The Corporate Escapee: Helping GenX find their What's Next!

In this conversation, Kate Ladon discusses the power of personal branding on LinkedIn and shares insights and best practices for building a successful personal brand. She emphasizes the importance of consistency and authenticity in content creation and highlights the value of targeting specific audiences and addressing their unique challenges. Kate also discusses the evolution of LinkedIn as a platform and its focus on empowering creators. She provides tips for optimizing LinkedIn profiles and shares the 111 framework for LinkedIn success, which involves targeting one audience with one problem on one platform. The conversation explores the rise of freelancers and solo companies, the importance of personalized content, starting with LinkedIn and foundational content, solving customer problems and building trust, embracing the learning curve and starting today, and the unpredictability of viral content.

  • Building a personal brand on LinkedIn takes time and consistency, and success is not achieved overnight.
  • LinkedIn has evolved from a platform focused on careers and recruiting to a platform that empowers creators and thought leaders.
  • Targeting specific audiences and addressing their unique challenges is key to building a successful personal brand on LinkedIn.
  • Video content can be a powerful tool on LinkedIn, especially for those in industries that require strong communication skills.
  • Optimizing your LinkedIn profile, including using a compelling banner image and a clear headline, is essential for attracting and engaging your target audience. The number of freelancers and solo companies is expected to increase in the future, making it important to get ahead of the trend.
  • Personalized content that connects with the audience on a deeper level is more effective than mass-blasted content.
  • LinkedIn is a valuable platform for starting and growing a personal brand, and foundational content is key to success.
  • Customers care more about how you can solve their problems than the structure of your company.
  • It's never too late to start building a personal brand and leveraging social media platforms.
  • The success of content can be unpredictable, so it's important to keep experimenting and not get discouraged.


00:00 Introduction and Background
01:05 Kate Ladon Personal Brands
03:26 The Reality of Building a Following on LinkedIn
04:10 Targeting Specific Audiences on LinkedIn
05:22 LinkedIn's Evolution and Adaptation
07:07 LinkedIn as a Professional and Positive Platform
08:04 Trends and Best Practices on LinkedIn
13:42 The Power of Lurkers and Personal Branding
15:11 Success Stories on LinkedIn
17:07 LinkedIn's Non-Corporate Focus
18:15 Content Creation and Personalization
20:50 Video Content on LinkedIn
23:26 Using Links in LinkedIn Posts
25:04 Balancing Personal and Professional Content
26:36 Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile
29:41 Creating a LinkedIn Signature
35:24 The 111 Framework for LinkedIn Success
42:12 Rise of Freelancers and Solo Companies
44:14 The Importance of Personalized Content
45:33 Starting with LinkedIn and Foundational Content
48:43 Solving Customer Problems and Building Trust
49:09 Embracing the Learning Curve and Starting Today
51:10 The Unpredictability of Viral Content

Kait LeDonne Links: 

What is The Corporate Escapee: Helping GenX find their What's Next!?

Welcome to The Corporate Escapee hosted by Brett Trainor, a podcast dedicated tor GenX professionals and management consultants yearning to break free from the 9-5 grind. Our goal is to guide 10,000 GenXers on their journey to exit corporate life, achieve work/life balance, and command their futures, all while maintaining their financial stability. This show is your roadmap for transitioning from corporate confines to flourishing in solo or expertise-based ventures, utilizing decades of experience.

Embark on your corporate escape and redefine your professional journey. We focus on building and optimizing the solo business/solopreneur career path.

Subscribe to Corporate Escapee Podcast define your legacy in the world of business today.

Join us and transform your expertise into a thriving, fulfilling business outside the traditional corporate confines.

Brett Trainor (00:01.746)
Hi Kate, welcome to the podcast. I gotta tell you, I've been really looking forward to this one.

Kait LEDonne (00:07.83)
Thank you. Likewise.

Brett Trainor (00:10.498)
Um, yeah. So again, I feel like I've known you for years just because of your content and your, you know, the videos and everything that you've put on. I'm sure you get that quite a bit with a bunch of your followers. So like I said, I'm super excited to dig into this with, uh, you know, the personal brand and a good portion of my audience is, you know, Gen X corporate escapees, maybe still in corporate thinking about getting out.

They see LinkedIn as, or at least the way I used to see it was, you know, resume and jobs and, you know, maybe a little bit with sales if you were in sales, but now we've got to think about this as our calling card and our personal brand. So I'm like, who better to have on the podcast than yourself? So, uh, one, welcome again. And, and two, maybe we can start with if you'd share just a little bit with, uh, with what your company does, who you work with, and we'll dig right into this.

Kait LEDonne (01:05.502)
Yes. So my company is Kate Ladon Personal Brands, pretty straightforward. Actually used to have an agency and recently pivoted it to going all in on what I help my clients do, which is monetizing and scaling their personal brands. So we work with clients who are either entrepreneurs looking to shift their personal brand from being behind the scenes in the business to being a thought leader in their industry.

But a good, I would say majority of clients these days are professionals who were corporate escapees, who have started a thought leadership business. Perhaps they're consulting, they're doing professional services, and they know they are selling their, ultimately their personality and their intellect. And so they realize very wisely that building a personal brand is the best way to scale that.

and gives you freedom to dictate more and more what that business looks like. So it's kind of been a pivot for myself as well. I think that reflects my client's journey. And I will say this, you said that I feel like I've known you for years because of LinkedIn. The one thing I always like to remind people of, even though I have a pretty large following on LinkedIn, what I don't see a lot of people admitting on LinkedIn, because it's cooler to not admit this,

is how many years it took me to get that following. And I started really being committed to the platform in 2014. And so coming up on a decade of, I mean, really just being committed to providing value. Whereas I think one of the things that just sets people back on the platform right off the bat, especially if you're getting into it, or seeing it as a vehicle this year, is all these flashy stories of

I started two years ago and I have 60,000 followers and that's really great for an outlier, like 1%, maybe even less of people on this platform since there's over 900 million of them now. It's encroaching upon 1 billion in the rarefied era of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It's going to be one of the big four. But that's not at all the story of people who are making a good amount of money.

