I originally wrote this as an email to the students in my LinkedIn Bootcamp programme. Because I got some good feedback on it, I’m sharing it more widely here with minor edits only.
Dear LinkedIn Bootcamper,
We all know what’s happening. I won’t wax lyrical, and instead get right to the heart of the matter.
In this email, I want to give you my take on the crisis and how it relates to your efforts of finding new clients on LinkedIn.
Here are eight points I’ve been following myself, and that I want to pass on to you.
1. Be(come) a Stoic.
Nothing I say in the below, none of the strategies and LinkedIn-specific tactics will be of any use to you if you’re panicking on the inside (or even, worse, outside).
And so I want to briefly cover the virtue of Stoicism as an attitude to adopt for life.
If you don’t have a life philosophy, Stoicism is a great candidate I invite you to learn about.
The essence of Stoicism is: Focus on what you can influence. You cannot influence the outside world. You cannot influence how fast the virus spreads, how many people die, what the measures are that different governments take. And you cannot influence the coming recession.
But you CAN influence your response to outside events. You can choose to adjust your work to suit the circumstances (e.g. by offering a lower-cost version of your product, by being more generous etc – more on that below).
And most importantly, you can choose to be non-reactive, calm and collected and a rock for your loved ones. While we may think that we’re at the mercy of our feelings, that is not true. People are able to react very differently to a difficult situation, and just like you can train yourself to not react when someone cuts you off in traffic, you can train yourself to be calm in the midst of a storm.
But stoicism not only says you CAN. It also says that you MUST. It not only teaches you how to, it tells you that you have a responsibility to detach from your lower, baser instincts of freaking out, selling your stocks, hoarding bottled water and toilet paper, and waiting for the apocalypse with rattling teeth. You have a responsibility to yourself and your loved ones.
Indeed, the worst thing for a Stoic is losing their composure and falling prey to their lower instincts, of not living up to their highest ideals.
And this applies in even the most extreme cases. There’s a tale of a Roman Stoic who was sentenced to death by the dictator Nero. The message was brought to him by a soldier when he was playing a board game with a friend. The Stoic received the news, thanked the soldier and asked if he was allowed to finish his board game. When he won the game, he exalted, shook his friend’s hand, thanked him for the game, put on his toga… and left for his execution. Even in the face of certain death, he did not lose his composure and was looking forward to discovering whether he would pass the ultimate test of maintaining his poise as the executioner drew his sword.
If a feat like this is possible, I think it’s possible to survive a few months not leaving our 21st century home with wifi and a full fridge.
So be a Stoic.
2. Get off the news.
I know it’s tempting to be glued to the screen and to follow the latest developments.
Really, stop. There is no use to it, it’s a waste of time, and you will become anxious. And most importantly, when you’re following the news, you’re not fulfilling your highest purpose. You’re following your base instincts, feeding your fear, and placating your Ego (by appearing knowledgeable to your mates about the virus’s survival rates on door knobs, for example)
The most important news will come to you anyway. Your loved ones will inform you (because most of them ARE glued to their screens). The likelihood that you will discover something from real-time news that will make a crucial difference in your survival is minuscule. And the cost you pay for this distraction is huge and certain – the loss of focus and composure, and less time to work on your highest purpose.
If you’re a near-addict to the news like I used to be, I suggest this method to wean yourself off the drip: Schedule your procrastination time. If you’re a hard-core junkie, schedule 15 minutes every 3 hours. Stick to it. And in the 3 hours, force yourself to stay off the news. If you’re already recovering, schedule one 15 minute slot per day. You will get the most important news you need to know. Beyond the instructions on how to behave, you can leave the solving of the crisis to the experts.
Some resources to help you stay off the news:
- Install Freedom.to on your phone and desktop (it costs a bit but it’s worth it. I bought the lifetime membership). It blocks news sites on a VPN level, and you cannot override it once you’ve set it
- Uninstall Facebook & Youtube from your phone
- Install this chrome extension to remove recommended videos on Youtube (a massive source of distraction)
- If you need Facebook for work, install the News Feed Eradicator. The news feed is poison for the brain.
- Reward yourself with a little treat every day. (it’s psychologically important to reward your lower horse for complying with your noble horse’s orders. So whether that’s 5 minutes of video gaming, a piece of chocolate, or a cat video on Youtube, reward yourself.)
