Tag Archives: social networking

LinkedIn– Real Value, Tangible Business Benefits– Or, Big Waste of Time: Craft LinkedIn Strategy That Yields Results…

Does LinkedIn provide– ‘real value’, ‘tangible business benefits’… or, is it just a ‘big waste of time’? As of June 2013, LinkedIn reported more than 238 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories. The LinkedIn site is available in 20 languages, estimated 65.6 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 178.4 million globally…

The membership grows by approximately two new members every second. About a third of the members are in the U.S. and 11 million are from Europe. With 20 million users, India has the fastest-growing network of users as of 2013. The Netherlands has the highest adoption rate per capita outside the U.S. at 30%. LinkedIn recently reached 4 million users in UK, 1 million in Spain, and nearly 1 million in Pakistan. In January 2013, countries with most LinkedIn users were: U.S. with 74 million members, India with 20 million members, UK with 11 million members, Brazil with 11 million members, Canada with 7 million members, Australia with 4 million members, UAE with 1.3 million members…

But, is LinkedIn a big waste of time; well maybe… According to Paul Lange; an early adopter of LinkedIn, says LinkedIn has become less relevant… it was a great way of finding people, it was like an online Rolodex but it has gradually become less effective and relevant in the business landscape… According to Jason Alba; don’t waste time on LinkedIn– don’t dabble, tinker, or wait for reward. Get in there, do it right, set up your ‘profile’, be proactive, make networking connections… Use the tool! 

According to Tara Alemany; No, LinkedIn is not a waste of time, when focus on the power parts of it! Although ‘endorsements’ are a joke; people are endorsing me for skills I don’t even have. But, ‘recommendations’ are gold! Also, ‘groups’ can be great if people use them properly, and ‘direct contacts’ when done tactfully are priceless…

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In the article Is LinkedIn a Waste of Time? by Kate Jones writes: Is LinkedIn anything more than a resource for recruiters and job seekers? Is LinkedIn really linking you in? With more than 238 million members, including 4 million in Australia, a ‘profile’ on LinkedIn is like the modern-day equivalent of a business card. But how many of those users have benefited from LinkedIn? A common complaint among LinkedIn members is the proliferation of spam, fake users, and untruthful credentials on profiles…

According to Tudor Marsden-Huggins; it’s becoming increasingly common for people to lie about or exaggerate their skills and experience on their ‘profile’… people are a bit more flexible with the truth… LinkedIn just doesn’t have the rigor… According to Danielle Di-Masi; my estimate is that 95% of Australian LinkedIn members are not using the networking site effectively… there’s a lot of set-and-forget…

There are two different camps of people using LinkedIn: The first group is people who will only connect with people they know, and the other group will connect with anyone, because they want to reach out, expand numbers… According to Tara Commerford; it’s still the best place for business people to build their professional brands, increase online visibility and grow their networks… Top five tips for using LinkedIn: Maximize your ‘profile’. Set up a company page. Grow your network. Find the right people. Be part of the conversation…

In the article Don’t Waste Your Time on LinkedIn by Alison Doyle writes: If you’re not going to do it right, there is no point wasting your time (and everyone else’s) on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is ‘the’ site for professional networking. Everyone, for example; must have a full LinkedIn ‘profile’, must connect with everyone they know, must join LinkedIn ‘groups’, and must use LinkedIn for job searching when they are in the market for a new job…

That said, LinkedIn is not going to work if you don’t identify yourself… I’ve received several invitations to connect, in the last week, from people who didn’t identify themselves (i.e., anonymous)… Now, asking me to connect with someone who has a LinkedIn ‘profile’ with ‘private’ or ‘human resources manager’ instead of their name– isn’t going to work. I have no clue who they are, and I wasn’t going to try to figure it out.

