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In Latin, it's called consensus ad idem, meaning "meeting of the minds." In layman's terms, or in the case of Mitch Berliner and Peter Buttenwieser, it's simply two guys who turned a chance occurrence into an uber-successful business partnership that has exceeded their wildest dreams.

 

Although Their Paths Crossed By Chance,

Synergy Has Propelled Biz Partners To Top


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Berliner and Buttenwieser are managing partners of CertaPro Painters of Westchester, NY and Southern CT, which for the past five years has earned the status of being the No. 1 residential business within the 400-plus offices of CertaPro Painters, America's largest and most-referred painting company. 

What makes their story interesting is that neither ever thought he would be in the painting business, but by happenstance - and most importantly, a lot of hard work - they have turned what Buttenwieser calls a "very synergistic partnership" into a thriving business that has been one of the most successful in the CertaPro Painters' franchise system.

"We refer to ourselves as managing partners vs. owners," said Buttenwieser of the pair, who each hold a 50 percent stake in the franchise. "While we each have our own areas of expertise and specialty, we are always seeking the other's advice and consulting in each other's domains."

In 2004, Berliner was an IT sales executive when he hired CertaPro Painters to stain the cedar siding and paint the trim on his home in Somers. When Berliner's general contractor said the finished work was some of the best he had ever seen, Berliner was so impressed... he bought the company.

Flash forward to 2005 and Buttenwieser was an advertising and marketing executive who hired CertaPro Painters to restore and paint his circa 1908 house in Bedford. Buttenwieser was so impressed... he called Berliner and ended up buying into the company.

"When I got a message to contact Peter, my assumption was that he was calling to complain about something. It turned out he wanted to discuss how we were marketing the company and if I would be open to selling him equity in the business," Berliner said. "I was initially hesitant to take on a partner, but in hindsight, I made a pretty good decision."

Buttenwieser had done his due diligence on CertaPro Painters and the painting industry as a whole. Three things caught his attention: 1) it was a relatively low overhead business; 2) the competition was mostly mom-and-pop businesses with no definitive branding; 3) as people increasingly turned to the internet to make home-improvement decisions, a national brand such as CertaPro Painters was well-positioned to capture internet market share.

Despite their bullishness on the industry, in the early going neither Berliner nor Buttenwieser quit their day jobs: Berliner with Hewlett Packard and Buttenwieser with his marketing firm, I Before E Marketing. "We started out thinking it would be a fun side business and we might make some great vacation money every year. But things kept getting bigger and bigger," Buttenwieser said.

That is an understatement.

Today, CertaPro Painters of Westchester, NY and Southern CT has a management staff of 14 and more than 150 painters and tradespeople on its team. Two of those team members - Shawn Gallagher and Alex Ramos - who were the account manager and job site supervisor, respectively, when Berliner and Buttenwieser had their homes painted, are still with the company, Gallagher as Senior Residential Accounts Manager and Ramos as Senior Job Site Supervisor. In 2014, the entire team was honored with the Certa Cup, an award given to the top franchise throughout the CertaPro Painters' network.

"We are very proud of what we have built and for how many families we are putting food on the table," Buttenwieser said.

The majority of CertaPro Painters' franchises are single owner/operator businesses. While there are some husband/wife partnerships and a few where two businesses have merged operations, very few have grown organically as Berliner and Buttenwieser have done with their franchise.

Berliner is general manager, overseeing all sales and operations, while Buttenwieser manages all marketing and customer relationship management.

"It is a rare day when we do not speak at least two or three times," Berliner said. "One of our keys is that we can be really honest with each other because we trust each other, which really says something, given that 10 years ago we had never met. It's quite a remarkable relationship. During this whole time, I can't remember a single situation where we have had a major disagreement."

That being said, each business partner knows how to deliver a subtle message to the other when the circumstance warrants. You know... just the slightest little jab - with a nod and a wink - to get a point across.

"One thing we use with each other is the 'two strokes and a poke' method when we provide feedback to each other," Buttenwieser said. "The other day Mitch gave me some feedback on a piece of promotional literature that went something like this... 'Great job, looks really sharp; though I believe we discussed adding in a minimum job size, but I don't see that in the fine print.'"

More than a decade has gone by since their paths crossed, but the relevance of that meeting has never been lost on the pair. It's something Berliner certainly didn't forget to mention when talking recently about his two keys for running a top-tier CertaPro Painters franchise.

"Follow the system; that is why you bought into a franchise business. You can tinker here and there for your local market conditions, but don't try to outsmart everyone else who is doing this all over the country," Berliner said. "There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of and landmines to avoid. And the best way to succeed is to get yourself a partner."


CertaPro Painters' best-in-class operational systems and procedures make it the most professional business model in the industry and its satisfied residential and commercial customers are the direct benefactors within the estimated $40 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada. CertaPro has been consistently ranked No. 1 by Entrepreneur magazine in its category and boasts a customer referral rate that exceeds 95 percent.

         Founded in 1992, Audubon, Pennsylvania-based CertaPro Painters is the largest painting company in North America. With more than 350 independently owned and operated franchises worldwide, CertaPro provides a customer-driven painting experience for both residential and commercial properties that is unparalleled in the industry. The company's stellar service and proven business system have made CertaPro North America's most referred painting company. 


For more information, visit CertaPro Painters 


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A few years ago, Brad Cowan made the switch from dealing with sets of wheels to wet basements. 

However, it was a natural transition for the 52-year-old Cowan, who in 2015 retired from his position as a Corporate Vice President in the Insurance Replacement Division of Enterprise Rent-A-Car to become Senior Vice President of Business Development with Paul Davis, the one-stop disaster and reconstruction franchisor based in Jacksonville, Florida.

 


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While one business deals with moving vehicles and the other with stationary buildings, Cowan found many similarities that dovetailed with the business experience he earned during a 24-year career at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where Cowan started as a manager trainee in a rental branch fresh out of college in 1991. 

In his role as a Corporate Vice President at Enterprise, Cowan worked closely with insurance companies and body shops to support customers during the auto claims process.

Likewise, Cowan now oversees Paul Davis' national business partnerships, as well as the national business development team, while also developing new programs for the Paul Davis Network.

With more than 375 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing with a business model that Cowan said is very similar in scope to what he experienced at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "The rapid growth here feels like Enterprise did 25 years ago when I first started there," Cowan said.

While always looking for qualified franchise candidates, Paul Davis is also expanding its geographic footprint of company-owned territories, recently completing two acquisitions, one in Kentucky and the other in Seattle. The first provides additional service coverage and capabilities between the Eastern and Midwest regions of Paul Davis company-owned operations, while the acquisition of the Seattle franchise adds a presence in another major metropolitan market which will serve as the foundation for a new regional platform on the West Coast.

"Paul Davis and the property industry are in a growth mode and we are in a great position to support our customers and provide opportunities for great people," Cowan said. 

"Our decision to build a network of company-owned locations illustrates our dedication to providing additional support to our clients and expanding our brand. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for A-grade players who will provide great service to our customers and who want to be part of a dynamic and growing industry. It will be real win for everyone working along with our network of experienced franchisees out there."

More About Paul Davis Restoration

 For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restoration has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters. 

The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration.

 Paul Davis Restoration has more than 375 independently owned franchises in the USA and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling. 

For further info go to Paul Davis Restoration


 

When you are a big well respected company like Jacksonville, Florida based Paul Davis, lots of people come to you for your knowledge and expertise. The area of restoration and repairs, particulary after this awful spate of hurricanes, floods and now fires, is a busy one.

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Unfortunately, most of the calls that the EMS division of Paul Davis (Emergency Services--damage evaluation) receive brings them to an unhappy scene.

A house severely damaged or even lost, a teary-eyed family searching through what belongings may be saved. One can't help but sympathize with the emotions and difficulties these victims experience.

A full Paul Davis Restoration team then moves in to clean up and repair the scenes after evaluation. Not a happy time but often it does end up with a happy ending.

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Even without Mother Nature's huge events, common hazards of life can cause chaos. One is extreme cold; but surprisingly, there are easy and inexpensive things to do so you never have to deal with this particular problem.

On December 7th Paul Davis' "flood house", a demo home at their state-of-the-art training facility in Jacksonville, was used by consumer journalist Jeff Rossen to demonstrate all the ways in which one can avoid bursting pipes and other cold weather hazards.

We have shared here: https://www.today.com/home/how-avoid-bursting-pipes-costly-repairs-winter-t119612

Full segment: http://on.today.com/2zX7kTK


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Contact Information is Enough

You have a database of franchise "leads" with names and email addresses.

And you can't get them to take your call or respond to all those emails you send.

It does not matter where you bought, got or borrowered these "leads" from.

What matters is connecting with them and getting a Franchise Sales appointment on their calendar.

How to Get the Franchise Sales Appointment - 3 Steps, 1 Clever LinkedIn Tip & 1 Warning

So here is what you do now.

1. Export your database of franchise leads to a spreadsheet, first name, last name & email address.

It does not matter whether you have 50 or 5000 leads. Just do it.

2. Next, you are going to take 10-15 franchise leads a day, every day until the end of time and invite them one-by-one to connect with you on LinkedIn.

But, there is a trick in doing this without having to look up the lead on LinkedIn.

This process to invite 10-15 franchise leads will take you 10 minutes or less to do.

And I am going to show you how to do it right now.

3. Linkedin Tip -Start on your LinkedIn homepage and click on My Network.

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A) On your My Network page click on More Options on the left side of the screen.

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B) Now select the invite by email option which is the envelope icon.

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C) Here's how you directly invite your franchise leads to connect with you on LinkedIn.

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D) LinkedIn will send you a New Connections email with a list of people you have connected with.

You want to start a conversation with them.

And the best way to start is by thanking them for connecting.

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E) Make connecting with your franchise leads from all your referral sources you are paying for must become part of your sales process and workflow.

You will get more Franchise Sales appointments by doing this and having conversations with your prospects in LinkedIn.

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*Warning: do not upload large lists of franchise lead records and shortcut this by inviting too many people to connect with you all at once.*

It's important to do this one-by-one so you have time to start conversations and follow the steps without overwhelming yourself.

Besides great franchise sales professionals know that franchises are sold to one prospect at a time.

And they always start with a Franchise Sales appointment.

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If you would like to know more about Prospecting for Franchise Recruits by accessing the LinkedIn database, then just sign up for our weekly newsletter.

What's in a Ranking? Plenty.

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Clients ask me all the time how important rankings are.

Franchise Times, Entrepreneur, Franchise Business Review among others, all publish several franchise ranking lists per year. Here's my response.

Everything positive you can show about your system is a plus, clearly. The important thing is to participate-answer emails from publications or entities that tell you you are being considered for this list or that.

You can forward to your PR people, but much of the information will likely have to come from your CFO.

As a PR firm for franchises, we keep a list "alarmed" for the most popular and (and this is important) the most credible rankings.

Four months before the list is published we remind clients to look for an email, form or link that they need to go to in order to be considered for inclusion on the said list.

We will also happily vet a request for legitimacy which you can ask your firm or PR person to do as well.

You can Google the list and publication in question yourself.

Then I recommend you do this below: not with every one but certainly when you have amassed as many as this Number One in Home Inspection franchise has.

Go ahead. Toot your horn, but putting out a press release for every list you are mentioned on minimizes the weight of the honor. Announce two-three awards or rankings at a time and soon you will become the SuperStar in your category like Pillar To Post!

PILLAR TO POST HOME INSPECTORS® RECEIVES TOP

RANKINGS FROM ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE IN SIX CATEGORIES IN 2016

They Will Raise Veterans Discount from 10% to 20% on Franchise Fees

(TAMPA, FLA.) -- Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has achieved the highest position in the Top Franchise for Veterans ranking in Entrepreneur Magazine for 2016. This prestigious honor is the sixth such ranking from the famed business publication for Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. The company ranked as follows in the magazine's January edition of the Franchise 500: #1 in their category of Home Inspection, Best of the Best, Fastest Growing Franchise, Top Home Based Franchises and Top Low Cost Franchises. In addition, the booming chain has already awarded 70 additional franchises since January of this year.

"We couldn't be more thrilled with this honor," said Dan Steward, President & CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. "It says so much not only about how hard we've worked but how hard our franchisees have worked and maintained absolute integrity in their home inspections."

In addition, Pillar To Post ranks high in Franchise Business Review rankings. Franchise Business Review is a national franchise market research firm that performs independent surveys of franchisee satisfaction and franchise buyer experiences, examines the critical areas of a franchise system including training & support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations, financial opportunity, and more. Its survey results deliver the unbiased facts about the overall health of a franchise system directly from today's franchise owners.

Pillar To Post has been named by Franchise Business Review's rankings of Top 50 in Franchisee Satisfaction, Top 30 among Home Service Franchises and Top Low Cost Franchise for 2016.

"We have been doing so well and are so honored to be named among Entrepreneur's Top Franchises for Veterans," said Eric Steward, Marketing Manager for Pillar To Post. "The veterans who join our system end up as top performers. Our business model and structure and culture seem to be a perfect fit for those leaving the military. As a result, we have recently added an additional 10% discount on our franchise fees for veterans, going from a 10% discount to a 20% discount for them.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with over 550 franchisees, located in 48 states and nine Canadian provinces. Long-term plans include adding 500-600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com/

I personally could not be more excited. And I don't want to brag but I nudged Ms. Moss or ([email protected]) to do this the day some very misguided International Franchise Association board members allowed an even more misguided then president Stephen Caldeira to relieve Debbie Moss from her amazingly successful run as Convention Director.

After 18 years of being widely credited with the turnaround of the association's educational programs, convention and ultimately, their bottom-line financial performance, that was her goodbye. Well, now meet Debbie Moss, The Meeting Boss.

I always say everything happens for a reason and this situation is no different. It's what one makes of his/her bumps and lumps in life that determines one's future.

Now this world-class event expert has launched a meeting consulting business for franchise systems. MeetingBoss.com services will include in-office training for meeting staff, development of an exhibit hall or creating a sponsorship program, maximizing sales efforts or program development for any event.

The signature service will be the MBoss Assessment, which takes a comprehensive look into 13 key components of any meeting to evaluate how to improve KPI's without sacrificing the registrants' experience.

"Events can be executed so much more efficiently and profitably with an experienced professional. Even a small board meeting can realize $10-$15k in savings with savvy contract negotiations and experienced on-site management of food & beverage costs," Moss said.

As most of the readers here know, Debbie has more than 30 years of expansive experience from upscale board meetings for 50 to city-wide conventions of 7,000+. At IFA from 1995-2014, in her last 10 years, overall revenue at the Annual Convention soared from $1.7MM to $4.4MM and bottom-line surplus grew from $900,000 to $2.4MM.

I have some personal knowledge having served a year on the Board of the IFA and as Supplier Forum Chairman that Debbie brought the association from the red to the black.

Her efficiency in holding fantastic, organized and flawlessly orchestrated events accounts also for the savings realized during each convention; and further the rise in registrations because people want to attend a good, educational and well planned function.

Debbie Moss' career didn't start with the IFA. She was Convention Director and then Vice President of Industry Affairs for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association for nearly 10 years before she was recruited by Don DeBolt, the then president at the International Franchise Association, to build the non-dues revenue at IFA in 1995.

Said Don Debolt, ""Debbie Moss is a meeting and event planning professional creating exceptional results, which I have personally experienced over the past 20 plus years. As Past Chairman of the International Franchise Association I saw first-hand how Debbie's meeting and events were produced on budget, on time and achieved impact for both large & small programs. Her approach combined vision, creativity, writing and staging general sessions to lead our association's revenue growth. High attention to detail, personal commitment, accountability, and communications are the hallmarks of her organization."

Another fan is the terrific Mike Isakson who we all remember as building giant ServiceMaster and who now is Managing Partner at Insight To Execution, "My opportunity to work with Debbie began a few years before I became IFA Chairman. In those volunteer roles, which included Convention Committee Chair, I had a front row seat to observe her ability to multi-task at an extremely high level -- always striving for flawless execution, better than better performance and rock solid efficiency & effectiveness. She demonstrated an affinity to look around corners for both challenges and opportunities and often took the lead to address those issues. Her commitment to build conferences revenue, while maintaining high standards, allowed the organization's finances to grow exponentially over her tenure."

Since I have known her I have always said that any meeting I ever attended would have been so much better had Debbie Moss in charge. Now she can be!!

Visit meetingboss.com for a complete look at the services offered by this long-time industry expert.

Wellington, Florida based LED Source is considered one of the top innovators in franchising. (See Entrepreneur Magazine October 2015 issue) Not only is the company a franchisor itself, but many of its customers are also franchise chains looking for awesome lighting designs and for a vendor that will outfit all new stores with the lighting of the future; LED lighting. In less than a decade it will be a "must have".

Many systems and large box store chains are already hiring LED Source to retrofit all of their old locations and to install all the lighting in their new locations.

ledsource-logo-211.pngFASTSIGNS and Massage Envy are just a couple of examples.

But CEO Marcel Fairbairn realized he needed to streamline the process between his franchisees and his vendors.

He generously shares his knowledge with you here in a Q&A.

  • Describe how your franchisees originally got all their materials when you first began the franchise program.

Our system was one where our zees were "forced" to buy ALL products through the "head office". In fact, we had a two-stage royalty where it would cost them twice as much if they were buying product from an approved vendor other than our office.

Our internal team would help the zee determine what to buy, process the order, place an order with our vendor, bring the shipment into our office, re-package the shipment to complete for the zee, send to the zee, carry the A/R, then process any returns that might happen as well. It was a crazy amount of administration and we eventually realized we were losing money on our franchise business due to this.

  • When did it occur to you that this was not the way to go?

Very early on we could see it was problematic but we felt there was no other way to do it. Our vendors are very big old lighting brands who are also finding themselves in this new, disruptive business called LED. They had enough on their plates with that to then delve into a whole other world.

The world of franchisees or small business owners as it was. It took my team more than a year to convince all of our suppliers to do business directly with our franchisees and to help design an expedient method for doing so.

  • What was your first real issue that opened your eyes?

The short answer is the impact it had on our financial performance. Since we were not making a margin sufficient to cover all of the support needs of our franchises, we were mounting losses each month.

Additionally, we were carrying inventory for our suppliers who never seemed to have what we needed when we needed it.

So we'd cover their deficiencies as best we could which never really seemed to be enough.

In the end, we were hurting our zees, ourselves AND our suppliers and I really took a hard look within to come up with a very obvious answer.

  • What was the very obvious answer?

If it's broke, fix it. First we pushed very hard on our vendors to create a model they had never used before. Again, we are talking multi-billion dollar businesses with 50 or 100 years history.

Change does not come easily and there is a tremendous amount of time and work involved so this was an enormous task. The fact is we never really had to admit anything because it was going to be such a positive change for our vendors and our zees. There was very little, if any pushback.

  • What exactly IS Vendor Direct and does it have steps that you put in your manual now so franchisees can follow easily leaving you all out of the fray?

Vendor Direct is quite simple. When a franchisee signs on, we provide them with a list of vendors, contacts, links to training videos and materials, etc. We basically introduce the franchisee to their suppliers.

The franchisee goes through the process of signing up as a dealer, applying for credit, etc. It has been a huge update in our manuals and processes, but well worth it in the end!

  • What was the reaction from the franchisees as you transitioned to this plan?

Initially there was some hesitation. Having us supply them gave them a certain comfort factor. They didn't have to deal with many other individuals.

The real issue was one we helped with to make sure that the franchisees receive credit from these large suppliers who often had very strict standards.

The truth is we were acting like a bank even to some who were not very solid credit risks.

But we worked through that and the affected few did very well in the end and now have solid credit and a solid business to go with it. Since then we've received nothing but praise.

We've got a stack of testimonials from happy zees who are discussing everything from the choices now available to the speed of shipping, wider availability, etc. Some of our zees have created very good relationships with their new suppliers and many of these relationships have already been quite productive.

  • How's it working for you and them now?

Even on my side, my finance team was at first skeptical towards the idea. Because we were, in reality, lowering our revenue, how could this possibly be a good thing?

The facts are the facts.

While yes, our gross sales have been impacted; our bottom line has already increased and will continue to. In addition, we've been able to re-purpose people who had been glorified order placers or trackers to now support franchisees in other, more productive ways.

We've allowed the manufacturers to discuss process and support THEIR products, and we support our zees on application, training, marketing and general business management.

As our business continues to scale, we do not have to borrow money or tie up resources toward massive inventories or administrative costs. Plus, our franchises have proven very quickly that the program works by rewarding themselves and us with growing revenues!!

