Discover How LinkedIn Can Benefit Your Business

LinkedIn has now become the premier networking platform for business people throughout the world. Its development has enabled professionals to maintain communication with individual contacts or groups that they know and trust. Most importantly along with other social networking sites, it is largely regarded as an essential part of the marketing mix. However, many professionals still only dabble in the on-line phenomena, perhaps due to time constraints or the more likely reason that they do not fully grasp the marketing benefits to their business. This article highlights what can be achieved by dedicating a little time every week to social networking.

Why is it a good idea?

Well, for starters, it is really easy to get started and it is a great way of raising your profile. It certainly helps other business people to find you easily as well as help you to find people that you have met. The informality of the site means it is a great way of re-connecting with someone that you may have recently met at a private social event or perhaps a business networking event. With LinkedIn being permission based, it essentially provides permission for you to keep in contact. This means there are no issues around data protection.

Talking of data, it also provides a useful database of your contacts that is simple to grow. You can keep in contact with clients, friends, past colleagues, current colleagues and other contacts very easily. If you happen to employ staff, then you should encourage them to have a profile that links through to your website. By doing this, you immediately get access to all your employee contacts and so raising the profile of the firm.

The process of linking your profile with new and current contacts is a marketing opportunity in itself to create brand awareness. It can enable you to establish your expertise and brand yourself as an authority in your specialist field whether it is the legal sector or double glazing. You can do this by giving advice… believe me when I say that a little bit of gratis goes a long way! At the same time, you can also use LinkedIn to receive advice from experts in other sectors and professions. You can engage in specialist groups such as your professional body or potential customer groups that may need to draw upon your expert knowledge. It provides an excellent opportunity to soft sell your products or services. I’m very much an advocate of this as I hate being sold to and I’d expect that you’re the same.

Another great thing is that it is a non-intrusive way of keeping your contacts up to date with the most recent developments in your sector, your business or what you are doing professionally. As your network of contacts have given you permission to communicate with them, they will be more receptive to what you have to say. This is of course largely based on trust which may take a little bit of time, but as I mentioned earlier if you connect with people in a positive way then they will be more inclined to come to you for advice rather than someone else.

LinkedIn, as with other on-line social networks, offers affordable visibility to people you know and those outside your network. The only investment is your time and this remains a crucial element to making it work for you and your business.

Gaining credibility on social networks means that you must actively engage with it. If you do not update your profile or interact with other users you can fall of your contacts’ line of vision. If you do not have any visibility then you certainly will not have built up any credibility. By engaging with the on-line communities it is possible to drive a greater number of potential clients to your website. Naturally following on from this, the more website traffic you can generate, the greater the opportunity to convert social networking into actual business.

At the start of the article, I mentioned that social networking should be part of the marketing mix and so it should go without saying that it isn’t the only marketing you should do. What I mean is, that if your website is poor or your receptionist is rude or you don’t respond to calls or you don’t turn up when you said you would then you would be wasting your own time and energy.

At the end of the day, most people want to shake your hand and see the whites of your eyes before they commit to buying your product or service, so use it as a tool alongside your normal marketing activities. Good luck and happy linking!

Why Businesses Fail

To be able to start a business from thin air is quite a hard thing to do. Some can, some cannot. There are a lot variables when it comes to a business succeeding or failing. Below, you will find a list containing the reasons as to why some small businesses fail and what you, the business owner can do to prevent the situations from becoming a problem in the first place.

No Leadership, Employees Get Lazy and Sometimes Insubordinate
As a manager, you should never “manage,” unless it comes to a dire situation. Power trips for unintelligent, insecure managers and business owners. Instead, you should be friendly, listen to the ideas the employees have as well as consider them the front line soldiers who know what is going on in the market.

However, some newer, younger employees may see this type lax of attitude and attempt to leverage it in an attempt to firmly establish a “do what I want whenever I want” mentality and atmosphere throughout your company. This can spread like wildfire and it can get out of control very quickly. Upon the first sign that the employees are slacking and not taking their jobs seriously, the manager or business owner must remind them as to why they are paying them the amount that they are being compensated and reiterate as to what kind of productivity and execution is expected.

Good managers and /or business owners lead by example and create a business atmosphere that screams “hard work” and “company dedication.” You must create a “produce or don’t work here atmosphere” within the organization or your business is being left often to failure.

