Archive for the ‘Business growth’ Category

Beyond the Basics: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Profile Page on LinkedIn

May 18, 2011

Now that LinkedIn has officially hit the scale of grand popularity, there are myriad writers and folks to help with some of the basics.  It seems that when you’re really trying to “kick it up a notch” in the words of Emeril Lagasse, that’s where things get trickier and the pool of resources dwindles.

With that in mind, we want to offer some more sophisticated tools that can have greater impact.  We were one of the first 55,000 members back in 2003 and have effectively used LinkedIn to grow our business.  (To put this in perspective, LI now boasts 100+million.)

Your profile page is the first impression you make with prospects and colleagues, so it’s important that it look professional and present the best of what you offer.  Once they click on and see your smiling face (you dohave a picture, right?), you want people to quickly understand how valuable it will be to work with you.  Here are 5 ways to enhance your profile:

  1. Your tagline.  Under your name, you have 140 characters to present your brand.  Notice I didn’t say title.  Being a VP, director or executive doesn’t say what you really do.  As an example, my profile states: “Experienced marketing and sales professional helping companies focus on sales effectiveness to achieve good growth.”  In a nutshell, I’ve just conveyed the essence of who I am and what I do.  I believe I used 139 of my 140 characters.  While you may find this exercise frustrating, it is worth the effort.  Put it in the category of the elevator speech.  You always want to grab the attention of folks quickly.
  1. Consider visual appeal.  Some people write in prose, some in bullets.  Visitors to your profile are no different.  The advice here: mix it up.  Your summary is best if it has a bit of both.  Remember to complete the Specialties box as well.  The addition of other sections, including the Skills section (discussed below) can facilitate a better visual presentation too.
  1. Status updates.  While I use other social media, including this blog and Twitter, I frown on daily LI status updates unless they provide real value.  That’s not to say it’s a bad idea, but always think about your target audience and what they want to know that is going to help them.  Examples of this include sharing a link, discussing a meeting you attended, or discussing a hobby you’re about to enjoy.
  1. Keep your profile open.  On your home page, there’s a box “Who’s Viewed Your Profile.”  This can provide interesting insights.  Say you’ve recently met David at a meeting and see that he’s clicked on your profile.  You now have the opportunity to reconnect and take your first meeting to a different level and forge a relationship.  In contrast, if you do not have an open profile, the default simply states “a VP from ABC Company” viewed your profile, providing no opportunity to move the relationship forward.  (There’s more on this, but another blog…)
  1. Add Skills.  This is in beta now, and definitely powerful.  This can be found under the More tab.  Once you add a Skills section, your profile tells people at a quick glance of selected skills, your level of proficiency and years of experience.

With your Profile Page improved, it’s time to Add Connections and follow up with those who viewed your  profile.

Value Consulting: “Work with Me, Don’t Tell Me What to Do”

March 22, 2011

Good leaders don’t hire consultants to tell them what to do.   And good consultants don’t tell people what to do.

The best consultants ask questions that help the leader see and prioritize issues, and incorporate the executive’s expertise and knowledge of their organization to develop solutions.  Leaders can include, but are certainly not limited to, CEOs, CFOs, Sales VPs, managers, and anyone leading a team from which revenue generation is demanded.

It’s a collaborative process, with the consultant and leader working as partners to address the company’s challenges.    To become a trusted advisor, consultants must demonstrate the value they can bring to solving a business need by raising concerns that will get to the heart of the matter.

I am always stunned and more than a bit perplexed by businessmen who, after 15 minutes of conversation ask, “So what do you think I should do to solve this problem?”    My response (after counting to 10 in my head) is to ask how they know this is the main problem?  Then I point out that while there are several possible solutions to the perceived challenge, as an astute executive he/she likely knows these obvious fixes already.

I proceed to ask 2-3 questions in addition to the one just posed to get them to think and demonstrate that not only do I refuse to take a cookie cutter approach (because it never works), but that I am interested in providing the right solution for specific needs.  My value comes in providing an outside perspective and asking tough questions to unearth the real issues holding a company back from its desired success.  Some sample questions that have worked to jumpstart the thinking process include:

  • What are the reasons you are focusing on this issue now?
  • What is the ideal outcome you would like to achieve?   How will you measure success?
  • How will these changes impact the bottom line?  Revenue?  Costs?

If, as a consultant, I tell you what to do, there’s no ownership, investment or collaboration.   The odds are that once I walk away, whatever advice I’ve shared, training I’ve done, sessions I’ve facilitated, will not be followed through.  And that’s where you are going to see the results that will grow your business.

If, however, I’ve worked with you and you’ve put your thought and brainpower into developing the solution(s), you feel a stronger connection and see the value.   You have engaged in a process of self-realization, recognizing what your company needs to succeed.   Follow through will be something you want to do—not just because someone told you.

LinkedIn for Business Growth: What Are Your Success Stories?

January 24, 2011

Recently, we’ve noticed our increased success in developing new productive relationships on LinkedIn that have led to new business.

On one level, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  LinkedIn is a “social” network designed to help professionals interact and grow business.  But its focus on B2B can be a double-edged sword.  Some consider it a bit sterile, yet when used effectively, you can develop commonality and respect for fellow connections. 

Facebook is a different animal.  I have successfully strengthened ties with “friends,” but in terms of business growth, I find greater success with LinkedIn.  It’s likely due in part to what I refer to as the Dragnet approach of LinkedIn—the facts, nothing but the facts.  This provides a more professional approach, especially for business-to-business organizations. This leads me to ask two questions:

  1. What success stories can you share about social networking, especially LinkedIn?
  2. How do you use LinkedIn and other social networks to build your professional relationships and grow your business?