My Love Affair With LinkedIn

10 09 2010

I am always astounded when people tell me that they do not “need” LinkedIn.  That’s crap.  Unless you live under a bridge and plan to keep it that way, everybody (especially sales people!) can benefit from using LinkedIn.  This is going to be just a brief overview – LinkedIn 101 if you will.  If you aren’t yet sure about the whole “social networking thing” here are a some key ways you can build your business using LinkedIn.  If this doesn’t convince you, maybe you do belong under a bridge. 

  • Instant Credibility

Imagine being able to present a brag book of your accomplishments and accolades to your prospect along with every single proposal.  Imagine having an interactive resume to send along to a job interview.  Now realize that you already have that ability by simply utilizing the tools on LinkedIn.  Your LinkedIn profile is a snapshot of your career.  Between the recommendations that you (should) have, the professional picture that you (should) have, and the job history that you (should) have listed – you have the opportunity to demonstrate your unshakable credibility based on past performance. 

  • Network Expansion

Like the picture above, LinkedIn allows you to view your professional network, and even goes further to allow you access to your network’s professional network.   Want to meet someone but don’t have a direct connection?  Request an introduction from your common connection!  It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

  • Jobs Jobs Jobs!

If you are in the job market, don’t waste your time on Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or any of those other waste-of-time “job” sites.  Get the job you want by using the “Jobs” section of LinkedIn.  Fortune 500 companies list executive level jobs on LikedIn.  The application process is streamlined – simply write a cover letter and send your profile along.  Recruiters love to be able to see what your comprehensive profile and I can tell you from personal experience – if done correctly you will get an interview every single time.

  • Prospecting

Ever want to find the name of the decision maker of a new account?  It can be very expensive or nearly impossible.  With LinkedIn you simply do a combination search of the company and the job title to get to the profile of your target.  Learn about their job history, school, and other pertinent information that will help you build rapport.  Furthermore, you can look to see how your network connects with their network and even orchestrate an introduction. 

  • Groups

I know I already mentioned Network Expansion above… but it gets even better.  LinkedIn has forums for people to connect called “Groups.”  You can connect based on your Alma Mater, Greek Affiliation, Industry, Hobbies… the list goes on.  Once in a Group, you can view the profiles of everyone else in the Group whether they are a direct connection in your network or not.  Again, sales people take note!  This is a wonderful tool for you to get in front of the right people at big organizations.  They may not take a call from Joe Salesrep, but they will read a message from fellow Group Member Joe Participates-a-Lot. 

 

So what are you waiting for?  Get going!  Follow the simple instructions at  www.linkedin.com and start to get all the benefits of this great online community.    Oh, and be sure to add me:  





Facebook is, Like, Amazing!

27 04 2010

Once a mode of speech reserved only for valley girls and the cast of the hit 90’s movie Clueless, Facebook has taken the term “Like” to a whole new level.  Market researchers everywhere are honing in on the massive amount of “Like” information being made available to them from the over 400 million Facebook users.  If you have yet to, like, get clued in on this amazing new tool for social media promotion you should check out this comprehensive article:

Facebook’s Like a Timebomb

As a sales person, this information can be used to help you identify new prospects, build rapport with new prospects by identifying their interests, and  as a means of promoting your services!  And now – my turn to try to figure out how to add a “Like” button to my blog.





Press Checks for Dummies: Part 1

23 04 2010

Nothing is more frustrating then getting a job back from your printer and being unhappy with the print work.  The sky was supposed to be blue… not purple.  Or I thought these flesh tones were supposed to be a little more flesh-like… these people are green!  Whatever the case – you have spent hours designing a piece that is supposed to reflect the brand and culture of your organization (see this article for more on the importance of color in branding) only to have it returned looking completely unlike what you intended. 

Now I know this is an extreme, but in reality what comes off the press will almost never match what was on your computer screen or in your mind.  Even the most skilled pressman (of which my company has MANY) don’t have ESP.  Yes, we make you check out a proof, but many clients don’t take advantage of another great tool offered by many printing companies at no charge – Press Checks!

