Linkedin.com is a great social media platform which enables a person to network wide (make more connections) and network deep (turn online connections into offline business). As we discussed in the article "What do you do with a business card?", the third step in the business card process it to "Run the contact list through linkedin.com so you can see who knows who and leverage their relationship to build a new relationship for your business. Now that one exposure can lead to a 2nd or 3rd exposure through the use of the internet. This is one value proposition for linkedin.com but the biggest value proposition is the ability to read a profile (which is really an on-line resume) and view the testimonials/endorsements. We know that potential customers want to know how a potential contact can help them and the very best way to show the quality of work is through a testimonial of a current client. Linkedin.com has taken it a step further through connecting the linkedin.com profile with a website or email signature line. In the 21st century it is all about convergence..." This is how linkedin.com allows a person to build the network wide by making more connections. Wide does not really matter when it comes to the bottom line of revenue. (Source: www.examiner.com/article/what-do-you-do-with-a-business-card)
The bottom line of revenue is dependent on building networks deep. Social media is just a marketing tool to "becoming known by many" but business (the exchange of monetary values) is completed on hand shakes and signed contracts in face to face meetings. The questions are:
1) Who is the decision maker? 2) How is the business opportunity presented to the decision maker? Now, this is where technology is fun! In traditional companies, the administrative assistants acted as the gatekeepers to screen out the noise. A part of their job was to keep the decision maker focused by pre-screening the sales people and their business opportunities.
Now with the advent of this marketing tool (and the proper knowledge) sales persons are circumventing the administrative assistant screening process in a number of ways.
One of the three ways is to "pay to play" where linkedin.com users are able to send "Inmails" directly to the decision maker if they are on linkedin.com. At a cost of 19.95 per month, this is a very effective way to circumvent the gatekeepers to present the opportunity. Warning - This method only works if
1) The person appears credible. For example, the person has posted a professional picture and their profile has plenty of endorsements. 2) their network includes connections in which the prospect can ask questions for third party edification.
If this is not the case, one of the other methods of connecting to the decision maker should be employed.
Method 2 - Utilize the network Any one who has a first level connection, can ask the first level connection to connect them with their first level connection. That is the beauty of being able to see who knows who. This is not the most timely method as the person with the opportunity has to wait for their connection to read the email, then respond to the email, and then if they choose to, connect the person to the decision maker.
Method 3 - Utilize groups Linkedin has this little fabulous platform called groups! This is where the person with the opportunity can visually see how and where the decision maker is conducting business. Again, this is not the most timely method but it is highly effective! The key to this method is to attend an event where the decision maker is also attending. The person with the opportunity should join the group where the groups have "get-togethers", "meetups" or "networking events." That is where the person a with the opportunity has 30 seconds to pitch their idea and hopefully, book an appointment.
Happy going wide and going deep!
Nicole Newman is passionate about seeing businesses grow using technology tools that increase productivity. The digital divide is separating the United States into two communities: technology-savvy and technology-illiterate. With a Temple University bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems, she is armed with solutions.