Helen Burness is truly a woman who wows, and I am so excited to feature her in this series. I met her – where else? – on LinkedIn! I am such a fan of her posts on every social media channel and so thankful that social brought us together from across the pond.

After many years at the forefront of change in legal, she set Saltmarsh Marketing to champion innovative founders and businesses in legal to give them a powerfully recognisable voice. Her work involves crafting strategies and plans, developing distinctive brands, creating memorable campaigns, building stand-out websites and harnessing the power of social media on the company, the founder and team level.

Helen is also CMO of She Breaks the Law, a global community of women change makers who are passionate about the power of innovation and collaboration.

You can follow Helen on social media on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok (Helenloves80s).

Learn more about Helen.

Continue Reading Women Who Wow: Helen Burness

What’s a mistake that many law firms and business professionals make on LinkedIn?

They take the time to create a great post and then they never post it again. I call this “one and done.”

This is a huge mistake. Why? Because most people will never see your post and even those who do won’t remember it.

Also, not everyone who is following you now on LinkedIn or currently reading your blog was reading your them months or years ago, And even if they were, it also doesn’t mean they saw every single piece of content you published.

Reposting your top-performing posts will help increase the visibility of your content.

Too often we make the mistake of publishing content, promoting it and moving on from it forever. You don’t actually need to constantly create new content.

The thought behind social media resharing is that the more content you are putting out (without overwhelming your audience), the more chances you get to gain brand visibility when your users are online.

They will help you capture a new audience as well as reinforce your messaging with your current followers. I promise they won’t remember that you posted it in the past.

Keep a record of your top-performing posts in your editorial calendar – I wait 3-6 months between reposting a piece of content. I may make slight tweaks to it, like changing up the image, the first line of text or the hashtags, but for the most part, the bulk of the content remains the same.

For every blog post you write or video or podcast you create, consider additional ideas for promoting it on social media beyond the original format. For example, take a quote from your content and repurpose it into a share-friendly image via Canva. You can easily change up the image of a post with Canva – which I highly recommend that you learn how to use.

This is how you make your content work harder and smarter for you.

By reposting your evergreen content, you will always have something to post on your social media accounts.

Meet Caroline Hennessy, the next Woman Who Wows. Caroline is the CEO and owner of Ideator Marketing.

Caroline provides marketing consulting services to organizations across the country. Serving as outside marketing communications director, she develops customized marketing programs based on sound strategy, actionable plans and measurable ROI.

She has spent her career helping clients by translating their business goals into measurable marketing strategies and tactics.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love the challenges and the variety of projects in marketing. Digital marketing is my favorite area because it is constantly changing and fast paced. I am fascinated with analytics and using data to support a strategy and make decisions. I am invigorated by figuring out new functionality, updated software or new techniques.

As a solopreneur, I have a broad mix of clients and widely varied projects. For my small clients, I am handling everything from strategic to tactical; for my larger clients, I am part of a team of specialists working toward a common goal. On any given day, I am posting on social, creating graphics, developing analytics reports, filming and editing video or laying out brochures. The next day, I will be working with a team producing a video or an interactive graphic for a web page.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to direct more of energy inward, rather than focusing on work and significant others. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others!

Further, I would suggest seeking career advice to better understand my options. I did not seek out a career coach until much later in life. She helped me drill down into the type of work I enjoy and where I excel naturally, then we worked out a plan to get there. And here I am!

Without a career strategy, it is easy to proceed on the path that presents itself or takes one in the direction chosen by others. I am happy to say that my plan of action resulted in where I am today in terms of my career, my nonprofit work, my finances, and frankly, my overall health.

How do you achieve work/life balance?

After years of trial and error and then taking the leap to go out on my own, I now have a life with a full and flexible schedule. Working from home allowed me to create a new routine. My week doesn’t end on Friday and my day doesn’t end at five – and this works for me.

As a morning person, I have learned that once my day gets rolling, I may not take time for myself later in the day. I meditate and practice yoga most every morning. I am also raising a teenager who deserves as much time as I can give her, whether cooking a meal together, walking our two wonderful furkids or watching a new Netflix series. And yes, I even recorded a TikTok video with her which she now sees as cringy.

My consulting work is only part of my day. Several days a week, I am working for one of my cherished nonprofits. This may seem like more work, but it is not! I use my skillset to help causes I support wholeheartedly, so it’s a labor of love. It brings me joy to know that I am helping animals through my volunteer work with Best Friends Animal Society and I’m supporting my community via serving on the board and teaching yoga for the Irish American Heritage Center.

Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn.

I used to have no clue how to use LinkedIn and posted dry content that got no engagement.

What I’ve learned on LinkedIn is that if you really want to build a personal brand that will resonate with people and that will make people want to know more about you, like you for who you are and trust you, then you have to embrace vulnerability.

