Posts Tagged ‘ LinkedIn ’

Using Social Media Tools: LinkedIn as a Selling Tool

We’ve covered quite a bit of topics about how to set up Social Media accounts, demographics and details of how they work.

The question that seems to be arising now is “How do I use the tools?”

How to use LinkedIn for selling

Anyone who has been in sales for any amount of time has heard at some point the importance of developing “Rapport” with customers.  Selling, after all, is a process. There are various selling “systems” out there but all of them start with the first step: Rapport

Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.

There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as: matching your body language (i.e., posturegesture, etc.); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm. Some of these techniques are explored in neuro-linguistic programming.

The first time a salesperson has a meeting with a new “prospect” they are looking for things that they might have in common with the person.  This could be a hobby, an interest, or even a discussion about something in the office.  The main idea of building rapport is to demonstrate that you are “human” and not just interested in taking someone’s money. It’s about developing a level of trust.

Often times this step in the selling process is one of the most difficult and can be very time-consuming.  LinkedIn offers a solution.  By inviting a new “prospect” to connect with you on LinkedIn you can accomplish several steps in rapport building all at the same time. IF your profile is complete.

With a complete LinkedIn Profile your new contact can find out more about you, your hobbies, your interests, the books you’ve read, the recommendations you have received, and potentially know some people whom you are already connected to whom they trust.

Sandler Sales Systems Submarine: Rapport is the 1st Step

 

It’s actually pretty simple.

However, that’s why it’s of critical importance to complete your LinkedIn profile.  If you can’t communicate your experience, your background, or don’t have any recommendations, then you’re not going to be able to use this social media tool effectively.

Here’s what you should complete:

  1. Summary – Complete your summary.  It’s really what it sounds like.  Tell everyone your background and skill sets so they know your strengths.
  2. Profile Picture – A picture is worth thousand words.  It’s also helpful if you are meeting someone for the first time.  Now they know what you look like and you’re not saying “I have a blue jacket and wear glasses” Here’s a LINK to an older article about profile pictures LinkedIn that I think you’ll find useful.
  3. Experience – Merely putting down the company name and a your job title isn’t going to cut it.  If  you want to build rapport, you’ll need to add details about your experience.  If you have been in sales for any amount of time you will dread meeting someone for the first time and their expectations and yours about the nature of the conversation are 180 degrees apart.  What you do, what your experience is, is NOT what they are looking for to begin with.
  4. References – At some point in a sales career you will be asked for references.  References and recommendations are sometimes seen as a stall tactic. More often than not, it’s because the salesperson hasn’t developed enough rapport or trust with a prospect.  LinkedIn provides you with a ready-made way to provide references before the meeting.  That’s just one reason why you should be asking your most trusted connections, those whom you have had professional experiences with, for a recommendation.

Essentially, by using LinkedIn as a sales tool you “shorten the cycle.”  That first meeting, whether it be on the phone or in-person, tends to move forward with much more ease as both parties are already familiar with each other, have some rapport built, and can get down to the business at hand quicker. This makes everyone much more efficient in the use of their time.

There are several other items on your LinkedIn profile you want to look at as well, but these were covered in an earlier posting entitled “Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn” You may want to take a quick peek at the article if you haven’t already.

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you would like to discuss this in more detail feel free to contact us at our website: Rapid Production Marketing

 

Industrial Equipment Sales via Social Media

A shorter version of this article appeared in the American Machine Tool Distributor’s AssociationToolTalk” newsletter in October 2010 starting on Page 4

This article on social media is going to be a bit different than previous articles that have appeared in Tool Talk.  We’re going to address some of the core questions that the AMTDA membership has been asking:

  • “Is this just a fad? Should I just wait until the dust settles to get in?”
  • “What are the best Social Media places to be? Where are my customers?”
  • “I don’t have enough time to respond to emails, how am I going to manage these marketing efforts”
  • “How do I know what my ROI is? How do I measure it?”

Flashback 1993:

Q: “What’s your email address?”

A: “We don’t have one. We do everything by fax, That’s too new. We’re going to wait and see if people use it”

Is it a Fad?

