just Italina Kirknis.
Joe Fairless: Thank you for being on the show, thanks for giving us many lessons on how to enhance our presence online and how to build a database in the most efficient way possible. Some of the things that stood out to me – clearly, LinkedIn is the platform of choice, and we can be ourselves while still maintaining a level of professionalism within LinkedIn, that way we still have our personality. But it should relate to professionals; it doesn’t have to be the articles that we write or share – and by the way, if we share, then we need to have some commentary about it. It could also be that yoga mat as the example. And then targeting locations, creating groups within those locations, and many other tips along the way.
Thanks for being on the show, I’m really grateful. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Italina Kirknis: Thank you.