Kait LEDonne (03:26.958)
on the platform as professional service providers. So I just want to dispel that right there. Whenever somebody says, you have such a big following on LinkedIn, my first thing is thank you. And I've been at it consistently for a while because I think more people need to let people know about that.

Brett Trainor (03:42.346)
That's a really good point because you see, again, we see a couple and you probably some in your network as well, right? They post the sky is blue and there's 600 comments and yes, the sky is blue. I wouldn't have thought of that and those types of things. And to me, that's just not, it's not helpful. I used to kind of chase that, but now I'm like, it doesn't matter because the one thing I found, at least with my business is I don't need a thousand customers for this to be successful. Really probably don't even need a hundred. So I'm really

Kait LEDonne (03:52.146)

Kait LEDonne (04:10.264)

Brett Trainor (04:11.646)
better or trying to be better at targeting very specific folks. And I think your message is you actually do communicate to the masses, but I think it's more custom if that makes sense the way you do it. It's just not blanketed. It feels like you're talking, like your newsletter I think is really good. It's one of the must read newsletters because there's always, I think you mentioned earlier, there's always value in it, right? I'm learning something new and I think I know things. I'm like, all right, well, that's a different approach to it.

Kait LEDonne (04:16.696)

Brett Trainor (04:41.394)
And, you know, so I think it is, you do have to be in it for the long haul. And, and if we're in corporate, we've been in the B2B forever and most of us have been on LinkedIn. So it's not a new tool, but the way we use it probably is. And.

Kait LEDonne (04:55.97)
Feels new, yeah. And it's part of LinkedIn's evolution too. I mean, their original intention was, their bread and butter was careers and recruiting and really to fill the corporate machine. And you've seen it evolve into where it is now where their mission statement is helping anybody excel in their professional ambitions. Very much.

noticeably less tied to let's pair recruiters and hiring managers with professionals. And particularly over the last couple of years, they have firmed or firmed up or created a creator team. So people specifically designated to helping creators on the platform, a term that I don't even think they would have used.

five years ago, now you have an editor in chief of that experience and you have a whole team at LinkedIn working to empower creators or people they know are creating content around thought leadership and expertise on the platform. So it's been fun to see how they have Zigdon, Zagdon evolved with that to really make sure that they're servicing all aspects of the career economy, whether that's side hustles, main hustles, W2s, 1099s, entrepreneurs, and

I think that LinkedIn is reflective of what the market is now. When you look at just the sheer amount of people who are freelancing or moonlighting or side hustling or the gig economy, they would be silly to remain attached to the iteration it looks like. So you're seeing the platform reflecting its user base and the user base responding to and reflecting how the platform has adapted to serve that. And it's wonderful. I think LinkedIn has been really on it.

in that perspective in a way that also doesn't erode ethical and positivity on the platform and keeping it truly professional, which is not something you see in something like Facebook where it's like, Oh my God, I feel like I'm just jumping into the cesspool of comments here of like negativity and just this is this is going off the rails so fast.

Brett Trainor (07:03.778)

Brett Trainor (07:07.462)
everybody's screaming at each other or not even screaming, just screaming in general, right? So, yeah, you know, it's interesting about LinkedIn is it seems to be more, um, non-career focused post, you know, Microsoft buying them when you would have thought that it would have probably gone the other direction since it would tie bar to Microsoft's corporate side. But I think you're right. There's, I don't see the challenge and maybe it's who you follow on there that

Kait LEDonne (07:09.71)
Oh my God, it's so divisive. Yes.

Kait LEDonne (07:27.726)

Brett Trainor (07:36.294)
You know, you still get the spam, right? I'd hate to be somebody that promotes podcasts, or I'd hate to be somebody that can get me leads because I get those solicited emails all the time. But you know, it's not that big of a deal as the broader portion of what you can get from the platform. And so maybe part of that, because we were talking just briefly offline, you had talked about a couple of trends that you're seeing. So maybe, you know, share with us what, you know, kind of, I don't know, call them best practice. Let's go trends.

Kait LEDonne (07:40.919)

Kait LEDonne (07:45.708)
all the time.

Brett Trainor (08:04.974)
And then I really want to get into your one-one-one frameworks. I think that's going to be super helpful to get folks either getting started or get back on track, right with what they're doing with, with content. So.

Kait LEDonne (08:17.474)
Well, it's interesting we're talking. I want to bridge the gap between something that was really insightful that you just said. You said ever since Microsoft acquired them, which at this point was goodness, over five years ago or so, that you would figure they'd go more corporate in career. And when Microsoft acquired them, there was a few different hard assets that they wanted to monetize and they saw value in.

Brett Trainor (08:30.71)

Kait LEDonne (08:44.702)
One was obviously the integration of the world's largest professional network with their tools. This is Teams, this is Mail, all the things that power you on a day-to-day basis. So there was a very like tangible asset there if you're going to look at it from an acquisition standpoint. But what actually led to the multi-billion dollar valuation of LinkedIn, which at that point, like many things, wasn't super profitable, was Microsoft.

identifying the value of the sheer amount of users on the platform. And like any good social media platform, you have to be able to have critical mass of a user base to then sell products to. And so when you look at the fact that at this point, fast forward, you know, five to six to seven years since that acquisition, I forget exactly when it was. The fact that LinkedIn has grown steadily when other platforms have plateaued,

and it's encroaching upon 1 billion is really Microsoft's dream coming to fruition. And yet of those 950 million plus users, about one to 3% actively create content. And when I say actively create content, I mean on like a weekly or even monthly basis, like they're logging into the platform and maybe posting a post. So Microsoft really empowered LinkedIn to go after those users because they know,

what gets users on a platform, creators or content. If you're gonna go on a platform and the content isn't good, the users aren't gonna keep showing up. And so they knew as a social media tool, they had to really push creators forward, which is why you see the type of reach, the shelf life of posts and the ways that LinkedIn is helping promote your thought leadership like you never have been before post acquisition.