Most people, including; prospective employers, wouldn’t be interested in connecting either. LinkedIn is for ‘real’ people to connect with each other– that’s what makes it so successful and such a terrific networking tool… If confidentiality is a concern simply be careful: Connect with only people you know, well…

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In the article LinkedIn Is a Waste of a Sales Person’s Time! by Lee B. Salz writes: There are many misconceptions about LinkedIn. It’s not just for job searches or networking. It’s a unique lead generation platform… I continue to be amazed at the number of sales people who feel that LinkedIn doesn’t provide any value to them. Yet, these same people spend countless hours on Facebook telling people– what they ate for breakfast, when they are leaving for work…

LinkedIn provides sales people ‘unique’ lead generation opportunities; the operative word is unique, which means the approach must be geared to the business network… For starters, you must be positioned as thought leader in your industry, i.e., an expert that provides real value… So review your LinkedIn ‘profile’ and than ask: What message is being conveyed by your ‘profile’? This is where many sales people get stuck; they try to use the LinkedIn ‘profile’ for multiple purposes, for example; networking with friends, leaving the door open for a job search, business development…

The ‘profile’ has no clear message, and that approach doesn’t work. You must ask yourself: Why are you on LinkedIn and what are you seeking to accomplish? If your plan is to use LinkedIn for lead generation or business development, then your approach must be linear. Your ‘profile’ and ‘recommendations’ should clearly position your role in your industry… Remember, your ‘profile’ serves as the foundation for everything you do on LinkedIn: All roads lead back to this page… With your ‘profile’ developed then next join ‘groups’. Again, the goal is to be linear… Once you are accepted into a ‘group’ there is a number of things you can do. But remember, your mission is to provide real value first and not just seek to get buyers. Resist the temptation to hawk your product, service… Give real value first!

In the article Is Social Media a Complete Waste of Time? by Drew M Edwards writes: It’s no secret that social media has been one of the biggest developments in marketing for business over the past decade. Make no mistake about it if you want to dominate your market, then social media is just one of the tools you need to utilize and master… But if what you’re doing now isn’t generating any leads…then ‘stop’!

Then ask yourself; how do you make it work? The answer is a simple but critical, you must have a shift in mindset: You must ‘stop’ thinking of social media as a place to network and ‘start’ thinking of it as a marketing tool, first and foremost… It’s a subtle distinction but a huge difference… To generate leads from social media you must shift from talking about yourself– to asking and listening on how you can help your customers achieve results… In other words, as with all effective marketing you must focus on ‘benefits’ for the customer, rather than ‘benefits’ for you…

Now, don’t get me wrong– some prospects-customers are interested in what you do in your spare time, and what you’ve done in the past– so adding a human touch gives credibility and makes you more likeable. But, that must be a comparatively small percentage of what you ‘post’. So rather than talking about what you do in your spare time; talk about how you can help your customers get results… Talk about your experience and results that you have already delivered to your other customers…

Many people use LinkedIn the way the Vikings invaded Europe. The Vikings weren’t very interested in networking or building professional relationships. Their main prerogative was to loot-pillage until they got tired and went home. So how is that related? According to Paul Crompton; picture this: a recent graduate is looking for a job and sets up a LinkedIn account with a vague idea that it’ll help. They upload a picture, and copy-paste chunks of their CV into the boxes provided. They write their phone number-email address and wait for the calls to come flooding in. Except, they hardly ever do. Why? Because this approach just doesn’t work…

According to Anna DiTommaso writes: LinkedIn ‘group’ is an excellent tool, in theory. Active involvement with the right ‘group’ has lead to some of my largest and best relationships… However, like many things in theory, it doesn’t take much to ruin what could be a great networking tool. You probably have joined a LinkedIn ‘group’ and you have good reason, for example; you’re looking to connect with like-minded people who share your professional interests. Or, you want an impressive ‘group’ listed on your ‘profile’ for status. Or, you want to find channels for getting new worthwhile information…

However, once you’re in the seemingly promising ‘group’, it appears that other people join the LinkedIn ‘group’ for entirely different reasons, for example; shameless plugging-selling of their own products, services… Or, one more place to spam the world. Or, an impressive ‘group’ that’s listed on their ‘profile’ increases status! (i.e., not so different from you)… According to Mike Morrison; LinkedIn is a waste of time, if you are inconsistent, don’t have a marketing plan, and invest the wrong amount of time and effort…

The top proven strategies for ensuring that LinkedIn adds value to your business are: Relevancy– ad hoc just doesn’t work; relevancy is everything… Consistency– information that’s clear, concise; people know the subject that you are talking about and expect it… Transparency–being honest, if you are promoting your materials say so, and if it’s an affiliate say so… but, just promote things, ideas… which are of value to your group: The ‘wrong strategy’ can hurt you even more than ‘no strategy’.

