May 2011
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AutomatedBuildings.com

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
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LinkedIn Makes the Perfect Companion
Top Ten Steps to Maximize LinkedIn for Business

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor


I would first like to thank everyone for all the emails that I have received asking for more information about LinkedIn from last month’s column.  As we all know LinkedIn is the leading business-orientated social networking website.  Many of us in the industrial automation and building automation space have created a LinkedIn profile and have connected with some of our colleagues, but do we really understand the sheer power and opportunity that LinkedIn provides for us? This article takes a walk through the features of LinkedIn.  Many of us will make connections with perspective clients and business partners during Connectivity Week this year, and a natural progression to a face-to-face information exchange is the opportunity of a LinkedIn connection.  You need to ensure that you have not only maximized your own LinkedIn profile, but that you also understand the opportunities that connecting with someone on LinkedIn provides you.

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Let’s examine the top ten benefits that LinkedIn can provide someone with a profile in the Building Automation Industry.  Please not that for the example illustrations I have used my personal LinkedIn account http://www.linkedin.com/in/mannymandrusiak.  For the Group example I have used the Automatedbuildings.com Online Magazine Forum.

Top Ten Steps to Maximize LinkedIn for Business

1.    Getting introduced to new contacts using connection requests.

You have created a LinkedIn profile and you have made some connections.  Now you are looking to expand your network through the people that you know, but there are contacts that you can see through your network that you do not know.  How do you get introduced to them?  If the individual that you want to connect with is a part of your network then you can request to “Get Introduced” through a connection.  One of your connections can introduce you to this contact.  This is the same as the conventional method of attending the local Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday’s to meet new contacts.  All of that interactivity has been taken care of thanks to LinkedIn. 

2.    How to add connections from your email account.

No one can ever remember everyone that they have ever emailed in the last year.  LinkedIn has the ability to search your email account to cross-reference it with LinkedIn to see which of your contacts has a LinkedIn account. 

3.    Now that I have a network, how do I make new connections?

You have invited everyone that you have in your Outlook contacts to join your LinkedIn page, and now you want to meet some of the contacts in their networks. How do you get introduced? Easy, you ask.  Your LinkedIn network is only as strong as the number of connections that you have in it.  You need to remember that you can mine for gold unless you have a strong network.  It is not always who you know, but how you know them. 

If you want to add to your current network, simply ask someone in your network to introduce you to the individual that you would like to connect with.  It is exactly the same as any other introduction, only virtual.  Once you have been introduced to a new connection, make sure that you engage them and make them feel valued in your network.  A good example is pretending you have 30 connections in your network, and 20 of them introduce you to 3 new connections each.  Simple math says that you have the potential to triple the number of connections in your network very easily.

 Now that I have a network, how do I make new connections?

Your LinkedIn Network – With 239 Connections in my network I have the potential to network with 7,586 new people as the networks of my connections grows.

4.    Learning to use LinkedIn to answer the questions that you might have.

You have established a LinkedIn network, and now you have a problem.  You need advice, and the first place that you turn to find an answer is where…..Google.  Wrong!  You have built a network of professionals on LinkedIn that you should always turn to for advice first.  Not only can you ask advice from the members of your network, but you can also ask the advice from the entire LinkedIn network.  To do this, select Answers from the more menu on your LinkedIn profile at the top of the screen.  Then you need to enter your question in the Ask a Question box.   A new screen will appear which will prompt you to add more details.  Now there is also a feature to enable you to only share your question with a select group, or make it open to the public.  The bottom line is that there is a total group of individuals who are in your particular vertical who you can access for information if you know where to look.

Learning to use LinkedIn to answer the questions that you might have.  

5.    How do I best send a message to the people on my network?

Ok.  You have established a network, and been introduced to some new people.  The next logical step is to send the people in your network a message.  This message can be anything, but keep in mind that people in your network receive a lot of messages, so yours should naturally be interesting to them.  The best messages are those that offer opinions or commentary.  No one likes to be sold to, to sending me a massage that your company released Product X and it is the greatest thing that I have ever seen, will not get me to click. Sending me a message that your company released Product X and you are looking for feedback on some of the new features will get me to click.   Interesting posts get more clicks.  People like to be challenged and engaged.  Be interesting and grow your network.

6.    Join Groups to interact with others.

Aside from being able to ask questions on LinkedIn, there is the ability to join groups of people who have similar interests to you.  Internet Forums have always been a popular place to find answers to questions on the internet.  Now LinkedIn capitalized on the idea of industry professionals looking for information in discussion groups on the LinkedIn network.  Individuals on LinkedIn can search the LinkedIn network for groups that have discussion topics with similar interests to them, or seek groups with simply topics of outside interest. 