For those of you who don’t know what a press check is, it is basically the equivalent of test-driving a car one last time before purchasing it.  You are already committed to running the printing job, but you can check out the actual printed piece as it comes off the press prior to the entire job being printed.  This is where you can refine the colors, check for any paper imperfections, and in general tweak your little heart out to get the feel that you want in the final piece.  

I know press checks are not for everyone.  It isn’t always comfortable being in a loud production center, sometimes they are scheduled at inconvenient hours of the night or late morning, and some piece are honestly just not that important.  But if you are brand-conscious, printing a large quantity, or even just new to the printing industry – press checks may be just the tool you are looking for.

Stay tuned for a complete “how to” of press checking!  Know what to look for and how to ask for it.





Best “Out Of Office” Response EVER

12 04 2010

We have all seen the generic “I am out of the office until May 12th and will get back with you at my earliest convenience”  out of the office replies.  Yesterday I received an automatic response that made me stop and read it twice thinking Wow – here is a rep who is leveraging her abundant personality with her value proposition even when she is out of town!  I promptly replied to her email telling her that I loved it and that I was going to steal it.  Please read below:  

“I am glad that you contacted me and look forward to speaking with you, but please note that I am currently out of the office and will return April 7th. You are important to me and I DO believe that Western is the best company to assist you, so in my absence… 

For NEW quotes, contact my colleague Vince Navarro at (713) 407.5213 or vnavarro@westernlithograph.com. He has been in the industry for 25+ years, so he can get your project going smoothly until I return. 

For PROJECTS IN PROGRESS, contact my CSR Scott Hill at (713) 407.5267 or shill@westernlithograph.com. He is my “right hand,” so be assured that you are definitely in good company! 

Thank you. 

Stephanie R. Hood” 

Now if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.  





All About Color

1 12 2009

All kids knows that some colors are better than others.  No one wants the ucky-brown-green crayon that looks like a swamp creature’s backside when they are trying to color a rainbow.

As marketers, what does color mean to us and to the brands we strive to build and maintain?





What the F**k is Social Media? The Basics.

30 11 2009

As a printer… I often wonder why I spend so much time with twitter, my blog, linkedin, and all those other social media sites.  I  mean really… doesn’t that completely COUNTER what I am trying to do as a printing sales rep?

This engaging little online book reminded me why online networking is important…

What the F is Social Media?

So I guess Social Media is here to stay.  I don’t know about you all, but I definitely have gotten myself lost inside the more “social” aspect of social networking.  I can spend HOURS tweeting away about my favorite facial product or the Steelers’ game (ugh) last night.  But in reality, how to we use these sites to advance our BUSINESS?  That seems to be the million dollar question these days.

For me, I am starting out by simply using these to augment what I already do in non-online life.  Or NonLine. if you will.  I still do my cold-calls.  I still do my emailing and prospecting.  But I am trying to build up my online credibility.  Clients will check up on you, and they like seeing who you are as a person.  These outlets need to be seen as an opportunity for you to have touch-points with clients.  And you don’t have to do ANYTHING to get them! 

First, get a good-looking  photo of you in professional clothing.  Non of this half-cropped face at the bar stuff.  You need to look online the way you would present yourself in person.

Next, set up a LinkedIn page.  This is as easy as uploading a picture and your resume to begin.  There are much more complicated and intricate things that you can do on LinkedIn but I’ll save those for later.  To start – just get your page up and going.

After this, I recommend getting into Twitter and also starting a blog.  These things can all complement each other and feed leads back and forth. 

Finally, set up an established time each day that you will dedicate to updating these sites.  For me, I try to do Twitter once in the morning for 10 minutes (UGH… I can get so carried away with this!) and once in the afternoon for the same amount of time.   Don’t just write about work – write about your personal life in a professional way.  For example “Can’t wait to go see that Twilight Movie tonight!  Anyone been there yet??”  This is an awesome way for you to find out your client’s interestes and what THEY do on their personal time.  DO NOT Tweet about questionable late-night activities or bar-top dancing.