So that beautifully leads, Brett, into your questions about trends. Like, here's all the business behind the scenes of why there's never been a better time to be on LinkedIn. Number one, anybody who has more than a hundred connections can turn on creator mode. This was never available before. Creator mode in the suite of tools that allows you lets you do the following things.

Kait LEDonne (11:01.354)
You can do LinkedIn audio events, basically live podcasts on the platform. You can have a newsletter, have people subscribe to it, and they'll get a copy of that newsletter when they don't even get on the platform. It'll come directly to their inbox because their email is tied to their LinkedIn. You can choose the hashtags you wanna be known for. You can do things like live events and set up events, and more and more, they're

introducing things like here's a community newsletter that one of our LinkedIn editors created. We're tapping you as somebody who is in this industry and knows what you're talking about to add in a collaborative format. Then LinkedIn publishes that newsletter and you are seen as a credible expert and you see them starting to introduce these tools every single day. So right there between audio events, newsletters and collaborative articles, that's like the

the 2.0 version of trends on the platform that most people aren't even touching. And if you're not even doing that, just posting on the platform, you may play the comparison game and say, well, I'm still not getting as much reach as these mega influencers on LinkedIn, but I guarantee you, you're still getting more eyeballs than most people who aren't posting on the platform. And if you stick with that, you're going to see followers at a heavier increase than you would.

on other platforms. And you will get to a point where it is a tipping point. So I can tell you all from my own experience of watching other creators go through this 25,000 followers to 30,000. And I know that probably for a lot of you listening, do not compare yourself to this. I don't want you to fall into the trap of comparison because I built that year by year by year over a decade. That's like critical mass. That is when more begets more momentum begets...

momentum and it starts to feel very downhill in influencership. So all the people that you've seen really skyrocket. It's because they hit about 25 to 30 and then the base starts working for them. And you can say things like the sky is blue and people are like, remarkable, amazing, the sky, what like that's so I never thought of that in a business context and you just want to groan and say, this is such PS, but it really is like that, but it starts with the consistent posting and that is so available.

Brett Trainor (13:09.417)
Thanks for watching!

Brett Trainor (13:14.922)

Kait LEDonne (13:22.594)
to everybody and all you have to do is get a hundred connections to turn on creator mode and you get so much more access to these tools that Microsoft and LinkedIn have invested in to make your experience great and to make the user's experience great.

Brett Trainor (13:36.634)
Yeah, I didn't realize it was so I knew there was you know, that 80 20 rule on, you know, people actually create it's not even close. You just said 99% to one with one person.

Kait LEDonne (13:45.278)
It's something frighteningly small. I would say that it's grown over the past couple of years as I've seen more people promote content regularly. But I can't say that with certainty because in proportion to the user base that has continued to grow at alarming rates, I would be shocked if it was more than 5%. I really would. But you're talking about 5% of a billion people. So it seems like all these people are publishing.

when they're really not. And also you're just seeing who you follow in the feed, which is another great thing of LinkedIn. It's just serving you up people you know, so your reach within your community is gonna be pretty heavy. And people are like, this guy's everywhere. Like, you're not, you're just on LinkedIn, you don't follow a lot of people. And a lot of people aren't, just simply aren't doing the consistent, simple work. I just wanna tell this story to people because I think it's really important. I had, I was working with...

Brett Trainor (14:18.579)
I hate it.

Kait LEDonne (14:41.99)
a brilliant woman who helps small businesses document all their SOPs and train a user base. She's like a train you'll certified person. She is someone who really takes all the junk that's in your head, puts it out, systemizes it so you can hire and scale your business. She was posting content for nine months, got a few hits here and there, but relatively low impact on the content. I would say a good day for her was 10 reactions on a post, had a smaller network.

nine months into it, she texted me and said, I just received a $60,000 contract from one LinkedIn post. They'd been following me for a little bit. They never liked anything. They were just considering when the right time to purchase wasn't out of the blue. They messaged me, we talked 60 grand. These are the stories I want more people to tell about how LinkedIn works, not, I got 70,000 followers and launched an online course and it's all rainbows and hearts. Like there is that.

But there's also these people who on the surface, you would think they're not quote unquote influencers, but they're raking in great contracts, making a very healthy, enjoyable business for themselves. And all they're doing is pushing the content on LinkedIn.

Brett Trainor (15:52.41)
Yeah, no, it's true. I'll might, I wouldn't say all, but the vast majority of the leads that I could get in from folks are never, didn't even one know they were following me too. To your point, never liked or commented ever on it. But then all of a sudden said, Hey, can we talk? Right. I've got this challenge or this problem. So it's, it's the lurkers that are your future business. And I think I found.

Kait LEDonne (16:13.838)
The lurkers are always the purchasers and they always have the deepest pockets. I realize this time and time again. I have evangelists on my feed. I have friends like you. I support everything you do. You're very supportive of me. I feel like we've been distant business besties for years, like you said. But he's always, always the ones who, like the venture capital firms, the multinational firms who hire me to speak and host workshops, they never say anything. In fact, the army called me one time.

Sorry, the Air Force. Wow, that is really going to get me in trouble, because that is a distinction you just can't mess up. The Air Force called me a couple of years ago. It was right before COVID. And they said, we want to fly you down to talk about personal branding to all of our leaders. They had a healthy budget. And I said, how in the world did you find me? And they said, our Colonel is such a fan on LinkedIn. And I jokingly said, well, sir, can you please tell him to like something of mine? Because I never knew it.

Brett Trainor (17:02.846)

Kait LEDonne (17:12.502)
But that's just like, it's so hard for the course.