  • You are clearly happy with the decision. In one sentence sum up what you learned from it.

It's hard to put such a laundry list of lessons and bumps on the head into one sentence, but for sure the one thing that comes to mind is that you should always play to your strengths. In this case, we were a challenged, even deficient supplier to our zees, and it showed in their numbers and our own.

So I looked at what we were doing and said to myself, "we are very good at what we do but this is not it. So let's get out of this role!" And that's precisely what we did.

About LED Source

Founded in 2005, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions. In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit. For more information and/or about franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com/franchising.

Beyond excellent franchisee growth in 2015, Cincinnati-based Window Genie was also lauded by a number of business journals throughout the year.

Inc. Magazine recognized Window Genie as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, in addition to placing it on the upper half of its annual Inc. 5000 listing of fastest-growing companies in the United States for the second year in a row.

Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Window Genie 170th on its annual Franchise 500 list for 2015, moving up 15 spots from 2014, cementing its place as one of the fastest-growing and top home-based franchises. Window Genie also placed 51st on Entrepreneur's top home based/ mobile franchises.

Franchise Business Review, a national franchisee satisfaction market research firm also placed Window Genie on its annual Top Franchises for Veteran's list. It is the only list of top franchises for veterans based on data from those who know best - the veterans who own them.

Window Genie's Founder and CEO Rik Nonelle said,

"This ranking is very important to us personally as we have a unique ability to give back to those who serve. We offer veterans additional territory at no cost when purchasing a franchise."

Nonelle continues, "These rankings are great but I most like achieving them for our franchisees, who are the most important part of our whole business structure."

Nonelle has made it HIS business to market to his franchisees, or, in other words, build internal programs that help them achieve great results. An example of one such program is an agreement made in April 2015 with 3M Company to provide a residential window film solution as part of the company's lauded Envision™ line of films.

window genie.jpgThe partnership provides Window Genie franchisees with the opportunity to service over 125,000 residential customers with window film that reduces fading, heat and glare, lowering utility bills. Window Genie's partnership with 3M is the result of two years of discussions between the companies.

In 2016, says Window Genie founder and CEO Richard Nonelle, the company has big plans for more programs that benefit franchisees and customers alike. "We will continue to focus on improving the experience between franchisee and customer," says Nonelle.

"This year we expanded our Your Holiday Lights program from three franchisees to 15 (this program is optional for those franchisees who wish to fill their winter months with an outdoor holiday lighting business) and continue to offer an incentive program for current owners who refer a new franchisee."

Window Genie's mobile search strategy, adds Nonelle, will be in full effect in 2016, which will entail an improved online presence and SEO enhancements to benefit owners.

"We have also been using the Franchise Navigator," said Nonelle. "I've learned the best thing I can give my existing franchisees are additional excellent franchisees coming aboard. We look for the same profile as my top performing franchisees. They deserve to have the brand continued to be bolstered by hard workers like themselves."

"The strength of your franchise system comes from the people who deliver your products or services. You could have the best business model and the best product or service, but if you sell your franchise or business opportunity to the wrong type of person you, they and the consumer will not receive what they expect from your brand," ​says Craig Slavin, Founder and President of Navigator System Solutions, owner of the Franchise Navigator.

Franchisors must focus on the human component part of growing their business. That means talent, skills, values and behavior! Create and "model" your high performing franchise owners. All inbound candidates should then be compared to this profile to determine if they are a good "fit" and can execute the franchise company's business model.

"A franchise sold to the wrong person is worse than not selling one at all," Nonelle agreed.

Window Genie aims to continue its growth in 2016, and Nonelle points to years of consistent annual expansion as proof that his plan is a sustainable one. This past year 15 new franchisees have joined the Window Genie system.

Window Genie franchisees can be found all throughout the United States, with target markets for growth for 2016 in Florida, Arizona, New York and California.

For 22 years Matthew Byrne worked in the building automation controls industry, where he last managed a $20 million branch contracting business. There he worked with energy efficiency products, gaining a keen insight into an industry that has a demonstrated impact on energy use and utilities. That, he said, is what drew him to LED Source. According to LEDinside retrofitting and other LED lighting projects will be a $25 billion industry by the end of this year.

"When I learned about the energy-efficiency capabilities of LED lighting, the excellent quality of the light produced and the longevity of the products, I became truly enthused," said Byrne. "Because LED lighting is an emerging technical industry, it reminds me of the early days of the direct digital controls revolution that occurred back when I first started. It was very exciting; with LED Source, I found I could recapture that magic."

The magic that Byrne seeks was further inspired by work with current partner Nate Byelick, Byrne's brother-in-law. Together the two worked with an LED startup company where they installed LED fixtures. Inspired by this experience, they decided to reach out and find an LED business they could own and and control.

"After 22 years in my previous industry I realized it was time for a change," said Byrne. "I became determined to never again let my financial stability be determined by someone else and I wanted to be involved in an industry that was rapidly growing before my eyes. I also felt that because of this new technology we could actually have a real affect on the environment while enjoying making a living. At a certain point in your career, you say to yourself, "'what can I do to give back' "? For Byrne and Byelick, the answer was LED Source.

Founded in 2005 by Marcel Fairbairn and Gavin Cooper, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions. In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit.

With decades of experience in building automation, Byrne is keenly aware of the difference smart technology can have on a company's bottom line. "Businesses stand to save a lot of money when they employ LED lighting and quicker than they may think," said Byrne. "That's one of my favorite parts of being with LED Source: dispelling preconceived notions and helping businesses save money, while doing it in such a way that they're helping the environment, too."

Now operating LED Source of Raleigh Matt Byrne says every day is Earth Day. That's because as the area franchisee of LED Source Byrne provides the kind of state-of-the-art lighting solutions that are becoming the standard for environmentally conscious businesses to the Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham areas.

Currently, Byrne and LED Source of Raleigh are working with GRACE Christian School in the Raleigh area transitioning all of their standard lighting into LED lighting. "We are outfitting three main components of the school's campus, the elementary school, high school and sports field. The high school campus used to be an auto dealership so excessive lighting throughout the parking lots had to be changed. We started the initial reach out via a cold call. The rebates the school received from switching from standard lighting to LED more than covered the switch over for the parking lot so they decided to refit the entire campus as a whole which is a big and exciting project for both the school and us," said Byrne.

"Businesses stand to save a lot of money when they employ LED lighting and quicker than they may think," shared Byrne. "That's one of my favorite parts of being with LED Source: dispelling preconceived notions and helping businesses save money, while doing it in such a way that they're helping the environment, too. It's also great to go to work and know you are not only decreasing your carbon footprint but are helping others do the same."

For more information about retrofitting your business or franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com

When you buy a franchise you are not necessarily thinking of an exit strategy or how you're going to sell the business in 10 or 15 years. But in the case of Sonja and Rich Heaton, it was exactly what was on their minds. And they can share some lessons about planning for just such an event.

After years of owning a Signarama in Orangeburg, SC, Rich and Sonja Heaton started actively positioning their business to sell. It took most of the next decade for the couple to build the business to where they wanted it to be to achieve a maximum return of investment and complete the sale.

"We went into the business knowing one day we would sell and started preparing and understanding the process about five years into the business," said Sonja Heaton. Even though they had it all planned, when they finally got to the selling point, the process still took nine months.

Before buying their Signarama franchise, the Heatons had spent five years running another franchise. They also worked for a jewelry firm for five years and Rich was a petroleum executive for seven years at a company that he played a pivotal role in selling. Sonja Heaton says these experiences taught them the importance of customer service. A lesson they took with them to their Signarama store.

"Sign companies in general have a reputation of slow turn around and customer service," said Rich. "We made sure we provided our services in a timely manner. We practiced the cliché, 'the customer is always right'" and put it into practice by refusing to say "no" to any project. We would take rush projects that many other companies would turn away. We provided solutions to problems no one else had the solution to."

That can-do attitude helped their business succeed by creating a loyal customer base.

"We specialized in small- to mid-sized chain accounts," said the Heatons. "These smaller businesses needed the service that the larger companies like McDonald's were getting, but they weren't able to get them because other signage companies didn't think they were big enough."

Now that they've finished the process of selling their successful franchise, the Heatons are looking forward to moving to Charleston, SC, but they're far from thinking about retirement.

"We have started a consulting business to help people build their businesses as we did," said the Heatons. "We are now helping people with their exit strategies and preparing them to get to a point where their business is ready to sell."

To reach out to the Heatons with help selling your franchise go to: [email protected]

ABOUT SIGNARAMA

Signarama, the world's largest sign franchise, offers branding and messaging solutions in addition to comprehensive sign and graphic services to consumers and commercial customers - from business signs, vehicle wraps, and digital signs, to advertising and marketing services. Signarama is part of a successful system of business-to-business franchise brands and development services under the United Franchise Group. As part of the $49-billion-plus worldwide sign market, Signarama has been at the forefront of the sign industry for more than two decades. Approaching 900 locations worldwide, the company expects to have more than 1,200 locations worldwide by the end of 2017. For more information visit http://www.signarama.com/

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

LinkedIn will be changing the structure of groups in the next coming weeks.

(For the entire list of changes, please download the pdf: "New Group Features")

This article will help you understand some of the changes that we will have to make in order to accommodate LinkedIn.

These changes are substantial and your input would be useful.

Your experience in the the groups is going to change radically.

You can ask us questions by commenting on this article or in the group.

Here are the first (2) changes to discuss:

1. Content Moderation

Timeliness and high engagement go hand-in-hand and are key to a successful group.

To ensure groups are effective as timely conversation forums, conversations will now be posted instantly to a group without the need for manager approval.

Group owners, managers, and moderators can still remove off-topic conversations and place members in moderation.

Other group members can also flag inappropriate comments and conversations after they've been posted.

Learn more about best practices for contributing to Groups conversations.

2. Removal of Promotions Tab

General member feedback indicates that promotional content in LinkedIn Groups isn't a valuable experience, as it can quickly lead to spam.

In an effort to focus on quality conversations, we've removed the Promotions tab.

Any new promotional posts will go to the moderation queue for the owners, managers, and moderators to approve.

Learn more about the moderation process for groups.

This present us with a serious problem.

The Promotions tab allowed us to be extremely firm in our rule about not starting a Discussion by using naked link to someone else's blog or your own article even if it might be of interest to the group, while at the same time making such material available for members who are interested. Those articles could be found in promotions.

Now that option is not available to us.

Joe and I have several ideas on the matter, but we would also like to hear from you.

Thanks.

Recently I was helping some friends get their social media accounts set up for their new coffee shop.

A local business like a coffee shop is not going to get a lot of value from many techniques used by content and inbound marketers.

Their new coffee shop, Café Love in Olympia, Washington, is not going to generate customers with a blog. (Well, they could generate customers with a blog but it would need to be special and that would not be the first thing I would suggest.)

Café Love will benefit from a social media presence and getting found on internet searches.

As I was working with Vanessa and Marty I thought it would be good to have a quick list of the accounts that should be set up.

This list would be great for any business but especially for location based businesses that depend on local traffic and people actually coming into their business.

This could include any type of restaurant, or business in the food and beverage industry; services such as barbers and beauty solons; automobile services, pet services, grooming and supplies; dancing schools and music stores; any type of brick and mortar stores; private businesses; franchise businesses; government offices and services; charity and non-profit services; and medical and health services.

The exact mix of accounts and what works best for you and your customers may vary a bit but this is where I would start.

Remember to experiment, see what works best and to try new things.

1. Facebook

With Facebook practically ubiquitous in North America it would be silly to ignore this. Remember to set up a personal account first then set up a business page. Once that is done you can invite others to help you administer the page. A few things to be sure to do:

  • Pick the correct category for your business
  • Set up your address so you show up on the map location
  • Put in your contact information
  • Learn about setting up Check-in Deals
  • Create and promote events
  • Adds can be targeted to your locations and to your customer profile
  • Update with photos of your space, products and events

2. Twitter

You can set up a Twitter account for your business and use it to promote your business, sales and events and connect with your customers and fans. Twitter may not be for every local business but there are a number of things you can do to make it more effective:

  • Follow and promote other local businesses
  • In Twitter Search use the Advanced Search to find people and business in "places" near you
  • Act like a person people would want to do business with, not an advertising broadcaster
  • Tweet about specials and coupons featured on your other accounts like Facebook and Foursqure
  • Send photos of events, regular customers and products

3. Foursquare

It is easy and free to set up Foursqure for business and Foursqure keeps track of your fans and check-ins for you.

  • Make sure the address is correct so you show up on maps and searches
  • Reward the mayor and frequent customers
  • Set up check-in specials
  • Post new images and photos
  • Connect to your other social media accounts
  • Foursqure Badges are connected to certain activities and businesses and are half the fun. What badges can your customers earn and how you can you make it fun?

4. Myspace

The obituaries for myspace have been written but I wouldn't nail the coffin shut yet because it is reinventing itself as the social media location for bands and entertainers. If your location business features live bands and entertainers then set up a Myspace account and connect and promote the bands, singers, comedians and dancers who will perform at your business.

5. Google+ and Google Locations

I've written that Google Places is now Google+ Local and published an eBook on the importance of Claiming Your Google Places. Google is such a big player now that it is important for any location based business to set up a Google+ Business Page and to claim their Google Places. Not only will this help you get found on Google searches you will show up on searches for Google Maps. This is essential especially when people do searches on their smart phones and that is exactly where you want to show up, when people are out looking for your services or product. A few things you should be sure to do:

  • Put in your contact information
  • List your hours of operation
  • Put a link to your menu or web site
  • Follow statistics about views for your listing
  • Use offers and coupons
  • Share updates about events, specials and more

6. Google Express Ads

In a recent blog I wrote that Google AdWords Express was a great solution for small business marketing. If you have thought about Pay-Per-Click ads but were intimidated by setting up Google AdWords or you do not have a website then this may be a great solution. This is specifically designed for small, location based businesses and is aimed at walk-in customers. It is worth checking out. If you need help we have a free Google Adwords consultation.

7. Yelp

Yelp is the other big location search engine and it is defiantly worth setting up an account and putting in your business' location and information. Yelp is famous for its reviews and this is something you want to be aware of and to follow.

8. Punchcard

I do not often push paid solutions but punchard is one that I have recently looked into that I like. It is a loyalty punch card system optimized for mobile applications. Your customers take a photo of their receipt and can redeem coupons and specials from you along the lines of buy 10 lattes and get the 11th latte free. As the business you get an amazing amount of information from your customers who check in so that you can tailor specials, coupons and promotions directly to the customer. For example set up specials for the customer who loves muffins, only comes in on Friday or never seems to spend more the $5. It is worth a look if rewarding loyal customers is important to you.

Another paid solution that I do not have a lot of experience with but I know others who swear by it is Groupon and similar coupon services.

9. Local Listings

There are a number of other places your business can be listed depending upon your location. Check out the local Chamber of Commerce, local newspapers or your city's official website. There is often a place to list local businesses. Depending on what is going on locally there may be a website devoted to local businesses or certain types of business such as restaurants or nightclubs. Search for businesses similar to yours and see where they are listed. Most of these sites will at least have a free listing and many will have enhanced services for a fee. What is important to you will determine what will be the best option.

10. Keep Track and Reward

Remember to keep track of what is bringing customers in. With Foursqure and Facebook you will be able to see who checks in but ask your customers what they are doing and how they found out about you. Run different specials and coupons on different sites and see what generates business. Remember to reward your customers who connect with you on social media and promote your business. If a customer is telling others about you, that is free advertising so thank them from time to time.

What have I left off the list that you think is good for local advertising and social media promotion? Tell us what you are doing in the comments below. If you are a small or local business we can give you a free social media marketing evaluation. Let us know how we can help.

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Networking can be great or it can totally suck.

I think everyone's viewed it through both lenses before. Almost all of us business owners have attended formal networking events where the only thing you were thinking was, "what the hell am I doing here". The other times, we've left events where we were excited at the possibilities of new leads and potential business partnerships. It can be hit or miss.

I wrote a previous article on why networking events are worthless. I'm not here to pee on everyone's networking parade, nor am I against networking......I attend formal and non-formal events almost every week. What I'm saying is that alot of the time, we're not doing it effectively. Either we approach networking the wrong way or we are networking with the wrong people.

Below are 5 times that you're wasting your time networking, at least in my opinion.

1. You network because you're scared of selling

Everyone hates cold calling. Heck, most of us hate warm calling. If only people would just randomly hand us money and beg us to sign a long term contract, life would be grand. If you're not into selling (you better go find someone who is), networking can be a safe haven of soft talk and non-intimidating interactions with "friends". That's alot easier then walking into a business and trying to pitch your value to a skeptical business owner. While networking is good, don't use it as an excuse not to actively go out and sell to potential customers.

2. You network because it's comfortable

Just like above, don't use networking as an excuse to not do the things you really know you should be doing. At many networking events, most of the people are looking to get business, they aren't necessarily seeking to buy anything. Alot of sellers and not enough buyers. They may not be your target market, you're ideal customer is at work, at there business.....probably listening to a pitch from one of your competitors while you're having tea and strumpets with other business owners just like you, "brainstorming" on how to find your ideal customer. Networking is great, just don't use it as a crutch.

3. You spend all of your time networking

Are you a professional networker? If your business is booming, that's awesome, keep at it. If after several months, there's nothing, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your marketing plan. Networking is the offline version of Social Media, it can be highly effective, but can also be a huge time suck if left unchecked. Just like in your personal life, make sure you have balance in your business life. Networking can be fun if you meet the right bunch of people, but don't let it distract you from working on your business.

4. You networking isn't really networking

I've attended networking events where most of the conversations revolved around shopping, family, vacations.....everything except business. If you attend networking events like this, don't fool yourself into thinking your networking for your business, you're socializing with friends. People will argue that this is networking......you're building friendships and relationships. If your marketing plan is to get business by osmosis, then this type of socializing is great.....it's just not effective.

5. Your ideal clients aren't networking- They're At work

Be honest about this one. Are the people you're networking with fit your ideal customer profile, or are they like you, looking to drum up more business? Most of our ideal clients are too busy to network, they are running businesses and have little time to spend on a Tuesday afternoon at the local cafe. While your networking circle may be able to refer you to your ideal client, you still need to go to the source and get them yourself if you want control over your business.

How Effective Is Your Networking?

Networking should be a part of your overall marketing strategy, its not a marketing strategy in of itself. It also shouldn't replace a sales strategy for your business. Put it this way, the guy who walks up to a girl and asks for a date will get rejected several times.....but will eventually land a date. The guy who's afraid to ask for a date will hang around groups of friends.....hoping one of those cute girls will basically "ask him out" so he doesn't have to. Sometimes it works, but you could be waiting a very long time to get asked out.

I continue to be amazed by the number of sales people who feel that LinkedIn doesn't provide any value to them.

Yet, these same people spend countless hours on Facebook telling people what they ate for breakfast, are leaving for work, or entering YouTube links. How is that a benefit to your bank account?

My feelings about LinkedIn are not theoretical and I'm not a paid advertiser of it. I am a beneficiary of this social media/marketing platform. I've personally used LinkedIn to build three businesses with this website as a lead source.

Recently, I spoke to a skeptical sales team about LinkedIn and the opportunity it provides.

Two minutes before I was going to demonstrate how to use this medium, I received an email from the president of a company interested in hiring me for sales management consulting who had found me through an article I published on LinkedIn. Rather than start the LinkedIn discussion with a demo of the technology, I put the email up on the screen and the skepticism evaporated.

LinkedIn provides sales people with a unique lead generation opportunity. However, the operative word is unique which means that the approach needs to be geared toward this medium. Imagine having prospects coming to you rather than you chasing them. It can be done if you have the right social media strategy when using this tool. This is marketing's job, right? Wrong! It is a co-shared responsibility. They have the global responsibility for positioning your company, but there is a role for sales people to play as well.
For starters, you need to take the approach that you are going to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry...an expert. Remember, as a sales person, you know more about your solutions than your prospective clients regardless of their titles. You track industry movement and trends...much more than the users of your products. This approach sets you on your mission of providing value with the goal of positioning yourself as an expert in your space. This will lead people to want to be associated with (or linked) to you.

The first step is to review your profile page on LinkedIn. What message is conveyed to someone who is reviewing your profile? This is where many sales people get stuck. They try to use their LinkedIn profile for multiple purposes...network with friends (save that for Facebook), leave the door open for a job search, and business development. That approach doesn't work as there is no clear message as to why you are on LinkedIn or what you seek to accomplish.