Not Paying the Employees Enough
To obtain the best employees, one must pay. Your employees are going to be representing your company every time a potential client calls or very time somebody visits the office. These individuals are going to be the face of your creation. Regardless of how impressive you may be, if your employees are not sharp and don’t give off an energetic vibe, clients are going to begin shying away and will not take you nor your company seriously.

Additionally, if you are not ready to pay an employee or employees a salary that is very industry competitive, you must do the extra work and continue to put in the 16hour days until you can provide a salary that is conducive to acquiring top notch talent.

Don’t misunderstand. This does not mean that you have to save $200,000 for the person, but look at various job boards. What are your competitors paying to bring in new employees? Do you think that they are getting impressive or lackluster talent offering the compensation packages that they are? Always aim higher.

If they are paying them $70,000 a year, budget $85,000. You always want to get employees who are better than the workers whom your opposing firm currently has.

Business owners with big egos don’t bring in high returns. Don’t just have an employee simply to say you have one. There is no sense in doing this. I know people who have done this and it gets them absolutely nowhere.

Lastly, free employees can quickly bring down a corporate empire. They can bring down the corporate empire that you a very long time to create and bring to life. I’ve always felt that simply having the thought of obtaining free employees is a little off. Why should somebody work for you for free? Would you work for somebody else for free?

I can see justification that they would do so if you were sharing half of the company revenues with them a.k.a. making them a partner. Otherwise, those employees are going to leave and, upon them going to competitors, they may badmouth you. Therefore a result of you even attempting to obtain free labor, will give your competition free and very useful competitive intelligence on your company. Their obtainment of this information could come from a job posting or your former “gratis” employees potentially bad-mouthing you.

Business Is Theater – How Entertaining Is Yours?

All business is theater. Recognize this truth and implement a way to deliver it. A very successful business man said this, adding: “To the degree you satisfy this aspect of your presentation, you will be very competitive and very profitable.”

Few small business owners think about their business in this context, and now must as the market has shrunk and the competition for the remaining discretionary spending is fierce. This requires paying close attention to successfully delivering the best presentation to the market that you can, gaining share and protecting what you have as profits are challenged by deep discounting and lower volume.

Here are a few examples of successful theater in a business scenario resulting in increased sales revenue, even in a down market:

1. A furniture store in Framingham, MA puts on a Disney World-caliber show with large props, moving lights, live theater, video, movie, music, pantomime, live presentation and interaction with the customers, creating a party atmosphere where children and families want to go. Yes, many will buy while there, more than if the entertainment was not provided. A competitor’s furniture store features a huge IMAX theater with state-of-the-art 3D movies shown on its huge screen. What’s next?

2. Many restaurants get this point and feature everything from stand-up comedy, table-side serenades, table-side cooking, live music and even, quite literally, theatrical productions. Of course, Hooters provides some of the best entertainment available–beautiful, scantily-clad women serving you beer! How can you compete with that?

3. A chocolate manufacturer with a strong brand name and distribution features Easter bunnies, Santa Claus, a Halloween haunted house, tours, tastings, and on Thursday evenings during the summer, old car rallies! Great crowd-pleasers, lots of fun and of course, sales revenues and profits greatly increase as the brand is tremendously enhanced.

4. Many manufacturers sponsor local demonstrations at stores on weekends with large circus-like events with hot dogs, etc. for children who will coerce their parents-who will shop-to bring them. Often these include radio personality appearances, athletes, celebrities, book signings, autographs, cooking lessons, lectures, trip raffles, tours… think about it. There are many forms entertainment and theater can take.

5. Office settings are rich with more subtle opportunities, such as ambiance created with comfortable furniture, rugs, fish tanks, music, art, plants, gratis refreshments, special lighting and generally treating visitors like kings or queens while visiting the place of business.

6. Many large sporting goods and outdoor gear stores, like L.L. Bean in Maine, have huge stuffed animal displays and other hunting and fishing scenes throughout their buildings, or simulated outdoor scenarios where you can test equipment. L.L. Bean even has a live trout pond in the middle of the store! It’s a great place to go just to see the stuffed animals and, of course, to buy a few things while you’re there. It works.

7. Even the Empire State Building, the tallest in Manhattan, has telescopes on the observation decks for tourists to view the city scape… pure entertainment.

The question is, how do you add theater, drama, entertainment to your business model? Anything can contribute to the theater, the entertainment value, if you understand the need and figure out how to deliver. Theater creates a competitive advantage, leading to greater revenue and higher profits, so figure out a way and deliver-it’s worth it.