What gender inequality, coffee and new found wisdom have in common…

As the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program draws to a close Sarah Melrose looks at the effect taking part in it has had on her career over the last five months.

Learnings on the LinkedIn Influencer program

The LinkedIn Influencer program started back in June and since then has been 5 fun months of ‘influencing’. As it draws to a close this week I want to share the impact it’s had. And yes I’m writing this before it’s finished – every bit counts ?

Before entering, my knowledge of the LinkedIn Influencer Program was limited to say the least, I honestly had no idea what the purpose of it was, what it took to win, nor even if I was a valid candidate to compete for it. After all, the top 10 last year were a combination of Heads of and Group Director titles, and here’s me – a good few pegs down from last years winners. So I thought, why bother?

Sarah Melrose is programmatic director at Ikon Communications

I’ll tell you why in two parts. The reason I’ve decided to split this article of self-reflection (very different to everything else I’ve written) into two is that I can’t summarise it in one succinct article.

Part one

Jumping into a few quick-hitters which I’ve learnt about myself, and the industry throughout this process.

1.    Gender inequality doesn’t exist…

…to the extent some believe it does. As a female, we’re well supported across our industry – I’m yet to (thankfully) find anyone that treats me differently because I’m female, and we have many conferences dedicated to women (e.g. SheSays3percent). There’s even a whole awards night, courtesy of B&T dedicated to women only! So, let’s be a bit more positive. I’ve also disappointingly read articles on the complete opposite spectrum that paint a direct picture and that we need to ‘hang in there’ – I don’t see any women I know hanging anywhere. We’re doing just fine.

Getting back to the point in hand – the LinkedIn Influencer program. Up until August this year I’d never spoken at an event before, and since then I’ve been asked to speak on a few different panels, and be part of different groups that I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to previously. It turns out, having a voice across LinkedIn pays off! Finally, I don’t feel I’ve been overlooked because I’m female in any way, on the contrary; everyone has been more than supportive.

2.    I’m addicted to coffee.

I’ve had many interesting people reach out to me on various topics, that I probably wouldn’t have found without LinkedIn Influencer. And those meetings equal many cups of coffee! I’ve always had the same opinions and thoughts, but vocalising them has led to many interesting connections and meetings that probably wouldn’t have happened without this. I’ll always say yes if you want a chat and a coffee.

3.    You can’t share if you don’t learn first

Reading: I read more now than prior to this program volume wise, and also range. This sounds pretty basic and something you could do without the program I agree. But being on it forced me just that little bit more, to read outside of my then present reading list, to make sure I had an informed and well-rounded opinion of whatever I was about to write on. Some may disagree – that’s the beauty of an opinion.

Writing: Again, this may sound boring – and obvious, but there’s a ton of great content out there written by individuals, not the press. That takes time writing, editing, making sure it’s coherent and logical AND interesting – for someone who isn’t a great natural writer, is no easy task. I haven’t written anywhere near as much as some others in the industry, but it does give me a new-found respect for all the content they write – it takes time and dedication, and we all enjoy reading those articles.

So there is part one. Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll address some of the misconceptions, and stigma attached to the program and what I can pass on to those in the industry wanting to enter next year.

In the meantime, if you’re wondering whether to enter next year – my advice? Yes! Even if you don’t end up being part of the golden ten it’s worth it for the experience and opportunities that come with it.

Disclaimer: I need to say a big thanks to two people over the past few months 1. Dru Nho for constant editing and 2. David Benjafield (aka Benji) for fact checking and sound boarding – everyone should have a Benji around.

Sarah Melrose is programmatic director at Ikon Communications

To see more pieces from the LinkedIn agency influencer program click the image below.


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