If your plan is to use LinkedIn for lead generation or business development, your approach should be linear. Your profile and recommendations should clearly position your role in your industry. Since you are not using LinkedIn, in this instance, for a job search, there is no reason to list jobs that don't reinforce your expertise. Provide only the information that helps paint the picture for the impression you want profile visitors to have of you.

When writing your bio, don't shoot for length...aim for focus. A one-paragraph bio that positions you in your industry as an expert is the goal. In this instance, people don't care about your personal information. If you aren't sure your bio conveys the desired message, have your peers read it and ask what message they derive from it.

Testimonials are very important. Your company probably has plenty of references for its product, service, or technology offering. However, your LinkedIn testimonials should be about you. What value do your clients receive by working with you? How do you support their account? Invite those whom you have earned the right to request a testimonial about their experience in working with you. The goal is not to get them to write that you are a sweetheart, but rather the results they received from working with you.

Remember, your profile serves as the foundation for everything else you will do on LinkedIn. All roads lead back to this page.
With your profile developed, the next step is to join groups. Again, the goal is to be linear. As a free member on LinkedIn, you can join up to 50 groups. It may seem like a lot, but you'll be surprised how quickly you use them. Using the search function at the top of the page on LinkedIn, search for groups using keywords that will show where your target clients are. If you are in employment screening, you may want to search on security, security professionals, small business, human resources, human resources professionals, etc.

The search will return a list of groups shown in order of number of members with the largest groups shown first. Join the largest ones, right? Nope! How can you be visible with 50,000 members? You'll get lost.

Ideally, join groups that have between 1,000 and 5,000 members. At that size, the group has enough mass to justify your time investment, but is not so large that you can't make yourself visible.

Once you are accepted into the group, there are a number of things you can do. Remember, your mission is to provide value first, not seeking to get buyers. Review the active discussions and participate in those where you can provide key insight. Resist the temptation to hawk your product here. Value first! (A suggestion...compose your responses using Word so you can spell/grammar check what you have written. LinkedIn does not have that functionality.)

You can also create discussions in groups. Don't create discussions that directly map back to the sale of your product. The group members will blast you for that. Use this opportunity to get key insight into the challenges that your buyers are experiencing. If you sell for a risk mitigation firm, you could create a discussion around the H1N1 pandemic and how organizations are handling this issue.

When people participate in discussions, their photo and link to their profile page are provided next to their comments. (Now, you see why your profile page is so important.) When readers are intrigued by comments, they research the author. When you are engaged in online discussions in a group, you can invite the member into your LinkedIn network. (Don't use the LinkedIn invite template...craft your own message.)

Once the members are in your network, you have a number of ways you can communicate with them. Remember, focus on value in every interaction. Want to learn more secrets to using LinkedIn for lead generation, get my FREE LinkedIn tipsheet. (Note. Before embarking on this journey, be sure to review your company's social media policy and/or check with your manager for approval.)

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LinkedIn wants to be part of your breakfast.

You know that part where you open your tablet, review the news in Pulse. Or you might be looking at your LinkedIn update stream on your home page.

Both Pulse and your LinkedIn stream of news have more noise than the Wall Street Journal, right now. But you are in more control of what you read.

How Print Made Money

The advertorial in a print magazine was deliberately made to look similar in type to the editorial page. Although titled "Advertisement", some readers who regularly ignored display ads were interested in the conversational format of the advertorial. So, they read & some bought.

The newspaper made money matching a supplier with a customer.

LinkedIn is doing something similar. It is allowing franchise brands to post their advertorials directly into your LinkedIn update stream.

These sponsored updates are different from the LinkedIn paid ads which you see around the edge of the LinkedIn, usually in widget on the right hand side.

Our Tests with Sponsored Updates & Buying Impressions

Last year, when the sponsored update program Joe and I tried out some of the features out -using our company page.

We were interested in acquiring a larger reach for our contributors, by buying impresssions.

First, buying impressions is relatively simple to do.

You figure out what your target audience is, fill in a few buttons and then you are presented with screen that looks like this.

sponsor.png

Ok, this campaign would cost us $23.74 for each 1,000 impressions we want to buy.

We are targeting the 104k LinkedIn users in Restaurant or Hospitality industry, Senior Director or VP and above. We are also targeting it to the people who are in business development, sales or marketing. Director level or higher.

So, 10K impressions would cost us $237.40.

And 100 click throughs, or direct responses, would cost $629.00

Is this a good deal?

It is a brilliant deal, compared to the alternative of using press release software. Which many franchisors are using to get their name out there.

Prices for Press Release Software

If your franchise brand is using press release software, what does it cost & what do you get?

Here is typical price list.

press release software price.png

So which franchisors are spending money on press release software?

Well, put in "franchise" in the searchbox and you will be a list of franchisors trying to get their name out using press release software.

Here is a typical press release, from Launch Trampoline.

Launch Trampoline.png

Ok because they have embedded video, we can calculate that they spent at least $500 to use the software. This one time.

But who the heck is going to read this?

1. You have to get the piece picked up by a local journalist.

2. You have to get the local journalist to find the piece interesting.

3. The local journalist has to decide that they have space to run the article as placement.

Finally, you need qualified buyers -either consumer or business- to look at the article. Which will run without the video in most cases.

Worse, is that if you do all this & the time isn't right for your reader, you have wasted your advertising budget.

The LinkedIn Advantage - Sponsored Updates - Direct to Reader

If you are targetting a professional audience, then the largest group of readers is on LinkedIn.

1. You can target the exact group of readers you want. No waiting around for a journalist, their editor and the paperboy to deliver your message.

2. You can send them messages with rich content, like videos.

3. You can keep in touch, once they have read your message or viewed your video. Because your customers buy when it is convenient from them & not when it is convenient for you.

Making an Impression on LinkedIn

When your brand needs to make an impression in LinkedIn, send me an email in LinkedIn. Use the title "I want to make an impression."

Or, you can just sign up for more of our ideas about how to publish on LinkedIn. Just click here and Mail Chimp will take over. Thanks. Oh, and we never give out your email.

LED Source- the Franchisor's Vendor

My client LED Source is an awesome company that has now been valued very highly by the "right people".

They are a franchisor & also a vendor to franchisors, retrofitting lighting for great chains like Massage Envy and Starbucks.

We will ALL eventually need LED lighting so they are out there promoting themselves on both levels. They are a terrific futuristic franchise opportunity and at the same time franchisors and chains, such as Starbucks, need to be retrofitted with all new lighting.

But how to go after a Starbucks type entity when you think "hey I'm just a small company?"

Be a small company that ROARS!

If you can make an intelligent presentation as to the whys, wheres, how tos and in LED Source's case, the tax credits the customer will receive, you can pitch anyone. It just takes tenacity and an intelligent, succinct "pitch".

Window Genie- 3M Partnership

Another great example is another terrific client of Sanderson & Associates: Cincinnati based Window Genie.

Window Genie has reached an agreement with 3M Company to provide a residential window film solution as part of the company's lauded Envision™ line of films. The partnership will provide Window Genie, a franchise chain with over 200 units that provides window cleaning and window tinting to homes in more than 24 states, an opportunity to service over 125,000 residential customers with window film that reduces fading, heat and glare and can help lower utility bills.

Beginning April 1, Window Genie franchisees will offer the residential Envision™ film options that include clear view, glare control, sun block and shade offerings. The film options range from 70%-40% for total solar energy rejection (TSER), a quality which stands to save homeowners significantly on their utility bills.

Window Genie's partnership with 3M is the result of two years of discussions between the companies, initiated by Window Genie.

"We approached 3M two years ago actively seeking the partnership," said Ken Fisk, vice president of operations for Window Genie.

"We believed Window Genie's reputation as an established residential home service business put us in a great position to illustrate to 3M the value of forming a partnership with us.

Through two years of conversations pertaining to the opportunity 3M had to penetrate the residential market through a partnership with Window Genie, a company with over 125,000 residential customers in our database, both parties agreed it was mutually beneficial to move forward."

"The partnership is mutually beneficial," said Fisk.

"While Window Genie is able to further customer satisfaction by providing a highly recognizable brand of top quality window film, 3M is able to successfully penetrate the residential market and build brand awareness for their line of residential film among Window Genie's customers that span over 200 markets in 24 states."

For years 3M's line of Envision™ Wrap Films has been an industry favorite, earning commendations for its high performance, sustainable materials and comprehensive warranty.

Founded in 1994 by Rik Nonelle, Window Genie recently appeared on Inc. Magazine's 2014 Inc. 5000 list and on Entrepreneur Magazine's list of top 100 home-based franchises. The partnership stands to benefit Window Genie franchisees every bit as it will benefit customers," said Fisk.

"We look forward to improved training and support by providing one brand of film to our franchise partners," said Fisk. "We believe it will help streamline systems and enable growth with a more successful method of coaching throughout the entire Window Genie system."

ABOUT WINDOW GENIE

Window Genie is a mobile cleaning services company focused primarily on its "big three" services: window cleaning, window tinting and pressure washing. The company also offers, among many other services, dryer vent cleaning, chandelier cleaning and gutter cleaning and re-securing.

Window Genie services primarily residential customers, as well as small offices and commercial spaces. The company currently has 72 franchise owners operating more than 200 units in 24 states, and expects to grow to 100 franchisees by the end of 2015 and over 300 within five years. Target markets include California, New York and Florida. For more information, visit www.windowgenie.com.

ABOUT LED SOURCE

Founded in 2005, LED Source® is North America's first franchisor of LED lighting. The company supplies high quality LED lighting products to a variety of spaces, and specializes in design, support, development, project management and financing through its Retrofit, Architectural, Entertainment and National Accounts divisions.

In 2012, LED Source launched LouMan Money®, a private-labeled finance program that affords companies an LED lighting upgrade without tying up capital or using existing lines of credit. For more information and/or about franchising opportunities, please visit www.LEDsource.com/franchising.

Networking can be awfully tedious. Especially if you are in the wrong group.

Networking on LinkedIn can be just as dull - you have to pick the right LinkedIn group to join. How do you pick the right group?

Well, in the previous post, I showed you a neat trick - How to invite the right people to connect with you. (The people who had just been looking at your profile are very likely to connect with you, if you just ask them. No need for a fancy invite.)

Now, you could invite everyone who had just viewed your profile to connect with you. But, I don't recommend this. Even when you use this technique, you have to have a purpose or reason to invite someone to connect or join your network.

Remember, the trick was that they were the "right" people because they were interested in you right now.

So, how do you get into the right group? Simple, you invite the "right" people. Probably have something to say to them, don't you?

And I am going to show you how to invite the "right" people to a LinkedIn group.

Now, what Joe and I do is to invite our new 1st connections to 3 or 4 of the franchise groups we own or manage.

For example, we would invite an New York attorney whose practice involved commercial transactions to the Franchise Attorney Group, the Finance Group, and to the New York Franchise Association Group.

Joe and I can easily do this because we are owners/managers of these three groups, and many others. LinkedIn makes it easy for owners/managers to invite their connections to join a group.

But, how can you do the same thing? When you are not a manager or owner?

LinkedIn doesn't make it obvious anymore how you can invite your first connections to join the group or groups you are in.

So, here is one way you can invite your first connections to your favorite group.

I am going to use the example of inviting a first connection to join the Franchise Owner/Franchisee Group.

Step 1 - Go to the Group and Look in the Top Right Hand Corner.

Invite 1.png

See the funny arrow? It's a share button. Now, make sure you are sharing from the front page, where the discussions are.

Step 2. Click on the funny arrow and you will be presented with this box.

invite 3.png

Step 3. You can do several things at this stage.

1. If you click on the blue button, you will be asking everyone who is viewing your feed right now to join the Franchise Owner/Franchisee group. You could safely do that.

2. But, to invite select individuals, you have to:

a) uncheck "Share an update" and;

b) check "Send to individuals", and then click on the blue share button.

Make sure to:

a) have a good reason in the headline for them to open the email and;

b) have a good reason for them to join the group.

Don't go with the standard LinkedIn default, even if you are really pressed for time.

invite 4.png

There you go.

Now, your group will be filled with the right sort of people. People who want to talk with you.

Advanced networking strategies and so much more ....

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on what our Franchise-Info Business Directory can do for you, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

Most LinkedIn 'experts' either don't have an active company page or recommend against using a company page. I have read one 'expert' claim how that it was too hard to get people to both follow him & his company page.

However, there are advantages and disadvantages in creating, maintaining and distributing content using your company page. We have had an active company page for a little under a year and are very pleased with the results. But, you may have a different experience.

So, here are the two primary considerations to help you decide between publishing long form on Pulse versus using your company page to distribute content to LinkedIn members.

#1. What type of analytics do you need?

You can either share articles, create long form posts on Pulse, or publish on your company page. But, you won't get equally good analytics from each method.

a. Sharing

LinkedIn is phasing out one of our favorite widgets -- "Who has Viewed your Updates?"

whose viewed.png

In the latest LinkedIn interface, you will only get occasional notices of how many people have viewed your updates.

The reach of organic sharing has been steadily diminishing over the last 18 months.

Look, even though Joe has over 10,000 connections, his sharing of this article had only 45 views. Sharing is nice, but because of the limited organic reach it is no substitute for serious marketing.

b. Long Form Publishing on Pulse

Now, if you are publishing long form posts using Pulse you can get better analytics.

Here are the numbers from my last 6 Pulse posts.

Pulse.png

These are average numbers, 150 -250 views with 1-4 comments. But, at least you get the analytics for each of you posts.

c. Publishing on Company Pages

Now, if you want even more analytics, then you need to be posting your content with your company page.

The analytics are considerably more in depth, and LinkedIn has just added a new feature: Notifications.

You can get trends, daily, weekly and monthly views.

You cannot, however, get reports.

Here are what some of these analytics look like, from our company page.

company page.png

Note, that the articles we are publishing are now getting over 1,000 views on a daily basis. More than a 20x increase over just sharing. That's worthwhile, if you want a larger audience.

Conclusion: If you need detailed analytics on per post basis, you will have to create a company page and publish your content on it. On the other hand, if you are content to simply share and don't really care about your limited reach, then you should not create a company page. It will be too much work for you.

#2. Getting An Audience for Your Company

It is much easier to get people to connect with you in comparison to task them to follow your company.

The reason for this is simple. You and I connect because we see something interesting in each other's profile.

It is not so obvious why would want to follow a company, though.

For example, over the last 8 years my first connections have grown from 0 to over 6,000.

But, during the last year from March 2014, we have only grown our company followers from 114 to 516.

Conclusion: Unless you have a compelling offer, it will be hard to get LinkedIn members to follow your company.

Now for us, the advantages of better analytics out-weigh the difficulty of getting followers. And that is why we have a company page on LinkedIn.

For more on publishing and advertising and much more ....

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to gain exposure for you and your brand, and has quickly become the powerhouse for social selling. The site has gained traction and its value has become evident.

From lead generation to employment opportunities, people have used the site to meet their personal business goals.

Now, as company pages emerged, similar articles were developed on how to make the most of your company page on LinkedIn.

Among the burning questions is engagement - how do we make the most of our LinkedIn page to engage with others, and develop relationships that are key to growing our business?

Below is a great infographic that depicts the key factors in creating a great LinkedIn status update for a company page:

LinkedIn_Status_Infographic.jpg

Some of the more obvious tips include creating a call to action (driving people to your website, blog, or other key site), using images with descriptions (images are appealing and draw attention to your update), and make sure the content is relevant.

Posting an article and asking for questions and opinions is another more obvious method of getting your status update to be seen by more people.

1. Target your updates: as you can see below, at the bottom of your status update box, you have the option to share the update with all followers or targeted people within your network.

Most of the time you'll want to share with the entire group, but there may be times when you want to send an update to only specific people within your network.

LI-update-1.jpg

LI-update-2.jpg

2. Encourage franchise owners to share the company page content: as status updates are created, encourage franchise owners to engage with the content, whether it's liking an update, sharing it with a group they belong to, or commenting.

Of course you don't want all of your franchise owners doing this with every single update, but selective engagement can keep your company page visible.

When engaging,franchise owners should include their own call to action, which includes encouragement for others to follow the company page.

3. Use analytics and page insights: find out which updates were best received, and which had the most engagement. Conversely, which updates were hardly looked at or given a second thought? This information can be helpful when creating content for your company page.

LinkedIn is ever changing and becoming increasingly more impactful in the way people connect for business.

Making sure your company page is the best it can be, providing relevant, useful content that will be shared by others, and looking for new and innovative ways to increase visibility will be the key to a successful company page.

What tips and tricks has your company used?

What's been most beneficial?

Anything you've tried been a complete flop?

join us.jpg

If you would like to know more about Recruiting Franchise Prospects by accessing the LinkedIn database, then just sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Connect with the Right People

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LinkedIn is a Big Trade Show

Remember, when we first talked about LinkedIn being a big, but disorganized trade show?

I promised to tell you How to Connect with the Right People.

Now, many 'experts' will tell you to craft some personal invitations & carefully select your connections requests.

Maybe they are right?

I don't really know. What I do know is that I got my 6,000 connections in a much easier manner.

And, I am going to tell you how I did it.

So, how do you know who the right people are to connect with?

It's a trick question.

It isn't whether they are the right people -surely you can figure that out from their profile.

The question is different. Is this the right time to connect with them, offer them an invitation? Timing is what is important.

Ok, how do you know if it is the right time to ask for a connection?

Well, think about being at a trade show, again.

If you are at a trade show manning your booth and someone comes over, what do you do? That's easy. You introduce yourself, engage in some small talk and possibly exchange business cards.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your trade booth. And people who view your profile as the same as someone visiting your booth in a trade show.

So, how do you invite some of those people who have viewed your profile to connect?

Let me show you a neat trick -one the 'experts' frown on. Probably because it works so well.

4 Easy Steps

(As long as you have Premium LinkedIn membership. Previously, we had recommended that you start with the most inexpensive memberhsip - Personal Plus. Unfortunately, it is no longer available.)

Step 1. Who Has Viewed Your Profile.

On the black toolbar, hover on "Profile" and then click on "Who has Viewed Your Profile".

Step 1.png

Step 2. Check Out Who is Checking You Out.

You will be taken to this page. We can talk about the analytics another time. Just scroll down the page.

Step 2.png

You will find a number of rows like this:

Step 3.1.png

Step 3. The Tricky Bit

Say I wanted to connect with Chris Hess because he is a franchise owner in one of our groups.

What happens if I click on the "connect" button? I will be prompted for Chris's email.

I can then personalize my invitation, if I have the his email. That might be a bother to get.

Step 3.5.png

Step 4. Don't Connect from the Profile Page. Search Instead.

Suppose, instead, I simply search for "Chris Hess".

In search, I am also prompted to connect with Chris.

Step 4.png

But, if I ask for a connection from this search results page, then LinkedIn automatically sends an invitation, a generic one, albeit.

Here is the thing.

Chris was just looking at my profile. I'll bet he will be tickled to get even a standard invite from me & he will accept.

Do this once a week, and you will be connecting with right people in a friendly, easy and simple manner.

Connecting to the right people and much, much more ....

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on what our Franchise-Info Business Directory can do for you, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]


Attention - A Basic Need.

What do people crave even more than security?

Attention.

We learn at an early age that attention is the best gift of all.

My young son gets attention, so far, like his father used to, by being the class clown.

My young daughter gets attention, so far, by applying herself studiously to her lessons.

The basic human need for attention has not been attenuated by social media.


Attention - From People Who Could Do Business With Us

In the last two articles, And, What Do You Do? & Using Rich Snippets to Create Compelling Headlines, we showed you two things.

First, how to create a better 'About Us' page.

Second, how to create a better title and headline for your 'About Us' page so that more more people who saw only the headline click through to your 'About Us' page.

Ok, now that more people have shown an interest in what you do, what would you like them to do?

If you were at a tradeshow, it would be normal to introduce yourself, ask some questions, and engage in chit-chat.

If all went well, they would want you to ask them for their business card. So, you would. And then get back to them in due course.

Now, how can your website play this role?

How can your website offer to exchange business cards with only people you will get back to --because they are qualified to do business with you?

Well, it cannot. Not exactly. But, your website can do something similar.

By presenting your LinkedIn business card to visitors, you achieve a similar effect. It looks like this. Here is the Franchise-Info Business card.

Example of LinkedIn Company Business Card -in an article

Here is Reid Hoffman's business card, Reid Hoffman is one of the founders of LinkedIn.

