Introducing 28 Questions Answered By Your Favorite Sales and Marketing Leaders

Featuring LinkedIn's Gaurav Nihalani

March 6, 2018

LinkedIn's 28 Questions Video Series

Welcome to 28 Questions with LinkedIn! Inspired by Vogue's 73 Questions, it's a new video series in which we follow around your favorite marketing and sales leaders in their natural habitat and ask them everything from breakfast preferences and side hustles to their proudest professional accomplishments and beyond. Uncover what's top of mind for the best in the business - behind the scenes and unfiltered. It’s funny. It’s educational. It’s 28 Questions filmed in a single shot.

Our first episode features Gaurav Nihalani, Digital Marketing Manager. Gaurav promotes LinkedIn’s products on LinkedIn’s own platform. He is constantly thinking of new ideas to test and ways to optimize the business. Aside from driving acquisition and increasing brand awareness, he helps to improve our overall Marketing Solutions platform through beta testing new features and providing feedback to product.

Click play to hear about Gaurav's love for Air Jordan, how he got his big break at LinkedIn, his top LinkedIn Campaign Manager tips, how he measures success in his role and more.

28 Questions with Gaurav Nihalani

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Coffee and water is how I start my day!

2. If you had one super power, what would it be?

Sing like Aretha Franklin. She is just the greatest singer ever. I’d rather be able to sing like her than teleport places or read minds.

3. What are you binge-watching right now?

El Chapo. If you like Narcos, this is the same thing except it’s about Chapo Guzman. I really appreciate crime dramas especially when they are about historical figures.

4. First job? 

Shredding paper for Cupertino City Hall - I have had a job since I was 11 years old. My dad always pushed me to earn my own money so I would know the value of a dollar.

5. First job in marketing?

Social Media for a mom & pop Loan Originator in Huntington Beach. It’s really shocking how much small business owners have to be responsible for. Hiring, marketing, selling, admin you name it. It’s incredible to see how far technology has come in the past decade to help businesses in those areas. It makes me feel really proud to work at LinkedIn since we help businesses tackle all those problems.

6. Most hated workplace buzzword

“Circle back”

7. How did you get the job at LinkedIn?

I was referred out of college for an entry level contract position. From there I just worked my butt off and networked my way into the role I am in now. It might sound cheesy to say ‘Relationships Matter’ but I can confidently say my career has been proof to that phrase. It’s a little embarrassing but I haven’t updated my resume since I started working here. Big ups to Allen Pang for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to get into the advertising world.

8. What’s not on your LinkedIn profile

My ability to eat really spicy food. I may or may not nerdily research spice levels of different peppers. My favorite peppers include: habaneros, fresno chilis, and calabrian peppers. My favorite hot sauce is called “Tabanero”.

9. Where are we?

The 10th floor at LinkedIn’s SF headquarters.

10. Last book you read?

LinkedIn’s Secret Sauce: How LinkedIn Uses LinkedIn for Marketing - great book. Shameless self-promotion? Yes. Is it still worth reading? Yes.

11. Favorite quote?

“Just win baby!” - Al Davis. I am a diehard Oakland Raider fan and am sad to see the team move to Las Vegas. Nonetheless, I stay loyal to the Silver and Black!

12. Biggest professional goal this year?

Publish Secret Sauce Part 2 (more LinkedIn campaign tips to come!) Learn UX basics, and hit our marketing goals. This year for me is all about growing and learning. It may sound cheesy but really if you aren’t changing for the better then you are likely changing for the worse.

13. What are you working on?

Driving acquisition for our Marketing business and brand awareness for our LinkedIn Learning business. (Lynda.com is now on LinkedIn as LinkedIn Learning. All the same great content now available to you on LinkedIn.)