Pew Study US Internet Users 2010

Social media is generating the same conversations today.  The big difference is that the “tools” to use and manage social media are expanding exponentially and will continue to expand.  The pace of change in the last 18 months in Social Media would be like moving from NC Tape Machines to full integration of MT Connect in the same time period.

“While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.”

-“Older Adults & Social Media”, Mary Madden, PEW Internet, August 27, 2010

….It’s not a fad.

Should I just wait to “get in?”

Customer: “Ok, So our first new 6 pallet Horizontal CNC hits my floor in 5 days, That’s going to be perfect. We want to move our two families of 10,000 parts/month onto them and ship 20,000 at the end of the month in 15 days before our competitor gets the work”

You already know that that is not realistic.  But that is the same kind of thinking that is taking place in Social Media.

“Hey, we can just set up a Twitter account in a few minutes”

Well, yes you can, but, just like the first time buyer of a machine tool, there’s still an awful lot to learn. The sooner you start learning, the farther in front of your competitors you’ll be.  This is a pro-active approach.  Too many b-to-b companies, particularly exhibitors at IMTS, took a reactive approach. They jumped in and created their “social media brand names” without first having personal accounts so they understood how it works.

So the best way to learn is to set up some social media personal accounts.

Start with your LinkedIn Profile.

  1. Does your profile web link say “My Company”  or contain your actual company name?
  2. Create a Company Page – it’s that little document icon next some people’s company name.

…get in now. Be Sure to read the article Social Media 101 for Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn for more details.

What are the best Social Media places to be as a Machine Tool Distributor?

  1. YouTube – It’s the simplest way to enable your sales force to have all of their product videos in one place.  You don’t need to re-create the wheel or even upload any videos.  You can go in and “favorite” your builder’s videos after you create your own channel.
  2. Twitter “Twitter’s like snack food: it tastes good, it’s fun to eat but there’s no nutritional value” In some sense, the above statement is true.  But with two  BIG caveats: It’s all in what you make of it, and, most importantly, it s FOUNDATION level application.  Without going into a lot of detail about API’s and tech jargon, what you need to know is that Twitter connects to almost everything. It’s like the junction box in an electrical system.
  3. 43% of U.S. companies will be blogging by 2012

    Blog“I don’t know what to write about, I don’t have content” Press releases, news articles, technical information…. Cut and paste.  There is lots of content available. Obviously, clear all of this with the content owners.  Actually a Blog is one of the very best things you can create. Think about this for a moment. When you type a search into Google, you don’t type just “CNC” you type what you are looking for: “cnc swiss screw machine multi axis.” You have learned over the years that by typing more information you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for in a topic.  This is called a “long tail search.” That’s very important to know because it’s how your customers find out about your company and your products. It becomes even more important because the new algorithms used by search engines are location based.  You’ve probably noticed that when you use a “long tail search” and you’re in Chicago you don’t get listings for many places in Europe.  That’s not because there aren’t places in Europe it’s because they are NOT near Chicago.

  4. Facebook“That’s for kids.” Step back from any preconceived notions and think about this from a business standpoint.  There is a war going on.  Two data collection monoliths, Facebook & Google, are each trying to outdo each other.  In April 2010 Facebook announced at their annual “F8” conference the “Open Graph”: That’s why you are seeing the “LIKE” button appear everywhere. Here’s why that’s important:  If you recall the first time you got a day planner you learned that you should not only put your business appointments down but also soccer games, weddings and personal events. Time management 101. Your life is 24 hours a day. Facebook at it’s core is personal. But your personal life affects your business and vice-versa. Facebook collects personal data and associates it with your interests. If your title is “CNC machinist,” it permits advertisers to target that. Although Google has a massive database, they have not “aggregated” demographics as deep down as Facebook. They are both competing for ad space. If you were at IMTS in Chicago and logged into Facebook, you may have seen some ads running.  But you would have only seen them if you were with in 5 miles of McCormick Place, between 7pm -10pm, were male, between 35-55, and had some keyword in your profile indicating you were in our industry. The “pay-per-click” cost .60 cents each and had a cap on the amount spent by the advertiser. Yes, you can do that level of targeted advertising. Creating a Facebook Page is a way to become “engaged’ and be in front of your customer when they get home from work.  The busiest time on Facebook is Wednesday and Friday evening, but we’ll talk about that more later…

Where are my Customers?