Example of LinkedIn Individual Business Card -in an article

Looks good, doesn't it. How can you get one? And what should you do with it?


Getting Your LinkedIn Business Card


The only difficulty with getting your LinkedIn Business card is how to implement it on your "About Us" page.

You want to put this javascript at the into your html, wherever your want your business card to show up.

instructions.png

Of course, replace http://www.linkedin.com/in/reidhoffman. with your own LinkedIn url. (If you don't know how to find your own LinkedIn url, the instructions are here, just click.)

As always you can ask me for more information in the comments section & I will do my best to answer.For your Smart About Us business listing, we do this automatically for you. You can ask whomever manages your website to do the same for you.

More on Modern Business Cards from LinkedIn ...

If you liked this idea, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

The good news in PR during the '90s? Clients on magazine covers, Wall Street Journal columns, 900 word stories in their major dailies. The bad news? Lots of mistakes, lots of jockying for space, bad photos appearing, misquotes.

2015-Content Management. I'm liking this better. Here's what we can do now and make sure it's seen by thousands of people. With photos, graphics and artwork.

WINDOW GENIE CLEANS HOUSE IN 2014

National Brand Partnerships, Technology Enhancements, Franchisee Growth Planned for 2015

(Cincinnati, Ohio)---If 2014 was any indication, Americans are appreciating home cleaning services the likes of which Window Genie provides more than ever. The 21 franchise locations opened throughout the year--with three additional locations pending an early 2015 opening--are proof enough of the growing demand for the mobile cleaning service famous for window cleaning, window tinting and pressure washing. Now, heading into 2015, the company that celebrated its 20th year in business in 2014 is gearing up for even greater growth, spurred in large part by the multiple programs and partnerships set to take off in the year.

Beyond franchisee growth in 2014, Window Genie was also lauded by a number of business journals throughout the year. Inc. Magazine recognized Window Genie as the 13th fastest-growing business in the Cincinnati metropolitan area in addition to placing it on the upper half of its annual Inc. 5000 listing of fastest-growing companies in the United States. In addition, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Window Genie 195th on its annual Franchise 500 list, cementing its place as one of the fastest-growing and top home-based franchises.

In 2015, says Window Genie founder and CEO Richard Nonelle, the company has big plans to benefit franchisees and customers alike. "We will continue to focus on improving the experience between franchisee and customer," says Nonelle. "We'll do this both through new partnerships we've founded with a number of national brands, including Yelp and Home Advisor, as well as by enhancing our technology." Window Genie's mobile search strategy, adds Nonelle, will be in full effect in 2015, which will entail an improved online presence and SEO enhancements to benefit owners.

Window Genie aims to continue its growth in 2015, and Nonelle points to years of consistent annual expansion as proof that his plan is a sustainable one. In the last three years, 60 franchisees have joined the Window Genie system. Window Genie franchisees can be found all throughout the United States, with target markets for growth for 2015 in the East and West coasts and throughout Florida.

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About Window Genie

Founded in 1994 by Richard Nonelle, Cincinnati-based Window Genie is a mobile cleaning services company focused primarily on its "big three" services: window cleaning, window tinting and pressure washing. The company also offers, among many other services, dryer vent cleaning, chandelier cleaning and gutter cleaning and re-securing. Window Genie services primarily residential customers, as well as small offices and commercial spaces. The company currently has 72 franchise owners operating 140 units in 28 states, and expects to grow to 100 franchisees by the end of 2015 and over 300 within five years. Target markets include California, New York and Florida. For more information, visit www.windowgenie.com.

(Oaks, Pennsylvania) - When one typically hears of military-to-civilian career stories, the focus is predominately on the challenges they face when obtaining employment. According to the United States Department of Labor, of the 722,000 unemployed veterans in 2013, 60 percent of them were over the age of 45. Rather than starting from the bottom, many veterans are finding small business ownership as a more efficient route to meet their employment and financial needs. CertaPro Painters, based in Oaks, Pennsylvania, is North America's largest residential and commercial painting company and they have taken the stress out of the process of opening one's own business for former military personnel.

"We are proud to support our veterans however we possibly can," says Peter Barkman, VP of franchise development, "their honest and disciplined work ethic falls directly in line with the goals and overall mission of our company."

CertaPro is one of the many companies that provide all honorably discharged veterans with a 10 percent discount off its franchise fee through VetFran, a program which provides training, financial assistance, and support for service members returning home from duty. For New Orleans residents John and Kathy Durbin, and Tom Thoma in Fairfax, Virginia, the transition from the military to business ownership has been challenging, yet rewarding.

John Durbin served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 25 years. His wife, Kathy, worked with a Department of Defense contractor for 13. Feeling as though they had both reached the pinnacle of their military careers the couple decided to move onto their next venture and in August of 2014, opened a CertaPro franchise in New Orleans.

Over the course of 11 years, Tom Thoma built an impressive resume serving in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer. However, everything changed in 2007 was Thoma was diagnosed with melanoma. Now, he has a clean bill of health, but the battle with cancer gave Thoma a different perspective on life. "There were just too many other things I wanted to pursue," Thoma said. "Even though I really enjoyed the opportunities I was given in the Navy, I realized it was time to settle down."

Both the Durbin's and Thoma have found that CertaPro Painters offers a unique model that fits the wants, needs, and desires of military personnel seeking new careers and opportunities. Through proven business methodologies, industry best practices, low overhead and inventory costs, and a support network of likeminded franchise owners committed to helping one another succeed through sharing their experiences and advice, both the Durbin's and  Tom Thoma feel as though they will be able to thrive in their new endeavors.

Another example is Kevin Messer and his wife Laurie of Madison, Alabama.

After over 20 years as a Lt. Colonel in the Army and program and project manager on an aviation platform, Kevin Messer leveraged his experience in team building and customer service to open CertaPro Painters of Madison, Alabama with wife Laurie in May of this year.  The couple, the parents of eight children, decided it was time to settle down with an alternative retirement plan and start a business of their own.

"My experiences in the military have taught me how to use my strengths well, delegate tasks, and perform to the best of my ability," said Messer. "After much research, I realized that CertaPro had a business model that would support and coach me on being a first-time business owner, so I decided this would be a great next step for me and my family."

"Our family has moved around all over the country due to my position in the military, and I decided that as my children got older I wanted to create a more stable home environment for them," said Messer. "I'm excited to open a business where I can continue to serve my community and feel fulfilled about the work that I am doing."

Currently, CertaPro has over 20 franchises owned and operated by veterans, allowing the Durbin's and Thoma access to a network of business owners who share their backgrounds. CertaPro is also a national partner with Homes For Our Troops - a non-profit organization that builds specifically adapted homes for veterans who have been severely injured in combat operations. 

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About CertaPro Painters

Founded in 1991, CertaPro is the largest residential and commercial painting company in North America with over 350 locations. By consistently providing customers with an extraordinary experience, CertaPro has become the most referred painting company in the US and Canada. CertaPro franchisees establish large-scale, regional painting companies backed by CertaPro's proven business system making it a great fit for seasoned business professionals looking for a franchise opportunity. In addition, CertaPro is proud to participate in the VetFran program by offering Veteran Franchise Opportunities to military veterans (US Only). CertaPro also offers financing at a preferred rate for qualified veterans. For more information, visit www.certapro.com. Or for franchising information, visit http://certapro-franchise.com/

 

 

 

Who Else Wants to Close More Deals?

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Imagine this: you have just persuaded your company's top 500 prospects to join a real-life networking group that your company owns. This group meets weekly, and discusses business topics in a very engaged way.

To stack things in your favour, the business topics are ones that you specialise in.

If you were this group's manager, you would build strong relationships with your prospects.  And by demonstrating expertise in the group's business topics, you would probably generate a large number of meetings and sales over time.

The problem is, it would be nearly impossible to create this type of group in real life.  Even if you could somehow persuade your top prospects to join your group, you would also have to cope with the enormous logistics and costs of running a group of this size on a weekly basis.

Enter social networks

With millions of members, and highly scalable platforms, social networks allow companies to create digital versions of real-life groups like the one described above.

The best example of this is a LinkedIn group.

LinkedIn groups allow companies to pool their prospects in one defined forum, and engage them with content and conversation. As a group manager, this gives you an opportunity to interact with your members and exploit the powerful engagement models of LinkedIn groups.

What are these engagement models?

  • Firstly, you can have a one-to-one conversation with any group member, simply by responding to one of their posted articles or existing replies, and
  • Secondly, each conversation you have with a member is broadcast to the entire group, via a group update on the members' LinkedIn news feeds. So the group can view each one-to-one conversation, which means one-to-many exposure for your brand.

Another key benefit is positioning your company and group managers as thought leaders. As group managers consistently demonstrate their experience in the group's theme, they emerge as subject matter experts in their field.

The engagement models of LinkedIn groups, and the ability to position oneself as a subject matter expert, helps to build the group manager's brand awareness and trust among group members. It also creates virtual relationships that resemble those in real life.

Group managers can then leverage these relationships to generate leads, in several ways. For example, by posting content that links back to their own company's website, converting group members into leads, or, by approaching members and asking them to meet in person, generating outbound leads. The latter has an especially high ratio of meeting requested to meeting secured.

The new lead generation paradigm 

Social networks, and LinkedIn groups in particular, have turned lead generation on its head. It used to be that the number of relationships you enjoyed was limited to the number of people you could meet. Now you can build hundreds - even thousands - of relationships with prospects before you even meet them, then leverage that trust by reaching out to prospects you do want to meet.

This new approach to networking is not only scalable; it can also shorten your sales cycles. After all, you are meeting prospects that already know and trust you. The relationship, albeit virtual, is already there. And their membership in your group qualifies their interest in what you offer.

Tips for success

The most important tip for building a successful LinkedIn group is this: define your target audience first. Who are your prospects?  And what are their core problems?

Once you identify these, your second most important task is naming your group. The secret lies in giving it a name that sounds as if it could address your prospect's core problems.

Some more tips:

  • Before you go live, make sure to post interesting articles and conversation starters in the group. This will impress your first batch of members (e.g. staff and business partners) and get the conversation going,
  • once you have built some initial activity, start inviting your business prospects to join the group. You can do this via LinkedIn paid media such as LinkedIn Ads, or Inmails which allow you to send personalised one-to-one invitations,
  • promote regular conversations around the group's topics, to grow discussion threads. For example, if one of your members posts an interesting article, jump in by responding with your own thoughts. Have a conversation with that member for the whole group to see then encourage other group members to jump in,
  • never sell or self-promote in your group. Instead, engage in 'social selling'. That is, provide immense value to your members via expert advice and information, without any expectation of return,
  • and finally, never allow spam or off-topic posts in your group. Members do notice and over time it will damage your group's reputation.

Remember, each of your group's members represents future business for your firm. So love them to death with the very best content, discussion, and friendship, and you will soon experience the business opportunities that LinkedIn groups provide.

This article was originally published at Marketing Magazine, republished with the consent of the author.

LinkedIn is widely known as the professional social network. So, it would make sense for people to assume that it is largely for B2B companies. While it is true that LinkedIn is one of the most beneficial social networks when it comes to B2B, the Social Equity a brand can garner as a result of having a LinkedIn presence - whether it is B2B or B2C - is quite high.

Today, we aim to explain where the Social Equity of a LinkedIn presence is found, and how you can determine the value added to your business as a result of having both a personal and company page on the social network.

The Benefits of LinkedIn

To understand how we can derive Social Equity from LinkedIn, we first need to understand what the benefits of a LinkedIn presence are to our business.

As we noted above, LinkedIn is often perceived as the professional network. As such, it is an arena in which professionals actively seek out industry influencers, leaders and authority figures.

Therefore, it is one of the easiest niches in which to establish yourself as an industry-leader within your market. Social networks on the more general scale, like Facebook and Twitter, are mediums in which we can establish our brand as an authority with the general public, but for any company, be it B2C or B2B, LinkedIn is the best avenue through which we can build our credibility with members of our own industry.

On the other side of the spectrum, LinkedIn is an excellent network for seeking out the advice and tips of other leaders and professionals, and applying those bits of advice to our own strategies.

Though LinkedIn Answers was a great feature in which to do this before it was removed, LinkedIn Groups are still a powerful tool, and include higher engagement rates than almost any other feature on social media.

Contrary to many social networks, LinkedIn is a place where professionals are seeking out the opinions and inputs of others, and the element of self-promotion (not in its purest form, but close to it) is not only accepted, but in many cases encouraged.

So, how does this all add value to your business?

Social Equity Derived from LinkedIn

Having both a personal account and an active company page on LinkedIn can generate quite a bit of Social Equity for your brand. With a well-orchestrated strategy in place, we can quickly build our authority in a given field and begin driving referrals to both our personal pages and our websites. This holds true for both types of businesses.

Even as a B2C entity, we are still looking to build market authority, and LinkedIn is one way of doing that.

You have a retail store. You create a profile on LinkedIn, and begin sharing what you really know about running a successful retail location, or a successful e-commerce website.

By sharing your authentic expertise with your network, you will see your influence, as measured by your LinkedIn referral traffic begin to increase.

It is important to understand that in any industry, people want to associate themselves with the best. Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a retail-savvy basement blogger, industry leaders and influencers receive the most attention on a network like LinkedIn, and that translates to Social Equity.

The value added of a large professional and referral network is highly coveted.

Consider not only the calculated value of your business assets, but the value added of an extended network, an established industry leader at the helm of your company and your industry influence. All of this is capable through the strategic use of LinkedIn.

How are you using LinkedIn to generate Social Equity for your business? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

Recently, I tweeted out to one of members, Frances Leary, that our main social media goal was to have the most interesting groups about Franchising in LinkedIn.

Franchise-Info is a member supported community, which means although we aggregate our member's articles, we never have any display advertising on the website.

Because Franchise-Info is supported by its members, this gives Joe and I the time to actively moderate all our 30+ Franchise LinkedIn groups.

I want to show the difference active moderation makes - the direct result of your support.

Joe and I think of the LinkedIn groups as networking opportunities for everyone.  A chance to chat, sometimes seriously, about important franchise issues.  

We don't want our groups to become the Craigslist for B2B marketers - who throw their blog into the group hoping that someone will go to their website.  

While we recognize that people market their services on LinkedIn, we also want to promote dialogue & discussion.  Thus, our tag line: Creating Intelligent Conversations in Franchising.

Joe and I can afford to spend the time in our groups doing this precisely because Franchise-Info is member supported.  Joe and I thank-you for that support.

Here is the value of moderation - less pitching and more conversation.

Look at the numbers.

Franchise Owners/Franchisee is our top group right now - with close to 10,000 members.

Here is last week's ratio of comments/discussions & promotions/discussions.

Last week 69 people wanted to post in this group.  

Apart from our member posts, 10, we let in only 5 others.  The 15 posts generated 21 comments.  

And each one of those comments triggers a special LinkedIn action - LinkedIn emails out the thread to everyone in the Group.  

So active posts are seen by the 10,000 members over and over - depending on how many comments the discussion creates.

Owner 1.png

Now consider the 5 groups with more members than the Franchise Owner/Franchisee group.

Other.png

 

1st Group- Franchise Networking

Let's take it from the top and start with Franchise Networking.  

Ok, despite their 25,000+ members, they had 63 people wanting to post a discussion.  

They let 54 in, which generated 2 comments. And you can see that -because the orange dominates the graph- this is usual.  

Franchise Networking is drop-off -people drop off their posts, never to return to talk and engage people.

Networking.png

3rd Group= International Franchise Association

What about the International Franchise Association's LinkedIn group?  Surely that must be much better - they have an entire staff to throw at the problem.  

In fact, they are worse.  Their orange line dominates the blue line - nobody is discussing any of the articles in the group.

Again, it is the Craigslist of B2B marketing.  People throw articles at you and yell: "Read my Stuff!"  But nobody is listening.

IFA 2.png

The numbers for Franchise Professionals, Franchise Executives and the Franchising Industry are similar.  

None of these LinkedIn groups are member-supported.

There may be many reasons other than discussion to join a group.  

But, when you want your discussion to be read, thought about, and commented on there is simply no better groups than the Franchise-Info LinkedIn groups.  And it is all because of your support -which Joe and I thank you for.

LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking site. It is a fantastic resource for networking, connecting with potential partners, investors and clients, and sharing your expertise.

There is no reason not to be on LinkedIn. It's safe and it's professional.

Here are nine steps to help you setup your LinkedIn profile successfully and use LinkedIn to strengthen your network.

Step 1: The Profile Box
Complete all this information.
1. Name
2. Professional Headline - Use Keywords! This is searchable.
3. Location
4. Professional Photo
5. Current and Past Positions - Use Keywords! Be Specific! This is searchable.
6. Education Information - Great way to connect!
7. Website Listings (Include Website Name) and Twitter Handle
8. Personalized LinkedIn URL
9. Professional Contact Information

Step 2: Summary
Be specific, be likable, use keywords and establish credibility. Introduce yourself in first person and set yourself apart from the competition. This should not be the same as your website bio.

Step 3: Skills
Remember - these are searchable keywords that will help you establish expertise and credibility.

Step 4: Complete the rest of your profile as fits your needs.
Honors, Interests, Awards, Photos, Media, etc.
You can have a lot of fun with the "extras" that really set your profile apart.

Step 5: Make Connections:
Email contacts, Colleagues, Classmates, Networking connections, etc.

Step 6: Join Groups and Follow Companies to Make More Connections

Step 7: Post Regular Updates
Post during the work day and share relevant information that will speak to your target market and connections in a unique way that sets you apart from others.

Step 8: Stay Up to Date
Follow channels that interest you on Pulse and stay in tune with what your network is interested in.

Step 9: Be Engaged 
Participate in groups, answer questions, respond to connections/messages

LinkedIn Wants You!

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The professional hub for online networking, has set its sights on a new audience: the B2B content marketer.

According to the leaked LinkedIn strategy document, the company is looking to build a "comprehensive B2B marketing platform." This new plan includes reforming the current networking space into a place where B2B public relations professionals and business owners can share targeted and dynamic content that generates sales leads.

Entrepreneur outlines the three things you should know, as a content marketer, about the new LinkedIn:

  • Taking the Guesswork Out: Content marketers will not only have access to the vast and comprehensive network of LinkedIn, but also the ability to target key audiences more accurately, and measure the impact of the marketing efforts.
  • Pressure is On: With this change comes the challenge of executing campaigns effectively. Marketers will need more content, and not just in volume. Due to the targeting features, the content will also need more specifics.
  • Reevaluate and Revise: It's time to take another look at your content marketing strategy and determine what it is missing in order to take full advantage of the new LinkedIn features. Rethink your key audiences. Is there an audience you're missing? What information would they want? Content should be created for a potential lead at every stage of the purchasing process.

Once you've revised your social strategy, developed more content, and determined your key audiences, it is time to implement.

Don't just stop with LinkedIn, continue to optimize other social media channels as well to get the most out of your lead generation strategies.

Don't have time to take advantage of all LinkedIn has to offer for your franchise or B2B company? Ripley PR has the knowledge and skills to help you generate new sales leads through B2B social media and comprehensive public relations strategies.

That is a question we should all be asking.

Then we should decide if the answer matters to us or our business. 

If you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shops and a Subway franchisee is going to several of your locations buying and tasting your sandwiches, there isn't much you can do about that.

But if you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop and Subway's HR person calls your best development person, or contacts them through LinkedIn for an interview, you need to ponder that dilemma and decide if and how to combat it.

We are in an age of lots of connection!  Do you have employees sending out resumes from the office computer? You can track that. Are they posting their resume on LinkedIn with notes such as "Looking for Job Opportunities"?  That's another matter. 

There is always the standard non-compete agreement which you can ask an employee to sign upon hiring.  Make sure the agreement is legal and protects you from the things that matter.  No need to put a bunch of items in that you can't enforce and do not matter to you and your business. 

I've always found in my thirty years in franchise PR, that an employee that is gone should be gone.  In other words, even if they seemed ideal, if they can be stolen, they shouldn't be in your shop. If you've let them go and they end up at a competitor, well that's his/her new headache, and no longer yours.  You know why you terminated them. Let your competitor find out too!

Then there is the matter in our case of clients stealing employees. I use the word "steal" but can they really do that? It's a human being.  Is it ethical? No   Is it legal? Yes, unless you have a non-compete agreement worded properly that forbids that action.  Even then you can ask for no more than a year-long reprieve. The upside? You got rid of a client with questionable character and an easily bought, disloyal employee.