Brett Trainor (17:12.595)

Brett Trainor (17:16.118)
And it's funny that one of the tools that I use, and I'm drawing a blank of it's the analytics, but I love to see the companies that actually look at the posts. So I don't know specifically, Shield, yes. Yes, thank you, appShield, appRapShield. I'm kind of addicted to that one. I don't care as much. I'm like, why? Why is this company, this many people in this company actually looking at what I wrote or what I posted? So I don't know. You can go down a rabbit hole with that definitely, but.

Kait LEDonne (17:26.082)
Shield. Is that why you're using a shield? Yes, Shield app, the Shield app. I know.

Kait LEDonne (17:41.962)
It's fascinating.

Brett Trainor (17:45.414)
Yeah, it's interesting even with this podcast, my guests have received more business from the podcast than I have, right? Because all of a sudden people listen to it and say, oh, that person could really help me, and I'm like, that's why we do this, right? Is to get that out there. I think you had mentioned, I think the overwhelming for a lot of folks is, man, do I just have to spend hours and hours creating content and you really don't. I think you have to be thoughtful about it.

Kait LEDonne (17:59.254)
Yes, yes.

Brett Trainor (18:15.166)
But, you know, at the start of this year, I made the transition and I'm still doing it to this day is writing that post in the morning, basically whatever inspired me early to write. And if I didn't have anything that day, I didn't write it. So it's not like I'm, you know, the efficiency experts out there, like you got to batch your content and write and then post. I'm still more of a, this was kind of top of mind or I thought about this yesterday. And so I'm writing about it. And.

Kait LEDonne (18:15.662)

Brett Trainor (18:42.266)
Again, we'll see the long tail where it goes, but you know, definitely the volumes are, but it's, it's talking about the business and things that are important to me. So is that, um, I don't actually know if we got through all your trends, did we? If the creator mode was the definitely the first part.

Kait LEDonne (18:44.681)

Kait LEDonne (18:57.114)
Those are, I would say trends when you're thinking about content wise, just keep in mind this. It's funny, somebody sent me a report the other day. It was like, what's really working on LinkedIn? It was trends supported by stats and all of this, you know, very, very good data backed analysis of what's happening on LinkedIn. And one of the pieces of content they said was not happening on LinkedIn was video.

And I read that and I said, this is why it's so important to look at data with context, because while you're maybe looking at content across the playing field and saying, okay, well, compared to text paired with photo, compared to carousel or compared with this video rank slower, it is all contingent upon what your goals are for your business. For me,

My video is my second highest performer of all of my content. And I strategically keep it in there, not only because it works well for me, but because I get paid to speak. Now, if you're a professional speaker, if you are someone who wants to go into corporate, host workshops, host trainings, host things like that, and get paid good money to go in and do it, they want to see you speak.

I mean, they want to be able to see your personality. If you're trying to get on a TED stage, people wanna see that you can communicate effectively. So if you just go blindly behind what the data trends say, and you say, oh, well, video is not gonna work. I have to do everything text, but you're great on video and your business is all around getting paid to speaker. That's a big part of your business development goals. You'd be silly not to do video and it might really work for you. So when it comes to trends on the platform,

Brett Trainor (20:50.174)

Kait LEDonne (20:51.638)
You always want to start with the end in mind. What am I ultimately trying to do here? And then what is the content that hits this beautiful Venn diagram of what I feel really good about and what I like doing and what my audience would like to consume? For me, Brett, I love writing and I love being on video. And I love speaking. I mean, I really, it's like, this is why I'm in content. I'm happy to do it all. But I know that my audience members, some of them,

want all the details and they want to spend time with it. So that's my newsletter. It's usually a six minute read. You're committing to sitting down with it, getting stats and stories that support the idea. I know some of my readers are like me, or it's like, I'm a bullet point thinker. I just want to get in. I want to see your status. I want the abridged version. I want the cliff notes of what you said in the article. And that's great. And then some of them are audible visual listeners. That's where I'm going to take the article I wrote, basically fill myself.

say the three main points and put it on video if somebody is more of a like, I just want the caption to video. I want to learn in about 30 seconds. And so I think the other part of that too is where you're talking about the volume of content. So many of us are feeling like we have to create novel content all the time. You really don't just take one idea and put it out in different ways, knowing that a your audience needs it to be fortified to actually seep into their brains. You have to be told something about seven to 12 times to really remember it even higher.

as we go along in life. And then you will basically be putting it in different variations where some of your audience may be visual, some of your audience may be auditory learners, some of them may be super detail oriented and different ones are going to buy for different reasons. So while I love the trim reports of like written statuses, 600 to 800 characters in single line sentences are performing the best, maybe and sure, if you look at the grand scheme of things.

But all of your audience members want that. If you're dealing with a highly technical engineer, that's the person who's gonna hire you as a contractor, is that the status that's gonna get them to convert? Maybe not. Maybe they'd be better off looking at a process map that you created. And the beauty of LinkedIn is it really does allow you to post all types of content like that on it. So.

Kait LEDonne (23:06.782)
Yes, there's trends. Definitely pay attention to what's working on the platform. Like I can tell you right now, outlinking to an article to Forbes with minimal insights into why your outlinking is just going to crush you every time. But think about your audience versus the platform. All of us are so exhausted from algorithm surfing and 99.9% of you don't have a business in social media. It's not the best use of your time.

Brett Trainor (23:28.126)

Kait LEDonne (23:35.074)
The best use of your time is always getting closer to the consumer, more narrow on who you're serving, and then giving them content that will be of highest value to them. It's never going to go out of style.

Brett Trainor (23:45.902)
Yeah, no, I think stay with the fundamentals, right? The 80-20, get 80% of all the value, share what's working, don't sell. I probably could do a better job at times of selling things, but for the most part, it's just, here's what I've learned, here's what other people are saying, here's what we're seeing. And I do think you're right with the video. I need to start doing a little bit more video, but also the personal side seems to do well. So balancing, right? That it's a human, it's somebody there, it's not a machine, right?

