Jimena Cortes is a marketing consultant specializing in SEO and LinkedIn lead generation, published author, international speaker and entrepreneur. She has taught over 4,000 professionals world-wide how to use LinkedIn to grow their business through her online course and has helped several companies add an additional 6 figures to their bottom line using her marketing strategies.
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- Put your best foot forward – don’t blend in.
- Say the right things in the right sequence.
- The numbers never lie, so make sure you listen to what they say.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:05] – Jimena started her marketing agency in 2012
- [02:09] – Value Bomb Drop: “Everything is about how you appear and how you communicate with people”
- [06:07] – What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? “I used to make a big deal out of a particular thing when in fact, it is not”
- [07:16] – Step up and do the damn thing
- [07:35] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: “I started my business when I was just 19 and my partner and I were fighting over money so I left the business”
- [09:12] – “That was my lowest point and I was crying for three months”
- [10:07] – Try to go out alone and do your thing
- [10:49] – Have an attorney write a partnership agreement in you’re in business with a partner
- [11:55] – Entrepreneurial AH–HA Moment: “I learned marketing and sales and decided to open an SEO company in 2012”
- [12:43] – Months went by and I still had no clients
- [14:21] – Be aware and take a step back
- [16:33] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “My mastermind group that runs twice a year”
- [17:28] – It’s an invite only thing
- [18:58] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “The fear of another failure”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Don’t be afraid to put what you’re worth on the price tag”
- Share a personal habit that contributes to your success – “Focusing on the things that are most important to me”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Basecamp
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Millionaire Master Plan by Roger Hamilton
- [24:12] – Connect with Jimena through her website and learn strategies on how to get clients
- [24:39] – Parting piece of guidance: “Look at your numbers on a weekly basis”
Cortes: I am always prepared. Thank you for having me.
Dumas: Yes! Jimena is a marketing consultant specializing in SEO and LinkedIn Lee Generation. She’s a published author, international speaker and entrepreneur that’s taught over 4,000 professionals worldwide how to use LinkedIn to grow their businesses worldwide through her online course which is helped several companies add an additional six figs to their bottom line. Jimena, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Cortes: I feel really fortunate to be where I am today, because, you know, I started my company back in 2012, my marketing agency, and because I have and online business and because all my employees work remotely, I decided recently that I would take that freedom that I’m able to have of just being able to work as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection and you know, my lease was coming up on my apartment in Vegas and so I decided to not sign another lease and I went off to Europe and I’m here now.
Dumas: You were actually in this French Riviera from what I hear, right?
Cortes: Yes, I’m in Monaco, to be exact.
Dumas: Oh beautiful.
Cortes: It’s gorgeous. It was just a really fun, you know, adventurous thing to do, to just be able to say, “Hey, you know what? I have an online business. Let me actually live the digital lifestyle for a little bit,” and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve still been working the whole time I’ve been here.
Dumas: Well, you have definitely developed some specific areas of expertise and you know we talked a lot in the intro about LinkedIn, so give us two value bombs in that area that you’re pretty sure that we don’t know just as, you know, your normal entrepreneurs, that you think could really help us in our business?
Cortes: LinkedIn is a really interesting place, because it’s like a business networking event, but so magnified and you can connect with anybody in the world versus just, you know, the people that are in the room, which is what most networking events are like. So just like in real life, everything’s about how you appear and how you communicate with people, whether that’s gonna lead to a relationship that’s gonna be something that’s gonna be profitable or not. So, on LinkedIn, I would say there’s really two main things that you have to do really well in order to achieve your goals. And just to back up a little bit, that, you know, LinkedIn is a place where you get the relationships that you need to move your business forward, so most of the time when I speak about LinkedIn marketing, I’m always talking about how to get more clients. That’s what most people need, but in reality, LinkedIn can be used for so much more than just getting clients.
You can be using it to get joint venture partners, for example. You can be using it to get investors. You can use it to get PR, because at the end of the day, what gets you all of those opportunities is connecting with the person in that particular space that can say, “Yes.” So, one or two things that you need to do: well, number one is, you have to put your best foot forward. So just like when you would go to an event and you’re trying to impress the people that are there, you’re gonna dress nice, right? You’re gonna wear a nice suit or a nice dress, and you’re going to look professional, because if you show up with stains on your shirt and looking all crazy, people are not gonna take you seriously, right?