Remember; if you are attracting people who are not interested in what you are doing, then this is worse than useless– you are just wasting time, energy, effort… not to mention opportunity! ‘Done right’ you can quickly double the effectiveness of your LinkedIn presence; it’s all about– regularity, relevancy, consistency, transparency. But most important, you must develop a well crafted and effective LinkedIn strategy, plan… with timely execution.

Social Networking for Business Doesn’t Work: Have a Plan, Dont Work the Room, Be Selective, Focus on Few, Follow-Up…

Networking Doesn’t Work: Working the virtual and physical room– shaking dozens of hands, having endless small-chat conversations, collecting hundreds of business cards… Forget it: It’s not the silver bullet, re-think your networking.

Most people don’t have a real network… most people don’t know how to network… most people don’t follow up… most people think growing their network list is networking. Most are on the hunt to get more business cards, collect more LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends… accumulate all that data… and for Zilch?

According to Eric V. Holtzclaw; number one rule is to stop thinking about networking as ‘networking’. Networking should not be about meeting as many people as possible in as short amount of time. There is no glory in returning to the office with a handful of business cards if nothing comes from your efforts, and there is no need to continually add to your LinkedIn connections unless you can establish a meaningful relationship with each new connections. Instead, think about value; what value can you provide to each of your contacts and each of them to you… what resource or information can you share… it’s a two-way street

Have a Plan: Who, What, Where, How… Be Selective: Pick events, social media, online communities that are right for you and your business and meet quality people who are interesting and interested…

Focus on Only a Few: Pick one or two people at any given event, and spends your time really getting to know them, and potentially connecting with the rest of their networks. Seeking to establish a quality relationship with a few people provides the greatest payback for your efforts…

It’s About Follow-Up: There’s a philosophy that says if you don’t follow-up with someone within 10 days after meeting them it was never meant to happen… follow-up determines the people who are really serious about establishing a relationship and those that just connecting for the sake of connecting…

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In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Dave Clarke writes: The first and biggest mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking without really understanding the meaning of networking. They attend group meetings swapping business cards with everyone and broadcasting their message… they join online networks, and putting together a fancy profile, and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work, and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.

Some think they may need to do something differently, so they get some training– how to work the room and how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. Then, they do the rounds again and wait for the avalanche of new clients to contact them by email, phone, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook… Again; this doesn’t work and a few more conclude that networking doesn’t work. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t just dive in: Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. You need to be committed to investing the time to develop relationships and create a      network of advocates… Don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers or simply post a profile online and come away with business– it just doesn’t work like that!
  • Build networking into your overall marketing and business plans: It pays to plan ahead; if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve with your networking, then how can others help you? Plan your activities and look for advocates… the more you niche your target market(s), the better… identify other people or categories likely to have access to your target market(s).
  • Understand how to explain what you do: When asked; what do you do? Present your proposition confidently and consistently– your target market, problems you solve and your stories. People do not buy what you do; they buy into why you do it. It’s your passion and enthusiasm that engages and not a clever elevator pitch.
  • Don’t ignore your existing network: The cornerstone of your networking activities should be the people you have worked with or already done business; colleagues,      customers, suppliers… Invest time in these important relationships…
  • Identify who you need to add to your network: If your existing network is not big enough to generate enough word of mouth to achieve your plan then you need to build your network. Ask yourself who else is likely to have access to and influence with your target market(s). Then find where they network and try out those networking groups.
  • Find the networks that suit you: Once you find those networking groups try them out first, then only join the groups that are most productive. People become advocates for those that they know, like, trust…
  • Become an advocate for others, first: Take time to develop the relationships with key members of your network. Become an advocate for them. And, guess what? What goes round comes round. People will eventually become advocates for you, and this is where the networking dividend really pays-off!

