Gregg Burkhalter is a man on fire. That much is evident when he talks about his career and the rich blessing it is to him, as well as to those he helps along the way.
A radio disc jockey and music marketer for about three decades, Burkhalter suddenly found himself without a job several years ago – as did many long-time career professionals who were casualties of a rapidly changing economy and corporate climate. Today, he can see that event turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to him, dire as the situation may have looked at the time.
Starting his music career at age 16, Burkhalter remembers announcing on the radio when Elvis Presley died. As a disc jockey, he worked in the Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston, and Atlanta markets; his last stint as a DJ lasted seven years, as “Captain Craig” on LAKE 102 FM. “I loved that station. They played really great music, some good oldies,” he said.
“When I lost my job in the music business, I was at zero. I had no social media presence at all,” said Burkhalter. “A good friend told me two things that I haven’t forgotten. He told me to get a networking business card printed, and he told me to get on LinkedIn (a social media site).” Burkhalter followed his friend’s advice and took his networking card with him when he approached a digital marketing firm for a job. “Two hours later, I had the job.”
“I was reluctant to get on LinkedIn because I was scared of losing my privacy. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. I knew I wanted to build relationships online just as I have always done in person,” Burkhalter remembers. And that is just what he did, learning to use the social media tool to network, build and strengthen relationships, and to build his own personal brand.
“About a year later, I received an email from the Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce. They asked me to do a LinkedIn workshop in January 2015.” Laughing, Burkhalter recalls, “I told them they had the wrong ‘Gregg’, that I wasn’t a member of their Chamber. But they knew who I was, and they wanted me to lead this workshop. It was then that I asked myself, ‘Can I become the LinkedIn guy?’”
A couple of years later, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” That first year, he trained no fewer than 75 different groups and corporations how to use LinkedIn. Today, Burkhalter speaks to high school and college students about LinkedIn and the power of a strong personal brand. He travels at the invitation of corporations, teaching their employees how to use LinkedIn. “What we know is that people listen to what employees say about their company rather than what the company says about itself. I teach workshop participants how to brand themselves personally on LinkedIn, and that in turn helps those employees to help the collective corporate brand,” said Burkhalter.
Developing a personal brand is critical in today’s workplace. “People no longer assume that they will retire from the company they’re working for today, so I teach them not to tie their personal brand to a specific company,” said Burkhalter. For example, whereas years ago, when asked what you do, you would say where you work and what you do there. Today, it should be the reverse. It’s what you do and where you currently work. Burkhalter believes that a person’s personal brand must first be defined, then developed. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for doing just that.
The demand for his particular style of training is great. He used to conduct a lot of one-on-one training sessions, but as the demand has grown, so has Burkhalter’s business model. “My focus now is on corporate and group presentations, though I still offer personal consultations,” he said, adding that he enjoys working with those he calls “Digital Immigrants,” people who grew up before computers. Recently, he has trained groups via webinar in Paris, Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles, and anywhere else there is a need.
“I was honored to be a teaching leader at the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team (GSLT) Summit 2017 (for the Top 1400 students in Gwinnett County public high schools), and I speak at the University of Georgia twice a year,” he said. Georgia Gwinnett College, Gwinnett Tech and the University of North Georgia also call on Burkhalter to talk to students about using LinkedIn for networking, in career searches, and for personal branding. “Think about it. Your brand is not what you say you are, but what others say you are,” he added.
Recently, Burkhalter volunteered to lead a workshop for job seekers at a Gwinnett library. Organizers expected 10 – 12 participants. There were 45 in attendance at that workshop, a clear indication that LinkedIn has become a well-known tool in today’s world of connections and connectivity.
For more information about “The LinkedIn Guy” Gregg Burkhalter, his story and upcoming public workshops and presentations, visit www.GreggBurkhalter.com, call 770-313-2385, email Gregg@GreggBurkhalter.com, or view his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/greggburkhalter.