Blog: I recommend blogging 2 times a week to start.  Not that I have been able to keep up with that.  Blogging takes a lot of time and you really DO need to have a topic.  But for all intensive purposes, I’d recommend you use WordPress as your blog host if you are inexperienced (like me) and blogspot if you know what you are doing.  WordPress is easy, dummy-proof, and shows you clearly where your traffic is coming from.  Blogspot is great, but takes more time to set up and has fewer domain names available.  For your entries, pick a topic and start it on the spot.  I sometimes take 2-3 days to complete writing a blog that I started just because new ideas occur to me all the time.  Also because I have to run spell-check, but that’s beside the point.  Finally, think of a catchy title that people will want to click on and insert an interesting picture that people will want to look at.  Simple. 

The final step is to post a link to your latest blog on Twitter and on LinkedIn.  Be sure to give it a humorous tag line like “What the F**k Is Social Media??” (pat on the creator of that book’s back here) and off you go.

The plus side of having these many different outlets is that you can “advertise” for yourself and cross reference people.  I track hits to this blog from PrintJunkie.Net, Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn and I can see where the majority of my web-traffic comes from.  I am testing my network to show a pattern that will help me to promote my business when the time arises.  Next time we have a special deal, sale, or if I need information on a particular project – I know which network upon which I have the most influence.  Also, I am connecting with clients, strangers, and potential new clients in an entirely new way.  I mean you, reading this, you probably feel like you know a little bit about me having read some of my blogs.  You may want to be my friend and (hopefully) would be interested in doing business with me should, should the opportunity ever arise.  Or maybe you are just looking at my posts for laughs and giggles with your co-workers over the ideals of a sales rep still wet behind the ears.

Look, none of this is an exact science and I am definitely still working the kinks out.  Regardless, this is a great place for you to start if you are new to the social media world.  Get a good picture and then hit up Twitter, WordPress or BlogSpot, and LinkedIn.





Don’t Build Rapport By Sucking Up.

2 10 2009

Michigan-1Rapport Building is taught in Sales 101.  You gotta find an area of commonality and build that relationship, girl! Lame.  Every other sales person goes into meetings with the same strategy – look around the office at pictures, posters, diplomas, books, whatever, and ask questions.  OMG!  You have the best sponge collection!

 

Aren’t you original.

 

I recently stumbled upon an even better way to build a connection with a new client – competition.  No really.  I had a first-meeting with the director of a nationally recognized sports organization to pitch SnapShotU, a great new online application from my company, Consolidated Graphics.  I did my pre-call research and learned all about the guy.  I was in luck and discovered that we had TONS in common – he was from the same area of Northeast Ohio as myself and even attended a college right near mine.  I couldn’t wait to impress him into liking me.

 

The meeting started off in the standard “arms-length-hand-shake” way as we situated ourselves around the table.  Time to implement rapport building.  I had decided that the best strategy was to slyly ask questions that I already knew the answers to: “Where are you from?”  “Gasp… OHIO?!  No way.  Me too?!  What a small, small world.  I’m shocked.” The atmosphere gradually warmed as I peppered my sales pitch with “unplanned” discoveries of areas we had in common.

 

As the meeting drew to a close, I decided it was time to pull my ace out of my sleeve and really seal the deal.  You see, 99% Ohioans are fierce football fans.  We are split in our loyalty to professional teams, but unite behind the crimson and gray of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  For years the Bucks have been a source of pride and camaraderie for Ohioans worldwide.  As I wrapped up the meeting, I dropped in a casual remark about the Buckeyes with a winning smile.

His smile faded.  Uh Oh.

 

The guy was a Michigan Wolverine’s fan – the arch-nemesis of Ohio State going back 85 years.  To my great surprise, this contention turned out to warm our relationship up even more.  I returned to my office and decided to focus on this awkward moment rather than all of the pleasantries.  I found a Michigan Wolverine’s paraphanalia site and ordered him a fan towel.  I sent it to him along with a note reading

“Here is a little something for you to show your team spirit, not that it will help you in your game against State this weekend!  Try to wave it extra hard and see if magic happens.”

 

Score.  By focusing on our differences I was able to make him laugh and make myself stand out.  We now have plans to attend an Air Force Football game where the combined love for beer and the pigskin will hopefully continue to position me in his mind as the first thing he thinks of when he needs print.