I read an interesting article today about Denny Hatch a freelance direct marketing consultant and copy writer.
The article titled Link Me Out really showed it is tough to teach an old dog new tricks. Denny is well known for his ads offering a free direct mail critique. This article however talks about Denny's thoughts on LinkedIn.
Basically, Denny wants nothing to do with LinkedIn and makes a statement that it is basically a spam magnet as opposed to a potential business development tool. Is Denny wrong? No. If you sign up and use linkedin you will more than likely get spammed. The percentage of spam to useful interactions though is very small. I have been spammed from my linkedin account, but maybe I got a handful of spam over the last 6+ years that I have used it.
I have also like Denny signed up and let my profile static and unused (at least in the early years). Obviously if this is how you think Linkedin works you are sadly mistaken. LinkedIn just like direct mail is never a once and done thing. I would ask Denny if he ever sent out one mailer and then became rich and never had to mail again. Chances are very unlikely, wouldn't you agree? It is the same with LinkedIn.
You need to put up a profile then sit back and wait. This is where most people stop. The next step is getting more connections, get recommendations add skills, etc. Then see what happens. How valuable are recommendations for your clients when looking for new business? Pretty good right? Well what if you used linkedin to collect testimonials and recommendations? This might be a great resource to send prospects right?
Denny uses testimonials as a main driving force on his website. I bet he uses them in his direct mail as well. So is Denny missing an opportunity to collect new testimonials because he has no interest in linkedin? I would say YES very much so. Now for sales people in your organization you always need to be prospecting right? Of course you do, so why not use linkedin.
If you go to the homepage on your linkedin account (not your profile, but the Home link) you will see how many opportunities you have on the right hand side of the page. Check out the "Who's Viewed Your Profile?". Today I have 8 people that viewed my profile in the last 2 weeks. Wonder what these people wanted? Sound like a good opportunity to reach out to them right? You bet this is a great prospecting tool for people that showed interest.
Below this you will find the "Your LinkedIn Network" box. This box shows you how many connections you have. As of this writing I have 512 personal connections. These 512 people are connected to some roughly 13K other connections. So what is the power of asking one of your friends/connections to make an introduction for you. This is a pretty good way to get a conversation right? You bet it is! What if you asked a handful of connections to introduce you to someone you'd like to know? Chances are linkedin would become a pretty powerful business development tool right? Of course it would. You do however need to keep working the tool on an ongoing basis forever to get the best bang for your buck.
So if Linkedin is not for you Denny, this is fine with me. This allows me to have more opportunities with less competition. What will you do - write off LinkedIn and social media or embrace it and look for new opportunities to use these tools better than your competitors?