So on LinkedIn, I always say, “If you wanna stand out, if you wanna be the authority in your market because everybody wants to do business with the authority, so don’t blend in and write your profile like a resume. I always tell my clients and my students, you want to write your profile like a sales letter: What is the benefit you provide? What is the problem that you solve? And yeah, while you want to have your work experience on your profile, you wanna speak to those points, because when you start connecting with the people that you’d like to do business with, whether it’s a client or an investor, or whatever it may be, the first thing that they’re gonna do is they’re gonna look at your profile and see who the heck you are.
So that’s putting your best foot forward, have that written out and impress the people that you’re reaching out to, and that’ll greatly increase your acceptance rate when you’re connecting with people.
Dumas: What’s number two?
Cortes: Number two is, you wanna say the right things in the right sequence. So a lot of times, I see this on LinkedIn a lot, you know, you connect with someone and the first thing they do is send you this long sales pitch. And again, you would not go to a business networking event and say, “Hey, my name’s Jimena, this is what I do, do you wanna hire me?” Absolutely not! You wanna warm them up first. So the first thing you wanna do is provide value, give them a piece of content or something like that, start a conversation.
Then after that, and only after you’ve provided value, then you can talk further with the prospect and get them on the phone so you can discover ways that you can do business together. SO it’s all about just figuring out what to say to your target audience and what to saying it in the right sequence, and that’s basically the formula for how we do our LinkedIn campaigns.
Dumas: Jimena, if I were to sum this up Fire Nation, I were to say, “Awareness,” like just be aware. Be aware of how people are going to interact with your content, how they’re going to interact with your profile, with the words on the page, just be aware, like take yourself out of your own box, and try to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who’s maybe going to be approaching this for the first time. Like, they don’t know who you are or what you do, how is that flow? How is that story? How is that awareness? Now, Jimena, you’ve been experiencing a lot of things over the past number of years, but I want to kind of narrow this down to the last six months.
You’ve been traveling, you’re in Monaco now, the French Rivera, you know you’re about to experience a massive thundershower which hopefully we’re gonna be able to hear pretty soon here. What is something that you’ve changed your mind about in the last six months? Like, what’s something you used to believe that you don’t anymore?
Cortes: The last time I was in Europe was 12 years ago and I feel like, a lot of times, we make more of an issue or more of a big deal of a particular issue than it really is, and I mean, this year I’ve traveled international several times now, and I’ve just been so afraid to do it, because I would say, “No, it’s too expensive,” or “Oh no, it takes too much time, it’s this whole hassle, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money,” like all these things that you make up in your head, and it’s really not that true.
I mean, it’s been very, I mean I started at just about as much money as I did back at home, so you know, that’s not been a big deal, and I mean you can get here within a day, and then you kind of recover after another day and then you’re good to go, so it’s really taking yourself and taking all of these excuses out of your head, and just going out and doing something to realize that it’s not really as scary, or as bad, as you might have thought in your head.
Dumas: Like, I love to travel, because I love basically saying, “Wow.” I woke up, let’s just say, in Puerto Rico, where I live right now, and now I’m going to sleep in Greece and Germany, and L – I mean, bill in the blank, like, it’s an opportunity. It’s there, Fire Nation, you just have to actually step up and do the thing. SO that’s a cool, kind of, mindset shift. So Jimena, what I kind of want you to do now, is kinda take us back on your journey to the point that you actually consider your worst entrepreneurial moment, and really take us to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Cortes: I started my first business straight out of high school. I was barely 19 years old, and we had – one of my friends was working at a travel company and her was making a lot of money, and I was like, “You know, we could do that ourselves,” and he was like, “You know, that’s probably right.” So we decided to go into business together. And our first 12 months were absolutely incredible. We got to half a million dollars in gross revenue, we ended up hiring six people, so the company grew really fast, and mind you at this time, I’m just coming out of high school, I’m 19 years old, and I’m like, “Wow, this is freaking amazing! Cool, right?”
And then what started to happen is, as the money was coming in, me and my business partner had different ideas about what to do with the money. I wanted to reinvest in the company and do additional things, get more training I realized I didn’t really have a lot of experience. He was more concerned with buying people drinks at the bar and buying big screen TV’s. And so, I was like, “This is really not gonna work,” so long story short, after about six months of fighting over money, I decided to leave the business because I thought he would put us into debt, and that was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, because here I went from making really good money and being very young and having a lot of freedom, having people work for me, and then to all of the sudden having it all being taken away, just because we were just fighting so, so much.
