Simple Ways to be a ‘Thought Leader’, Even If You Dislike the Term…

A recent comment on LinkedIn got me thinking:

“LinkedIn is an amazing B2B lead generating tool, but if you are not actively reaching out to prospects and showcasing your thought leadership through regular posting it’s unlikely that you will generate any quality leads…”

‘Thought Leader’ – can’t say I love the term, but I realised there are many ways to share ideas and observations, so people become interested in your experience and opinions. You will stand out because you put them out publicly.

Here are some suggestions to get started, and LinkedIn is a great platform for sharing most of your content. When people Google your name, the LinkedIn profile is usually the #1 entry, so it makes sense.

Share a photo or two of something interesting you’ve seen, with a comment about it’s relevance to the industry eg a new shopfront, a plate of new food, a bar design or some clever lighting. 1 photo + 2 sentences is all you need.

Take better photos with your phone. Concentrate on the lighting and composition, then crop and edit so it’s focused on the main subject. Find photos that tell a story eg the busy restaurant with staff flying past, or the untidy back-lane that gives a lesson about hygiene – this is a very visual industry.

Review places you like on TripAdvisor or Yelp – it gets you in the habit of writing and thinking about how businesses operate. 3 or 4 sentences is plenty, plus a photo if you have one.

Write in a positive tone, focusing on what is useful and interesting. If something is poor quality, talk about it being ‘disappointing’ or ‘not what you expected’. Explain why, and also find at least one positive. Don’t just describe things as ‘crap’ or ‘rubbish’ – only write what you’d say to someone’s face. If it’s really bad, write nothing and move on – negativity shows you up in a bad light.

Share interesting articles or videos you find online – this is much easier than writing everything yourself. It also shows that you’re watching industry trends – most people don’t have time to do this, and depend on people like you as ‘curators’. It’s an important role.

Focus on LinkedIn, and also consider having a separate Facebook business page and Instagram business profile. Keep your private Facebook profile firmly locked – don’t mix business and personal content. Here’s how I keep a  separate business Facebook Page.

Use good Facebook Groups to share information and opinions on the industry. I find the Australian Chef Network and the Australian Cafe Owners Network are excellent for this.

Build your confidence writing short posts and opinions, then you’ll be ready to write something longer… like this blog! Or submit opinion or knowledge pieces to trade magazines – they’re always after good, factual content.

Whether we like the term ‘thought leader’ or not, there’s a hunger by most people for industry information and thoughtful opinions. Put your fingers on the keyboard and start leading!

 

8 Simple LinkedIn Profile Improvements for Chefs & Restaurant Managers

Want to be taken seriously as a professional? A good LinkedIn profile is essential, and this means more than just dumping your CV into a new location.

People who want to know more about you for a job, as a referee or even for a presenting opportunity will always Google your name. Your LinkedIn profile will appear high up on the first search page, and usually influences their opinion. Let’s get started on some simple upgrades – install the LinkedIn app on your phone if that’s the easiest way to edit. Each of the terms used below eg ‘Summary’ refer to the heading you will see when you edit your profile.

Update your Photo – no cheap selfies or party shots! If you need a new photo, use ‘portrait photo’ mode on your phone, and get someone to take it in bright, flat light, to avoid shadows eg in a room facing a window. If you want to go further, professional portrait photos can be done at relatively low cost – get a few done, maybe also with family or partner You can also add a horizontal banner photo up the top of your profile – use a favourite picture of hospitality or a travel location. I use one of a Munich beer garden 😉

Use ‘Keywords’ in your Headline. This is more than just your job title, which is listed separately as ‘Current Position’. Use words in the Headline that people search for (keywords), and make it descriptive Eg not just Head Chef, but ‘Head Chef with 20 years experience in fine dining, gourmet catering and casual bistros’ – you can use up to 120 characters.

Expand the Summary – show your enthusiasm for work, and what you’ve learned about the industry. This is where you show how you can help people. Have at least 3 paragraphs in this very important section. If you find it hard to write about yourself, ask a friend to assist. Write this Summary in the first person eg ‘I have set up new food safety systems’ not ‘She set up new food safety systems’ – this is more personal and real.

Add some personal details to round out your image eg ‘volunteer with trainee baristas at the local refugee centre’, ‘renovating an old timber house in my spare time’, or ‘training with my local team for the 2020 Hockey World Cup’.

Make Yourself Easy to Contact – include your personal email and a relevant phone number, especially if you want to be reached for career opportunities. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, and at least an email is important for credibility.

Expand on Your Experience – add a couple of sentences about each of your previous jobs in the Experience section. Include some numbers to add credibility eg ‘ran a team of 12 people’ or ‘Organised 3 offsite kitchens feeding 600 people every day’. If one position was a particular favourite or a huge learning opportunity, say so!