My favorite is when you have been working with a company for years; they see how well you are doing and decide to go into your industry, in our case PR, by shopping your business or your competitors' for people.  

This scenario teaches you so much about people, loyalty and business that any possible damage that can be done by the occurrence is totally exceeded by the brilliant lessons you learn from it.

In this scenario, they likely end up with all the industry misfits that couldn't make it at the competitors' shops and really, when you look at all the pieces together, what's missing is the burning passion and talent that drove you to start your own PR firm, franchise service business, restaurant chain, consulting business, whatever you have created that built a name for you to begin with.

In other words, don't sweat it. The joke's on your competitor!

A recent story about small business marketing had an interesting twist.

"Phones start ringing at the Farmington Hills, Michigan, salon each time co-owner Miranda Jade Plater posts pictures on photo-sharing app Instagram.

Would-be customers call to book appointments or ask questions about hair extensions she posts."

PAYING FOR ATTENTION

To boost Limelight Extensions' followers, Plater pays local models and reality show stars to promote the company on their accounts.

Payment is either a percentage of sales, a flat rate or free hair.

In return, they post photos of themselves wearing the extensions with a link back to Limelight Extensions' Instagram account.

The company has more than 27,000 followers."

Does your spouse tell you "You don't listen" or " You don't pay attention"?  I know my wife does.

"Pay attention" is something I continually say to my young son.  

Our daughter, on the other hand, wants me to pay attention to her.

 

Pay Attention.  Pay for Attention

It got me thinking.  Why do some professionals write interesting articles & upload  them to their website, if nobody is paying attention?

Do they think that by uploading an article with an file transfer protocol program, FTP, they are now "publishers"?  Maybe they do.  I don't know.

Neither you or I would go to a trade show to give a talk, if we knew that there was no one in the audience.  Nobody would be paying attention.  So, we wouldn't bother.

 

Pay Attention. Pay for Attendees.

So if you are writing to get your name out there, why do you bother if you aren't getting the attention you deserve?

Let's face it - the people on Facebook and Twitter don't actually want to read.  They aren't paying attention to articles you write, they are too busy doing something else.  

And, the people who you could do business with are on LinkedIn.  

LinkedIn users like to read.

 

Pay Attention.  Paying for Attention?

If you think about it, attention is a type of currency.  You can pay someone with attention, or you can pay for attention.  

And most of us want more attention, especially for the ideas we have written about.

 

Who is Paying You Attention?

Here is a typical picture of the traffic or readers to a professional's website -(Law Firm's name removed to protect the innocent).

Alexa For Law Firm.png

Now, this isn't so good - not even being the top 1 million of popular websites.  

Nobody is paying attention to this law firm.

Which is really too bad because the firm has some very good articles on franchising.  Thoughtful and topical.

 

So Why Not Pay for Attention, Instead?

If you have spent two or three hours researching, writing & revising your article, that article is worth $750 - $1,000 of your time.  Why not pay an extra $80.00 and get the attention you deserve?

When you want more clients, get Franchise-Info Key Partner Marketing Program before your competitors do!

(Or are you doing so well you don't need more clients? I know I need more clients!)

 

You write content & Franchise-Info distributes your content to our many LinkedIn Readers.

How does that help you?

Well, remember that nobody was paying attention to you on your website?

Now, look at who is looking at our Franchise Info updates last month ending June 22nd, 2014.

Ok, we are seeing between 20,000 to 30,000 impressions daily, between Monday and Friday!

impressions.png

So, when you want more clients, get Franchise-Info Key Partner Marketing Program before your competitors do!

Most people write well enough to convey interesting ideas. You probably do.

And, this is a bit of a problem for you when you compete for attention on Linkedin.

You could spend time creating your own LinkedIn network, one quality connection at a time. Since 2005, I have grown my LinkedIn networks to over 6,000 connections. So, I can get a bit of attention for my ideas or you ideas when I share them.

But, now with the LinkedIn Sponsored Update advertising program, I could have an audience as big as Sir Richard Branson. All I would have to do is pay for LinkedIn to sponsor my updates.

How does the LinkedIn Sponsored Update program work?

Here is an overview of how Linkedin thinks you should be marketing on its platform. (You might have to refresh your screen, Slideshare is a bit wonky.)

Ok, but let's dive into the details a bit more.

Once you share an update into the LinkedIn update stream of news, it is seen by some of your first connections.

LinkedIn says that you can expect that 20% of your first connections will get your article in their stream of news or updates. These are impressions.

Fewer than 20% will actually click on the headline and view it. These are views.

Even fewer will view the headline, and then read your article to the end. These are readers.

Finally, some of these readers will actually do what you want them to do - follow your call to action at the end of the article. These are leads.

For example, my call to action at the end of this article will be to ask people to sign up for our newsletter on LinkedIn Tips for Authors. And this article will have to get quite a few impressions from the Franchise-Info network to get a few leads. We estimate that you need around 10,000 impressions to get 20-40 readers. That is a lot of impresions, especially when the average impression for an update is below 50 views.

But, the Sponsored Update program allows you to buy those impressions, instead of only earning attention from your network of 1st connections.

Think of Sponsored Updates as a PR program for the LinkedIn platform. Instead of getting your article placed in a magazine, newspaper or press release, a Sponsored Update gets your message directly to a decision-maker.

If you are interested in knowing more about the basics of setting up a Sponsored Update advertising program, Jeff Haden has a good review of the Sponsored Update Program.

And, If you thought this was useful or interesting, then you should sign up for the Franchise Info Newsletter on Tips for LinkedIn Authors. Just click here and Mail Chimp will take over. Thanks.

Oh, and we never give out your email.

LinkedIn wants to be part of your breakfast.  That part where you open your tablet, review the LinkedIn stream of news &  read some brand advertorials.  Your LinkedIn stream of news has more noise than the WSJ, but you can take steps to edit out the noise & read things are informative and congenial.

And advertorial in a print magazine was deliberately made to look similar to the editorial page.  Although titled "Advertisement", some readers who regularly skipped display ads were interested in the conversational format of the advertorial.  So, they read & some bought.  The newspaper made money matching a supplier with a customer.

LinkedIn is doing something similar.  It is allowing franchise brands to post their ads directly into your LinkedIn update stream, even if you aren't currently following the company. 

These sponsored updates are different from the LinkedIn paid ads which you see around the edge of the LinkedIn stream, usually in widget  on the right hand side.

Since the sponsored update programs was announced a couple of weeks ago, Joe and I have been trying some of the features out -using our company page.

First, buying impressions is relatively simple.  You figure out what a target audience is, fill in a few buttons and then you are presented with screen that looks like this.

sponsor.png

Ok, this campaign would cost us $23.74 for each 1,000 impressions we want to buy.  We are targeting the 104k LinkedIn users in Restaurant or Hospitality industry, Senior Director or VP and above.  We are also targeting it to the people who are in business development, sales or marketing.  So, 10K impressions would cost $237.40.  

But, before we tried to buy the interest or impressions, Joe and I thought we should experiment.  How many impressions could we get using the company page?  

Well, we tried out some ideas and look what happened!  

On May 5th, were able generate, just with 2 articles, 29,031 impressions.  This would have cost us $689.19

But, we generated these impressions organically - as you can see we have gone from essentially zero impressions to almost 30,000 impressions in less than a couple of weeks. 

0-30k.png

Now here is thing. Both articles that we tested were advertorials or sponsored updates.  We were using articles that were asking people for a sale.  People read them, just like you are doing now.  Because of their conversational tone.

When your brand needs to make an impression in LinkedIn, and you want your brand to go from 0 to 30k, or more, send me an email in LinkedIn.  Use the title "I want to make an impression."

Or, you can just sign up for more of our ideas about how to publish on LinkedIn. Just click here and Mail Chimp will take over.  Thanks.   Oh, and we never give out your email.

 

A professional negotiator and mediator asked me to take a look at his LinkedIn profile & make suggestions.

The guy has a terrific CV and resume. Very impressive.

But, does his LinkedIn profile attract or repel potential clients?

There are many LinkedIn experts who will say that they can help you. Maybe they can. I know that some of them will certainly charge you a lot of money.

The Science of Decision Making & The 3 Filters of Choice

It does make sense to know something about the science of choice - what people do when they have to make a decision?

Well, when people have to make a decision, they typically do something the first things very fast, first. Which allows them to form a conclusion quickly, and have a decision made. Without worrying too much about it.

Here is the basic decision process many people would go through to see if you were good at something that they were interested in.

They would scan your summary profile & use the following rules or filters and in this order.

Are You Good At Anything.png

Filter 1. You aren't good at anything --Leave and find someone else to help. Many people don't have a clear statement in their summary what they are good at & why the reader should believe it.

Here is my solution to that problem.

In the first line of my summary, I write:

Specialties: Strategic Analysis for Franchises and Negotiation, see Endorsements below.

And what does my Skill and Endorsements section look like?

Endorsements.png

Ok, you see the LinkedIn community thinks I am good at Franchising, Strategy and Negotiation.

There are a number of ways of getting around the first fillter.

But, if you have a good number of endorsements, then I would use this technique. Because it says to the reader - hey, a lot of people think I am good at some things -the sort of things you might want to buy, my dear reader.

Filter 2. Yes, you are good at something, but what you are good at isn't what I need.

This might very well be true. You don't need to be contacted by people who cannot really use your skills properly.

So, if someone asked me what you did, I might say something like this:

summary.png

"Michael solves complex problems in franchising systems. Problems which demand the coordination, cooperation of people who sometimes don't talk, don't like, or actively dislike each other."

Then I might give them a link to this article on Creating the Modern Franchise Owner's Group.

Or I might go on an talk about the general problem of coordination in groups.

Or I might do both.

Now, Joe has more straightforward solution to this filter problem. In his summary, he is able to state with authority that he has 20+ years of franchise development, starting with fixing the sales process at a major QSR. As process still in place.

So, if the reader is interested in franchise sales or development, it is pretty clear that Joe has seen it all.

joe.png

Filter 3. Yes, you are good at something that I need, but I don't need it now.

Ok, this is the hardest filter to make it through.

Why? Because customers always buy on their own schedules and not your timetable. So our solution to this problem is get people to sign up for our Tips newsletters, just like the one of the bottom of this page. We intend to stay Top-of-Mind with them until they need to buy from us.

Only profiles which make it through these 3 filters will magically attract clients. People who will call you and ask if you can help them.

And for getting this far, here is final neat tip.

Knowing how people like to jump to the end, I would include something like this in the last section.

Advice for Contacting Michael

-Hey you made it to the bottom of the page. Good for you!

-If you are a franchisor, Joe Caruso and I can help you with your sales process.

-If you are supplier, Joe Caruso and I can help you with establishing a vendor program.

-If you a franchise owner/franchisee, Joe Caruso and I can help you with establishing a franchisee's owners group.

-If you are anyone else, let me know what you think I could help you with.

Any questions?

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

For over 12 years,  I have been active in forums, chat boards, blogs, and now on LinkedIn helping create intelligent conversations about franchising.

Here are some useful ideas about how find people who could do business with you on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has a cap of 50 groups you can join no matter what level of subscription you have. And remember the subgroups you join do not count against the maximum 50 groups allowed by LinkedIn.

Here's how LinkedIn describes their groups.

"LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.

You can find groups to join by using the search feature at the top of your homepage or viewing suggestions of groups you may like. You can also create a new group focused on a particular topic or industry." (For more from LinkedIn see : http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1164/kw/groups)

In my experience the quality of groups ranges from well managed & moderated to abandoned & desolate. Picking groups is trial and error. I've joined groups with a high member count only to find it full of spam or little to no worthwhile activity. And I have found small member groups with terrific engagement and value.

I also manage a number of groups and one in particular gets over 100 requests to join a day and only 10% are a fit and get in. The other 90% are spammers or people with dubious LinkedIn profiles.

So what should you do to make the best of your groups and do some marketing since you are on LinkedIn for commercial purposes otherwise you'd be frolicking on Facebook looking at funny cat pictures.

  1. Join target groups where the people you could do business with are members

  2. Carefully read the group description & rules 

  3. Invite the Group Owner and Group Managers to Connect with you

  4. Introduce yourself with a brief description and why you joined the group

  5. Start engaging by gaining group credibility

    1. Scroll through the existing Discussions and add value with your comments

    2. Go to the Group Members tab and start connecting with people who fit your targets

  6. Content Marketing 

    1. Posting interesting articles - frame them with why you think the topic is read & discussion worthy 

    2. Posting your original content is better and you still need to tell people why it's read & discussion worthy

    3. Respond to people who comment on your articles

    4. Check and confirm your Discussions You Started are posting and not stuck in Moderation purgatory

Groups are where you can really showcase what you are about. And generate client/customer leads for your business or practice.

If you aren't in any groups yet join 5 and begin. 

If you been in groups for a long time go through your group inventory dumping the obvious deadenders and start talking with people who pay attention to you & want to do business with you.

LinkedIn now makes it very easy for users to endorse skills listed by their connections. Typically, as soon as you open your LinkedIn window, there it is...that box with four of your connections asking you to endorse them for specific skills.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to do so. Simply click Endorse all, and you have done just that. Then the box disappears and you can get back to your LinkedIn business. You may also choose to click on individuals if you do not want to endorse them all, and you can search for other endorsement suggestions.

So, here's the sticky point to consider:

While you likely want to support your connections, what does it say about you if you endorse someone for a skill you are not actually certain they possess?

Every endorsement you make of someone else is a reflection of you. While they may be taken less seriously than an official recommendation letter, they still represent you.

Consider that if you do not know first-hand whether someone is truly skilled in an area, providing them with an endorsement may actually be a breach of trust. It can potentially devalue your word and decrease the respect others have for you and your recommendations.

While many on LinkedIn approach endorsements as just a friendly way to lend support, consider that there may be ways to provide support to your connections and still resist the temptation to endorse someone for a skill you truly do not know that they possess.

Sharing their content is one  way to do this. Also, if you truly want to be able to endorse them, then perhaps it's time to setup a meeting so you can get to know first-hand what it is that they do and the ways they do it well.

So, the next time that endorsement box pops up, consider carefully whether the recommended endorsements are a true reflection of who and what you would want to recommend.

Use LinkedIn Like an Expert

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I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

My apologies to Peter Finch and Network, but how much longer will people complain "LinkedIn doesn't work for me!", when lazy habits are to blame?

No more excuses, LinkedIn members! Say it with me now:

"I can do this!"

"I can fit LinkedIn marketing into my day!"

"I can get great results quickly!"

Here are 5 quick shoves...errr, tips...to help you become more productive on LinkedIn, with minimal effort:

1. Stop Using Standard LinkedIn Language for Invites

"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." Why are you still using this tired old pickup line?

It shows a complete disinterest in people and a total lack of imagination. It says, "I'm rushing through this and you're just one in a huge number of nameless faces that make up my connection quota for the day."

People, use your heads. Or more accurately, your keyboards, to create several templated invitations. Save them in a word doc, then whip 'em out and customize them for more satisfying LinkedIn connections.

For example, something as simple as "Dear John, We share membership in the ABC group. I've reviewed your profile and would appreciate the opportunity to connect." Could it be any easier?

2. Failing to Connect with Who's Viewed Your Profile

Do you ever look at this feature to see who is looking at you? Those with paid memberships get an expanded view, but even free members can see who stopped by, as long as that member has no profile restrictions.

So what are you going to do about it? Send an email.

Yes, a simple note like, "Sue, I noticed you viewed my profile. Were you just browsing or can I help you better understand [insert appropriately]?"

I wish I had tracked my use of this strategy from the beginning, because I could be telling some great stories right now about the unexpected business I've earned from this simple action.

Once again, this is an email that can be written ahead of time and slightly tweaked to customize personally. 3 seconds...in and out. Not so hard, is it?

3. Standing on the Sidelines and not Joining Groups

Remember your prom? Remember standing on the sidelines, hoping someone would ask you to dance? Ever wondered how that experience might have been forever changed if you had just stepped away from the wall?

Joining groups and then sitting there like the proverbial wallflower is ridiculous. Why did you join the group? If this group met in person once a week, would you attend every meeting but never say a word? C'mon...groups are about participation.

Networking is about finding like minded people. New business is about connecting and engaging, none of which can happen when you are virtually invisible. Start talking!

4. Cluttering Your Homepage with Tweets

When it comes to syncing Twitter with LinkedIn, you have 2 choices: sync your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn home page, or sync your LinkedIn homepage to your Twitter feed. Which one is best?

Well, the answer depends in part on your industry and your tweeting style. As a general rule of thumb, sync your LinkedIn page to your Twitter feed. This way, you won't clutter your homepage with every single tweet unrelated to your LinkedIn network, which can annoy some members. In fact, it can be so annoying some members may decide to 'hide' your updates, meaning their connection to your insights is broken until the "unhide" button is chosen. You might be chatting in the wind, but you will never know....

5. Fear of Asking for Recommendations

People generally have a tough time asking for what they want. Asking for a recommendation is no easier. It feels awkward; you may be rejected, or worse, completely ignored. If you don't know what you want to achieve with the recommendation you are requesting, think it through before asking.

Recommendations are important to a well-rounded profile, but literally vital to pagerank, which can help you get found and get hired. If you are a bit nervous, ask colleagues, peers, friends, and good clients first. They won't say no, and they'll always say something nice.

Recommendations can be about work you've done, results you've achieved, your character, work ethic, etc. Recommendations can also be used to repeat important keyword phrases. No need to write a novel when a few sentences will do. Whatever you do, don't ask strangers for recommendations.

And for heaven's sake, don't accept LinkedIn's standard language, "I'm sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks in advance for helping me out."

Good grief. Is this how you communicate with real people?

Want more LinkedIn Networking, Marketing and Advertising Tips? Sign up for the newsletter, click here.

So, your partners are getting their content out into the world wide web, now what?

Spreading it around and making sure people read it is the next step! Social media is a great platform to fulfill this goal because, as you may be aware, it has completely revolutionized the way we interact!

That's why, in this post, we'll review why social media is important for your partner local units and what it entails! Just so you get an idea of how big social media is, Facebook has over 400 million users; while "Tweeters" produce over 1 billion posts per month!

This is a big market for your business since potential customers are mingling and looking for local answers to their needs in there! Join several social media sites (the ones that make sense to your business), and get some of the benefits they have to offer:

  • Participating in Conversations about Your Business

  • Building a Relationship with Customers

  • Getting Feedback About Your Business

  • Raising Brand Awareness

  • Greater Exposure Online

What Partner Social Media Management Entails

Sharing in All Your Accounts

Partners should have their own social media profiles so they can share their customized content through them. Plus, the more social media they are a part of, the more exposure they'll get for their brand! Remember that the main objective for your posts is for them to be read, so make sure your partners are sharing them throughout their local social media accounts as soon as they're published!

Engaging the Audience

On top of that, you should think of social media as a way to start conversations about your company. This is a great way to start building relationships online. By sharing interesting news (for example) through local social media accounts, you're engaging audiences outside of your business! They'll get a sense of trust that will, more than likely, encourage them to join in on the conversation!

Answering Comments

Social media is a great space for you to get feedback from your customers because interactions are immediate. Just make sure you're answering back! Questions and concerns may rise from time to time and your customers could use social media as a way to reach out to you. A big part of managing social media is making sure that your partners are there for their customers when they need them!

Conclusion

I'm sure you've noticed it: people are constantly connected to social media. So much so that they not only use it as a way to interact with peers, but as a way to find solutions to their needs! They're talking about your business in there and your partners should join in on the conversation! Spread the word about your company at a local level and gain exposure in the vast sea that is the world wide web!

 

How Empowerkit Can Help

Again, social media is all about engaging recurrent and potential customers. It sounds like an easy and laid back task, but for those in a tight schedule, simply sharing content on social media can be perceived as a nagging task. Alas, local social media accounts are left dry and don't produce any results! If you or your partners don't have the time to be active on Twitter and Facebook to produce a successful web marketing program, we'll publish their latest content updates to their Facebook and Twitter profiles for them! This way, they'll have more time to interact with users at a local level!

Plus, if they don't have the interest, time or knowledge to keep their partner sites up, we'll be more than happy to help out! Partners can call us at 510.859.8452 to make new content updates!

To see what the other 5 key elements of a successful partner web marketing program are, click on the links: SetupDesignContent MarketingOff Site SEOAnalytics. Have any questions about this post or Empowerkit? Let us know in the comments! We'll be happy to reply! Try Empowerkit for Your Partner Web Marketing Program!