In the article Why Networking Doesn’t Work by Maribeth Kuzmeski writes: Networking, according to those who do it successfully (i.e., meaning– they have gained significant new business from the activity of networking) is not about collecting and giving out business cards, and it’s not about finding people who may be good prospects for your business…

Successful networking is about finding and cultivating potential advocates, people who will help you reach your goals, and it’s not about finding your next hot prospect. If you go about networking with an eye toward finding prospects, it’s a lose-lose; you won’t sell them anything and you will turn them-off; guaranteed. But if you go about networking with an eye toward finding and cultivating advocates, you will achieve a totally different result.

An advocate is someone who is already well-connected and may or may not ever become your customer… An advocate might be your neighbor, social media connection, member of your church, college buddy, your non-profit group… A single advocate can bring you multiple customers, while one potential prospect at a networking event will often result in one frustrating experience and zero sales…

So, who do know who might become an advocate? Think about it; who is well-connected in your community, your industry, your company, an existing customer, target market… Think outside the box. Who is in a position to introduce you to potential customers? Make a list of 20 potential advocates. Then, check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook… and decide how you will reach out to them… not to sell them something but simply to get to know them; just connect.

Give them a chance to get to know you. It takes a bit of patience and it most likely will not bring immediate gratification. But if you can find someone to act as your advocate, your efforts will be repaid many times over.

network OrganizationTypesGraphBNAS-Success1In the article When Networking Doesn’t Work: No Value in Just Touching Base by Trent writes: The key lesson that many people miss out on when they try to build and maintain professional connections is that without ‘value’, there is no real connection... Making empty contact doesn’t provide any value for anyone: And, you’re largely wasting your time and theirs… most important, you won’t build anything of value out of it. Instead, seek to make contacts with value; pass along value and you’ll get value in return… Here are a few tactics:

  • Never make contact unless you can contribute something of value: Don’t ask someone you only lightly know to go out for coffee unless you have a genuine purpose in doing so– and saying ‘Hi’ isn’t that purpose. Don’t waste your time, and certainly don’t waste  theirs.
  • Knowledge is often best thing you can offer– so offer it: If you have a useful piece of information that you’re sure someone else could get value out of, share it. By sending along something actually useful, you add value to their lives– and their connection to you becomes stronger because they now see you as more valuable.
  • When you pass along some value, let them know what you’re doing – and also ask about what they’re doing: A quick paragraph saying, what are you up to? And perhaps referencing the last big matter (or event) that you’re aware, which they were involved is a great way to find to keep relationship open and communication flowing.
  • Make mutually beneficial connections whenever possible: If you observe that one person’s need would be met with another person’s assets or skills; connect them together. It only takes you a minute, but if that connection provides mutual value for both parties, you’ll strengthen your relationship to both parties; it’s a win-win-win.
  • Suggest that when they’re in a bind, they should let you know, try to be helpful: Let people know that when they’re having issues, looking for solutions… they should let you know. Even if you can’t help them listening might useful, or you might know someone else who might be helpful. Become a resource…

A fundamental reason that networking doesn’t work is that most people lack a plan. They are not systematic or disciplined about which events they attend, why they attend them, what they are trying to achieve, how they will follow through after the event… According to David Nour; the critical first three areas in which networking fails are; purpose, goals, and plan (PGP)... Networking is not simply a noble exercise, but an important activity to create a preferential competitive advantage and it must not be left to chance…

According to kathleenchester; I rarely see networking work well and the majority of business people typically, only network sporadically (e.g., ‘pitch and run’) and they rarely get many relationships through their networking efforts… Networks should be developed to create strategic relationships… Where you partner and work together on long-term basis, and mutually support each other… Where you leverage each others’ centers of influence and tap into and connect with each others audiences…

According to Randy Gage; the three reasons why network marketing doesn’t work for most people are: 1.) 90% of people don’t follow the system! 2.) 9% of people follow the system but have wrong expectations!  3.) 1% of people follow the system but have poor skill set… According to David Nour; relationship creation alone won’t suffice; regardless of how many cups of coffee or lunch visits you schedule. The savvy professionals find opportunities to monetize their business relationships by bridging their ‘relationship creation’ with ‘relationship capitalization’.