Let’s look at the Automatedbuildings.com Online Group as an example.

 Join Groups to interact with others.

Starting a discussion is easy once you have joined a group.  Simply select a title for your discussion string i.e. Effective techniques to use LinkedIn to keep connected and grow your network.

LinkedIn will then prompt you to add a little more information as to what the purpose of the discussion will be.

I.E. - Looking to start a discussion about some of the tactics that individuals are using to grow their network here on LinkedIn. May Social Media Marketing Column for Automatedbuildings.com Online Group http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3518024


Reliable Controls I have started this discussion as an example of how LinkedIn can be used to gain information from people in your network, and see what the current trends are.

7.    Follow companies that may interest you.

You have always wanted to work for Company X, but every time you check their website, you never see a job opportunity.  It would be awesome to have the ability to be able to follow companies of interest to you, or even competitors companies that you are hoping might fail.  LinkedIn provides users with the ability to click a button and decide when you will be notified about job openings, position changes, or company profile updates.  Human Resource professionals are choosing to use LinkedIn as a prescreening tool for potential employees.  It is a cost effective way to screen potential employees from an area greater than simply the metropolitan area where the opportunity exists.  They can also look at who has recommended the potential employee, and look at other attributes such as Twitter feeds and Blogs.  When dealing with the internet, everything that you say can been seen by everyone.  A good rule of thumb is to never say anything anywhere on the internet that you would not say to anyone face-to-face.

8.    Add a poll to LinkedIn to get an indication of what your connections are thinking about your company.

Many LinkedIn users over look the fact that they can add polls to their LinkedIn  profile to gain valuable data about what consumers are thinking about their product or business.  People often forget that we live in a social world, and people naturally want to interact with items on the internet.  That is why Google ads and Amazon do so well.  People naturally love to click, and provide their opinion.  On LinkedIn all you simply need to do is to navigate to the profile screen and click Add An application.  Then Select Polls to get started.  Users can then create multiple-choice polls with up to five possible answers.  This poll can be sent to all of your first-level connections or you can choose to include it in a directory so that it can be accessed by anyone on LinkedIn.  This is a fantastic way to gain some valuable information or to assist in develop products, or test marketing positioning statements.

9.    Tell people where you are going and gain business meetings.

LinkedIn has an Add in Application called TripIt.  Users will have to sign up for a free account to access the TripIt application, but once you do you will be able to show all of your upcoming trips.  This significant because individuals in your network will receive notifications of your upcoming trips through direct LinkedIn emails. This means that people who might want to meet with you and all sorts of opportunities could possibly arise from that.  Information about what you are doing, and where you are going, may be possible dollars in your pocket.

10.    How do I measure the Results on LinkedIn?

As with any other marketing endeavor, it has to pay off!  Social Media is work, and any time that you spend on any marketing campaigns needs to show some sort of results.  How do we know if your time on LinkedIn is paying off?  There are several ways to measure your success.  The first way that you know you are doing something wrong is if you are not getting referrals, or if people are not viewing your profile.  You can check who is viewing your profile on the right side of your LinkedIn profile.  You should see information like this:

How do I measure the Results on LinkedIn? 

I love this feature on LinkedIn.  It enables people to see who is looking at their profile.  They may see the competition, or a headhunter for a company that they wish to join.  The possibilities are endless.  The main thing to remember is that is people are not looking at your profile, then it lacks interesting content.  As with anything on the web, good content is always the key.  Try some more intriguing posts about what you are doing.  Perhaps what books you are currently reading, or join some groups. 

Another way that you can see if your LinkedIn efforts are paying off is to check the analytics package that you have as part of your website.  Simply login to your analytics and check the Traffic Sources.  As the page refreshes you can either enter LinkedIn as a filter source, or if you are using a host like Go Daddy, your traffic sources will be graphically displayed for you.  The Analytics package will tell you how much traffic is coming to your website from LinkedIn.

Please keep in mind that LinkedIn is not a complete replacement for traditional marketing activities.  It augments those activities.  LinkedIn can prove to be a very invaluable tool to keep in contact with not only existing clients, but new clients as well.  When attending an event like Connectivity Week in May, please ensure that you ask vendors about their LinkedIn pages.  It will provide end-users with a more human method of connecting with companies, and potentially a more informal way of generating sales. For as many technological innovations as are developed. When it comes down to it, people still want to purchase products from people that they like.  LinkedIn provides vendors and end-users with the opportunity to interact with them on a human level, and that is always good business.

I am always looking for more comments about what topics that I should tackle in future columns at www.automatedbuildings.com.  If you have a marketing or business development topic that you would like to see me tackle in a future issue of www.automatedbuildings.com please contact me directly at manny@4bravomarketing.com and I will be more than happy to tackle them. 



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