The post 6 Key Elements to Launching a Successful Partner Web Marketing Program: Social Media appeared first on Empowerkit - Local Websites for Franchisees.

LinkedIn is one of the greatest social media sites for recruiting - both for hires and franchise owners.

Yes I know. You sell franchises & your leads are delivered to you.

But do you want LinkedIn to be a source of great and cheaply found new franchisees?

You and everyone else!

And that's unlikely to happen for your franchise, unless you pay attention to what I am going to tell you - experience I have gained by participating for more than 12 years on social media - blogs, forums and now social media sites.

The Franchisor Problem - Too much Content

You have all the social media buttons on your franchise recruitment website.

You put out press releases all the time.

You have automated your distribution of your releases, blogs and articles.

So why aren't the leads flowing in from all that effort?

Your Brand is 'out there', but You and your people are not Listening.

Let's face it, franchise executives and salespeople would rather go to a trade show to meet people, react to a lead that comes in from a franchise web portal, a franchise broker, a display advertisement that spurred a lead from your franchise recruitment website.

Might it make sense for you to try something else - using LinkedIn to augment all your other sales activities?

LinkedIn basics for Franchise Sales Executives who need to Listen.

  1. Your LinkedIn Profile needs to say you sell franchises and connect with me. So make sure it's accurate, complete and inviting.

  2. Put your LinkedIn business card on your franchise recruitment website. You're accessible right?

  3. Join LinkedIn Groups. Not just the obvious franchise groups with other franchise salespeople, but the groups that your kind of franchise-buyers are in.

  4. Comment first and continue to regularly in other people's LinkedIn Group discussions.

  5. Connect with members of your target LinkedIn groups.

  6. Check who's Looked at Your LinkedIn Profile once a day for 5 minutes and connect with those people.

  7. Get LinkedIn connected with your qualified leads you meet at your next franchise trade show.

  8. Your franchise sales administrators, qualifications specialists, marketing coordinators all need professional LinkedIn profiles as much as they need business cards. Maybe more so.

Master these 8 LinkedIn tips and you'll see a difference in your franchise sales.

All your other franchise recruitment marketing investments will work better for you when you are listening on LinkedIn.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Trying to build business connections has always been hard.

LinkedIn had made it easier.  I used to routinely answer all types of questions in many different LinkedIn groups about call centers.  I would always end my answer with an explicit direction to our website, if they needed to find more information.

Many people, but not all, went to our webiste and eventually became customers.

This seemed like a perfect sales pitch: I give you good information for free, and some people reciprocate by turning into customers.

Some group owners didn't like my approach and some did.  Fair enough.

But, LinkedIn then made it very hard with the introduction of Site Wide Area Moderation, or SWAM.

The group owners who didn't like my approach could SWAM me and put me on moderation in the groups that did like me.

I, and many others, could not understand this.

But then I read Michael Webster's concise point, on a LinkedIn group thread we both belong to:

"SWAM is effective because it gives owners unjustified reach - jurisdiction over non-members & other groups. That is the way it is designed. 

To amplify a single signal (try saying that fast 5 times in a row) of spam into the largest signal possible. It cuts down on needing and employing thoughtful moderators. 

If you are selling sponsored groups, it means that you don't have to spend a lot of money moderating them because SWAM is working for you. 

That is why SWAM is here to stay - as long as LI is making money off of sponsored groups."

What an epiphany!

That's the most cynical - yet as I now can see - most accurate & succinct definition of LinkedIn's anti SPAM Site Wide Auto Moderation (SWAM) policy that I've ever read.

I'd been campaigning against SWAM because I claimed that it was deeply flawed & fundamentally unjust.

Webster opened my eyes to see that SWAM is doing exactly what it was designed to do - and that in its own heavy handed & totalitarian way is actually a very "elegant" solution.

I'd been pointing out what a poor job LinkedIn has done educating group owners/managers/moderators as to what SWAM was to begin with.

Well - Webster is right. Why bother educating them when SWAM cuts down on the need to employ thoughtful moderators at all?

I'd been pointing out that SWAM gave a single owner/manager/moderator the power to suppress & muzzle a group member across the entire LinkedIn platform - without the need to provide even a shred of evidence.

And again Webster's explanation is correct. LinkedIn designed SWAM to empower a single owner/manager/moderator with unjustified reach & jurisdiction over non members & other groups - precisely because they wanted SWAM to amplify a single signal of suspected SPAM and to turn that suspicion into the largest signal possible - because by doing so SWAM cuts down on the time & money required to moderate groups - or the need to employ thoughtful moderators at all (particularly for Open Groups).

Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed. ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

 

Many of my clients ask me "How much time should I invest in LinkedIn?".

Some ask about ROI (Return On Investment). What do they gain? How does it affect their bottom line? What are the outcomes?

Great questions and frankly - something we should all be asking ourselves whenever we spend time on the LinkedIn platform.

Time spent on LinkedIn could be time spent elsewhere, so let's make it count, right?

I have 2 LinkedIn Profiles, one is for people I know, the other is for people I'd like to know/better. Having 2 Accounts also allows me to experiment and test all kinds of cool LinkedIn stuff.

I've been looking at SIDEBAR STATS (Views, Searches, Your Network etc.) on both Profiles recently.

LinkedIn gives all users a line chart of their VIEWS and a weekly SEARCH stat. Paid users get 90 days of browser history. No one else can see this information except you.

The answer to ROI is right there in those stats.

1. DO I WANT MORE VIEWS or SEARCHES?

If you're trying to determine ROI for LinkedIn, focus on VIEWS for the following reasons:

(1) You know for certain that someone has actually viewed your Profile.
(2) You can influence views efficiently by your own actions on LinkedIn.
(3) LinkedIn provides multiple opportunities to engage in activity which yields views.
(4) Views, just like clicks in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) terms, are valuable.

Why I don't regard SEARCHES as important as VIEWS in determining ROI:

(1) You don't know for certain that searches equate to views.
(2) Keyword-stuffed Profiles will always win in searches. Keyword-stuffing has downsides.
(3) There are too many factors beyond your control which influence searches.
(4) Searches are not clicks and are difficult to assess in terms of value.

2. HOW TO GET MORE VIEWS


39% of LinkedIn users have a paid account* and my guess is that the primary reason for paying for LinkedIn Premium is to know who is viewing your Profile. Non-paying users will be tempted to pay now that they are seeing their popularity mapped out in a chart plotting views (or browser traffic).

I decided to experiment with getting my views boosted and 'off the chart'.

I used a combination of 5 techniques, they worked, beautifully.

*Paid Account Reference - http://visual.ly/10-amazing-linkedin-statistics-2013

3. COMPARISON: GETTING MORE VIEWS

My bench-mark Profile shows views zig-zagging between a range of 36 to 108 weekly. My daily average of views for the bench-mark account is 8.91 (802 ÷ 90).

1-Screen-Shot-2013-06-23-at-5.44.53-PM.png

The test account was around 250 views per/week prior to implementing the 5 techiques.

But, I've managed to boost views on my other Profile by 200% (250 to 750 Views), using the 5 techniques!

Daily average views for the test account is currently 41.98 (3779 ÷ 90).

1-Screen-Shot-2013-06-23-at-7.40.40-AM.png

The test account has 371% more daily views than the bench-mark account.

What level of traffic would you want on your site? 9 views per day or 42?

My guess is that most people who do the bare minimum in terms of activity on LinkedIn get between 3-10 views per day.

But, I got an average of 77 daily views over three days last week. The tested Profile will garner in the region of 12,000 more views over the course of a year than the bench-mark. Wow!

Benchmark Profile Views:

1-Screen-Shot-2013-06-05-at-8.33.00-PM.png

Test Profile View, Using 5 Techniques, Views:

1-Screen-Shot-2013-06-20-at-5.36.53-AM.png

Side by side comparison between bench-mark profile and test profile using 5 techinques.

Comparison of Profiles.png

In the interest of full disclosure both Profiles have been set up with the following attributes (which may or may not influence views and search):

- Both have 'vanity' urls.

- Both have a 100% complete Profile.

- Rich Media is abundant on both Profiles.

- I've chosen the maximum Skills (50) for both.

- Both Summaries tell my professional story in less than 250 words.

- I've got the same Premium Account for both (which costs $95.40 per/yr per account).

- Both have a photograph where I can be identified in all 3 of the LinkedIn sizes.

Where the 2 Profiles differ:

- I've joined 50 Groups in the test account. I've joined 42 in my bench-mark account.

- 2,349 1st Degree Connections on test account. 426 1st Degree Connections on bench-mark account.

- Followed 115 Companies/Organizations in test account. 198 followed on bench-mark account.

- Rich Media: 5 Blog articles on test account. 10 articles on bench-mark account.

HOW YOU TO CAN "BOOST" YOUR LINKEDIN VIEWS BY 200%


I'm calling this the "View Boosting" strategy.

5 effective techniques, taking approximately 10 minutes a day to implement, working together to cause a cumulative jump in views of a Profile.

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

If you want to know exactly how I achieved this 200% boost in daily LinkedIn Profile views, I'll show you for $15. That's less than what you spend on coffee or donuts this week.

Simply send your payment to my PayPal ([email protected]) and I will email you an easy to follow, 3 page pdf guide providing an overview with details of the 'View Master' technique.

What value do you place on having thousands of professionals actually viewing your LinkedIn Profile this year?

(Update (05/11/13): On May 10th LinkedIn posted this announcement on the LinkedIn blog: "At LinkedIn, we're committed to putting our members first so we want to let you know we're planning to update LinkedIn's Privacy Policy in the next week." Read the full post here.)

At this point I think that any person that joins a free social network is probably aware that nothing is really free. Even though no money changes hands, when you sign up for a social network account a transaction is initiated.

Your personal data in exchange for access to the network. If the social network provides an understanding of how your data is used, and provides clear instructions for using privacy and opt-out features there is little to object to.

You want free services, both parties agree on a payment method and the transaction is completed.

The folks at naked security sum it up this way:

You're really agreeing to sell those organisations the right to accumulate, index, commercialize, and in some cases sell on to third parties, information about who you are, what you do, when you do it, and how you choose to talk about it online. You get to populate the databases from which they make revenue; in return you get to use the service.

In that sense, you aren't so much a user or a customer of most "free" sites. You're really just an informal employee, paid in kind. That's worth remembering.

The level of transparency as to how and when your data is used has been in constant evolution since the Internet was born, but clear examples from recent history include the legal challenges faced by Google and Facebook as they continue to grow. To date, LinkedIn has not met the same strenuous legal challenges as their competitors and this is surprising since they appear to walking down the same path as Facebook and Google.

Facebook had a variety of confusing privacy settings and they have simplified them and made efforts to provide clear explanations about how data is shared on the network. Google has several social media platforms and a while back they consolidated privacy policies and user privacy setting.

Some people objected to this, claiming it actually compromised privacy but if we accept Google's explanation at face value, it seems they are trying to eliminate confusion resulting from different settings on different networks.

I can't really say that Facebook or Google are model citizens when it comes to your privacy, but they do make the relationship clear and offer options that allow you to reduce your exposure and opt-out of certain features. By leaving optional fields like employment and address blank, combined with prudent choices about what you share as comments and posts you can exercise a good bit of control over your exposure.

By comparison, LinkedIn seems stuck in the 90′s with a convoluted system of member privacy settings that offer little documentation to help members understand how to use them properly. You can get an idea of how LinkedIn prioritizes member privacy by looking at where it is placed in the navigation menu. Both Facebook and Google+ have "Privacy" or "Privacy Settings" prominently displayed in the first level of menu selections. On LinkedIn, you must click settings, before you can see Privacy Controls by selecting the Profile tab. This may seem trivial but to me the design of the menu indicates priority, and privacy gets no mention up front.

LinkedIn recently launched a Safety Center. The Safety Center offers advice on external threats like phishing and malware but does not have a section that offers advice on personal security and privacy settings for member accounts.

The section on Identity Protection discusses external threats like email but provides no information about how to protect your identity on LinkedIn or how to manage your privacy settings. If you are trying to find the new Safety Center, you would have to navigate to the Help Center first (under "More"), then you see a link to the Safety Center.

Let's compare LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook to determine which networks provide the most useful information on managing privacy settings.

  • Google+ : Know your Google security and privacy tools.
  • Facebook: Privacy - Get the information you need to control your sharing on Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: Privacy Policy (revised May 13, 2013)

LinkedIn does have a Privacy Policy, but it's more of a PR/Legal document and it includes some statements that do not appear to be accurate based on how the site actually functions.

Facebook and Google take a beating on privacy issues and they have certainly earned it. Not many people would think of LinkedIn the same way but that's not because LinkedIn has better privacy. It's because LinkedIn just ignores member complaints about stalking, harassment and privacy. They don't talk about it, they don't address it. LinkedIn seems reluctant to tackle any issue that might not reflect well on the LinkedIn brand.

LinkedIn has a tiered privacy system that restricts data visible to members that are not connections, but there are different levels within your "personal network" where your data may be revealed to persons even if they aren't a direct connection. I've never found any documentation that offers a comprehensive breakdown that explains this and it's clear that LinkedIn members find this system confusing.

The Help Center has a page titled "Your Network and Degrees of Connection" but that page does not explain which member activities or profile details are revealed to the different levels. Remember that, depending on your settings you may also be broadcasting changes to your job title, employment, groups you have joined, new connections, etc.

Harassment and Stalking

That issue pales in comparison to serious issues like harassment and stalking. LinkedIn claims to be "world's largest professional network" and the intricate connection system gives members the impression that it's a safe environment. Many people treat LinkedIn like an electronic resume and provide details they would never consider adding to their Facebook page or Google profile. Some members subscribe to paid premium accounts with the presumption this provides better access to customer service.

You would think that LinkedIn would respond quickly to any reports of harassment or stalking and that they would provide members with the tools needed to protect themselves. That is not the case. If you are being harassed or stalked on LinkedIn you have little recourse. In fact, there are no blocking mechanisms available to LinkedIn members at all. Even if you create a support ticket to report harassment you will be told by customer service that they can not block another member from contacting you or viewing your profile.

Here's a response from LinkedIn Customer Service regarding a recent experience of my own:

Unfortunately, you can't block a specific group member from messaging you. You can prevent all group members from sending you messages through the group from the "Your Settings" option in the group's More tab. If you do not share a group and are not connected, they can't contact you, except through InMail or Open Messaging.

In my case, communication was initiated through a LinkedIn group and if you reviewed the page titled: "Your Network and Degrees of Connection" you see that LinkedIn says that fellow group members are considered part of your network. Ok, not a problem I guess if a group member becomes abusive or a stalker joins a group to harass me I can just leave the group and break contact, right? Actually no. Here's another excerpt from the same customer service inquiry.

I'm sorry for the frustration this is causing. If the line of communication was opened while sharing a group, the communication may continue.

Other major social networks have a blocking mechanism, LinkedIn doesn't. Even an appeal to customer service is futile, they basically just put their hands up and say sorry we can't do anything about it. My experience with this issue is minor compared to women who are victims of stalking and harassment that are trying to use LinkedIn professionally, yet find they are completely exposed by the lack of protection LinkedIn offers.

One member points out that the only solution presently available is for her to increase her profile privacy settings to such a degree that it becomes pointless to even have a LinkedIn membership:

I notice many complaints from Women who are often harassed on sites such as this. It is a real issue that should be addressed. Women should not have to worry about someone stalking her without jeopardizing her professional profile. Women in this situation may have to set her privacy so high that it negates the point of this site. Blocking one person would solve that problem. Please reconsider.

As she points out, in many cases the victims know who is stalking them and just want the ability to block a specific member account from viewing their profile or contacting them.

Another member makes this observation:

This is a negligent practice that LinkedIn is conducting. Stalkers have access to your current employer which can give them all kinds of information such as addresses and telephone numbers. I would suggest that LinkedIn make this change. I believe not having this function available is irresponsible on LinkedIn behalf by not recognizing the seriousness of this issue and contributing to possible criminal activities.

There are a number of discussions in the Help Forum that bring up this issue and the complaints aren't just from women who are victims of stalking and harassment. One gentleman offers these thoughts:

LinkedIn is lacking some key privacy features, which is one reason I hardly use this site, and rarely recommend others. Members should easily be able to block messages from any individual member, and also should block profiles from any individual member.

Connection Privacy

One of the features that sets LinkedIn apart from other networks is the amount of control you have over who you connect with and who can connect with you. LinkedIn puts up a number of hurdles to potential contacts, and if you have ever tried to connect with someone you have had to prove to LinkedIn that you know that person. Every time we try to connect with someone, LinkedIn gently reminds us:

Important: Only invite people you know well and who know you.

Invite  to Connect

LinkedIn: Invite to connect

LinkedIn subverts their own system when they present you with "People you may know". You've probably seen this pop up after you accept a connection invite and this screen presents you with the option to send a connection invite to any member displayed through a single mouse click.

This is one method that a complete stranger can use to send you a connection invitation.

Think about that for a minute... you could actually know someone and if you initiate the connection invite, LinkedIn will ask you to prove that you know them. On the other hand, if LinkedIn thinks you may know someone, you can bypass all the useless formalities. I have no idea who most of the people are that are presented during these opportunities, many seem to have no common interest, shared group or demographic. So much for privacy through exclusivity. During these moments, LinkedIn also seems to toss their own advice out the window... "Only invite people you know well and who know you."

Some people have learned the hard way that using LinkedIn to manage contacts is a very bad idea. Here are a few recent examples from the Help Forum:

It seems there are a few issues going on in these discussions and some may be cases where individuals authorized LinkedIn to import contacts and failed to notice an option to send invitations to contacts that aren't on LinkedIn. If you examine the comments closely you will see that many members claim that is not what happened to them.

Linkedin is sending invitations out & accepting invitations on my account to / from people I have never heard of or had any contact with. This is absolutely unacceptable, must be corrected, apologized for, and corrected expediently!

When this happens, LinkedIn will send an invitation to join LinkedIn and two reminder emails.

I have more than 1500 contacts and all my contacts are receiving LinkedIn invites on my behalf, i have received complaints from many of my contact who very pretty upset with this recurrent reminders.

Your business associates and friends that do not have LinkedIn accounts may forgive you for sending a single invitation by accident. We all mess up and they may have done the same thing themselves. I did something similar a while back when I was working on organizing my contacts in Google+ and I sent about 200 people invites to join that network.

The problem is that LinkedIn sends an invitation and two reminders. Your contacts will consider that spam, and they are going to blame you.

This is a blog post about privacy, and you are probably wondering how this invitation issue/glitch pertains to that, right? Well consider the previous information about victims of harassment and stalking as you read this member comment in the discussion titled: "STOP AUTO INVITES"

I have gone on this site because the same thing has just happened to me. Only I didn't realise it had happened until many hours later and now one of the invites I have unwittingly sent has gone to an identity thief whose email address was unbeknown to me still in my hotmail account from 5 years ago. I am terrified that this man, having had access to all my links for most of a day (bearing in mind he accepted of course, no doubt immediately) will do something dreadful to me again. I have to find a way of knowing whether he has sent connection requests to my contacts, if all else fails I will have to close my account too.

Note that you might have contacts in your email address book that you didn't add personally. Depending on settings, addresses could be added to contacts if you reply to them or take other action. Depending on the option you choose, the LinkedIn import connections function may pull contacts from an online webmail account instead of your local email client. Review listed contacts and purge any un-wanted contacts before you use this feature. Example: You may have deleted your ex-boyfriend's email address from Outlook, but he could still be in your contacts online in your Gmail account. If you import those contacts and send him an invitation to join LinkedIn - he may think it's "on" again.

Is this a user error, software glitch, or an intentional breach of trust to exploit member contacts to bring more members to LinkedIn? Before any accusations are leveled at LinkedIn we should review their response to the issue.

There is no response, they appear to be ignoring this issue completely.

I reviewed every page of the discussions linked to above and I could not find one comment by a LinkedIn Help Forum moderator. The Help Forum is a replacement to the Answers forum and for the most part its members helping members so there is no requirement for a moderator to address any issue. Moderators participate in some discussions, offering a link or talking about upcoming features. Sometimes they offer advice or correct mis-information provided by other members. I just want to point out that their assistance is conspicuously absent from these discussions.

Many members have indicated they submitted a support ticket for this issue, and when they could not get a decent answer to their request for help from Customer Service, they joined the member discussion in the Help Forum. You would think that with this many unhappy members LinkedIn would move quickly to resolve the issue and provide clear instructions on managing connection invites.

