There are numerous digital and social media tools that are driving connections in the Interconnected Age, but none will play a more important role for successful business development professionals than LinkedIN.
Why? Because LinkedIN gives you the power to uncover relationships outside of your immediate social and professional circle, with minimal effort. These relationships and degrees of separation allow you to quickly move into new business opportunities without the old fashioned method of cold calling.
An Example of Using LinkedIN To Generate An Opportunity
Let’s say I’ve identified a way MediaSauce could collaborate with ChaCha, a leading mobile search company. I know that my idea to collaborate is big-picture and I want to talk with Scott Jones, the CEO and founder.
Without LinkedIN, I would have had to cold-call or email ChaCha to try and get a bit of Scott’s time. I may not know anyone who works there, so I have no “insider” edge. When I do finally make that effort, I’ll most likely be referred by his assistant to someone further down the chain.
But I want to go straight to the TOP of the organization. I want 15 minutes of Scott’s undivided attention to present my phenomenal idea. So, how do I get it? Enter the power of LinkedIN to open doors.
By searching for Scott’s Profile on LinkedIN, I can look at his profile and discover that we have a common colleague: Jason Zielke. Jason and I know each other on a semi-personal basis through a mutual friend. Quick research shows me that unknownst to me, Jason works for Scott, leading his company Precise Path Robotics.
I now have someone who I can ask to help me open doors. Of course, the strength of my connection with Jason will likely drive his choice to get me that face-time I desire (or not). It’s quality of the network that makes it powerful, not just the size.
What if my prospect isn’t on LinkedIN?
Let’s assume that Scott didn’t have a profile on LinkedIN…how could I connect to him if he’s not on there? Simple, because I that I might have connections to someone at ChaCha who works with him.
Rather than searching for Scott Jones, I’ll search for “ChaCha” to see who works there that I know. My results display that there are 402 profiles with “ChaCha” mentioned in them.
The top of the list returns Courtney Adams. Of course, someone who’d I’d met a Web 2.0 event in the past! Now I can try to leverage my connection with her (even thought it is weak, it’s still more valuable than cold-calling) to request a meeting with Scott from the inside. Thank goodness I had taken a couple minutes the night after the event a few months ago to send invitations to link to me with all the great new people I had met.
Thus the importance to recognize that all of your connections, big and small, really play a bigger role in your future. And in Interconnected Age, those connections are your most valuable assets.
What should you do to take advantage of LinkedIN?
From that perspective, making sure that as many of your personal and professional circle is actively linking to each other on LinkedIN is critical. The more people you and I can encourage to use LinkedIN, the better our extended network will be.
On December 31st, I hit my goal of linking to 500 connections. Having 500 professional and personal colleagues then puts me within 3 degrees of separation to more than 4,000,000 professionals! See below:
While I doubt that all 4,168,400+ connections I am now linked to through the network are prospects for my services, I know there are some hidden gems I’ll tap into in the near future.
By the way, if you haven’t already created a profile to LinkedIN…do it now! And then, make a religion of requesting the new people you meet are added as friends the same day you meet them. I end every day sending invitations to connect to the new contacts I meet. It’s easy and it can become a foundation for my digital relationship with them for years to come.
Remember: You never know when an otherwise common introduction may turn into a future deal. Use LinkedIN to capitalize on it!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use digital and social media to be more effective in your sales initiatives, attend MediaSauce’s upcoming event “Sales 2.0: Is your Sales Force Prepared For the Digital Age.”