Quitter to Winner

Sunday, December 5, 2010

INTERVIEW: How to maximize LinkedIn with Jonathan Mast

Many colleagues of mine are on LinkedIn. During a conversation about the site, we all came clean: none of us use it to the max (if at all). I asked Jonathan Mast from small business social media experts MMJ Technology how startups can use LinkedIn to its full potential.

Why should a startup join LinkedIn?

As a startup you need to generate business and to connect with possible customers. LinkedIn provides one of the best ways to do this online. Think of LinkedIn as the Facebook for Business connections. LinkedIn is an online networking tool that will allow you to connect with people and businesses. It’s also unique in its "Get Introduced through a Connection" feature that allows you to find out which of your existing connections know someone you are trying to connect with and ask them to introduce you.

What are the top "must-do's" once they join?

1. Complete your profile to the fullest extent you can. Adding in items like past schools and past employers helps you connect with more people and can dramatically increase your connections. Remember that the value of a social media connection is not always simply to do business. On LinkedIn in particular your past connections may be of more value in helping you connect to new individuals that you are trying to reach out to.

2. Add a photo to your profile. A profile without a photo is much less likely to be productive in helping you connect with others. If you don't have a current photo use your mobile phone to take an updated one and upload it to your profile.

3. Once you have completed filling in all the information you can start finding connections and ask them to add them to your network. One tip, when adding a connection you have the opportunity to write them a note. Don't just accept LinkedIn's standard text, write a personalized message and you will dramatically increase the likelihood your connections accept.

What are some do's and dont's regarding generating sales on LinkedIn?

1. Don't try to sell everyone you network with right out of the gate.

2. Do use LinkedIn to share information that is relevant to your connections and that establishes you as an expert in your field. For example, I am an Internet Strategist and I make money by selling websites and consulting projects. I share information about how to use social media successfully, how to brand your business or organization effectively and what is going on in the industry.

3. Do reach out to your LinkedIn connections and try to connect with them in person. If your connections are local, propose meeting up over coffee. If your connections are outside of your area, propose a phone conversation. You can glean huge benefits from your connections if you actually reach out in person.

How can I use LinkedIn to promote my company?

LinkedIn also allows you to setup company profiles. This is valuable to your firm as it allows people to follow your company and also allows LinkedIn users to see what is happening with your company and your employees (if you have them). You do not establish connections from your company to others. Although by sharing relevant information that's going on in your firm, others can keep up on the latest news and offerings from your company.

How has LinkedIn helped MMJTech?

We use LinkedIn to establish connections with other individuals and companies that can help grow our business and to keep tabs on our competition. Our technical staff uses LinkedIn to establish connections with other technical professionals. In a sales role, I use LinkedIn to establish connections with existing and prospective clients. By using LinkedIn effectively and by connecting to the other staff that I work with, I can then leverage their connections when I need an introduction to someone outside of my network.

By using LinkedIn we minimize the number of true "cold calls" that we make and in turn find ourselves getting more appointments through leveraging the "warm" connections we have via LinkedIn and reaching out to connect with them in person. Ultimately, LinkedIn helps us generate more revenue by working smarter.

You can also read Jonathan's first interview with Quitter to Winner here.