So at that point, that was my absolute lowest point. I think when that happened, I cried for about three months, like just get up every day and just cry because I didn’t know what else to do next. But I did end up dodging a bullet, because last I heard, he had ended up putting the company like, $100,000 in debt, so it could have been a lot worse.
Dumas: A lot worse! And, Fire Nation, this is a little bit of a phrase that I will say that I live by, and there are definitely exceptions to the rule, but I like to say, “I love white ships, I love black ships, in fact I love all ships, except partnerships.” Now again there are exceptions to that rule, Fire Nation. Some partnerships do thrive, but oh, they’re just so few and far in-between. I mean, if you listen to EO Fire, you’ll hear so many worst moments have to do around partnerships and just the struggles and the breaking up, and the not being able to get along and see the same vision.
It’s so tough, so, you know, one of my messages is, “Why don’t you try to go out alone?” I mean, like, what’s holding you back? I mean, do you feel like you need to have somebody as a “Partner”? Like, why can’t you go forward, do your thing, and maybe hire somebody, where you think you need a partner. “Oh I need a partner because they’re good at that and I’m good at this.” Well, why don’t you hire somebody that’s good at that, and then they’re your employee, your independent contractor, your assistants, and you still have 100 percent control of the business, of the vision, of the focus. Jimena, that’s my huge takeaway. What do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Cortes: One of the things that I vowed after that experience is that my next business, I would do on my own, because I never wanted to go through that again. And if you do go into a business situation where you do have a partner or you are considering a partner, just make sure that you guys have an attorney write out a partnership agreement, and that you think about all the different scenarios that will go wrong, and if you have a good attorney they will know what those scenarios are, so you guys can discuss them prior to going into this. It’s just like a prenuptial agreement.
I think a business partnership is even more entangled and more intense than a marriage because you’re dealing with the thing that supports you and the thing that you’re gonna spend the majority of your time doing, even more than the time that you’re gonna spend with your spouse, and most of us, we spend a lot of time trying to find the right partner so make sure you spend just as much time, if not more, on who you’re gonna go in to business with, because that can go incredibly wrong or incredibly well, and if it doesn’t go well, it can be extremely painful and extremely costly.
Dumas: Jimena, take us to one of your greatest “Aha!” moments that you’ve had. But then, really walk us through how you had that idea, like when did that idea strike you and then how’d you turn it into success?
Cortes: After that whole fiasco with business number one, I had a bunch of sales jobs and a bunch of marketing jobs and I was just absolutely miserable, working for other people. I was like, “When am I gonna start my next business?” I didn’t know what I was gonna do, so finally after having all of these jobs, I learned marketing and I learned sales, and I decided that in 2012, I would start an SEO company, because I knew SEO. I taught myself, I ranked a website, I was like, “Well, that was fun, I can do this, and I can sell it, too.” So I left my last marketing job and I started my SEO business.
The thing though, that, it was really difficult to get clients, because selling SEO is not easy. You’re telling somebody, “Pay me all this money for several months before you see any results,” and a lot of people have been burned by SEO companies. So, I had a really difficult time. I mean, six months went by and I only had one client. I no longer had unemployment coming in, money was running out, so I thought that this, too, would be a failure and I started to look for a job because I really didn’t have much time before I was out of money. So one of the sites that I was using to look for a job for work, was LinkedIn, and, you know, back then, I was targeting attorneys and doctors for SEO clients, and I’m like, “You know, the people that I wish were my clients – they’re right here! They have profiles! How can I get through to these people and get them to at least talk to me, so I can show them how I can help them grow their business through SEO?”
And long story short, I think at this point, I had nothing to lose, right? I’m already applying to jobs and trying to go to interviews and all these things, and within two weeks of being on LinkedIn and networking and talking to attorneys and doctors, I got my next SEO client, which is an estate-planning attorney who is still with me to this day, five years later. So that one connection, that one conversation turned into a lifelong client, basically at this point, that has also referred me a lot of business. I mean, he’s been worth six figures to me, over time, so that was my big “Aha!” moment was like, “I’m gonna stop doing all of the other things that I’m doing like going to all these networking events and all these other things that I was trying that wasn’t getting me any results, and then I just focused on just LinkedIn and that’s how I was able to stay in business, grow the business, and be where I am today and not have to go back and get a 9-to-5.
