Tag Archives: database

Linkedin – A Great Tool When Used Right

linkedinOne of the most popular business tools in the Web 2.0 world is Linkedin. If you are not on Linkedin yet, I would highly encourage you to get there, set up a profile and start connecting with your network. More and more business networking and connecting are happening using Linkedin, it is a tool that makes it easier to connect your network. Here are several ways that you can effectively use Linkedin to help you save time, support your network, pass referrals, and set yourself apart as an expert.

1. Set up your profile – Make it complete, many people go to profiles to learn more about you and your business, what your experience is, as well as where you went to school, and who you know.

2. Put a professional photo on your profileLinkedin is not a “social” site, it is geared more for business and business people. Make sure that you are putting your best smile forward. If you do not have a professional photo get one!

3. Ask for recommendations – If you have done work for one of your clients or network members ask them if they would consider writing a recommendation for you. Last week I spoke at the BNI National Conference, several people asked me later what they could do for me. I asked each of them, if they had been in my presentation would they please go to my Linkedin Profile and write a recommendation. I asked them to list 2-3 things that they learned and why they would recommend me to others. In the Referrals for Life Program we teach our students how to write good testimonials for one another, a recommendation on Linkedin simply makes that testimonial public.

4. Invite your Network to Link – how many people do you have in your database? How many of them are already on Linkedin? Start connecting to them and invite the ones who are not on the site to join you. When you have your network on the site and you are linked to them it will make it so much easier to pass referrals and make connections between each other. You can make connections for one another on Linkedin. No more going through your CRM finding the information on a contact then emailing it. You can simply make connections on the Linkedin site.

5. Answer Questions – find questions that you can answer that will help you be seen as an expert. Because of a question that I answered on Linkedin, I was ask to speak on a conference call to a group of Female CEO’s. Find the questions on topics that you are expert in and answer them well. You can also use these same questions in your blog and newsletters.

Last week, one person in my network, connected me to someone in his network who had ask him if he would make the connection. After some conversation he ask me if I would consider speaking at the regional conference for his organization. I then connected him to someone that he saw in my network whom he thought would be good for a future speaking engagement.

Of all the sites that I am on, Linkedin is the one that makes it easy to connect my networks and help them to connect to one another, it is a perfect tool when you are in the Referrals for Life Program. Remember Linkedin is a tool that enhances, not replace your face to face networking.

Contacts, Referral Sources, and Referral Partners

What is the difference between a contact, a referral source, and a referral partner?  Do you know?  What is not knowing costing you?

There is a clear distinction between the three and most of the people out there networking today are working with contacts and referral sources, few have referral partners.  What would you business look like today if you had 5 people completely trained to send you level 14 referrals and up? It is possible.

Dan, Craig, Lloyd, and Aaron started out as contacts in each others database, then they became referral sources and happily began working with one each other.  Craig decided to take it up a notch, he convinced each of the others to attended a Referral Institute Program where they were trained to be referral partners for each other.  What is the big difference, referral partners are trained to generate pro-active referrals for their partners.  The Referral Institute, taught them to be partners and took them up a level.  Today, they work for each other in a pro-active manner!

The Underestimated Rolodex

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the following scenario; “Gee, I visited that networking group and I didn’t see anyone in there who could really help me with referrals.  Most of the members there are consumer businesses and I am business to business.”  Surprisingly, it is most often said with a  hint of arrogance, as if the person is to important to take time out to network with the consumer folks.   What a deadly assumption to make about someone else’s network.

Paul, Laura and Mike would quickly agree with the statement, “Never underestimate the power of another persons network.”  After all one of the largest referrals that Paul has ever received came from Laura, the Mary Kay representative in his networking group. 

Paul is the Vice President of a very successful commercial design company, working with organizations like hospitals, casinos and office complexes.  He counts on people like Mike,  a fellow member and architect, to pass him referrals and he knows the value of a strong network. 

Imagine his surprise when one morning Laura calls him to pass a referral that would turn out to be a national  account. Not only would that one referral put substantial dollars into the company’s pocket, it would play a role in Paul’s eventual promotion to vice president. 

As with all Mary Kay professionals, Laura has learned to listen to the needs of her clients and help them to get what they need. This is a practice that has helped her become a master networker.  One particular afternoon Laura listened to one of her friends, manager of a restaurant, complain about how shoddy the construction was, and how poorly the structure was laid  out, it just did not  have a good flow! 

Right away Laura thought of Paul, he taught her that the flow of a building was one of the most important aspects of what he did when working on design for a company.  Laura told her friend about Paul and arranged a meeting with the two of them.   Paul closed the deal, did some work for the restaurant and left the owner very happy with the results.  When it came time for them open their third location they naturally called on Paul.

Paul was able to refer Mike, the architect in his network, who helped to design the next new building.  This referral also flowed to a stain glass designer, landscape designer, contractors, and various other professions.  Paul and his company were asked to head up the design of all of the future restaurants as well as the prototype for a new restaurant concept.

Now, step back and think about how many times you have made an assumption about another persons contacts and networks.  It could be costing you more than you know.  Referral relationships are built on trust and knowledge. Dr. Ivan R. Misner, the founder of BNI, says in his book  World Best Know Marketing Secret, that it is very important to have a diversified network.  Not only for the sake of the referrals that you may get from your network,  but you are also  able to fill the needs of your clients on a professional and personal level.

When I owned my Insurance Brokerage Agency, one of the last things that I would always ask a client at the end of a meeting was, “Mr. Client, thank you for taking the time to meet with me, I appreciate your time and attention.  Now, that we are finished, let me ask you, what is the one item that is really causing you a problem that I might be able to help you with.”  My clients learned that not only was I there for all of their professional needs, I could help them in many aspects of their lives.  Having a strong, diverse network allowed me to build strong relationships with my them, they new I would ask, they got in the habit of calling me, and they new that I could help them with almost any issue they might have. I became a Gatekeeper and the go to person. 

Having a diverse network made up of people in the consumer business helps more than just you.  Take a moment and look at your network, is it diverse?  Is there a cosmetic professional, a beautician, wedding planner, photographer, vet or other consumer services?  Just because they do not sell to businesses does not mean they do not know business owners or decision makers.  Never underestimate the power of another persons Rolodex you could regret it!