They are “IN” all for the above digital spaces and probably another 1,000 more.

Have you ever purchased something online?  Have you looked down at the product reviews and decided against the purchase of something because of the reviews?  Then, did you think  “Wow, I wonder why that manufacturer isn’t reading that and fixing it? They’re getting really bad press”  The problem is that the manufacturer may not even know about the comments to address them. But B-to-B  consumers ARE researching and engaging each other.

There are a number of free products out there to use to search for who’s talking about what.  I would recommend going to Social Mention and type in your company name and brands and see what appears.  You will find that you can drill down and drill down more and then drill down even more into exactly who is talking about what where.

“How do I manage all of these marketing efforts?”

“There’s an APP for that!”  Well, actually, there are a multitude of application dashboards so that you can see ALL of your social media sites.

Realize that the heavy users of Social Media are NOT online every minute.  They have done several things, which are very important to be aware of, as you ponder social media marketing:

1. They have “wired” their social media sites together.  In all reality you can only be in one place at a time.  Different users will be using different channels at the same moment.  You notice that when you channel surf on TV that you see the same commercials sometimes?  It’s just like that. In order to maximize your exposure you “connect” the sites to each other so you don’t have to post the same thing over and over again.

Remember when I explained that Twitter was a “junction box”? This is how it “connects” Twitter

permits the sharing between sites better than most any other social media site.

Here are a couple of examples of dashboard app’s:

2. They have Pre-programmed “Tweets” and announcements. If you already do a newsletter email or product announcements electronically, you have content to use.

Two very good examples of how this can be done is to take a look at Criterion Machine Works or TechniksUSA Blog sites.  Once a blog is posted it is automatically tweeted, posted on their Facebook page and appears in a number of social media outlets.

………………Automatically

The Blogs can be programmed to post at a given time and, once the switch is flipped on the timer, everything else happens seamlessly.

That however, is not where it ends.  Unlike just sending it out there and hoping people read it, now your customer can interact back with you.

Think of social media like your cell phone. You should check it a couple times a day with your dashboard application and see if you have messages, comments, or questions and then “engage” the customer in some “conversation.”

Measuring ROI

Just as there are a number of dashboard app’s there are an innumerable number of “analytics” to gage and measure success in real time.

In fact, some of the dashboard applications I mentioned earlier have the measurement tools built right into them. Measuring is actually pretty easy.

Without going into a tremendous amount of detail on measurement tools, be aware that the list of measurement tools practically exceeds the number of social media outlets that exist.  Just for Twitter there are sites like Analytic.lyTwifficiency and Twitteranalyzer. Facebook has built-in analysis tools for their Page.  Your ROI is really going to be determined by what you put into the effort.  Just like a salesperson, the more you engage, the more return.  If you sit in the office and just send out emails and don’t follow up to engage into the conversation not much is going to happen.  “Engaging” is the key to ROI and the analysis tool sets are all going to measure this kind of activity and report on it.

Where to Start

“I’ve gotta interpolate down and then ramp into this corner with a ½” tool at an 8 thou chip load and I need a 32 finish. Which is better Linear guides vs. box ways? How’s your look ahead on that?”

Learn by Doing (National Training Laboratories)

The first time you heard that it would have been like a foreign language.  Social Media also has it’s own language:

“I put the hashtag in the summary blog post & the metatag to increase my SEO”

So where do you start?  You can’t arrive in our industry green and expect to know everything. Same thing applies for social media.

Start with a personal account on:

  • Twitter –  Set up Twitter account and follow some people. You can follow @RPMconsultants where we tweet about social media or my personal Twitter account, @bernardtmartin where I tweet about Education, STEM, F1, Economics and Foreign Affairs. You can then check out who we follow, learn some basics, ask some questions.
  • Facebook – Set up a personal account, be sure to set your account settings to “friends only” across all categories and then search for “International Manufacturing Technology Show” or “AMTDA” on Facebook.  Look at whom they have made favorites on their Company page.  Hit the “LIKE” button.