Dumas: Fire Nation, awareness, you know, coming back to this theme, I mean, just be aware of things that you’re doing intra-day. I mean, like, what are you struggling with? Like, maybe you need to stop in the areas that you’re struggling right now because you’re just hitting against a wall. Like what are the areas that you’re actually thriving or getting some result in, any results in? Like maybe that’s worth some exploration, you know, I mean, Jimena, she saw this opportunity within LinkedIn, she’s like, “Well, why don’t I just explore this a little further?” And it might have led to a dead end, but it didn’t, you know, it kept kind of leading her to that next step and that next step and opening up that other opportunity, you know, tot now she is where she is today.
So just be aware, you know, step back and just look at your life and say, “What is working intra-day?” Are networking – going to networking events, are those working? Is going to conferences? Is spending time on LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, Insta – I mean what’s working? Where am I having the conversations? Where am I seeing voids, problems, and issues that need to be filled, and then explore, and not all of them are going to lead to a goldmine, but you’re gonna learn from each, and maybe one of them eventually will. So that’s my big takeaway. What do you want to make sure Fire Nation just gets in just one sentence, Jimena? Like what do you want to make sure our listeners like, take away?
Cortes: Just see what’s working, what’s not, and do more of what’s working and cut out everything else.
Dumas: Cut it out!
Cortes: That’s exactly how I was able to grow my business.
Dumas: Time is everything! I mean, all we have is time, and you can leverage your time on things that are actually working. I mean think about it. When you’re able to spend five, six, nine, twelve hours a day on something that’s working, as opposed to just one or two because you’re doing all these other things for the other eight or nine hours, think about that.
Cortes: I had one more point I wanted to make, just to that. I actually calculated how much time and money I wasted, because I joined a BNI group, and I had – I did it for about ten months. It was like, over 200 and some odd hours of networking that I did plus almost about $1,000 of what I spent, and I never got a client. Like if I had spent that time and energy on LinkedIn, I was like, “Man I could have made so much more money.”
Dumas: So much! And you just never know, Fire Nation, until you actually sit down and do the math, or you sit down and study or just sit down and give yourself the time to think. So, thanks for breaking in there. That’s a huge valuable, valuable point. Now what are you most fired up about right now, Jimena, like of all the things, what are you most excited about today?
Cortes: Oh my gosh, there are so many things. But one of the things that I’m working on right now is just something that I’m very passionate about and I love doing it, is that I have a mastermind group that I run twice a year. SO we do one in Vegas, which is where I’m based out of, and then – we’ve only done it in Vegas so far, so now what we’re doing is we’re taking the mastermind international and start doing international locations, so we’re working on putting together our mastermind for October in Costa Rica, which is where I’m from, and it’s just, it’s really fun.
It’s invite only and what we do is we just get super successful entrepreneurs that we know in a room. This one’s gonna be longer. They’ve been two days up to this point. This one’s gonna be five days and we’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned, and it’s just a really great way for really successful people to talk about what’s working in their business and also help each other for those of us that are having challenges and just house amazing minds in a room to pull from, to help you with those challenges. And that’s just – it’s incredibly powerful, I mean the people that come to it sometimes, my jaw is just like falling to the floor after every presentation. I’m like, “Wow, I didn’t know you were that awesome!”
Dumas: Well I will keep my eye on the mailbox Jimena, for that. I mean, Costa Rica – amazing! And Fire Nation, I want you to keep your ear in the earbud or vice-versa the earbud in the ear, because we’ve got some great things coming up in the lightning round, so don’t you go anywhere. Let’s take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors. Jimena, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Cortes: Yes, I am.
Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Cortes: When I started my second business there was a lot holding me back which is why it took me so long after the failure of the first one. The first one we just kinda jumped into it, I was like, “Yeah, okay, let’s do it.” I was young, I didn’t care, you know, and it was a learning lesson for sure. The next time, really, what held me back is the fear of another failure. It was just so painful that first time around, I wasn’t sure I could go through that kind of pain again.
And then also because I would be doing it alone, I was also afraid of it just being all on my shoulders, of it not working, of me just not being able to pull through, and not having enough money to make it happen. And I almost ran out of money, I mean I was looking for jobs. It’s not like I was – I was right there on the threshold of failure when I finally had that, the “Aha!” moment and figured it out and was able to continue.
Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Cortes: I was charging too little for the services, and I – one of the things that I noticed was that I was working a lot, I was making money, but there wasn’t a lot of profit, and I was at a marketing event in 2013, and somebody told me, “Don’t be afraid to raise your prices, and ask for the moon. You’re gonna be surprised how often you’ll get it.”