What is being vulnerable on social media, especially a professional social media platform?

So this does not mean that you need to overshare. Nor does it mean that you need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Being vulnerable means giving yourself permission to be yourself and sharing stories about your failures and challenges. It’s the why behind what you do. It’s how you got to where you are. It’s the lessons you learned along the way. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to build your personal brand.

All of my LinkedIn posts that have gone “viral” share one thing in common – in them I recounted a personal story. The story is always one that has a purpose – something I’ve overcome, a lesson I learned, something I faced that was difficult. The idea is to make the challenging moments of your life into teaching/aha moments for you and others.

Being vulnerable also means being seen as a relatable and likeable person who is not perfect (no one is!), doesn’t seem boastful or all-knowing and someone who is motivated to help others through their posts.

Vulnerability builds connections and connections builds trust. In the process you’ll build your network and platform and strengthen your personal brand.

It’s that time of year, when there’s a litany of commercials, greeting cards and social media posts all serving as constant reminders for some of us that we won’t get to hug, call or join a Zoom call with our mom this Mother’s Day.

I lost my mom to Multiple Myeloma in 2016, and I’m still figuring out how to handle the holiday without her. I’ve learned the importance of spending that day on my own terms and doing what feels right for me.

  • You don’t have to attend Mother’s Day Zoom calls or activities; it’s perfectly fine to sit them out. Do whatever makes you feel good. One year I was with a big group, the next year I chose to be alone. Both are okay!
  • Reach out to others who loved your mom – I reach out to my mom’s best friend every year and we share a favorite memory with each other
  • Create a new tradition
  • Find a small way to celebrate
  • Stay off social media – trust me on this one – you don’t need to see other people’s posts with their moms.

I have a bracelet that my mom gave me that says “you’ll never be alone” and I wear it often, especially around Mother’s Day.

Many successful people are struggling with loss and grief. Know that it’s okay and that you aren’t alone in this feeling. Mother’s Day is just one day out of the year. And to all of the amazing moms out there – I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and it’s not an easy day if you have lost your mom like I have. Grief is a long-winded, personal process with no shortcuts.

Many successful people are struggling with loss and grief. Know that it’s okay and that you aren’t alone in this feeling.

When something terrible happens such as the death of a loved one, choosing happiness in order to turn the tide around or just to carry on and not to fall into a dark hole of despair can really help.

Here are some ways to increase happiness even if happiness doesn’t always come easy to you. (I learned these from Catherine Sanderson when she gave an amazing keynote a few years ago.)

  • Change little things in your daily life such as getting more sleep, exercising, enjoying nature and meditating. These are natural mood boosters.
  • Edit your personal and professional circles and only surround yourself with people who truly support you
  • Find a new hobby/passion and do things that make you happy
  • Be grateful – regularly make a list of what you are most thankful; make a gratitude visit to someone who has made a profound impact on your life.
  • Smile even when you aren’t happy. Studies have shown that the act of smiling can trick your brain into happiness.
  • Savor the everyday moments and the little things.
  • Perform random acts of kindness – do good things for people without expecting anything in return
  • Edit your social media feeds
  • Take a time out for yourself
  • Spend money on experiences vs. things
  • Build and nurture close relationships

Remember that for many of us, happiness is a choice. Be thankful for moments of pure joy because they don’t come easy. Life is unpredictable and finding ways to create a happy and meaningful life for yourself both personally and professionally is key.

I am a huge fan of Dimitri Mastrocola’s LinkedIn posts. If you are not following Dimitri on LinkedIn, you should. His posts are full of insights and advice on how to succeed as an in-house counsel but can be applied more generally to most business professionals.

As one commenter of this post on LinkedIn said, “this is a checklist for anyone who wishes to keep quality people, who wants to improve their leadership skills, and/or who wants to create a workplace where people feel psychologically safe enough to openly share their ideas” and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

As a general counsel (or any c-suite or business leader), you can’t effectively lead if the members of your team don’t trust you.

It takes consistent energy, effort and attention to your behavior to build trust. It’s well worth the investment. Here are 17 tips on how to engender trust with your team by Dimitri.

✅ Be honest
✅ Keep commitments and keep your word
✅ Avoid surprises
✅ Be consistent with your mood
✅ Be your best and thereby set an example
✅ Demonstrate respect
✅ Listen to understand, not to respond
✅ Communicate clearly
✅ Speak with positive intent
✅ Admit mistakes
✅ Be willing to hear feedback
✅ Maintain confidences
✅ Get to know others
✅ Practice empathy
✅ Seek input from others
✅ Have a sense of humor
✅ Say “thank you” often

Any others?