The first step is really about “learning” about how to use these tools for your business.

What NOT to do & Where to begin

  • DON”T go out and set up accounts in YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for your company right this minute! That’s would be like a customer saying “I want to buy the CNC with the Green Paint, I like that color.”
  • Set up your personal accounts and then go to “Knowem” Search for some available names.  I’ve talked to many machinery distributor owners and employees over the years and heard “Yea, our website name is WAY too long, but it’s what we’re stuck with.”

Unlike registering your web address, your URL, with a service that reports to one central agency for verification, called ICANN, there is no single service registration of your “Social Media Brand name”

Places like Knowem allow you to search for brand names.

You want to use the same Brand name in ALL of your social media spaces.

There are several considerations in the selection of THAT name:

  • Shorter is better. Remember Twitter on permits 140 characters in “tweets” You don’t want to eat up half of it with your company name and be limited on your message.
  • Use the same name in all social media spaces. That bears worth repeating. Remember that long tail search discussion?

Comments and questions are always welcome.  If you would like more information on what we do at Rapid Production Marketing be sure and check out our website or you can drop us an email bernie@rpmconsultants.us



Social Media Marketing: Getting Started

There’s a big difference between watching Golf and playing Golf at a professional level. Social Media is no different that other professional efforts: Once you become in engaged in it you learn that it’s probably not as simple as you first thought.

In the course of talking to prospective clients I’ve found a mixed bag of comments that all go something like “I got plenty of people who are on Facebook all the time, you can create an account in 5 minutes”

Selecting your Social Media Brand NAME

Social Media Mess

Unlike when you registered your website with a registrar for your unique URL, which was all overseen via ICANN, there is NO single place that you can register all of your SOCIAL MEDIA brand name. The key to words there are “Brand NAME” and not “Brand NAMEs”.  You have to create a profile in each SM space you want to present your brand individually.

As a marketer you already know the importance of using consistent images and names.  It becomes even more important in social media because you want people to find you when they use a search engine.  If you have a mixed bag of names your message may not reach the people you want to reach and, like two ships passing in the night, you will never engage in conversation. One very good service to use to begin the process is Knowem. However, Knowem doesn’t help you establish your brand in your industry specific niche forums.

Read the “Terms of Service” (TOS)

I’ve talked to some very well-known major companies about their Social Media efforts.  When we sit and look at their SM spaces we discover that they’ve “jumped into” social media “Oh yea, we’re there!” But then we dig into it only to find that they have set up their company name as personal account and not created a COMPANY profile at all.  They at risk with not only with the loss of the SM account but also the loss of all of the conversations that they are engaged in already.

Just like entering a new foreign market there are cultural “rules” that should be followed.  By not showing respect for the local culture, and taking the time to understand it in advance, you risk creating a negative brand image that could take years to recover from to get back to zero.  Don’t burn your bridges and not even realize that you’re doing it.  Social Media spaces have their own culture. You are entering a cyber world.  Be sure to have a good understanding of how things work before you make the trip.

Linking your Social Media

Once you have selected a brand NAME in your various spaces, you will need to have a good understanding of how the various “Status Updates”, “Wall Posts”, “Tweets”, “Blog Posts”, etc all connect together.  The people you want to reach may be in one SM space while you’re posting, at that moment, in another. Determining which posts are shared and which are not becomes a very important decision.

There’s quite bit more to think about that I’ve put into the slide show below. Take a peek at it:

The above slideshow presentation should give you an overview of how to start your social media efforts.  It outlines the reach and scope of social media (SM) for those new to the space.

Getting in & Staying IN the Space

Once you have gotten into the new cyber world to market your brand, stay acutely aware that the landscape in social media is changing.  I’ve compared it to the 1849 Gold Rush in San Francisco.  Everyone is new, Everyone is from somewhere else.  What was the “best place” last week is not the “best space” this week.  That’s led some to say “Let’s wait, and not be on the bleeding edge”  The Bleeding Edge was several years ago and it was yesterday. The onslaught of new users hourly entering the social media cyber world is beyond compare.