Kait LEDonne (23:58.135)

Brett Trainor (24:14.862)
AI or ML, however you want to phrase it, right? We're just going to see more and more junk. So the more you can put your personality in quite honestly, the businesses that we're building are going to be based on personal, right? They're solopreneurs, even small businesses and brands should be taking on the, you know, the personality of the owners, right? Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. So, um, I just think more.

Kait LEDonne (24:17.868)

Kait LEDonne (24:37.438)
Yeah, and ultimately those that's going to help you sell. Like think about how you sell offline. Maybe you're in a church community with someone. Maybe you, you know, see them at synagogue or you play golf with them. It's not talking shop often. That's like, you know what? I really like that guy. I'm going to have him do my finances. It's that you have shared values based on your personality and your outlook in the world. And when you're building your personal brand, you're effectively able to do that at scale. You do want to set ratios for yourself, though.

because when left unchecked, you can quickly have one pillar of your brand consume the other. So I always tell people, when you're building a personal brand, you basically have three pillars to it. Your professional bucket, this is where you're teaching your audience, your narrow audience things, that should be about 70% of your content, dedicated to teaching and solving challenges for your audience. Then you have a 30% remaining window of content. You wanna break that up about 15% passion and 15% personable.

What do I mean when I say passion? These are things you're just fiercely committed to. I work with a financial advisor. She chairs a lot of boards about advocacy and working with the government for the profession. We don't want her whole content to be around government updates, like yawn, nobody's gonna buy for that, but she's extremely passionate about keeping the industry, you know.

as wonderful as it can be. And so 15% of her content is about just industry momentum. And then 15% is exactly what you said. I'm running a half marathon. Here's what I'm learning. I started the miracle morning and waking up at five. Boy, it stinks, but here's what I'm getting out of it. My kids graduated. Here's lessons that overlap of what it's like to have employees versus what it's like to have kids.

those are the things that are really gonna endear your audience to you and make you a three dimensional person. But without those guardrails of noticing what the ratio is, you can quickly slip into being a lifestyle brand where it's like, yeah, I love this guy. He sounds really great. I have no idea what he does. Or a passion brand where it's like, is she an advocate or what does she do? Or if you just are all professional all the time, it's like, they seem really smart, but I don't connect with them for some reason.

Brett Trainor (26:32.71)

Brett Trainor (26:36.947)
All right.

Brett Trainor (26:49.178)
Yeah, no, that's so good. Just a quick question on the link, right? So I don't, I try not to do that. I rarely do it. It'd be easier if you could put a link. But for example, when I do podcasts, right? When this episode comes out, I'm going to want to promote it. So what I've been doing is putting a link in the comments, right? Say, hey, full episode down there. It just seems, it seems silly that we have to do that, but again, if you want most people to...

Kait LEDonne (27:13.28)
I know.

Brett Trainor (27:15.986)
look at it. I guess the other thing is I try to make it clear of, you know, if you want to search, right? So if somebody's listening to it or sees it on LinkedIn and hardware for growth 2.0, just go search Google for it, right? Or audio search, you'll find it versus maybe links aren't as important unless it's a very specific article or something. But yeah, for the most part, I try to avoid that and just take it out of the equation.

Kait LEDonne (27:27.118)

Kait LEDonne (27:38.922)
I think it depends on, you know, I have a link to a free assessment that I use as a call to action on posts. I try and put it in about once or twice a week. And I'm very okay with taking the hit on the front end visibility and reach of the post because I know its place. So what do I mean by this? I know its place. I have content that I know I'm putting out for just the sake of engagement.

These are those very personal shares, hard lessons learned through business. I get super vulnerable. It's usually a picture of me. Again, it's reflecting my values and my personal journey. I never put a link there and without fail, they always hit like 14,000 views, 20,000 views. Again, I caveat this with that's a reflection of the size of my following. Don't hold yourself to that. But then I have these educational videos or posts and I say, you know what? I'm okay with that hitting 5,000 views.

and taking more of a ding for including a link to the free assessment. Because this is, its intention is to give value and then lead them to something where they can sign up for email. So it's always like just be super intentional with it. It's not hard and fast, like never include a link or just or else. You're never going to go anywhere. But keep it in perspective. If you're posting three times a week, maybe once a week or once every two weeks.

you're going to put a lead magnet there or something of value that's gated with an email because ultimately you do want to get leads in the door.

Brett Trainor (29:11.186)
Yeah, no, that's good. And maybe this is a good transition to quick question on profile, right? Because that's still one thing I struggle with and I update all the time. And I know it's probably not optimized, but so one is you have any tips or recommendations on profile and two, so I don't forget, I'm gonna hit it with you. Because when you send, when you post in LinkedIn, you've got a section underneath the post, you have to copy and paste that in every time you do a post or is there a way to create a template to...

to do that. So two-part question, you can take it from wherever you want.

Kait LEDonne (29:42.274)

Great question. So I'll answer the profile part first. First and foremost, one of the best things you can do for your profile is make sure you have a banner image that states your unique selling proposition. And when I say unique selling proposition, I want to clarify something. I don't mean the traditional definition that is why your products and services or better than that of your competition or the marketplace. I always tell people, just think of USP as understanding and restating someone's problem. I help.

you know, uh, first time, big law associates, this is a little wordy, but you'll get the gist. I help first, uh, time, big law associates or first year associates at big law overcome the steep learning curve and get to action around the things they didn't learn in law school. Like that's a big hurdle. If that's what you do, you just want to use it at the top to speak directly to your audience and restate their biggest challenge and how you help them solve it.

That's what you want in your banner image. You can do this very easily with Canva. They have 17 million templates for LinkedIn profile picture. You also have a huge amount of characters in your headline. So it shouldn't just be, let's carry down the attorney example, like associate at Nelson Mullins LLP. That doesn't mean anything to anyone. You should have helping employers with compliance,

businesses of one to 20 million in revenue in the Austin area, associate at Nelson Mullins LLP. Everything is ultimately about the people you're helping, not necessarily yourself when you're building an expert brand. So optimizing the headline to be searchable is really important. And what search terms are your audience using to find you, not what you would use to describe you, because that doesn't translate to your audience.