And it’s true. You want to price yourself up in a way that it’s equal to the value that you’re providing but you don’t wanna undercharge and overwork yourself to where you’re working so much but you’re not making any money because that’s where I was initially, and I also wasn’t watching the finances, so I would say those two things: don’t be afraid to charge for your worth, and maybe don’t be afraid to even ask for more, a lot of times you’ll get it and even if you don’t at least you’re gonna be higher up than if you weren’t charging enough to begin with.
Dumas: Yeah, that’s a great anchoring strategy for sure, Fire Nation. Like you’re putting it up there, and there’s a great book on this about profiting, It’s called Profit First by Michael Michalowicz. I think ever entrepreneur should be reading this book if you wanna get your finances correctly in order. Now what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Cortes: So I am very organized and very planned out and I always tell people, “Look, if it’s not on my calendar, it is just not getting done. It’s just not happening; I don’t even know it exists. So every Sunday night I go in front of my computer. I look at my main goals, and I schedule my week to work on some of those goals, and then also like meetings and things that I have to do.
But I schedule everything out Sunday night and then I add additional meetings, I leave time throughout the week for whatever else comes up. But scheduling myself that way is tremendous in being productive and being able to work on the goals that you need to move the company forward while still managing everything else. And another thing that I do just every morning before I start my day, before I look at Facebook or an email or anything, I have created what is called, “mind movies” of my goals.
And these are both business and personal goals, and every morning, for twenty minutes, I look at my goals and they’re played out to me in a movie. So I’m always focusing on the things that re most important to me, and you’d be amazed at how much of – I’ve been doing this for about, for like eight months, now, and I’m amazed at how much a lot of it has already come true in the movie so I have to, I have to re-do the movies to add different things to it, because I’ve already hit a lot of the things that I wanted that was in there.
Dumas: Can you share internet resources like Evernotes with Fire Nation?
Cortes: So, in my business, since we manage a lot of different client’s campaigns, and it can just get crazy, when you’re talking to a lots of different people and you’ve got a lot of projects going on, so the way that we keep everything organized is with Base Camp. I mean, that’s like the only – like the lifeline of everything. And a lot of times two clients will send an email wanting something, I’m like “Look, it has to be in Base Camp, you have to have to see these fore people, because if I’m not available to get that message, these other people need to handle it, and we need to have it all organized to make sure that we can always refer back to what’s going on or if someone else jumps into the account campaign.
Dumas: If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Cortes: So I really love this book, it’s called The Millionaire Master Plan by Rodger Hamilton. Have you heard of it?
Dumas: I have, I’ve never read it though.
Cortes: Oh, it’s amazing. So he takes you through the different stages in life where you can be incomes0wise and then how to get to the next level, if that’s the level you want to get to. I mean not everybody wants to go to the highest level, but it’s really interesting to read through his book and see what level you’re at and then also look at the action steps, because he gives them to you. He gives you your action steps based on your personality type, of how to get to the next level. So it’s an incredibly well-written book, and his test is really accurate, so I read the several times, I’m sorry I probably want to go back and read it again.
Dumas: It’s on my kindle as of right now, so thank you for that recommendation.
Cortes: Oh, you have to read it!
Dumas: I’m on it! I’m on it. And Jimena, let’s end it today on Fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, then we’ll say goodbye.
Cortes: The best way to connect with me is I have a workshop that we do several times a week, and it teaches you our strategy of how we get clients on LinkedIn and how we’re doing this in several campaigns now to generate a traditional six figures revenue in LinkedIn. So if you were just to go to the linked blueprint.com/webinar, that puts you into the training and you’ll learn a lot of my strategies of how to do this and how we get clients or the relationships that you need.
Dumas: And what’s that parting piece of guidance?
Cortes: Look at your numbers, and look at them at least on a weekly basis. I look at my finances every Saturday.
Dumas: What do you use for a tool to track your finances?
Dumas: Outright got it.
Cortes: Because basically if you’re looking at what things are costing you and what you’re charging and just profit and loss makes a huge difference into being able to profit and being able to see what you need to hit next month to continue to always grow and not go backward.
Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with JC and JLD today, so keep up the heat, and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Jimena, that’s J-I-M-E-N-A in the search bar, and her show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz, time stamps, links galore, and of course, that direct call-to-action is the linked blueprint.com/webinar You’re definitely going to want to go check out that training if LinkedIn is anything on your radar, we’ll have that up on the show notes pages as well, and Jimena, thank you, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you, and we’ll catch ya on the flipside.
Cortes: Thanks so much!
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