14. What are 3 tips for making your life easier when using LinkedIn Campaign Manager?

  • Establish a naming convention, use Website Demographics, and Matched Audiences. Having a consistent naming convention is a huge help when you are trying to find campaigns based on a category (i.e. Region, campaign type, product etc.). If I establish a solid naming convention I can use the search functionality to show me only campaigns I care about with respect to a category. 
  • Website Demographics shows me data on what kind of people are visiting certain pages. This is very helpful when trying to find new audiences to go after or come up with unique retargeting strategies. 
  • Matched Audiences speaks for itself. Sometimes you need a specific audience that the tool doesn’t provide through general targeting options.

15. Biggest Campaign Manager mistake you see?

Hypertargeting. I get it, you want to only show your ads to a specific audience. You don’t want to waste impressions and money. You have a budget and you need to show return on that investment. However, marketing is about shaping brand perception and establishing yourself as an industry thought leader. ROI happens because people perceive your product or service to be superior so they purchase it. I am not saying don’t run targeted campaigns to drive acquisition. I am saying focus on building exceptional content and tailoring it to your audience. Some of it should be catered to a highly targeted audience but the majority of it should be focused on building your brand among a broader group. Success will be built over time along with the perception of your brand and product/service. In the world of digital marketing, we need to be at our best when it comes to content marketing, be brave, and not let quarterly ROI goals hold us back from truly allowing a brand to be successful.

16. Favorite new Campaign Manager feature?

Website Demographics. Website Demographics filters your website traffic by eight professional dimensions and powered by our 500M+ members, including a visitor’s Job title, Industry, Job seniority, Job function, Company, Company size, Location, and Country. To get you started, here are five best practices.

17. What's your favorite brand?

Air Jordan. Michael Jordan commercials from the 90's are what made me want a career in marketing. Wieden + Kennedy did an amazing job with the Air Jordan brand. I grew up playing hoops and these commercials always made me want to go out and play (and spend money on Air Jordans of course).

18. What keeps you up at night?

Netflix. Reed Hastings is right, sleep is definitely his competition.

19. What’s your side hustle?

Coaching AAU basketball. I just love basketball and this has been a really fun way for me to stay involved competitively without my knees hurting after games. I also really enjoy working with kids since you get to see them rapidly develop not only as ball players but as young human beings. It’s cool to see them “get it” in a game and run a play perfectly or react appropriately in certain situations. They also have a lot of really funny stories.

20. Favorite sport to play?

Basketball. When I moved to the United States in 6th grade my friend asked me to play in a school lunchtime league and I said sure. Having never played before I was a bit nervous but when the game started I was somehow amazing! I just kept hitting every shot and people were going crazy. It was such a surreal moment for me since I had absolutely no clue how to play but was just feelin’ it. I think the game really shaped a lot of my personality since now I love to try new things without being afraid of failure.

21. What’s your #1 professional pain point?

Choosing which free cuisine I want for lunch. Do I go Chinese or do I play the field? Seriously, we are so lucky to have amazing food and facilities teams.

22. Who do you look up to the most?

My pops. He genuinely loves people and making them happy. You could be trying to mug him and you’d end up buying him a cup of coffee and inviting him over for dinner. He always tries to see the good in people and tries to make life as happy as possible.

23. Are you a dog or cat person?

Dog. I live a wuff life.

24. Coke or pepsi?

Thums Up - so I guess that’s Coke since they own it. Thums Up is a soda you get in India and I have a lot of childhood memories attached to it. And yes, there is no “B” in Thums :)

25. Childhood nickname?

Lil G. I was short and my name started with G.

26. Proudest professional accomplishment?

The Secret Sauce eBook: How LinkedIn Uses LinkedIn for Marketing. It was a cross-functional effort and one of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions' top performing pieces of content last year.

27. How do you measure success in your role?

ROI? Kidding - I set goals for myself and check in now and then to see where I’m at. Besides that I do a lot of self-reflection to see if I am happy with myself and the environment I’ve created for myself.

28. Coolest work trip?

I went to Singapore and India last year to share my best practices with the marketers out there and learn about their business needs and how we can best support them from the opposite side of the world. I also got to spend quality time with many relatives and eat some delicious food.

Outro goes here. Stay tuned for the next one blah blah blah.

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