Add All Your Education – include the location of where you trained. Include any short, relevant courses eg a Food Safety Certificate. If you speak additional languages, include those as well – a bonus.

Add Links to Relevant Websites or Social Media – the website of your workplace, or your food-related Instagram site. Maybe you contribute to an events or hospitality blog – if it adds to your reputation, add it.

Update Privacy & Security Settings – this is simple to do, and offers a lot of options. You’ll find them listed under your Profile picture on a PC/Mac browser, or under the little cog that’s top right on the phone or iPad app.

Once you have a good professional profile, you’re ready to reach out to build your list of connections – here’s how I’ve been doing it over the last 12 months.

Time to Tighten Up Your Facebook Privacy – How Long Since You Checked It?

I like Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family, but worry about the privacy side – who else knows what I say and like? The latest news about political use of Facebook data shouldn’t come as a surprise – it’s just a sophisticated extension of what you can do to target local customers with Facebook ads.

It’s important to review your privacy settings – the options keep changing and you might be surprised at the information you make available. If you’ve never done this, chances are that strangers can see all of your posts. And what about your staff? It’s amazing how unaware they are with privacy – challenge them.

Here’s Canadian tech guru Steve Dotto, showing how to tighten up access to your private Facebook information. Read his article or watch him show you how on the video…

UPDATE: Seems like the data Facebook collects from our phones is way more than imagined, although I’m sure we gave permission in those Terms & Conditions we agreed to. This tweet alerted me to the range of data, and how you can access it – read the details here on TechCrunch

Interviews with Ken Burgin on Restaurant Management and Podcasting

It was great to meet Adam Yee through Linkedin, when I commented on an article he wrote a few months back. He’s a food scientist and also has his own podcast, with the discussion often focused on food flavours. It’s a topic that was on my interview wish list, and now I had found an expert!

Enjoy the discussions I had with Adam on his My Food Job Rocks podcast…

Interview: My Work as a Restaurant Management Advisor

Bonus Interview: Podcasting and How to Build an Online Platform

Reversing the tables, here’s the interview I did with Adam about Food Flavours for the Profitable Hospitality podcast – it’s well worth your time…

Working on my elevator pitch as Silver Chef’s Community Manager

With my new role as Community Manager at Silver Chef, there’s the need to explain my slightly ambiguous title to people who ask about it. Or be ready to go beyond hello at an event, when most Australians seem to make ‘what do you do’ the ice-breaker question. A recent session with the marketing team had us working on our elevator pitches, and struggling to keep them short, jargon-free and interesting.

Here’s my one-sentence version, and the follow-up two sentences if people look interested and want to know more…

Hi, I’m Ken Burgin and my job is to educate cafe and restaurant operators on the latest industry trends and how to turn them into profits. [most times, I stop here]

We do this by organising training events, exhibiting at trade shows and connecting with smart business operators to share their skills

I’ve worked in hospitality for more than 25 years, and it’s great to use that experience to help make the industry stronger.

Why just one sentence? This was a useful tip from Dale Beaumont, the business educator. Check the great interview with him (go to 18:24) where he explains the need for a short-short version – most elevator pitches would have you travelling to the 99th floor to finish, when it needs to be all over by level 3 or your listener will be switched off and snoozing!

Working remotely – Amalfi Coast, Italy 2015

How to Promote Harmony Day on 21 March

Harmony Day celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. Hospitality is uniquely placed to celebrate this event – we employ, and depend on people from so many countries. With a world in conflict, let’s promote the people who are the foundation of our business success. The date coincides with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Here are some celebration ideas…

  • Take lots of team photos – staff working, group shots, setting up, cooking and serving.
  • Share the photos on your Facebook page, Instagram and other social media accounts – take a few with people holding up a Harmony Day 2018 sign…
  • Make an extra feature of the kitchen – it’s often like the United Nations, and sometimes forgotten because they work behind the scenes. People are always fascinated by how kitchens work and the life of a chef.
  • Use the #harmonyday2018 hashtag so others see your posts on Instagram and Twitter
  • Tell some team stories – about Ketut the chef from Bali, Connor the Irish manager or Mohammed the apprentice from Iran. It just needs a photo and a few sentences about when they came to Australia, where they trained and what they like about hospitality. Share them on your Facebook page, newsletter or website – these are the type of post that are shared widely.
  • Promote the event internally – sharing food, family photos and stories.
  • Tell the local paper about your great team, with a tie-in to Harmony Day. Talk about your business representing the face of modern Australia, with people from, for example, 12 nationalities serving more than 1500 customers every week.
  • Use the customisable posters and resources on the Harmony Day website.

