Helping individuals actively participate
in all parts of their lives by providing education that inspires new ideas and
challenges the status quo.
the years, has become the most useful social media platform for professionals
and business owners. It is a quick and easy way to reconnect with an old
college friend and a co-worker. But more than that, LinkedIn is a powerful tool
for lead generation, market research and global networking. There’s a great
need for LinkedIn users to learn more about the little-known and advanced
features that can help you unlock its potential to the greatest extent
possible. Karen Hollenbach, an Independent
LinkedIn Specialist Trainer recognized the need for LinkedIn training and set
out to change the way LinkedIn is used by professionals with Think Bespoke.
Think Bespoke is an Australian owned and operated LinkedIn education and
training consultancy. Karen’s mission is to help you unlock your potential and
her team comprises a collective of talented local professionals with LinkedIn,
content marketing and career management expertise. The people at Think Bespoke
help individuals actively participate in all parts of their lives by providing
education that inspires new ideas and challenges the status quo. In an
interview with Beyond Exclamation, Karen shares her journey through the years,
the founding vision behind Think Bespoke, the services that her company
provides and more. Below are the excerpts from her interview with us.
What was your goal while growing up? Did
you always want to be where you are right now?
I’ve always leaned towards being an
educator. When I did my undergraduate studies at university I liked the idea of
returning one day as a lecturer or tutor. Leading and managing teams fueled my
desire to help people tune into their strengths and show up in their roles in a
way that was unique to their personal style and natural tendencies, rather than
doing what they thought they ‘should’ do. This idea of challenging the status
quo and re-thinking how women navigate their professional lives is at the heart
of my story and how I now help others through LinkedIn training and LinkedIn
What seeded the vision to venture on
I’d worked for the global beverage business, Diageo, for
nearly eleven years. It was incredibly fun as it allowed me to travel
interstate weekly and work my way up the ranks, eventually managing and leading
a trade marketing team who worked with global brands that sponsored major
sporting events. Once having children, my priorities began
to change. I loved working but needed more flexibility. While on maternity
leave for the second time, I returned to university and completed a post
graduate qualification in teaching, enabling me to briefly teach at local high
schools and a training consultancy when my children were very young. I began to
use my teaching training and my business marketing qualifications to start a
consulting business helping people make their own career changes and get
job-ready through helping them write strong resumés and LinkedIn profiles.
Gradually, as I began to see the increasing relevance and use for LinkedIn, my
focus shifted to where I am today; namely, LinkedIn profile writing, LinkedIn training and
LinkedIn marketing mentoring.
Could you give us an overview of Think
Bespoke, and the inroads it has made in LinkedIn training space?
Think Bespoke’s focus is teaching people
how to leverage LinkedIn to help them achieve their professional goals. Whether
it be female led services based businesses or professionals in the mid stage of
their career, we help our clients get to the heart of what their career
objective is, and to tailor their LinkedIn presence around that objective.
Personal branding is such a big part of your online presence, and tailoring
your personal brand to your goals can help you make waves in your industry. We
help create thought-leaders and job seekers who are confident about the people
who they are trying to influence.
In 2018 our work was recognized when I was
listed in the top 20 LinkedIn experts in Asia Pacific by Social Media Marketing
Institute. In 2019 I was listed in their top 10 LinkedIn experts in Asia
Pacific. Our unique use of storytelling, content marketing and relationship
building rituals to help clients and the organizations they lead get better
results on LinkedIn has helped me achieve this status.
Tell us about one strategy that has
helped you grow Think Bespoke?
Our content marketing strategy has been
central to growing Think Bespoke. It’s helped make us the ‘go to’ for LinkedIn,
whether that be how to write your LinkedIn Profile, how to manage your company
page or how to leverage the new features LinkedIn provides. LinkedIn marketing
is an increasing focus for many businesses and we show our clients how to get
started with the tips we share on the blog. Our content marketing strategy has
extended to guest podcasts and guest columns, regular webinars for industry
groups and peak bodies and the recent launch of my new podcast, The 5 Minute
LinkedIn Marketer. Our goal is to provide our LinkedIn tips in bite sized
chunks so it does not feel too daunting and can be managed and easily
implemented by busy professionals.
Tell us about your life before Think
Bespoke. How past experiences help you today in leading the
Before I founded Think Bespoke, I was
working for a multinational organization with high profile brands in an
extremely competitive market place. This experience gave me extensive
experience in developing my marketing communications and leadership style to
navigate many complex stakeholders with competing priorities. I like to tell
people I speak two languages; sales and marketing. My role at Diageo demanded
that I motivate and inspire a local sales team to deliver the goals of global
brands. Speaking both languages helped me achieve the results expected of me in
My time at Diageo as well as my own
personal experience with career change and building my profile as a LinkedIn
expert, has helped me flex my style to the needs of my clients and their
learning styles. My ability to communicate with clients and colleagues and
understand the principles of content marketing, while also being empathetic,
asking the right questions about where they are in their business or career
journey right now, helps give them the confidence and road map to grow their
LinkedIn presence and secure the role that they’re looking for.
I lead a virtual team of talented writers,
content marketers and career practitioners. My choice of team members is
focused on selecting the best in their field who do great work and are good
people. Most of us are corporate escapees and love working flexibly,
which means treating our roles as parents and carers as seriously as the work
we do for Think Bespoke’s clients.
Have you achieved all that you had
desired? Tell us about the moment when you realized that your hard work has
finally paid-off. What keeps you driven and determined towards work?
As a life long learner, there will always
be new adventures ahead of me. Having said that, the ability to manage a
business whilst being there for all of my children’s milestones has been an
incredibly rewarding experience for me. Think Bespoke’s 10th birthday in 2020 has
also been a rewarding moment – where I can look back and really see how much
our services have evolved over the past 10 years. It has not been easy, and
business ownership was never a goal. The focus has always been about doing
great work, working with great clients who share our values of collaboration,
community while being able to show up in all areas of my life.