Kait LEDonne (31:39.946)
You also want to turn on creator mode if you have access to it. Again, you'll need 100 connections for that. And when you turn on creator mode, it'll prompt you to select five hashtags. Select the most appropriate hashtags to your industry. Again, this will help you get discovered more. And then the last thing I would say is very underutilized and people don't even realize it's there. There's a little blue button in your profile that says, I am dot, dot. And when you click it, it will ask you if you're hiring or if you provide services.

When you click provide services, it'll drop down a list of services you can choose from, whether it's management consulting, leadership development, technology and IT support. But basically, when you choose those services, anytime somebody goes to LinkedIn's professional finder feature, which is a marketplace in LinkedIn, you'll get a notification if they're looking for someone in your area who has your expertise. So it's kind of like a free request for proposal.

marketplace that most people don't even realize they can set up what's called a service page, but the access to that is under your personal profile. So that's the profile side of things. The other side of things, the thing that Brad is talking about that is it's a little hard for you all listening to this to picture because you have to think of it. So what I have is I always have my content and then on most statuses, I have what I call like a LinkedIn signature. Think of an email signature, but it's a LinkedIn signature. Yeah, it's like an email signature.

Brett Trainor (32:42.772)

Brett Trainor (33:00.035)
to get email had it. Yeah.

Kait LEDonne (33:03.594)
So it's a line and then underneath of it, it says three critical things. Hi, I'm Kate LaDawn. I know redundant because it says my name, but it's personable. Hi, I'm Kate LaDawn. I'm a personal branding expert and I, you know, blah, and then the next line is, I help professional service providers scale and monetize their expertise online. So my unique value or service or selling proposition. And then I always offer

bullet point number three is a free tool. If you wanna learn how to quickly build your personal brand, take this two minute free personal brand growth assessment. So it's my name and literally my title. Hi, I'm Kate, I'm a personal branding expert. I offer courses, coaches and workshops to build your personal brand. I specialize in working with professional service providers to scale and monetize the brand. If you're looking to scale and monetize your personal brand, this is the third bullet point. Here's a two minute free resource you can use. So personability.

the unique selling proposition, a way for them to engage with me even more. And I put that on about two statuses of the five that I post a week. You asked if I have to retype it every single time I use, and this is different like technology, I use Grammarly and part of Grammarly is you, there's a feature in there. I don't know if this is only on my paid subscription. It's called snippets. And when you hit the, um, I guess it's the backslash, the slash we don't often use button.

Brett Trainor (34:10.462)

Kait LEDonne (34:32.906)
you will, it'll call up certain snippets. And that's a snippet I have called free assessment. And so I just hit that slash, it pops up a dropdown. I select that one and it auto inserts itself.

Brett Trainor (34:46.002)
And now you don't use a link to your lead magnet in that, or do you use it of, is it just?

Kait LEDonne (34:50.142)
I do. That's the one I'm saying. Like I make a deal with myself. Like I'm going to get dinged on engagement, but routinely I'll get about three to four leads out of that, which for me is worth the sacrifice on overall reach because I know what game I'm playing here. Like the intention with that is to get the leads, not to get the eyeballs. I should say it like this. The intention with that is to prioritize leads over eyeballs because you'll still get eyeballs. You just won't get the amount if you didn't have a link.

Brett Trainor (35:15.871)

it got it no that's super helpful I have to add that to the arsenal at some point so like I said I know we're flying through time here but I do you it just happened to the day we're recording you posted and maybe you had this worksheet out before but you introduced the concept of the one framework which I absolutely love I love fundamentals and give me the 8020 and how we get started and maybe we can close with you know kind of the

Kait LEDonne (35:24.17)

Brett Trainor (35:47.494)
what is the one framework? One, you can tell people where we can find it, but then two, I think that would be a good way for folks that either are in it and know their LinkedIn's not where it needs to be or you're thinking about it and this would be a great way to do that. So I know you didn't post that today just because you were recording today, but I thought, man, the timing was perfect.

Kait LEDonne (36:06.175)
I said, do you know what? I'm talking to Brett today. I'm going to post this exactly for that reason. So the 111 framework, I'm a big fan of keeping things simple. Simple means consistent. Consistent means scale. That's the one thing to keep in mind with branding. So earlier I was telling Brett before we started recording, it's funny. I see this kind of dichotomy happen or paradox almost with people.

this paralysis paradox of branding where it's like, it's the best of times, it's the worst of times. You've never had so many tools to build your personal brand online and it's never been so confusing because of the sheer amount of tools that are available to you. So this is my answer to that is the 111 framework built for simplicity and consistency. One audience with one problem on one platform. If you wanna make it very, very catchy, I could say.

one person with one problem on one platform and they don't be peace, but one audience will do it. And when you're talking about your audience, remember your personal brand really is never about you. It's about the people you serve if you're really trying to monetize it. So I give the example of you wouldn't just put new moms. Like that is very broad. You want to narrow until it feels a little bit painful, like you'd be leaving money on the table because that's usually just when you got specific enough. So instead of new moms, maybe it's

new breastfeeding mothers who are returning to their job in six months and who are feeling anxious and overwhelmed about how they're gonna do that and deal with separation anxiety from their child. Right, because it's a very different problem going on to number two than just new moms, right? There's different challenges there. Then you go into...

Brett Trainor (37:52.689)

Kait LEDonne (37:57.034)
I know this is very specific, actually in the one worm worksheet, I gave like several different examples. The mom was at the top, so just roll with me. The problem is when you're diving into not only the problem that they have, so I have to return to work, I don't know how to be able to keep up with pumping and all of this stuff, but also the feelings and emotions associated with that. So in the case of the new mother, it is shame, it's overwhelm, it is absolute confusion.

let's take it back to the first time attorney at a big law firm, this first time associate who just got out of law school and all of a sudden they're like thrown into the deep end of big law and all the stuff you didn't learn in law school and you're just, you have to deal with it now. You're in corporate law.

