Catalog/Multichannel Industry Networking in the 21st Century Via the LinkedIn Network
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a number of hours on the business networking Web site, www.LinkedIn.com. I’ve mentioned the network in my last three articles, so I’m hoping many of you have signed up and tried it for yourselves. Thanks to all of you who did and who linked to me. It’s nice to meet you! If you haven’t, join and link to me at www.LinkedIn.com/in/jimwgilbert . The following is my report.
Immediately after joining and building my profile (more about that below), I chose the option to use my AOL and Outlook address books to begin building my network. Although I had some problems using this feature on my Mac, when I tried to upload my AOL contacts on a PC it worked successfully. For Outlook, you need to have the most recent software version; otherwise the automatic upload doesn’t talk to your address book.
That said, once I added my contacts, I quickly was rewarded by having many people join my network. I got instant gratification. But I was surprised to see how many people were already using LinkedIn, too.
I now have 131 people in my network. To me there are three main networking goals with this system:
Goal 1: Build a great profile that will attract others to link to you and network with you,
Goal 2: Use your profile as sort of an online resume of sorts, and
Goal 3: Use the network to meet others who are connected to your connections (think of the movie “Six Degrees of Separation”; the network works like that — you can connect and meet others who are a few degrees away from you).
From the 131 connections I have, more than 7,500 people are connected to my connections and another 700,000 are a third degree away.
My favorite function of building an online profile/resume is to ask people I know for recommendations to add to my profile. These recommendations are there for all to see. They become a testimonial to you and your career. Testimonials build your credibility greatly when someone other than yourself is doing your “selling.” You also can recommend people you know — something that will help in their careers.
More Things You Can Do
Beyond the basic goals, there are many other things you can do in the network. Consider the following, for instance:
* Find jobs and use your connections to help you network into those positions by requesting referrals from people you know.
* Ask questions of your network and get answers. This also is a way to tactfully promote your wares.
* Answer questions and if your answer is the “best,” receive expert status (promotion on network as expert).
* Your homepage alerts you to new connections that your connections have made. I like to go through all of the new connections my connections add. I always find people I know to add to my network.
Frankly, there are many more facets of LinkedIn, and I could spend much more time discussing them. But see for yourself. Networking is an acquired skill. You get out of it what you put into it. Thus, individual results may vary.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert , or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.