I established Think Bespoke (which was
originally called Bespoke Professional Resumes) in 2009 and operated as a sole
trader until 2015, which is when we became a company, and I became our first
full time employee. We now have 3 divisions and my collective of talented
professionals works virtually across Australia, helping people with our
LinkedIn, content management and career services. Are we making millions? No!
That was never my intention. I have replaced my full time corporate income,
working less hours, actively participating in my children’s lives and taking most
school holidays off. We do great work, my team work from home and separately
run their own businesses and our clients are a delight.
Running my own business has been the most
exhilarating and exhausting thing I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s keeps me going is the freedom working for myself
brings, the potential income you can earn when you get it right and the
satisfaction that comes from living my personal mission every single day, which
is to help people unlock their potential.
What does work-life balance mean to you
and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work life balance is about being able to
work flexibly and was a major driver for establishing Think Bespoke. I set
strong boundaries across my week that are aligned to when I work most
productively, when my clients and team need me and when my family needs me.
Self-care is a significant focus and looks like walking regularly, meditating
when I can, eating wholesome food and spending time working in my vegetable
garden in our back yard. I don’t aways get the balance right, as I love what I
do and believe in taking imperfect action. This can result in choosing to burn
the midnight candle at times. I have a fabulous husband who takes his role as a
parent seriously and loves to cook and is happy to clean. This makes a huge
difference to how we share the demands of parenting and running a family home
with two teenage boys. Having a home office means my commute to work is one
minute, which is a huge time saver.
How satisfied are your clients with your
service? Can you share some of your client’s testimonials?
Our clients actively refer us to their
friends and colleagues, which is a very strong indicator of how satisfied they
are with our service. We’re very focused on delighting our clients and believe
we can always streamline and improve the way we do things. Here are some
examples of what our clients say about us.
Had a great experience with Think
Bespoke. Felt extremely comfortable in discussing career challenges and
potential future career prospects. Marina really asked thought provoking questions
to challenge my thinking and set me on a positive career path. My resume also
turned out fabulous. Thanks for everything. – Martine,
Career Coaching client
We have been working with Karen for 5
years now. Karen has presented to our team at events, workshops and worked with
us on a 1:1 basis. The foundation of our Linkedin strategy has come from the
time we have spent with Karen and we continue to stay ahead of the game through
our engagement with her. Only yesterday did Karen join one of our company wide
webinars and present on how to network in the new normal. There were so many
takeaways which our team is already implementing. Thank you again Karen we
love working with you. – Nicola Veltman, LinkedIn Training
I highly recommend Karen to anyone
wanting to clarify and amplify their brand on LinkedIn and unify their
professional platforms. With her encouraging and direct approach, Karen’s 1:1
coaching sessions allow you to get out of your own way and move forward with a
clear and manageable implementation plan and get on with building your brand
and connecting with your tribe. If I’d known the immense value from Karen’s
coaching session I would have booked her a lot earlier and saved a lot of
precious time. – Carolyn, Small Business Owner
What would you advise to the young
entrepreneurs venturing the startup landscape?
I feel very strongly that there is a lot of
pressure on your entrepreneurs to have to do ‘all the things’.
If you can embrace the concept that the
idea you have for your business is not what your business will look like in a
time, this could just be the impetus to help you build momentum. The one key
thing I have learnt is that your business changes over time, especially if you
establish great relationships with your clients, are open to their feedback and
willing to adapt to the opportunities in front of you.
Embracing the beauty of this concept means
letting go of perfectionism and the realization that we are not in control of
our own destinies. What you need to focus on is what you can influence, and
your current product / service offers, the quality of work you do and the
ability to ask for feedback and adapt to the needs of the community you wish to
serve. The best example of this in Australia at the moment is the gin
distillers who have started making hand sanitizer!
I encourage you to dedicate time in your
schedule this month to mapping out how you can help your clients right now, in
an effort to create additional revenue streams for your business.
I believe we are all capable of great
things. However, I also believe it’s too easy to get stuck in your thoughts.
Action is where the gold lies! Take the time to look at your business and your
clients and work out ways to do this better. You just never know where a simple
phone call to a client you’ve done great work with will lead.
What are your plans going ahead? What
does Think Bespoke’s expansion and growth trajectory look like in
My focus is on being known as the number
one LinkedIn expert for female led service-based businesses in Asia Pacific.
For Think Bespoke, we’re focused on being the number one LinkedIn profile
writing service for professionals in the mid stage of their career. From a
lifestyle perspective (because that’s the important part – right?) my husband
and I are also starting to think about locations for a house in the country
with a verandah to sit and watch the sunset together. I would also like to
travel regularly and have at least 3 extended trips with my husband and boys
discovering Australia, our sunburnt country.
The restrictions imposed by Covid-19 have
provided the impetus and time to transition Think Bespoke’s training and services
online. The silver lining of this decision has been opening us up to a global
audience beyond Asia Pacific. We’ll continue to offer our online training and
LinkedIn profile writing services and help our professional communities
navigate their return back to the new CoVID-normal, whatever that looks like!
LinkedIn is helping professional communities stay connected online and is
more relevant than ever with the rapid expansion of the remote workforce. I
will always love seeing clients have lightbulb moments when they realise ways
to improve their professional presence online and use LinkedIn to get better
clients and job opportunities. As the “LinkedIn Lady,” I’m always one of
the first to show my communities how to use the new features LinkedIn is continually
rolling out for individuals and businesses. It’s my hope that the current world
events will help everyone re-define what doing great work means for them,
creating new opportunities for everyone.