As Jocko Willink says: Success and failure are slow processes. You’re either slowly building things up, or gradually tearing them down. And that’s why you have to watch every second. You have to watch whether, in the second that just went by, you’ve built or decayed, whether you’ve gained or lost ground.
Every second counts.
So make every second count.
And stop reading and watching the news.
So! With those two important foundational things out of the way, let’s talk business.
3. A recession is not a vacuum cleaner from space
No alien vacuum cleaner is coming to suck up all the cash in the world. Money is still flowing and will continue to flow.
In fact, there’s reason to assume that the recession will be short-lived because there are no major structural weaknesses in the economy. I’m not an expert on this, so take this with a lump of salt, of course. But it seems to me that things were going quite well before the virus hit us.
People will still spend money on other things than sanitiser and toilet roll.
But it’s incumbent on us to counteract the recession effect and to adapt to the pressure. Here’s what we need to do:
- Sharpen our tools
- Shed dead wood
- Increase our throughput
- Adjust our offering
4. A recession is for investing in yourself and sharpening your tools
Of course, for most of us, revenue will decline. At least for the two coming months (Before I quit the news, I was hearing that the worst will be over by the end of May)
Recessions tend to shake out the also-rans and poor performers. So don’t be one of them. Make time to work ON the business, not just IN the business.
This means you have to become better at what you do. And that doesn’t only mean your core business (e.g. if you’re selling financial products, you improve your knowledge about the market). It also means to get better at prospecting, content and selling.
Here’s what I’m doing to sharpen my tools:
1) I have made it a habit to get up at 5am every day and read for 1 hour. I’m alternating between philosophy and business books. I also meditate and do sports every morning.
2) Over the next weeks, I will massively ramp up my content production for LinkedIn including lives and webinars. Writing and creating forces you to distil randomly floating thoughts into coherent structure and, through this parsing process, you become better at what you do.
3) I will be investing into a self-development programme with one of my mentors who is in my niche but selling at around 3x my volume.
4) I will be doing way more outreach. Over the last few weeks, I had a major legacy client project that I finished this week. With this done, I can now focus more on LinkedIn outreach. And practice is the best teacher.
Sharpening your tools will mean that once this is over, you will emerge with a competitive advantage.
5. A recession is for shedding dead wood
It’s also worth rethinking our work habits, getting rid of bad ones, and seeing if we can optimise our day-to-day.
This is what I have done to increase my productivity. Pick whatever resonates, but challenge yourself to do more than you’d normally do. These are exceptional times.
1) Get off the news. See above.
2) Almost completely eliminate alcohol consumption. I drink maybe a half glass of wine once a month.
3) Create a meal plan and stick to it. My wife and I are in the midst of building a method that will allow us to meal-prep extremely efficiently, rotating 5 recipes on a weekly basis. We spend a half-day on Saturday cooking and prepping, and the rest of the week is just warming up and and salad prep. We also only eat twice a day (breakfast and late lunch at 4pm), which further reduces faff.
4) Create a daily work plan and stick to it. A big productivity killer is task switching and being reactive. Very few things are so urgent that they need to be done NOW. 99% of demands placed on us during the day can be pushed until tomorrow. And that kind of non-reactivity will do wonders for your discipline and productivity. I may have mentioned my daily tracker
to you. It’s extremely useful. Every evening, I plan my next day in the left column. Then, throughout the day, I track my activities in the right column. For every 30-minute slot I haven’t stuck to the plan, I make 10 push-ups and the end of the day. And since my work discipline is not optimal yet, my wife loves it. 🙂
5) Go to bed early. Despite getting up at 5am, I sleep 7-8 hours. Yep, this means 9-10pm it’s lights off in the Bohanes household. I cannot recommend that more. Social life is over anyway, so might as well rest and rise with the sun.
6) Exercise 6 out of 7 days. I normally push myself to an 8/9 out of 10 level, now I’m going 6-7 to minimise risk of injuries and needing a doctor.
7) Meditate. If this is not your thing (but try to MAKE it your thing), I recommend doing an activity that requires your full attention, where technique matters, and ideally, that has an element of beauty in it. Swim, do yoga, play the piano, paint. These things tend to create Stillness, empty your mind, and focus on the present moment.