There is some hope for individuals that authorized LinkedIn to connect to their Gmail account and have caught this issue early on - you can revoke LinkedIn's connection to your Gmail account. Follow these steps to revoke access:

  1. Log into your Gmail/Google account and select Privacy
  2. Under "Connected applications and sites" click "Manage access"
  3. Under "Authorized Access to your Google Account" find LinkedIn and click "Revoke Access"
  4. Here's the direct link.

Breaking the connection with LinkedIn will stop the second and third round of invites from being sent out if you catch it soon enough. The first round of invites will already be in the email in-boxes of your contacts.

Members can withdraw connection requests but this must be done for each invitation. Members who sent hundreds of requests can submit a support ticket and ask LinkedIn to withdraw the requests but one seasoned member notes that:

If you opt to let LinkedIn Customer Service do the "withdraw" process, bear in mind it now takes LinkedIn Customer Service staffers at least 7-10 days to get to and process any service ticket, and all service tickets are handled on a strict FIFO basis regardless of where the service ticket originates. In the meantime LinkedIn will continue to send out reminders, which are sure to prompt even more recipients to click on the "I Don't Know" option, and that will make it even more likely LinkedIn will restrict your account.

Another serious issue hinted at in that member's comment is that LinkedIn only allows members a lifetime quota of 3,000 invites. To add insult to injury, current LinkedIn members that receive automatically generated invites can select "I don't know this person" as a reply to your invite. The number of "IDK's" you receive is used by LinkedIn as a flag that marks you as a "connection spammer". This is one of the types of spam addressed in the Safety Center.

Privacy in Members Only Groups

There are two types of groups on LinkedIn: Members-Only and Open Groups and LinkedIn states that in members only groups: "Discussions are visible to group members only."

I'll get back to that in a second, first a quick review. We know that when you join a group, other group members are considered part of your network. Discussions you start in open groups can be viewed by anyone on the Internet and can be indexed by search engines. If you're worried about privacy, you should already be well aware of the fact that anything you say in a discussion, comment, or status update on any social network is something that could end up being viewed by anyone. People get fired for the stupid stuff they say on Facebook and Twitter.

If you join a members-only group (sometimes referred to as a closed group) on LinkedIn, you might feel that you have an additional layer of privacy because LinkedIn states that: "Discussions are visible to group members only."

That's not really true because:

  • Anyone that is a member of the group, including competitors, your boss, jealous spouse, etc. can just copy/paste your comments to the group. They can also print entire discussions to a PDF file or use their browser print function. You should already know this but some people forget this and LinkedIn doesn't go to any effort to point this out in their information about groups in the Help Center or Safety Center.
  • All groups produce an email digest. As a group member you can change you settings to turn off digest emails so that you don't receive them, but they are still available to everyone else. The group owner has no control over this and there is no option in the group administration settings to switch off digests for an entire group. That means that the comment you made about how big an idiot your boss is can be forwarded to him via email in a couple of mouse clicks. It doesn't even matter if your boss isn't on LinkedIn, someone else can just forward the email digest. Maybe you don't talk trash about your boss. Good for you! Maybe you are a member of an industry group and you are discussing company procedures with your peers. Do you realize that your competitors may be listening in on that conversation?

You should be smart enough to think of these things and protect yourself, but I also think that LinkedIn could offer some practical privacy advice in their Safety Center. Why don't they? I don't think that's a priority for them, do you?

Bugs in LinkedIn Cause Privacy Issues

glitch-Profile_Views

If you're one of the many people annoyed by the fact that other members can view your profile anonymously, here's a glitch that offers a bit of karmic payback to profile stalkers. LinkedIn has a lot of bugs and glitches and if you use the site on a daily basis you probably are no stranger to error messages and features that seem to break for a while then start working again. In the image above you can see that I've clicked the notification flag and it is displaying information on people who have recently viewed my profile. See John on the left? When I click on "Who's viewed your profile" his identity was hidden. It seems that John didn't want me to know he was checking out my profile, but a glitch in the notification system gave him away.

I haven't been able to get this glitch to repeat but I've seen similar issues when navigating the group administration menu. Individuals that had their profile pictures hidden, are revealed under certain circumstances when I review group discussions. Just remember, you might think nobody can see your profile photo, but that doesn't mean a bug in the LinkedIn website won't reveal it anyway.

Overview of LinkedIn Privacy Settings

LinkedIn privacy settings - profile

LinkedIn privacy settings - profile

Most of the privacy settings can be accessed from the Profile tab after you click Settings from the main page. Something to note, you actually have two profiles on LinkedIn. One that LinkedIn members can view, and a public profile. Your public profile can be viewed by anyone on the Internet and may be indexed by search engines so pay close attention to your settings.

privacy-groups

Under the Groups, Companies & Applications tab you can review the list of applications connected to your account. Remove any that you do not recognize or that you no longer use.

LinkedIn privacy settings - account

LinkedIn privacy settings - account

Additional settings are listed under the Account tab. Protect your account with a strong password!

LinkedIn privacy settings - https

LinkedIn privacy settings - https

Under the Account tab you will also find the setting to enable HTTPS access. If you access LinkedIn on a laptop over a wi-fi network you need to have this enabled. In fact, there really isn't any reason I can come up with to not have this enabled so just do it.

Groups - display icon

Groups - display icon

If you're worried about stalking or harassment you might also want to turn off group logos that are displayed on your profile. Remember that according to LinkedIn, fellow group members are considered part of your network so a stalker could just look at what groups you're a member of, then join them to send harassing messages to you.

Remember my experience with customer service? Once someone initiates contact through a group, you can't break that contact even if you leave the group. And... there is no block function so if you're worried about stalkers, hide your groups. You have to change that setting in each group you are a member of. The group logo is visible by default when you join a new group so remember to turn it off.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of those privacy settings were organized on a single page?

Wouldn't it be nice if the Safety Center explained how they work? Some settings offer no explanation of what they do or how they impact your privacy. Take a look at "Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications" under the groups tab. What does that do? It sounds important doesn't it? Should I have to go digging around in the Help Forum or create a Customer Service ticket to ask what a profile setting does?

Thanks for reading through to the end. Your comments are welcome

If anyone is wondering why your posts or comments have suddenly gone into moderation and hang up in pending when before you were able to do so in real time, blame LinkedIn Corporate and not your moderator.

This problem is caused by LinkedIn's heavy hand, while trying to deal with spam from the top down and as usual nothing works well top down when you are not in the trenches dealing with the issues of a given group as the moderator or owner.

What LinkedIn did was to override all of the group settings of the owners of the discussions, as if they were not capable of dealing with their own groups. LinkedIn's new "so called spam tool" did not do what was intended as it was not tweaked in the correct way, but caused havoc in many groups.

The problem with spam or steak is "where's the beef"? Pardon the pun, but one persons spam is another's beef so I can see how it can be tough for group owners to deal with this. The further problem, as I see it, with group members who's posts I sometimes read, some are simply offended by seeing a post that is made by someone else that they do not think is relevant to them personally and rather than pass it by they start a pitched battle in the discussion group. Crazy yes, but it happens.

There is also the occasional moderator who feels that one does not have the right to promote their books or businesses but that the group is purely for information only and totally free of any commercial intent. I try and stay away from those as much as possible, as most of us are here to promote something, whether an artistic endeavor or a commercial one.

Some group owners became overwhelmed with this new policy so that it virtually put a halt to all posts, including the good, the bad and the ugly, no matter which.

One owner was so overwhelmed that his "pending" file was backlogged by weeks of posts awaiting moderation and was close to 400 submissions before he asked for my help and I gladly offered it, clearing the deck.

Was I accurate? Who knows, but at least I erred on the side of caution and compassion for the poster unlike LinkedIn who simply erred.

All it takes is being dropped from a group by an owner and without warning.  Quite a while back I was dropped by an owner, which is what got me in trouble with the LinkedIn geniuses. As much time had passed with me forgetting I was there once before, I went recently to join the group again and was unable to.

When I contacted the owner as to why this was so, her reply was she "had no idea why I was dropped".  This points to how easy it is for one member to whine about "discussion purity" re another's post and for a group to ban one without warning or further discussion.  What more than likely happened was that a writer felt that once his/her book was written any conversation about how to produce or market it was irrelevant.

This of course flies in the face reality as well as of the many discussions caused by some of my posts and the kind comments I receive for providing useful and helpful information regularly from design through promotion.

Then there was the case of another LinkedIn member, who in fact blogged about this experience elsewhere, who contacted the group owner on several occasions about pure spam resulting with the owner simply getting annoyed by being contacted and dropped the member.  I can recall one case where recently I left a group when the owner clearly told me how overwhelmed he was with his large multitude of members to bother hearing from me at all re my issues.

The bottom line is that LinkedIn did not think this through to the end and therefore members are suffering the unintended consequences of LinkedIn's actions. Their "so called algorithm" was the simple dictum, if for whatever reason, justified or not, a group owner drops a member one is banned to "moderation", dumping the work load onto the group owner to undue LinkedIn's broad swath of the brush.

When someone is dropped from a group it may have been done because a member or two whined about "purity" of content.  Further compounding this is the sometimes failure of the owner to converse with the member in question prior to dropping them.

 What could linked in have done in order not to be faced with this heavy handed result? They could have automatically sent out emails to anyone being dropped prior to any action. They could also have used a more intelligent "algorithm" than the idiot one they used, such as after first an auto response type email to anyone posting a simple link without any intent on discussion, like one I am sure many of you have seen emanating out of China, Japan or India such as "buy cheap handbags" and then a shortened link address to click on. Now links such as these are clearly "missing the beef"!

Hopefully LinkedIn will rescind or amend their policy here and undue the havoc created for some who are valued contributors and discussion owners.

Five Great LinkedIn Apps

| 4 Comments

Did you know that if you looked around for long enough on the web you'd eventually find fabulous mobile tools that will boost your LinkedIn productivity and prospects? Well now you don't have to go looking - I've found 5 fabulous LinkedIn apps for you and they're FREE.

Read all about them here.

1.  HeronBiz - Professional finder - Location Based.

Nearby.png

What it does: Location aware, professional networking app (IOS devices only)."We identify the most valuable professionals to you and alert you when they are near."

Sidesteps privacy concerns by only showing people in your approximate proximity who are directly connected or with similar industry/job title to the you.

The 2 scrappy start-up Founders Allen Hartwig and Nick Smoot are signing up large organizations (American MENSA, Women In Technology, the Association for Corporate Growth LA) in an attempt to ramp up large scale use of the app.

A lot of people need to be using it to be truly useful. I found 23 people near me when I tested it. Doesn't sound like a lot but that's 23 more than I knew about, prior to using this app. Enormous potential.

Has a secure chat feature. This functionality should have been built into LinkedIn's mobile app from the get go.

It's a no-brainer for anyone with a LinkedIn account wishing to network face to face.

Try it.

Get it here: http://hereon.biz

 

2. Trippit Updates your LinkedIn Community on your Travel Plans

Trippit.png

What it does: Links your Tripit account with your LinkedIn account and then automatically shares your upcoming travel plans in your LinkedIn Update stream.

Why is this is a good thing?

By alerting your network to an impending visit to their neck of the woods, you increase engagement, opportunity and discovery.

"The partnership with LinkedIn is a significant victory for TripIt, as this social network has been the most popular one for TripIt users to share their travel plans since the

MyTravel LinkedIn app was launched in 2008.

According to the statistics shared by TripIt, 53% of its users visit LinkedIn at least once a week."

There are IOS, Android, Blackberry & Windows 7 mobile versions. If you travel and you're on LinkedIn, you should be using this.

Get it here: https://www.tripit.com

  

 3. Card Munch Elegant Time Saver

Card Munch.png

What it does: Scans business cards using your iPhone's camera (Android version apparently in the works), recognizes that person and syncs with their LinkedIn Profile.

Very clever.

Not only do you get a digital copy of that person's card, you also get their LinkedIn profile, the option to connect, see their connections and an indication of who you have in common.

You can share that electronic version of the card with whoever you like and email your new contact directly from the app.

Time saver.

Get it here: http://www.cardmunch.com

 

 4.  Cobook App  Smart way to handle all social media contacts

Cookbook.png

What it does: Unified address book for IOS devices (and Macs) which currently does not officially support LinkedIn integration (something to do with the LinkedIn API and 'low quotas') but there's a workaround - just shake your device in Settings mode and your LinkedIn contacts will appear, like magic.

You need to give the app access to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for it to do its thing.

Intelligent aggregator of contacts.

Get it here: http://www.cobookapp.com

  

5.  Smartr Another unified address book

Smartr.png

What it does: Another unified address book which scans Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo!, Outlook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (but not Hotmail) for the entire social footprint of your contacts. 3 main tabs: 'Profile' 'History' and 'Common'.

History is a neat view - it shows you the frequency with which you've interacted via email.

Common shows those folks you have, in common. Works with Gmail, Outlook, Android & iPhone. Intelligent aggregator with history.

Get it here: https://www.xobni.com

 

I also came across an app that would suit the adventurous lunch crowd. LunchMeet  basically broadcasts your willingness to "do lunch" to other LinkedIn users with the same app. It didn't make the cut because for reasons unclear to me, its only available on the Canadian iTunes store.

Are you using apps that help you get more out of LinkedIn? Please tell me about them via the comment section or email me directly [email protected]

As always - thanks very much for stopping by and reading. If you found this article thought-provoking, interesting or dare I say, useful. Please go ahead and share it with someone using the share buttons.

Warm regards from Chicago.

Andy 

Are You a LinkedIn Pest?

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In a recent discussion within the LinkedIn Franchise Executives group a question was asked about how best to present products and services to group members.

The question stemmed from a revision in group rules put in place to keep the group focused on its objectives of exchanging ideas, sharing information, and promoting best practices within franchising.

By attempting to eliminate the clutter of self-promotion, MLM opportunities, and even franchise opportunities, revising the rules was seen as the most practical way to retain group members and increase participation.

Here's the question and my response regarding value-added discussions.

Question: "Outlining some guidelines is an excellent way to embark and start bringing a format or platform to enhance value to the group, congratulations on your initiative.

Please tell us at what point information and value added discussions should be introduced to the group in your mind. I think anyone here is interested in gaining value and as well, sharing value, but it all sooner or later leads to developing new business, directly or indirectly, that is mutually beneficial.

There is a fine line between "advertorials" and "value exchanges".

Are you able to define further what format, discussion or response you think would serve the reader and the writer (group members) best? "

Answer: "I believe value-added discussions can be introduced at anytime. However, I do believe it's a social networking best practice to "earn the right" to do so by getting to know group members, participate in group discussions, and contribute to the same.

Then, based upon a perceived group or industry need, I suggest initiating a discussion about that need (or challenge / issue).

Certainly, one can lead into presenting within the discussion details of their product and how it could satsify the need, address the challenge or resolve the issue.

The key is not to immediately shove the product or service down members' throats.

I believe what is often overlooked or ignored, is that group members, especially ones being sold to, have knowledge about franchising, are aware of the needs, challenges and issues the industry is facing, and may actually be aware of the companies providing services and products in the area of concern.

What they may not be aware of is the person presenting a company's products and services. And, people buy from people, right?

So, I recommend anyone with the objective of selling products and services be a person first, by developing relationships with group members. Then, be perceived as an expert in your field by sharing knowledge and experience through participation. I believe sales should follow.

As an added note, I believe the same process works within other social media including Facebook and Twitter, with platform appropriate modifications to plan."

I have been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn over the last week or so.  

I have joined a couple of new discussion groups and the conversations have been lively and informative.  

Being listed in the top 5% of profiles viewed is a great honour, but being one of 10 million, I am not going to let it go to my head.

Mostly the discussions fall into various types of marketing and it is interesting how passionately people advocate for the medium in which they are invested.

Everyone talks about the need to communicate with the end user, understand needs, create value of brand, have accurate response mechanisms and develop calls to action that will give you the best return on your investment.

Okay,  so if we are all in agreement that marketing is to establish brand identity and lead people towards a call to action, why is one way better than all the others?

My way of seeing things is that different types of people respond to different marketing methods and mediums and messages and none of them are wrong, they are just different.

The key is to understand the brand, overall strategy and objectives and build an overall strategic marketing plan that communicates these objectives over various mediums, to different audiences, in varied ways, to capture different market segments.

Take the time to understand who your audience is and what is important to them.    

People who respond to Pinterest are very different from people who respond to ads in the Wall Street Journal.   Both may be your clients, but to attract both audiences, your message needs to be crafted in a way that elicits response within the medium chosen.

We will be attending, sponsoring and exhibiting at the Digital Strategy Conference in Vancouver April 23-25th, 2013.

If you would like to attend, here is a code to get you a 20% discount on the admission price:   promo code BCAIM20

We hope to see you there so that we can learn together how to develop new and innovative strategies to Get YOU Noticed!

The post Are you saying the same thing. . . only differently? appeared first on CMYK Solutions Inc..

LI has announced that it will not allow group owners to deliver the News to their members using RSS feeds.

LI will stop supporting RSS feeds after March 15, 2013.

There are no LI plans to allow a substitute for RSS.

"No further content will be pulled into groups via RSS after that date, and the News Feeds link in the left nav of the Manage tab will go away, as will the homepage toggle to show or hide RSS discussions."

LI has decided that there is only way way to promote dialogue, the LI way.

"As Monica Wright aptly put it in her guest post nearly a year ago (http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/03/29/linkedin-groups-publishers/),

"If you want to promote dialogue and sharing, feed content is not the way to do it." 

Some LI group owners, moderators and managers feel differently.  And, if you are are one of them, please read on and comment on my workaround.  We can make it work better.

7 Steps to Better News

1.  Collect your current feeds from your group.  Go to manage and click on News Feeds, in blue.  (Click on the image to see a bigger picture.)

RSS Feeds.png

2.  Get a Free RSS Reader, I use NetNewsWire for Mac.  Create folder and subscribe to your feeds.  (In this example, I am subscribing to all the RSS feeds from Jon Fricke's group on Trucking.)

Here is a list of RSS feeds, John sent me via LinkedIn email.

Feeds.png

3.  Copy and paste each hyperlink into your RSS reader.  You will discover that some of your RSS feeds no longer work, and you might see screen like this or a some other error message.

FeedBurner Errors.png

No worries, this means that the RSS feed wasn't delivering news to your LI group.  It is likely that the RSS feed has simply changed.  You need to go back to the source and find out where the RSS feed is now.

4. This what my RSS reader looks like after I subscribed to all Jon's working RSS feeds.

Subsciptions.png

 

5.  The next step is to review the articles and share appropriately in the Jon's group, a step Jon and his moderators can also do.  (I will have more to say on this later in a follow-up article.)

Here is a fun article, about Catepillar being defrauded in China.  (I picked this article because my skill in detecting this type of fraud - well before it happens.)

Scam.png

6.  Finally, let's share it into Jon's groups with the appropriate headline and summary reflecting my take on the story, based on my own experience.

LI Share.png

I have changed the title, and found a couple of lines in the story which express what I think is interesting, and shared it with the group.

7.  Many of you will have read this far and wondered how this was going to work.  After, I just gave Jon a lot more work to do moderating his group!  Yes and no.  How does Jon get his readers in his group to help him moderate these RSS feeds.  Simple: OPML.

I can export the RSS feeds in NetNewsWire as an OPML list, send it to John.  John then gets to decide who has the privilege of sharing stories into the group and then sends them the official OPML list.  (Sharing other stories could get banned in some groups.)

Happy to answer any questions in the comments below.  Hope this works for you.

 

Whether you are a business owner trying to generate sales for your product or service or a professional trying to advance in your career, Linkedin is your ticket for social savvy success!

You probably already have a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and a blog where you share information about your niche, but are you monetizing the best online business social networking site for corporate executives, business professionals, decision makers, contractors and employees?

Linkedin is definitely a social media site but it is very different from other "social sites" you have come to know and love. Linkedin is more of a professional networking site. According to Linkedin, there are over 300 million members in over 200 countries.

See why they are Linkedin and why you should be too!

Don't expect to see photos of children's birthday parties or cute pets and other idle chit chat you have become accustomed to on Facebook and Twitter. Instead, on Linkedin you are going to see people "taking care of business!"

Conversations range from professional networking, marketing, online business, and everywhere in between as it relates to business. Anyone on Linkedin is there with a purpose.

People are on Linkedin to market and share information about their products and services with others, to increase business and gain employment.

In Closing...