There’s also a serious side to workforce diversity – be aware of the stress many staff are under with immigration and visas.

These processes are lengthy, complicated and expensive. It’s become an undignified political football, and the changes and politician rants are felt keenly by people who are waiting for permanency or citizenship. Your support and understanding will be greatly appreciated…

7 restaurant decoration ideas – make a splash without much cash

When you deal with thousands of customers a week, everything is on a BIG scale – and the decorations should be the same. If you want to make an impact, here are 7 ways to get tongues wagging and photos being taken (and shared).

100 balloons. Don’t waste money on helium to have them floating to the ceiling. It looks great, but the next day they’ll be sinking to the floor – all that money for only 24 hours. Instead, tie them onto strings, or a long ribbon. Blowing them up is a fun exercise for 3 or 4 people – stick to one or two colours, and the metallic gold or silver ones look very deluxe. They will last for a week, then remove – balloons are cheap.

BIG vase of flowers, preferably not like they have in a hotel foyer, but something more rustic – as if you grabbed 3 fabulous bunches from the markets. Here’s my collection of flowers in cafes, and you can see more of them on Instagram under #cafeflowers.

BIG decorations. Not Christmas decorations from the department store, but you’ll find them at specialty retail display shops – a giant red bow, massive red baubles or big red hearts for Valentines Day. Where you could use K-Mart decorations is filling big glass vases with shiny red or gold baubles – masses of one colour look great.

Old-fashioned Bunting. The coloured flags that were strung up for the village fairs of times gone by. Not plastic – go for the wonderful cotton ones from the Cotton Bunting Company. Buy several lengths, then roll them up to use again in a few months. The nautical flags are fun.

Fresh produce. Don’t hide all those bright red tomatoes, fresh lemons and shiny eggplants in the cool room. Put them in a big bowl on the counter or side table. Showing fresh is more believable than saying it.

Party lights. Strings of coloured lights are always available from a hardware, or the tiny white bud lights that we see everywhere at Christmas. For coloured lights, the cheap ones will make an impact, and if you can find them, brighter and bigger bulbs make a much bolder statement, especially in a big space. Same for bud lights – the K-Mart lights are OK in a small room, but brighter (and dearer) commercial ones will get the comments in a big courtyard or garden.

Chinese Paper Lanterns – they look wonderful illuminated, and are way beyond just being used in Chinese restaurants. Check the huge range at the Lantern Shop, and also buy the bulbs or strings of lights to illuminate them – can be very inexpensive. Ideal for an occasional splash, then fold them up for another six months.

Harassment: Urgent Action to Protect Your Restaurant Staff and Reputation

Sexual harassment is all over the news, and likely to remain there for some time to come. And as journalists and celebrities find the courage to speak up, everyday workers will also find the confidence to talk about their past experience, or draw the line on something they are going through right now. The smart restaurant manager or owner is doubling down on anti-harassment action  – here’s what I suggest:

  • Bring out your Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Bullying, and Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies and give everyone a printed copy in a plastic binder, with their name on it. This shows how seriously you take the issue. Don’t have one yet? The Profitable Hospitality downloadable versions are an excellent start. Put some extracts or quotes in poster form on the noticeboard.
  • Hold a number of short staff meetings where attendance is compulsory. Go through the policies line by line and invite questions and discussion. Listen more than you talk. Ask for examples of what people may have experienced at another workplace. Request that it not be named, but by talking about somewhere else, this can sometimes give people the confidence to take part in a discussion.
  • Talk about those jokes. It’s challenging for many people to accept that what they think is just funny, could be regarded as harassment by someone else. That joke about the apprentice’s new girlfriend? All the guys laugh, but how did the women in the kitchen react? Talk about his car instead, and respect his relationship. Does Sleazy Stan the barman need a private chat about his behaviour? Hopefully he’ll get the message and clean up or move on.
  • Be real. Acknowledge that you’re uncomfortable talking about this, but it’s in the news and you know people may have questions. Renew your ‘my door is always open for a private talk’ promise – provide your email and phone number. Is there a rumour you should act on, and reach out to someone vulnerable?
  • Explain that managers have a special responsibility. Meet separately and explain their duty of care, and how they should handle infractions. Get them to listen to this podcast interview on Reducing Sexual Harassment Risks with lawyer Richard Edwards and HR specialist Natasha Hawker. This is hard but necessary work for all managers to do – role-play some situations and promise backup when they need to handle a situation.
  • Get rid of questionable products from your menu: how can we have a serious discussion about this and still sell ‘Blow Job’ and ‘Sex on the Beach’ cocktails? Delete them, and no-one will notice.
  • Be friendly, but not friends with your staff. This is a challenging one – so many hospitality businesses are run like a big, unruly family, with all the usual banter, joking and excuses. Get real – your staff already have friends and family of their own – as owner or manager, they want you to be kind and friendly, but they’re not after friends who may be twice their age.
  • Cut the swearing. It’s ironical that the F, C and Sh words are now used freely on TV,  but I’m suggesting they should be eliminated from daily use by staff, managers and owners. There are other ways to express your anger and frustration. When you clean this up, there’s an improvement in the emotional tone and the way people relate to each other. A challenging one!
  • Protect your staff from customer harassment. Alcohol changes everyone’s behaviour, and young attractive female and male staff are often groped or ‘hit on’ by customers. It’s not OK. Give staff a method to alert their manager if they feel threatened, and be ready to politely but firmly ask those customers to leave. Another challenging situation, upending decades of tolerated behaviour in bars and everywhere alcohol is served.
  • Make the Christmas party a test for future socialising. Many restaurants have their party in January, after the rush. It’s good for everyone to relax and let their hair down, but the same rules apply about behaviour, intoxication and harassment.
  • That’s my quick list – any other actions you have taken? Drop them into the Comments below, or on the Ken Burgin Facebook page…