Bridging this gap allows all parties to benefit and share economic value of the relationship. Be creative! It’s not just about how wide your network is, or how deep your network is, but how strong each relationship is…

 

Business Networking Essentials: Its Who-Knows-You … plus Knows-What-You-Know… NOT…Who-You-Know…

“Contrary to popular belief, networking isn’t about racing around the room handing out business cards and trying to close deals – networking is about building solid business relationships that are mutually beneficial. To accomplish this you have to focus on what you can do to help the people you meet.”

Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential customers. Business networking is a long-term strategy and its purpose is to increase business revenue… Businesses are increasingly using business networking and social networks as a means of growing their circle of business contacts and promoting themselves.

People do business with people they like, know, and trust and networking allow professionals to build up their circle of valued and trusted business partners. Businesses are rapidly expanding globally and networking is an essential part of their strategic initatives to develop key contacts around the world… The world has gotten smaller, and through your networking activities you are surprisingly close to critical information, resources, and people…

In the article “Five Secrets for Successful Business Networking” by Kristi Blicharski writes:  With the climb in popularity over the last few years of online business networking and social media platforms, the popularity and number of in-person networking events have also increased, offering infinite opportunities for those who take the initiative to venture out and see what’s happening in the business world, away from the computer screen.

In addition to large networking organizations, i.e., the general one-size-fits-all networking events; there are other groups that focus on particular niches or industries providing more targeted opportunities for meeting new contacts, mentors, and potential customers. So, how do the savviest networkers make the most of all these opportunities? They follow a few key practices that greatly increase the value of what they take away, as well as what they have to offer others they meet. For example:

  • Approach each event and the people you meet from the stand point of “What can I give?” rather than “What can I get?”
  • Don’t hand someone your business card within the first 2 minutes of meeting in an attempt to manufacture a contact without even knowing anything about the person. Random card dropping is generally not productive, and can be perceived as disingenuous.
  • When someone gives you his or her business card, think of it as a great compliment. Follow the traditional Japanese custom of treating the card, and therefore the person, with great respect.
  • Give the person or people you are talking to your full attention. This may sound like a no-brainer, but think of all the people whose eyes are darting around the room to see who else is there while they’re half listening to the people they’ve just met.
  • Your smile is one of your greatest commodities. It’s absolutely, 100% true, and I can’t stress it enough.

In the article “How to Profit From Networking” by Kelley Robertson writes: Networking functions provide the opportunity to expand contact, particularly when we create and nurture quality relationships. It is not enough to visit networking groups, talk to dozens of people, and gather as many business cards possible. Since every networking function has tremendous potential for new business leads; it’s critically important that you have a well-defined strategy to make networking profitable, such as:

  • Choose the right networking group or event.
  • Focus on quality contacts versus quantity..
  • Make a positive first impression.
  • Be able to clearly state what you do.
  • Follow up after the event.

In the article “Men vs. Women: Who Dominates Online Professional Networking?” by Kristin Burnham writes:  Which gender reigns supreme in the world of online professional networking? According to data from LinkedIn, it’s the men—both in the United States and across the globe. The reason: According to Nicole Williams, author of ‘Girl on Top’, women tend to equate networking with “schmoozing” or handing out business cards. “In reality,” she says, “[networking] is about building relationships before you actually need them.

To declare a winner, LinkedIn developed an “online professional networking savviness ranking,” a formula that examines the ratio of connections that men have versus those of women, and the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members. LinkedIn also sliced the data by industry, surfacing some interesting tidbits. In female-dominant industries, such as cosmetics for example, it’s the men who, once again, beat out the women in online professional networking.

According to LinkedIn, they’re the ones sending out more invitations to connect and they have larger networks. Other top industries in which men are savvier online professional networkers include medical practice; hospital and healthcare; law enforcement; and capital markets.

On the flip side, in male-dominant industries such as tobacco and ranching, female professionals are savvier networkers than their male counterparts. Other industries in which females dominate networking include; alternative dispute resolution; alternative medicine; and international trade and development. 

