Michelle Raymond is the Founder and Chief LinkedIn Strategist at Good Trading Co. Michelle is also an international best-selling author, member of the inaugural LinkedIn Small Business Advisory Council for LinkedIn Pages, B2B LinkedIn Strategist and LinkedIn Trainer. She’s an innovator and thought leader who helps ambitious, innovative, purpose-driven businesses thrive by creating sustainable strategies for growth, using social selling techniques on LinkedIn.
Michelle specializes in helping business owners make a real impact in business. She takes a hands-on approach, integrating her services into existing teams and working closely with companies on strategy execution and practical implementation of successful LinkedIn marketing campaigns.
Michelle helps clients attract new opportunities to increase revenue, build a solid reputation and position their brand for success. Her passion is to change the world by doing “Good Business with Good People”.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Michelle Raymond: My mum would always tell me I could sell “Ice to Eskimos.” As it turns out, she was spot on. I made a very successful career in senior Account Management positions across various manufacturing industries. I fell in love with working with clients to take their ideas and turn them into reality. Around eight years ago, I started a new role in the chemical distribution industry – specifically raw materials and ingredients for beauty and personal care products.
In this role, I began learning the power of LinkedIn for social selling. By creating highly valued LinkedIn content and building a niche B2B community, I would first have access to opportunities, which would translate into record sales.
Through my company Good Trading Co – I now deliver globally proven LinkedIn strategies and training to B2B companies to build awareness, generate leads and attract top talent. I’m an internationally recognised LinkedIn Company Page expert and best-selling author.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Michelle Raymond: In March 2020, I quit my General Manager role as the business owner let’s put it nicely “did not share my business ethics”. Protecting my reputation would serve me better in the longer term. At that same time, I decided I would not want to work for anyone else, and I would set up my own business. This was not easy then, but several years later, I can look back with confidence that it was the right decision. My business is thriving, and I’m able to share with others how they can too.
COVID-19 lockdowns took away traditional selling methods overnight. No customer visits, trade shows, or events and most businesses were unprepared for selling online. Businesses that have invested in training to learn social selling techniques have been able to thrive. Those who have resisted the change have floundered and lost ground to their competitors. The modern B2B buyer is online, and businesses that meet them there will continue to succeed.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Michelle Raymond: When the economy is disrupted, and there is a lot of talk of recessions, many business owners will look to reduce costs, and the marketing budget is often at the top of the list. My advice is to look to building employee advocacy programs. Invest in your employees to build their brands on social channels. Especially LinkedIn if you are in the B2B space. A lot can be achieved organically with social selling on LinkedIn, i.e. not paid strategies.
Creating brand awareness and staying top of mind is critical to ensuring that when your ideal buyer is ready to purchase, the only company they think of is yours.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Michelle Raymond: As an online trainer, I have noticed how much the world has been opened. I work with clients globally as if they were locals. Many businesses have embraced working globally no different to employees working from home. It’s mind-blowing that so much is possible for the small cost of an internet connection.
Working with clients globally relies on creating digital trust. This is created by consistently creating content valuable to the target client, nurturing relationships, and building B2B communities.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Michelle Raymond: If you are going to build a business from scratch, no matter how much experience you will need to build a community around you. This community will be supporters, encouragers, sounding boards, technical experts, and accountability partners, to name a few. Trying to do it all alone is lonely, exhausting and slows the process down.
This year my plan is not to try to be an expert in every area of my business and to engage experts that will be able to allow me to focus on what I do best.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Michelle Raymond: Whilst face-to-face meetings and events have begun, I believe there is still a lot of hesitation around these. My expectation for 2022 is that we will continue to see the demand for online business, and business owners should invest in resources and training to cope with this demand.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Michelle Raymond: The simple answer is too many. Having a digital business means I’m often looking at LinkedIn, on Zoom calls and training sessions. Whilst I like to mix this up and get away from the screen, it’s not always possible.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Michelle Raymond: Stories are powerful content you can create on LinkedIn, not just in the workplace. They are relatable, easier to remember and make a far better point. I like using Napoleon Hill’s 3ft from gold analogy to encourage people to keep going on LinkedIn when they don’t immediately see results.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Michelle Raymond: Digital burnout, I see, is the real challenge. People working from home have had one day roll into the next with very little in the way of breaks or getaways. Working from home was not as easy as we all expected after the novelty wore off fairly quickly. Being isolated reduces collaboration and creativity.
The challenge right now is for businesses to have the drive to continue to grow after the last few years of being in a holding pattern at best. The temptation will be to save funds and not invest in their business or people. When I believe now is the time more than ever, they need to do this.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Michelle Raymond: I always want to learn more about online marketing, given it’s my specialty. I love monitoring the various ways AI is used in this space.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Michelle Raymond: Whilst I can only talk to this question. Generally, I think there has been much to take on over the last few years. So much turmoil and uncertainty have meant that focus has been diverted elsewhere. Given the nature of the event and the disruption, very few companies would have been equipped to handle this. Especially those that already had financial pressures.
The changes, I think, are just a general acceptance of “it is what it is”. Once we do this, we can begin to look at what next.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Michelle Raymond: This one was an easy choice – focus. In modern business, there are a lot of distractions, and it’s difficult to focus on any task or project for very long. By extending the time we could focus, I think we would increase productivity which has many benefits. The focus could also be on people and conversations. Taking that time to listen to what is happening in the business.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Michelle Raymond: My word for 2022 is “Accountability”. Success for me will be finishing the calendar year, having delivered my key projects as I set out at the beginning of the year. It also incorporates managing my energy levels, so I don’t feel like I have dragged myself to the finish line.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Michelle Raymond for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Michelle Raymond or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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