For that, it's feeling imposter syndrome. Again, it's feeling shame and guilt. Like, I should have learned all this stuff in law school. Are they gonna find me out? If you're not tapping into the emotional frequency of the problem, your content's probably not gonna be as compelling. You need to let them off the hook for the problem. You need to validate that it's completely normal for people to feel the way that are dealing with the problem. This is a normal, expect experience because most people be so busy shaming themselves, they don't actually fix the problem.

It's like even embarrassing to admit and find a solution for the problem. So you just need to like normalize and naturalize that, get that tension out of your way with the problem and then focus on one platform where that audience sits. So this was great that we're using now the new, uh, mother versus the attorney. In the case of the new mother who's returning to corporate, she may be on LinkedIn, but

Maybe she was actually spending most of her time on Instagram getting advice about being a new mom and following like mommy bloggers and stuff like that. You would maybe triple down on that if you think that's where most of them are spending their time at versus going somewhere like LinkedIn or Twitter. Twitter now X probably no new mother is getting involved in X. Whereas if you're helping first time associates at Big Law, you're undoubtedly going to be.

Brett Trainor (39:52.408)

Kait LEDonne (39:58.79)
on LinkedIn. I mean, this is where they're getting on their networking, they're associating with others in their field. But when you pick one platform, you can go an inch wide and a mile deep, can notice the trends, you can engage, you can understand platform etiquette versus just having a message that you dilute by reposting it to a bunch of different places and not understanding what I call the platform etiquette or what makes sense on that platform.

When you are very clear on who it is you're serving, you're very clear on what their problem and the associated feelings with that problem are. And then you come up with content to validate and empathize with the feelings and help them solve it on one platform in a variety of different ways. So with LinkedIn, like I say it once in an article, I say the same thing again in a video, I say the same thing again in a written status, you're going to find that you get traction with your business because you're clear on who you are and who you serve.

so is your audience. The problem is though, there's so many different audiences we can speak to who are facing different problems across all these different platforms. So we try and be everywhere. And as a result, we get burnt out because we're doing so much and we're not seeing traction on any one of them. It's better to go really intentionally on one and then you'll see you hit critical momentum.

Brett Trainor (41:17.978)
Yeah, it's so good. And so too, I love that you start with the problem, right? Because that's too often, I think we, and any of the, when we're selling, we're pitching, whatever, it's all about features and benefits other than what is that problem we're solving and you know what, there's a cost to solve that problem and this is how we do it. Right. So, so I think we way overcomplicate and especially when I was in corporate still, everything was, you know, 32 features and benefits, and this is how we do it.

we're better because we're cheaper. I'm like, man, we're not going to win if you're going to say we're cheaper. Definitely not going to win. You're going to say more expensive. And so it's just a perfect reminder as you transition into LinkedIn, right? Cause it's a platform. So like you said, it's never been a better time. There's not a ton of people that are posting based on the one and maybe the 5% are doing it and you know, bigger macro picture, I believe this is the, the future of work, right? You talked about that the transition to freelancers in gig. And I just read an article somewhere.

Um, and multiple places, right? So if it triangulates that, you know, more than 50% of the workers are going to be, um, freelancers, I hate that term by 2027 more versus corporate, right? So I think we're going to see more and more and more. These solo companies that can still fit into the ecosystem of the bigger companies. So why not get out in front of this now before there is a ton of noise? Um, and though it feels like there's noise now, there's really not. And so if you can get your foothold started now,

Kait LEDonne (42:38.978)
Yeah, no.

Brett Trainor (42:41.426)
you're going to be that far ahead. Cause again, I, there's people, my last little tangent of, you know, with AI and it's going to do all the writing. I'm like, man, there's only 3% of people are actually going to do anything anyway. AI is not going to help 97% because they're still not going to do anything. So, you know, basically my, my advice is just do it, go out there, learn. You'll make mistakes. Um, but you're going to grow. So, uh, like I said, I think.

Kait LEDonne (42:54.368)
It's not.

Kait LEDonne (42:58.675)

Kait LEDonne (43:07.882)
And I think the AI thing too, to your point, Brett, is like, it really will kind of separate the dabblers from people who take it really seriously because AI is not something, it's just a tool to master. It's not gonna overpower, overwhelm you. So when I say that, like people who are lazy using AI, it's gonna come up with kind of like this soulless type of, here's three things to think about when you start a business.

people who are savvy with it and maybe aren't comfortable writing, they're going to input into AI something like, help me tell in a compelling manner the story of when I first started my business and I didn't think about X, Y, and Z, the three things. And because of that, I found myself in mounds of debt and burnout and whatever. And here's how I did to get out of it. Can you just help me shape this in a better way? Ultimately, the delineation between a great piece of content, the latter, we just spoke about.

And the first thing is how are you connecting the dots, making it personal, and helping push your audience forward versus mass blasting with machine learning generated content?

Brett Trainor (44:14.894)
Yeah. So again, people get all worried and upset that now it's too late. Again, you're definitely not too late, right? I still think, um, early stages, I have to remind myself of that almost daily that yeah, it's no, it's not too, it seems like it, cause you get to your point that 50,000 audiences and those, but I'm like, kudos to them to, to you, right? Cause you put in all the hard work to get to that point and

But the beauty is you can start reaping the returns very quickly, right? You get the right messaging and the right audience with the content that people are liking, they're going to reach out to you when they have a problem and they need help. And so, you know, the other thing I, I advise folks is, man, you don't need a website when you get started. Don't worry about how fancy or what, how you're going to structure your company, get LinkedIn set up, right? Right. Start thinking about what the content is.