Here’s an example, when I started using Slideshare as an add-in app on my LinkedIn profile it was NOT a social network.  It was a place to put slideshows to pull up on customer & client computers.  NOW, it’s a social network…. and the added functionality is expanding weekly it seems.  Every social media site is doing the same.  As they grow, they are becoming more and more niche, more and more industry specific, more and more topic specific.  Getting IN is critical at this point so that you, and your company, can establish your brand as a thought leader and engage and develop relationships…. but, you MUST stay engaged and continue to drill down as the individual spaces evolve.

I recently had a conversation with a client about YouTube and how it has evolved.  I showed them Don Fitchett‘s YouTube Channel Business Industrial Network. Don has been in that space (and many many others) for some time. He has over 430,000 upload views, has 1500 subscribers staying current with his latest news and he has over 5,000 friends.  That didn’t happen overnight.  Don is continuously engaged with his clients and potential clients.  Now ask yourself two questions:

  • If I wait for the dust to settle how many customers might my competitors pick up and I won’t know about it?
  • If I jump into the space and don’t understand the culture, or have a plan, what will it cost me?

Conclusion and Take-Aways

The conclusion that should be drawn after reviewing this is that developing a structured Social Media Strategy and Tactical implementation plan is crucial to your company’s success.

Without a plan you may find yourself creating a negative brand image within the space and end up spending more money trying to undo what you created and start over.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

– Special Thanks to @RonDavies for blogging about “Knowem”
– “Social Mess” infographic by Tom Cuniff

Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn

As a follow up to my previous posting “What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?” Several people have written and asked for some more details.  I realize that I presented an awful lot of connections and links and it left some folks completely new to the subject dazed and confused.

I’m realizing that many of the folks connected to me only have a few connections, incomplete profiles and probably aren’t getting much out of LinkedIn. In this posting I’m going to explain what social media outlets we chose  as an industrial distributor. I’ll break this down into the social media categories, and then walk you through some of the basic steps of getting started.  I also try to give you a time estimate of how long it will take you to get the “basics” in place.

Out of all the social media sites available we chose three outlets. Hopefully after you are done with all three parts of this posting you’ll feel less like the blind men discovering the elephant.

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

“Why not  Facebook?”

The first question you are probably asking is “Why not  Facebook?”  Well, until 48 hours ago when FB held their annual F8 Conference in San Francisco, FB was great for hooking up with friends and keeping your personal life separate from your business life.  Many people want to keep it that way.

We decided that Facebook is a great medium for a company that markets to the public but the industrial sector is

  1. Not using it for business.
  2. Has it blocked in their firewalls.
  3. It’s just not the place for us.

Your decision may be different.  However, there are a few things that Mark Zuckerberg announced that are worth being aware of, but we’re going to watch this evolve before we embrace it.  However, if you get the chance, do click on the link and watch the video announcement.  That will help you when I talk about the “social graph”. If you don’t have the time to check it out here’s the synopsis:

Your Facebook page today, tomorrow the world.

Mark Zuckerberg announced aggressive plans at the f8 conference on Thursday to integrate Facebook into every aspect of the Web. Plans include opening up Facebook’s Social Graph and allow embedding social experiences.

Until recently, sites can store information about Facebook users for 24 hours. Zuckerberg said that opening up the Social Graph removes the time restriction, allowing sites to customize their features for FB users.

The Facebook “like” feature will also be released as a plug in. Users who come across a website can click on the “like” button and share the information with their Facebook friends instantly.

Zuckerberg said at the conference that he expects to serve 1 billion “like” buttons within the first 24 hours after the plug-ins launch.

Immediate Action Items

Before we delve into the nitty gritty details there are  a couple of actions steps you may want to take:

Step 1: Open your network. Remove your firewall for your employees so that they can gain access to LinkedIn, Twitter & YouTube.  Some larger companies have some functions open and others closed.  As an example, if you can access LinkedIn, but not get into the groups, then there is not going to be ANY conversations. (remember, Conversations is one of the 4C’s discussed in the last blog posting).