LinkedIn data analysts say this could be because women have to work harder to break into male-dominated industries, and vice versa. A few areas in which men and women were equally as savvy include: market research; media production; dairy; individual and family services; and paper and forest products.

In the article 5 Rules for Professional Social Networking Success” by Dan Klamm writes:  Social media is messy. Across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other Networks, we are connected to a mix of close friends, college buddies, high school classmates, co-workers, bosses, former bosses, I-met-you-at-a-party-once acquaintances, and people we’ve never even seen face-to-face.

It’s important to understand the particular platform that you’re using, as well as, the type of relationship you have with a person; before attempting to leverage that connection for professional gain.

Each social media platform has a certain reputation. For instance, LinkedIn is generally a ‘business’ site, while Twitter is more ‘laid back’ and often mixes professional and personal content. Respect the way that people use these sites. Adding a professional acquaintance as a friend on Facebook can be invasive, especially if that individual is a traditionalist who uses Facebook purely for personal contact with friends and family.

Likewise, asking an old friend for a recommendation on LinkedIn might create awkwardness, if the person has no experience with you in a professional capacity. When you approach someone for career help via social media, know what you want out of the interaction and ask specific questions that show you’ve done your research. Be direct!

In the article “Effective Networking for Busy People” by Buzzy Gordon writes: It is estimated that the average person knows about 250 people. And each of those people knows, in turn, another 250 or so people. This means that for each new person you meet, you gain access to a potential pool of 62,500 people separated from you by just two degrees!

Imagine the odds, then, that out of so many people, you would NOT find one person who would be a source of information about a better job, additional clients or customers, a speaking engagement or writing assignment, an investment opportunity, where to shop for better value, and much more.

Networking is one of the most profitable activities in which one can engage. Fortunately, like any endeavor, one can get more proficient at it with practice. Moreover, it takes very little time or effort to get it right, and a conscious decision to become a ‘networker’. Then, all it requires is a slight shift in attitude, and adopting one simple trifurcated rule: “Greet each new acquaintance with an openness to learn more about that person, a willingness to help, and an offer to stay in touch.”

This approach is equally applicable to every form of networking, whether in business or social contexts, and whether the encounter takes place in person or, as frequently happens today, online.  It pays to network in person, not only to meet new people, but also to keep your vital communications skills sharp.

If you feel you are too busy to go to networking events, attend only those vital to your professional or business standing. Make the best of chance and casual meetings that occur during the course of your normal workday.  The power of online networking is in the viral effect so unique to the Internet.  Lack of time is no longer an excuse for failing to “reach out and find someone”…

In the article “Online Professional Networking” by Gary H. Jacobs writes: In today’s uncertain business environment, online professional networking has become more important than ever before. In addition to the obvious use of maintaining a network of contacts in the event of a job loss, layoff, or business setback, these networks also provide access to:

  • Almost unlimited number of professional contacts.
  • Opportunityto help friends and colleagues.
  • Exchange ideas and materials outside of one’s normal circle of contacts.
  • Staying up-to-date with industry trends.
  • Establish a public profile and online identity.
  • Re-establish contact with long lost friends and colleagues.

In online business networking, the principles are much the same as networking in person. A networker must start out by giving information and expertise with no expectation of return. As a result, the networker will gain visibility and experience, both inside and outside of his or her industry, and will develop a reputation as someone who can help others.

According to Jan Vermeiren, networking expert, he refers to the networking cycle as “Giving-Asking-Thanking”. Networking has been around a long time, and that’s why it’s not only the way of the past, but the wave of the future. It’s where business marketing is going, and it’s where you need to go if you’re going to stay in the game.

As the great Wayne Gretzky’s father said, “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been”.  Whether you’re just starting out in your career, launching a new business, or advanced in your profession, effective networking know-how is one of the most important skills you can possess.

“Networking Rule of Two: Your goal for any type of networking event should be to meet 2 people that you’d like to get to know better. After the networking event you follow-up with these 2 people, 2 times”. ~Julie Wickert