The value of saying ‘Thank You’

Great to see this ‘thank you’ list on the back of the menu at Blackbird Artisan Bakery in Maitland (it’s actually in the old gaol). Great baking there – sourdough breads, wonderful cakes, pastries and meals, all produced under the guidance of a passionate owner.

It reminded me about all the people we forget to thank or acknowledge – we want to do it, but get busy and remember when it’s too late…

  • Thanks to the kitchen team who got hammered on a very busy weekend (group text or a message on the noticeboard)
  • Thanks to the supplier who organised a rush delivery when we forgot to order (send a quick text)
  • Thanks to the customer who gave us a 5-star rating and compliments on Facebook (add your comment below their message)
  • Thanks to the local office person who always organises staff lunches at your venue (a card or email)
  • Thanks to the barista for her patience and dedication with the school trainees (a card or text)

Too busy to do it right now? Set a reminder on your calendar, send yourself an email, or just tap out a quick text if that’s all you have at hand… thanks!

How I’m Making Great Business Connections Through LinkedIn

In the last 12 months I’ve put extra effort into growing my LinkedIn following – it’s working very well. It’s not just about the numbers (followers have doubled from 1700 to almost 5700) but more importantly, the valuable business connections I’ve made for event speakers, podcast guests and industry expertise.

Here’s a summary of my process – you can do this too:

1. Reach out to a lot more people through Linkedin – I use the ‘People you may know’ feature under the ‘My Network’ tab and send about 10  connection requests very day. LinkedIn suggests these according to who I’m already connected with, and at other times I will do a search for something like ‘restaurant owner Australia’. About 3 out of 10 requests are accepted – not a huge number but very useful.

2. Accept (almost) all connection requests, unless clearly unrelated to hospitality. But even some of those can be valuable – if I accept a request from a person who appears to have no industry connection, I will message them saying ‘I’m curious about how you found me – do you have  plans for a hospitality business?” It’s surprising how many times people come back and say Yes! IT guy today, cafe owner tomorrow.

3. Ask people to connect – I invite people at the start of each Profitable Hospitality podcast, and at industry events where I speak. They’re sometimes sending an invitation as you request it!

4. Check new connections and if they look particularly interesting or relevant, reply with a friendly message. Here’s the one I use:

“Hi (Jan) – thanks for connecting. I hope 2018 is going well, with lots of happy customers… Ken
PS you may be interested to listen to my podcast on hospitality management and marketing – look for Profitable Hospitality on iTunes or SoundCloud.”

I have this set up as an auto-text message on my computer and iPad, so I don’t have to retype each time. It’s relevant for 90% of people, and a majority of people reply back, with a question or a comment, or telling me how we’ve met previously. Or saying they found me through the podcast! THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT for creating real relationships, not just numbers.

Extra activities for even more influence:

5. Share interesting articles you find, on the Linkedin timeline – when you drop in the link, a preview of the article will appear. Add a short comment to personalise it, and why you chose it e.g. ‘I believe these 3 digital trends will be the top priority for kitchen management in the next 12 months…’. When you sound like an authority, people will treat you like one!

6. Watch and comment on the timeline. I find many interesting stories related to my interest, and like Facebook, LinkedIn attempts to show you those of most relevance. You can give a ‘thumbs up’ or post or a short comment. I’ve made some great connections this way.