Step 2: Appoint a Leader.  It’s going to be very important that someone take charge of the effort if it’s not going to be you.  If you do choose to set up a Twitter site tho’ to stay in touch, be sure to be aware of the do’s and don’ts discussed in part 2.  Keep in mind you can make it a team effort and several people can be in charge of different efforts at different times. If you choose to go with the “Team” route be sure to set up a schedule for who’s doing what and when…. and stick to it.

Step 3: Create a Persona. There are several divergent schools of thought on whether or not Companies should have their logo as the profile picture, whether there should be a person’s name associated with the your social media sites, etc.  I suspect it really depends on the size of your company and what you hope to accomplish. At Highlander Tool, we elected to use the Company Name and Logo as our SM presence.

LinkedIn (Total Time: 15-45 minutes, depending on your profile)

Start by clicking the link below.  Hit the back button when you’re done viewing.  It’s probably a good idea to open another window to edit your LinkedIn account while you go through the slides. I’m going to go into more detail below about slides 29 & 30 so don’t worry if you don’t get it at first.

Getting started with LinkedIn is very simple, and, since you’re probably reading this from my LinkedIn profile connection you probably have at least the start of your profile complete.  Regardless, take a look at this slideshow and make sure that you haven’t missed anything.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on LinkedIn since my neighbor told me about when she was a beta tester (Thanks Cindy!) It’s been interesting watching it evolve and content features been added.  However, that’s also a problem.  New features get added that are great and you don’t always know about them until you see the changes in your other contacts.  Which is a good reason to look at your connections btw 😉

Ok, watch the slide show in the link above, Complete the basic steps and then we’ll move on. If you haven’t watched it yet.

——————-> LinkedIN Basics

LinkedIn Profile Company Mouseover

LinkedIn Profile Company Mouseover

Slide 29 & 30 are the ones that you should take a close look at. If you haven’t set up your Company Profile DO IT!

Once it’s complete you’ll have a great mouse-over feature so people can find out more about your company. I’m constantly surprised how many business owners in my connections have never take the quick 5 minutes to create this free advertising spot.

Why is my Company Profile so important? GROUPS!

Having your company profile in place is important for Groups.  But before we dive into groups, look again to the right and notice the”Connections” area of the upper profile.  You already know that you can click on the Connections to see who you might know in your friends connections.  This is afterall a social network.

If you where to scroll all the way to the very very bottom of my profile you would find the following statement.  The items in bold are the important part.

“I prefer to only be contacted by people I know, have met personally, or have had business, professional contact. or dialogue with in some forum. I welcome new connections from members of groups that I am actively involved in but I prefer not to connect until we have communicated. I am not an open networker and I do not wish to submit my connections to “business trolling”. I hope you understand and appreciate my position on this issue.

As it was explained to me when I first learned about LinkedIn: “It’s like a networking group based upon the “Six Degrees of Separation”

Wikipedia says: “LinkedIn
The LinkedIn professional networking site operates on the concept of how many steps you are away from a person you wish to communicate with. The site encourages you to pass messages to people in your network via the people in your 1st-degree connections list, who in turn pass it to their 1st-degree connections.”

LinkedIn has blossomed into a very useful business tool with Groups and Answers sections, but the basic premise of the site is whom do you know that I know, how can I help you network and conversely how can you help me network.

That said, I am wary of people whom I link to who have their connections locked down. IMHO, it flies in the face of the very basic concept of LI as a networking tool. If you invite me to connect, and your connections are closed, I will send you an email in this regard.

You may have your reasons for locking your connections and I certainly respect that. I feel that I am connecting with people whom I respect and who I may contact one day with opportunities for their professional advancement or, conversely, whom I might contact with a question. For that reason I will only maintain connections with those people who make their connections available to their 1st level” contacts.

I was sent an invitation to connect with someone who’s newsletter I have been receiving for many years.  I found the information very informative and helpful in many cases.  However, when I talked to him about his locked down connections he told me “I don’t want my competitors to see who I know”  I explained that

  • A. I wasn’t a competitor,
  • B. Perhaps he should be connected to his competitors if he is that unsure of his customer relationships and
  • C. It’s difficult for me to trust people who don’t seem to trust anyone else, as I find that the people most paranoid about trust are almost always the most untrustworthy people I meet.