And then, then you can start to build, right? So get the house in order of the foundation first and then, then start to build it. So like I said, that's what I love about your content. Cause that's what you constantly remind folks is you're not giving us, you do have 3.0 versions of it for the advanced people, but it's more, Hey, just a reminder, don't the biggest bang for your buck's going to come from the, that, you know, that the foundational content, right?

Kait LEDonne (45:12.397)

Kait LEDonne (45:33.802)
Yeah, and you can sandbox on LinkedIn. I spent $5,000 when I started my business on a website, and this was in 2015. So $5,000 meant something different than it does today, but like it was like really an investment I made. And then all my business for the first two years came from LinkedIn. It was so obnoxious, like in a good way. I was just like, oh wow, funny. But it was also cool because I could beta test things on LinkedIn. If I wanted to do that on my website, it would literally cost me money. Now there's website tools that are a little easier to change things, but it's like, okay, I'm gonna try out.

this term on LinkedIn and see if it catches more fish. And it's a two second change versus like a developmental whole brand shift. And so it also becomes a place where you can do things with a bit lower stake and alter it. Like, what about headline A? What about headline B? And I'm constantly tinkering with that as everybody should. And I would say, not until you're like, I know this is very anti-advice, but not until you're about like a year into business and you've really...

had some clients because naturally after that, you'll see what the real problems are. There's the problems you think they have. And then you're like, I keep hearing this whole client calls and I like didn't even think about it. Should you even think about spending real money on a website? That doesn't mean don't have a website. Like if you go to Squarespace and just set yourself up something, so there's a credible place where your name is, that's just fine. But in terms of like really investing into messaging and design, oh my God, give yourself like the year of falling on your face.

and agilely seeing like, if I say it this way, does it resonate? What if I say it this way? Oh, they really I feel like I just hit them in between the eyeballs with this. Great. Well, we're on with that. I keep hearing it.

Brett Trainor (47:14.702)
Yeah, no, I think it's such great advice. And again, most of the folks that have the problem to see on LinkedIn, they're going to see that you've been doing this for 30 years, right? So yeah, you don't, you didn't spend all that money on a website. And if it's anything like me over my four year journey, right. I, I don't want to say a pivot a lot I have, but it's evolved though, right? It went from a consulting to a fractional to advisory and now started a separate services company with it. And if I would have built a website for every one of those, I'd have, well,

I've got domains all over the place, but I really haven't built the websites because I haven't had to for the business. So I think you just invest in the LinkedIn, invest in the time, learn it, work with people like you Kate that can help folks shortcut that process. And you're going to see the returns more than right worrying, right? Is it a C corp or an LLC that will take care of itself, right? As you go through the process.

start with the customer doesn't care right they just want to know you can solve the problem and this is how you're going to solve it and this is what it's going to cost me they're good with that so.

Kait LEDonne (48:16.543)
No, not at all.

Kait LEDonne (48:23.882)
Yeah, just get me away from the pain I feel now. I have a problem and a challenge. You're the person who can help me move past it, get rid of all of my, you know, head trash about having it. That's what I care about. I just want to know you understand me and my problem better than anybody else. And you can fix it.

Brett Trainor (48:43.702)
Exactly. Well, Kate, I thought 30, 40 minutes will go, but yet we're still fine. I probably have another 50 questions, but I do want to be respectful of your time. So anything that we miss that you think we should share with the audience and then two, I already know the best place to connect with you is going to be on LinkedIn, but share with them the best way to start following you and your content.

Kait LEDonne (48:47.935)

Kait LEDonne (48:53.262)
Thank you.

Kait LEDonne (49:09.626)
I would say the only thing we didn't miss, but I'd like to reinforce because all of us will go through this. You will have days where it feels up and down and around and days you'll feel like you're on top of the world and you have it all figured out and days that you're like, should I go back to corporate? And that's a completely normal feeling that kind of like up and down and, and all of that. And it's just part of the learning curve. And even if you said to yourself three years ago,

This is the year I'm really going to double down and build my personal brand at LinkedIn and you didn't. I'm giving you permission to completely let yourself off the hook and actually use the three of the years that maybe you were head down working on contracts and consulting versus building your personal brand. You know what? Great. You have a lot more data then.

to harness and shape that message. And like Brett said, like the best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The second best time is today. You haven't missed a window. It's not too late. You've now done your time. You've gathered all of this insight. You can start today and still very profitably build a following. You've not missed any bus. So I always feel like people are kicking themselves about one of those two things. Like, you don't understand, business is super hard for me. Like, yes, it is. It's super hard for all of us, but.

We get the freedom and all the great things that go with it. So awesome. And B, you're just, you're sandboxing. What is entrepreneurship if not that, and you've learned all of this wonderful stuff to make your content even better. Don't be afraid to use that. You're gonna be just fine.

Brett Trainor (50:28.554)

Brett Trainor (50:41.102)
Exactly. Right. And to your point, people have to see it three, five, seven, 12 times. So even when you think you're repeating yourself, you're not. And, you know, and the other thing I'll share, because it happens all the time, I think I wrote or had the greatest post in the history of posts, I'm like, man, this one is just going to be awesome. And it's crickets. I don't get it. Then one that's kind of a throw away that I didn't think was just I didn't really have much to think. And that turns into the, the one that goes, you know,

Kait LEDonne (50:48.746)

Kait LEDonne (51:01.672)

Brett Trainor (51:10.534)
viral as a relative term compared to my other posts. So I'm like, you know what? I give up on trying to predict where they're gonna go. And you know what? I sleep better not worrying that if this one hits or it doesn't. And like I said, if I can find a few new people with each post, then you know, that's a success.

Kait LEDonne (51:22.317)

Kait LEDonne (51:27.702)
Wonderful. Well, you do a great job, Brett.

Brett Trainor (51:30.222)
Well, thank you, Kate, again. Thank you for coming on. I appreciate it. We need to, anytime you want to come back, you learn something new, you've got new programs, whatever it is, you have an open invite to come back and share it with us. So, all right. Have a great rest of your day.

Kait LEDonne (51:41.858)
Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

You too.