What bad habits do you have that are eating up your time and energy? Now is a great time to do an inventory and shed dead wood.
6. A recession is for increasing your throughput
Of course, things will slow down – sales cycles will get longer and people will take longer to make up their mind. We counteract this by ramping up our throughput.
You will have won new time now. No commuting, no socialising, maybe a client lost here or there.
Let’s fill up this empty time by ramping up approaches on LinkedIn by 50%. You can do it.
7. A recession is for adjusting your offering
I’m not sure yet whether it’s a good idea to acknowledge Coronavirus when starting conversations on LinkedIn. I will track it via the messaging swipe file and the LinkedIn tracker
sheet (btw – over the last weeks, I added a TON of great openers into the Swipe file, look through them and try them out).
More adjustments will be needed. We cannot ignore the situation we’re in.
Here are some of the most important ways you can adjust your offering.
a) by being more generous
I will be adding a ton of free content over the next few weeks including LinkedIn Lives and Webinars.
Also, I have collected a lot of great material through my calls with you which will all be turned into new course modules, especially around Mindset. Watch this space.
And please let me know if there’s anything you’re missing in the programme – be it a course module, group calls at different times that suit your schedule better, ad-hoc access to me, whatever it is, please let me know.
b) by offering a helping hand
Could you help someone who’s been hit hard? There are folks out there who are looking at 80% revenue drops. Is there someone in your network you can help with free advice? They won’t repay you but it’s good Karma.
c) by adjusting your product portfolio
If you only have high-priced options, is there a way you can offer a slimmed-down version? For example, I am offering a version of the Bootcamp which will have no 1-1 calls at the outset, and offering it to solo consultants. Is there something like that you could do? Is there a bare-bones version that requires less cash outlay?
d) by offering easier terms
I don’t offer payment terms for LinkedIn Bootcamp, but will now offer them reactively (i.e. if people ask for it). Can you offer delayed payment one way or another?
e) by finding new markets
I spoke to someone recently who worked with Tony Robbins. She told me that before 2008, a lot of their revenue came from mortgage brokers, real estate people, and financial advisers. When the Great Recession hit, these people changed jobs and left the industry, leaving a big revenue gap for Tony. So they started to look for a new primary target audience, and they found small business owners who tend to be more tenacious, less opportunistic, and willing to weather any storm.
If you sell to a target audience who is strongly affected by the virus, can you adjust and sell to someone else – without adjusting the product / service itself?
8. A recession is for winning and leading
There’s so many people on social media who are whining about the crisis (mostly virtue signalling, supposedly on behalf of others. Those who really suffer don’t have time for social media), and getting into stupid political arguments about how Boris, Donald, and Angela should have done this or that. It seems to me that they are taking the crisis as an excuse for laziness and procrastination.
We, in this group, are here to win, ok?
In fact, I want you to win so much you’ll be tired of winning. (Some famous philosopher said that, I forget who).
But seriously, I urge you to see the positive side of this. Every time you have grown and become a better version of yourself was when you had a problem to overcome and you did it. Problems = Growth.
And also, it’s cool to lead and act despite the fear you feel. People look for leaders in a crisis. So for your niche, you can be a leader. It’s your choice.
Your resources – recap
With LinkedIn Bootcamp, you have everything you need to succeed with client acquisition on LinkedIn.
Just to remind you, you have the content portal, the Facebook and LinkedIn Groups and Twice-weekly calls.
Make use of them. Increase your cadence. Come into every group call, with questions prepared.
The method works, no matter if we’re in a crisis or not. I’m in constant contact with other people selling stuff on LinkedIn, and they all say that things are moving just fine.
You paid for it. So Do. The. Work.
We ARE “the economy”.
All of us taken together. People who sell and buy stuff. And the economy is a reflection of our collective confidence in the future. So what you say and do matters because you’re a node in a network. Your confidence will infect (ok ok) others around you.
And even if you’re not confident, act that way. The more people act confidently, the faster we’re going to get out of this.
Have a great weekend and an even greater start into the new awesome week filled with opportunity.
Learn more about the LinkedIn Bootcamp here.