Industrial Channel Groups

Groups (Total Time to find &  join: 5 minutes)

David Erickson has a great blog post entitled “LinkedIn Best Practices for Business“.  It’s worthwhile to check out if you have a few minutes to read more.  But, if you don’t here’s what he says about Groups:

“Join industry groups. Search for and join industry-related LinkedIn groups , even if there is no activity within them. The icons for those groups will show up on your profile which tells people at a glance that you are involved in your industry and presumably knowledgeable about it. It also creates a connection between you an anyone else who is a member of that group. If the group is active, join in the conversation where appropriate. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your  expertise.”

I’ve recently had a discussion with several fellow members of the ISA – Industrial Supply Association about the groups function.  Several fellow members are connected to me but are not in any of the groups.  There’s a conference next weekend and there’s some wonderful dialogue taking place within the group.  Connections are being made.  I’ve been in the situation before. I’ll run into two people who I know at an event.  One of them will pick up a conversation that we’ve been having online.  Finally, a question is raised by the other person, who we are both friends with “When did you guys talk about all this?”  We explain that it’s all online via a  GROUP.  “Hey, maybe you should join it, You’re a member aren’t you?”

If you’re a member of any of the groups that I’m a member of you can either click on my profile or you can search for other groups under the group drop down or the search area to the right of the header on your LinkedIn page.

I DON'T know his email address! I haven't seen him in years!

Invitation Filtering

As you’re searching through some of your groups, you happen upon an old college friend.  You lost track of him years ago and are pleasantly surprised to find him on Linked in.

You click “Add Christopher to your network” and you see the screen at the right.  Oh the frustration!  How am I going to know his email address if I haven’t seen him in years!

It makes it pretty difficult to reconnect. Now, what happens if you meet someone and they’re looking for a product or service, and you know just the person in one of your groups who does EXACTLY what they’re looking for.  You click the “Add Christopher to your network” to contact him and Voilà!  Turns out you where trying to do a good deed, but looks like that business is going somewhere else…. and it’s all because of the settings are closed down.

These are my settings. Where are yours set?

Starting your own Group

Once you’ve mastered some of these basics you soon start to realize that maybe you yourself should start a group.  If you’re a manufacturer, you could start one only for your distributors, if you’re a machine tool builder, one just for your dealers, a distributor, one for your customers. Agents can start groups for their distributors… there are really endless ways you can use the group functions to create the “conversations” so often talked about in social media.

If you start a group. Your Invitation Filtering should look like what you see above.  Otherwise, your members aren’t going to be able to connect with you. There’s some great ideas on creating and managing your own LinkedIn Group at Mashable “8 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group”  The list is below and the details are at the link. It’s worth delving into if you want some more information.

  1. Use a Personal Touch
  2. Lay Some Ground Rules
  3. Praise the Good, Deal with the Bad
  4. Help Your Members Promote Themselves
  5. Add Some News Feeds
  6. Facilitate Connections Outside of LinkedIn
  7. Take a Poll
  8. Promote Your Group

One final note on Groups.  If you start a group be prepared to support it and get responses.  If you watched the Facebook F8 video above you’ll hear about a problem called the “rule of 5”  If someone comes into your group and they don’t see 5 people they know they’ll probably not participate.  So if you’ve got a email list of the members you want to invite, send them all an invite to LinkedIn, followed by an invitation to join the group.

Social media is about connecting and building relationships – talking to people. Taking part in discussions gets you noticed as well as keeps the conversation going and the sharing of information, viewpoints and knowledge

So, for goodness sake, if you start a group and ask questions and topics start rolling for goodness sake answer and respond!

I hope that you found this informative.  Please feel free to add any comments.  I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of Linkedin so if you have some observations or insights please feel free to leave a comment (and yes, I’m working on unlocking it so your comments post immediately but I’m still learning about all the WordPress functions so bear with me)

Thanks for reading 🙂

….. be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2: Twitter