Dimitri is an executive search consultant at Major Lindsay & Africa where he is focused on making general counsel, in-house counsel and chief compliance officer placements for public and private corporations, diversified financial services firms, asset managers, hedge funds, private equity and VC firms.

I’m often asked the same few LinkedIn questions, so I thought it might be helpful to answer them in a new series on the blog.

Q: Should I “like” my own posts?
A: No! Don’t indulge in self-love. It may feel good at the moment, but it comes across as if you are trying to manipulate/take advantage of LinkedIn’s algorithm. It also seems like you’re just trying to increase your likes.

Q: Should I include a link to my website, posts, articles, etc. in other people’s posts?
A: No! Not unless you have asked for their permission to do so. It is bad LinkedIn etiquette to take people away from a post unless they have said it is okay.

Q: Should I mention others in my posts?
A: Yes, but only mention people who are directly associated with the post. Don’t engage in “mention-stuffing,” which is mass tagging people in a post – it’s bad form and can irritate folks if they are not interested in your post. This is essentially the equivalent of spamming someone on LinkedIn.

Q: Should I reply back to comments on my posts?
A: Yes! This dramatically helps post engagement and is how you build stronger relationships and your brand on LinkedIn. Reply to each comment and tag the person in the comment with the @ sign. Make sure you reply with something positive, thoughtful and thank the person for commenting on your post.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask me more questions!

Michelle De Blasi is an environmental and energy attorney based in Scottsdale, Arizona who has decades of experience and relationships assisting clients obtain successful results with their environmental, natural resource and energy projects. She has both government and “Big Law” experience to her private practice. Learn more about her in this Women Who Wows profile.

Why did you decide to start your own practice?

It has been a long-time dream of mine to be at the helm of my own business.  When giving advice to my daughters to follow their dreams, I realized I was not yet following mine.  Having my own business allows me to provide more efficient and focused legal services and strategic partnerships for my clients as an extension of their business team. I’m very grateful to represent my incredible clients on the significant projects they are pursuing.

I have always championed women in business, particularly working mothers, for their unique abilities to successfully handle many matters at the same time. It’s critical for women founders to continue to break barriers for themselves, and for the women who will be following them in the future.  I will continue to find ways to break barriers and inspire others to do the same.

Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?

About 6 or 7 years ago, young women students started reaching out to me to seek advice about how to become a lawyer in my field. It was disconcerting that they had a preconceived notion that there was only a limited path they could follow. That was the inspiration when I helped create the mentorship program at ASU to provide students with real-world guidance from practicing lawyers. There are many paths to take, but all of them require hard work to achieve success.

My advice to young women is to follow their own path and understand their true passion for their profession. If you stay true to yourself, then the rest will fall into place as long as you put in the work. Women have particularly excellent skills at problem solving and consensus building, and yet I find women who will downplay those skills to “fit in” with lower expectations. I always advise women to never give up their femininity which makes them so special, or to let anyone else define who they are or make them feel inferior. No one can make someone feel inferior without their permission. We definitely have to believe in ourselves first before others will.

What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?

Success is measured in many ways. To be successful as an expert in my fields of law takes many hours of learning about issues for which you may not be paid by a client. It takes an innate curiosity to learn more than the particular legal question being asked to be able to provide a broader context. Much of my work involves policy and strategic thinking in addition to a deep understanding of the law. This may be different from what most lawyers expect in the more technical practice of law.

My clients measure success by my ability to provide them with practical answers that help them understand and lower their business risk. To be successful, it’s important to stop “thinking like a lawyer” and start thinking like a strategic business owner. It’s also critical to develop active listening skills, which means listening to understand, not listening to answer.  I find the best lawyers as advisors are the ones who truly care about their clients’ businesses, and take the time to learn about what makes the client successful to ensure they are helping them achieve that success.

A LinkedIn content tip – make sure your LinkedIn strategy is optimized for mobile device users.

According to LinkedIn’s editors, the majority of content on LinkedIn is read by users on mobile devices. And when it comes to the sponsored content on your company page, that number is even bigger. 80% of sponsored content clicks come from mobile devices.

That means you need to:

Post when your audience is on LinkedIn but also understand LinkedIn’s algorithm. If they’re on LinkedIn on their mobile devices, it may mean they’re using LinkedIn in the am, pm and weekends.

  • Create images and graphics that are easy to read and resized for small screens
  • Keep your copy concise and compelling. Make sure your post’s first two lines are interesting enough to warrant a second click because that’s all they see before it says “read more.”
  • Focus on “thumb stopping” moments. What will compel someone to scroll through their crowded newsfeed to stop and read your content?
  • Focus on the user experience. If you’re asking your audience to click through on a phone, make sure the experience is seamless and optimized for a mobile device.

These steps will make your LinkedIn content work harder and smarter for you.