If you are in business or you are a professional or an employee, you need to be on Linkedin. I encourage you to please go and sign up now if you don't have an account. You can sign up for FREE! They also offer premium accounts for a fee but the FREE account is all you need to get started!

Supporting You One "Savvy Step" at a Time!

Share with me below how you have used Linkedin to grow your business or advance your career. Looking forward to hearing from you

Dr. Sarah David is the Founder of Social Savvy Sarah...A Personal Branding and Social Media Consultancy Providing Social Media Strategies to Build Your Brand and be Socially Savvy! She works with a World-Class Team to provide a "One-Stop Shop" whether you are a "Do-it-Yourselfers" or need "Done for You" services for all of your social media needs. From Fortune 500 corporations to institutions of higher education, entrepreneurs or professionals looking for career advancement, we will help you Build Your Brand and be Socially Savvy! To learn more sign up for her free exclusive personal branding and social media marketing updates at http://www.socialsavvysarah.com

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

This article covers 5 secret LinkedIn strategies that are so useful, you should keep them to yourself.

There's no magic circle, or weird handshake just keep them between you and me, ok?

Here are the 5 secret LinkedIn strategies:



(1) Identify your Semi-Anonymous Browser


(2) Spot if someone is job-hunting


(3) Connect with someone you don't know


(4) Find the best Group to join


(5) Drag 'n' Drop your Profile Sections



Identify your Semi-Anonymous Browser

I've already covered in a previous post the fact that some people on LinkedIn are truly anonymous (if they have a paid account) and some are semi-anonymous. Here's my trick to intelli-guessing the Semi-Anonymous variety. It works more often than not and you can test it for yourself.

Let me define Anonymous and Semi-Anonymous.

This person is truly Anonymous (it's greyed-out & cannot be clicked)





This person is Semi-Anonymous.




Logic dictates that the majority of people that come by and browse your profile do so because they have something in common with you. In LinkedIn terms that commonality breaks down into 2 major areas:

(a) Groups
(b) Connections

Example (i) Groups (Sales Manager at Sigma Aldrich):


Claudio Costantini is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we share the same Group.


Example (ii) Groups (Engineer at BMW):


Fabrice Badaroux is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we share the same Group.


Example (i) Connections (Lawyer at Lincoln House Chambers)





Richard English is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we have a shared connection.




Example (ii) Connections (Partner at MacRoberts)




Katy Wedderburn is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we have 2 shared connections.




A few things to bear in mind with this technique of intelli-guessing: sometimes you will have double positives (connections AND groups in common) so highly likely that this person is the culprit.

Other times, you will have absolutely no commonality and can safely infer that whoever browsed you from the list of potential browsers, that person came across your Profile accidentally or via a route known only to themselves.

Also, bear in mind that after you subsequently connect with a former semi-Anonymous browser, it does not convert their tracks - in other words it still looks like they were Semi-Anonymous in the history of browsing.

I've noticed that the person who has browsed usually (more than 70% of the time) appears in the top half of the list. Perhaps this is LinkedIn trying to make the task of networking with Semi's slightly less arduous?

Spot if someone is Job-hunting


I share this secret because in my view everyone who is in the 'market' ought to understand just how easy it is to spot if someone is 'looking' for a new job.

In other words, you need to be extremely careful if you don't want your employer to become aware. LinkedIn loves to share information on what it's netizens are up to.

Activity Updates publicize the following information about you:

Adding a new current job position
Adding a new current school
Adding a new link to a website
Recommending someone
Following a company
Adding a connection

The good news is that you do retain ultimate control over the Activity Update Broadcast for the above areas. You can go submarine stealth mode on these activities by turning off the Activity Broadcast altogether (note the warning to job-seekers). This is a safer option than changing the "Activity Feed" to "Only you".

Note: Joining a group, adding an application to your profile, or updating your photo generates an update that cannot be prevented by turning your activity broadcasts off.

In other words, even if you turn off your Broadcast, LinkedIn will tell the world that you have engaged in the aforementioned activities. Good to know?

Here are the typical warning signs that someone is looking to jump ship. A rash of sudden activity, including:

(1) New Connections. New Recommendations/Endorsements. Joining Groups.
(2) Filling out a 100% complete Profile.
(3) Following a Company.

My advice: Even with your Broadcast turned off, if you launch into full-job-hunting mode, someone will surely notice. Loose lips sink ships. The smarter (and safer) approach would be to:

  • Avoid connecting with recruiters (they get more out of the connection than you do).
  • Fill out your Profile 6 months before you go looking.
  • Don't follow a company unless you have a great reason to follow it for your existing role.
  • Try to spread your connection pattern over a long period of time.
  • If you must do batch-connections be sure to include lots of 'red-herring' connections - folks that seem random and take the spotlight off those important (career-wise) connections.
  • Just be smart about the Groups that you join when you are job-hnuting. Remember - your activity related to Groups CAN NOT BE HIDDEN and is visible to everyone.
  • What do I mean about being smart with Groups? If you are currently located in New York, don't join a Group that is location based and focused on San Francisco. There's no better way to advertise that you are potentially heading west.

Above all - get familiar with your Settings panel, you need to understand what is public and how to go private.

Connect with someone you don't know


A favorite of mine. LinkedIn dictates that you can only connect with people you know and this rule can interfere with 'stranger networking strategies'. How do I overcome this pesky constraint?

Usually, I connect with people who have viewed my Profile, the theory here is that they have already opened the door (if, of course I can identify the Browser) to connecting.

The other signal I look for is if they have 500 or more connections. If they have 500+, experience tells me they are more likely than not to connect with me.

Here is an example with Terrance:


(i) A General Counsel browsed my Profile. Let's say for arguments' sake I feel sure it was Terrance.


 





(ii) Only 170 Connections but I hit "Connect".


(iii) I choose "We've Done Business Together" - Why this option and not the others? The first 2 ("Colleague", "Classmate") are patently false and force you to name the place of work or college you have in common. "Friend" is also untrue and seems out of place on a professional networking site. "Other" forces you to find and add an email address for Terrance as part of the connection request (if you don't share any Groups). The final option "I Don't Know Terrance" would seem perfect in the circumstances but actually results in a scolding when you try to send the connection request. It's a dead end, your hand has been smacked.

When I use option #3 ("We've Done Business Together") I have the opportunity to build on the theme of doing business together in my message that gets sent to Terrance. I would write something along these lines:

"Terrance,
We've actually not done business together yet but I am keen to connect to explore how we may help each other. If you are open, great. If not, feel free to ignore my connection request.
Sincerely,
Andy" (40 Words, 214 Characters)

This technique has helped me to connect with many strangers over the years but it's important to be very clear about your intentions and authentic in your message.

You also need to be succinct - there is a limit of 54 Words, 300 Characters on this Connection request. It's wise to add the "feel free the ignore" part when you reach out to people you don't know because 'Ignore' is one of the options they see accompanying the Connection Request.

The third option they see is 'Report Spam', which you've hopefully just nudged them away from. If several recipients of your Connection Request click on 'Report Spam' button this usually means your connecting ability is temporarily suspended until you make a promise to LinkedIn Customer Service to be a rule abiding networker again.

Find the best Group to join


Best in the sense that regardless of area, focus, subject matter, great Groups on LinkedIn all share the same 5 characteristics:

(i) They are well run: zero or minimal spam in the public Discussion area.
(ii) You are not marketed to constantly.
(iii) They grow at a decent clip.
(iv) They have a high Comment to Discussion ratio.
(v) People you know and respect are also members of the Group.

Characteristics (i) (ii) & (v) are self-explanatory, I think. Let's look at growth and activity related to Comments and Discussions.

How does one measure growth? About a year ago, LinkedIn introduced the Group Stats page and in doing so, made choosing Groups a tad more scientific. Here are examples of 2 Groups with very different growth curves:

 


Which one would you like to hitch your wagon to?


Comment to Discussion ratio is important because if you have more Discussions than Comments, chances are that the spammers have taken over. See if you can tell the difference (Discussions = GREEN, Comments = BLUE).

 


 

(I will cover Groups in more detail in a future post (I run 9 of them, 20,000+ members).)


Drag 'n' Drop you Profile Sections


The final secret and I'm not sure why it is a secret but LinkedIn have not advertised this option. Did you know that you can re-order any section in your Profile?

Well, you can and it's really easy to do, once you know how.

Simply go to "Profile" then "Edit Profile" hover your cursor over any section on your Profile (i.e Summary or Experience) and the cursor will change to a cross with arrows. Click and drag any section up or down and it will re-order your Profile for you.

This could come in really useful if you needed to highlight a particular section (or wanted to move one further down the list).

My thanks to Leonid for this tip.

 

Who is Checking You Out?

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It is time to share another one of those underutilized tools on LinkedIn -- that little section on the right-hand side of your home page titled "Who's Viewed My Profile?" This is really a powerful tool for a couple of very simple reasons.

First, let's talk about the numbers being shared, something like "Your profile has been viewed by 14 people in the last day" or "Yesterday you appeared in search results 11 times." Do yourself a favor and write down what these numbers are each day for a week or two so you have a benchmark. Then hopefully over time you can watch your numbers increase.

Just think about this: Every time someone looks at your profile, you have sent out a branding message that could lead to a new customer, strategic supplier, vendor, employee or partner. That being said, you should have a plan to move this number up.

In the "old days," before the advent of social media, we all used to spend some very sizable dollars to increase website hits, viewers of our television commercials, listeners on the radio, numbers like these. We can now do it for very little cost.
In addition to increasing your general physical networking efforts, some ways to do this are:

Place your LinkedIn URL on your email signature, letterhead, business cards, websites, and any other identifier you use in your business. Anywhere your name is, your LinkedIn URL should follow.

If you view this section daily (this section changes every day; so you can't go back and retrieve the information at a later date), you can probably figure out who is "checking you out" by asking some of the following questions:

  • Who have I met, either live or on the phone, in the last few days?
  • Who have I mailed or emailed recently?
  • Who did I ask one of my connections to refer me to?
  • Who did I interview?
  • Who have I been targeting with multiple "touch points" for the last week or so?
. This can be very powerful information if you can put the puzzle together. Take a chance and find a reason to contact those individuals for one reason or another without them really knowing how you decided to contact them at this time. Remember -- they were checking you out. There must be something there, don't you think?

As social media continues to gain steam and obviously is not going away, more and more people are looking to participate. Unfortunately, many are intimidated and quickly give up. I routinely work with individuals, in both personal and business settings, explore and understand social media and its benefits. I have found simplicity is key in getting started.

I would like to share my response to a question previously posted on Linkedin, "If there was one piece of advice you would give someone who was new to Linkedin or had not really been effective at using it. What would you tell them or show them?"

The most important piece of advice I would share is defined in my own "Triple P Tripod" plan. A tripod as everyone knows, stands on three legs. If one leg isn't as strong as the others, is different in length, or is missing altogether, the tripod falls. At best, it precariously stands when leaned against the wall only to fall at the slightest movement. The triple "P" refers to three action words, Personalization, Participation, and Patience.

1.Personalization - Just as when you enter a room full of people, it's your personality and how you handle yourself that gets you noticed. On Linkedin, the same holds true. Starting with your profile, make sure it reflects you as you want to be perceived.

Misspelling and poor grammar are akin to an open fly or a skirt tucked in pantyhose at an in-person event. Yes, you'll be remembered, but for the wrong reasons. Enter discussion groups with grace. In other words, without being obnoxious or obtrusive. Develop your own style, your own points of view. Just as when you leave an in-person event and thank your host and say adieu to the people you have been conversing with, also thank individuals that took the time to answer the questions you posted in a LinkedIn group. Keep in mind, as in anything that is written, your words will last forever as they become your personal stamp.

2.Participation - It's important to participate in various groups on Linkedin. Be proactive in groups you're directly interested in as well as "collateral" groups that touch on your areas of interest. For instance, if you're interest is in franchising, you would most likely join several franchise groups. Now, look at entrepreneur, small business and marketing groups.

When posting a question in one group, post it in the others to gain a different perspective. For example, the question, "How would you define franchising?" is answered much differently in a franchise forum than in an entrepreneur forum. Certainly, much different in a marketing or sales forum.

At first, I would recommend responding to posts to get a feel for how it's done and more importantly, a feel for the group. It's always best to test the waters with your toe than it is to just jump right in. Yes, there may be sharks in the Linkedin waters and they'll attack at the first sign of weakness.

Next, post simple discussions and remember to respond to and thank each person that has taken the time to participate in "your" discussion. As you're comfortable, start your own group. If you're very interested in a particular group and are unhappy with participation or feel membership is lacking, contact the group owner and offer to to help recruit members as a manager of the group.

3. Patience - At first, a newcomer to Linkedin will feel overwhelmed. Actually, that may be putting it mildly especially if you're less than experienced in social networking, or texting and sending instant messages by phone. Take a deep breath and understand this is not rocket science. Take it one step at a time.

Preview the Linkedin Learning Center and refer to it again and again. Use the Help section. Search online for articles and tips on using Linkedin. Explore all aspects of Linkedin as a kid in a candy store. You'll find things you never knew existed about Linkedin that can help you achieve your objectives. After considerable time working with Linkedin, I'm still amazed when I discover something new, either by accident or by learning from others.

To this day, I'm excited by signing in to Linkedin and exploring new groups, uncovering new opportunities, seeing who responded to my last post and who commented on my last response, and most importantly, meeting new people and developing online relationships that over time turn into rewarding personal relationships. I've actually connected with one of my boyhood heroes, a former ballplayer turned marketing executive, on Linkedin, that I now communicate with on a regular basis!

The debate rages on: Is a premium LinkedIn account worth the cost?

Given the current raging spamming issue, I believe a premium LinkedIn account offers greater value and security than ever before, at rates so low they’re aren’t even worth worrying about.

Here are 10 LinkedIn Premium Account Features that can truly change how you generate leads and build visibility with LinkedIn:

Feature What Is It? How Do I Use It? Why Should I Care?
 

 

InMails

 

 

Send a   message to any LinkedIn member, without an introduction. No response within 7   days? Your InMail credit is refunded.

 

 

Send   InMails from a profile page or search results.

 

 

Private   emails offer a more professional approach to connecting and nearly always   receive a response.

 

 

Profile   Organizer

 

 

Save   and keep track of important profiles. Organize profiles into folders, add   notes and contact info, and see correspondence history.

 

 

Save   profiles from the profile page or search results. To access Profile   Organizer, click on Contacts in the navigation bar.

 

 

Profile   Organizer saves time and tracks progress when developing target lists for   marketing purposes.

 

 

Premium   Search Filters

 

 

LinkedIn   is a serious search tool for marketers of all types. Premium search filters   return more targeted information, so you can reach those important decision   makers.

 

 

Premium   search filters are a feature of all Premium accounts.

 

 

Improved   search results

 

 

Expanded   Profile Views

 

 

Get   more search results, access additional profile information for people outside   your network

 

 

Start   searching

 

 

Serious   about LinkedIn lead generation? You’ll want expanded profile views.

 

 

Expanded   analytics

 

 

Assess   exactly which keywords drive members to your profile, where traffic comes   from, which industries are connecting with you, and more

 

 

All   premium accounts offer expanded analytics

 

 

Are you   kidding me?

 

 

Who’s   Viewed My Profile?

 

 

See   expanded titles, regions, and companies for people who have viewed your   profile.

 

 

Access Who’s Viewed My Profile from your homepage,   right column. Click on “X number of people have viewed your profile…”

 

 

Assesses   your visibility, understand people/industries driving visibility, and find   new leads.

 

 

Premium   Badge

 

 

The   Premium badge is featured prominently on your profile and next to your name   in search results.

 

 

To   toggle your badge on or off, go to Accounts & Settings then “Name   and Location”.

 

 

Many   LinkedIn members equate the premium badge with the ‘serious professional’.   Just one more way to prove you’re in it to win it!

 

 

OpenLink

 

 

Being a   part of the OpenLink network allowsanyone   on LinkedIn to send you a message for free.

 

 

Go to   your Accounts & Settings to opt-in. The OpenLink icon will display on   your profile and in search results.

 

 

Anyone   can connect to you for free (without an InMail or introduction), or send free   messages to OpenLink members of your choice. Improve connections, widen your   network, open new doors!

 

I bet you never knew your Premium LinkedIn account offered so many great features. And there’s more!

I have had both the free and premium accounts and, honestly, the premium account is well worth the $30 or $50 monthly if you are committed to getting the very best results from LinkedIn. Why not sign up for a month, see if you like it and use the features and, if not, simply cancel out?

Our own Victoria Ipri was interviewed by Business Insider as an Expert on How to Get More out of Linkedin, the business social media network.

"I think we're going to see in 2012 people engaging in the platform the way it's supposed to be. The power isn't the profile, it's the people," Ipri said.

"I think there's so much emphasis on creating a dynamic profile that people forget LinkedIn is about outreach. It's about sharing information, viewpoints and becoming a thought leader in your own community."

Victoria and I spoke after she appeared in the Business Insider, and we chatted about her recent LinkedIn seminar that she presented at the exclusive What's Next Conference in Washington D.C.

Victoria was surprised at the growth in interest from the business community in learning how to use LinkedIn. Her seminar was filled to capacity, and more.

Many know that they "should be on" LinkedIn because everyone else they know has a profile, but they don't know what to do after that, Victoria noted.

But, she says that the secret to get more of LinkedIn is straightforward.

1. Present yourself as a problem solver - what are type of problems you can solve that other people need help with. Don't make your profile a simple resume, highlight the types of probles you can solve.

2. Look for other problem solvers to help you.

3. Finally, pick up the phone and call that someone - now that you know what they can do for you, or what you can do for them.
Marketing and sales haven't changed with the introduction of social media, says Ipri. (A thought I agree with.)

What LinkedIn does it makes a cold call just a bit warmer because you know something about who you are phoning, and they know something about why you are phoning. Nothing harder or easier than that.  Of course it is not a secret that you sales are built on relationships, but LinkedIn gives you the ability to search for the problem solver you need.

There are a couple of tricks in using the platform, and I want to pass one along.  Belonging to LinkedIn groups is important, and you can use keywords to search for a group.  I am going to use the keyword "negotiation" for this example.

When you sign into LinkedIn, up in the right hand corner, there is a search button:

 LinkedIn Search.jpg

Click on the little triangle, beside "People", and you will get a drop down menu. 

Drop Down Menu.jpg

We are going to select "Groups", right at the bottom and then type in "Negotiation" to search for groups of people talking about Negotiation.

See how, when I type, LinkedIn shows me some relevant information.Negotiation.jpg

Finally, let's look at the groups in LinkedIn about negotiation.

Negotiation Groups.jpg

Wow, there are almost 300 groups.  I belong to one of the top 5 groups.  But, there are many more worth my looking into if I was searching for a specific area.  Let's narrow it down to "negotiation training".

Now, I am down to a manageable 30 groups, and in the top 5 is another IAFD key partner, Mediation Works Inc.

MWI.jpg

Very quickly, I am able find like minded problem solvers, join the group and find out more.

Victoria stresses that joining up to 50 groups is a good strategy if you are in a heavy network building phase. Once your network is growing satisfactorily, being effective in this many groups is impossible. She suggests choosing 8-10 groups and really making your mark in those. As well, a monthly or quarterly pruning of groups can bring fresh blood to your marketing efforts. Good luck and do get Victoria's book. Your copy is free when you join the group, Link InSanity.

Victoria Ipri is a respected LinkedIn evangelist and the author of eBook "LinkedIn for the Clueless," Ipri established her reputation as a LinkedIn expert by getting out there, sharing valuable information with others and getting to know people, which she says is the "secret" to how people really conduct business, since we want to do business with those we know, like and trust.  

Victoria has a free copy LinkedIn for the Clueless available to all registered newsletter subscribers to the IAFD. .

 

In the world of advertising, the right advertisement makes a tremendous difference. It’s not enough to display just your logo. Successful ads attract attention, highlight product benefits, and communicate brand attributes.

The same is true for your LinkedIn profile, the perfect vehicle for catching the attention of your chosen audience, communicating your uniqueness, and highlighting why your solutions are the best for solving your readers’ problems.

Given that there are millions of LinkedIn members, how can you compete with those who hold the same job title, work at similar companies, or job search in the same industries? The secret is using the right keywords in the right places. Keywords make it easier for people to find you and connect with you, opening the door to greater opportunities. Your LinkedIn profile is a keyword-searchable gem that can put you in front of key decision makers, without so much as a phone call. Try that with a paper resume!

If you made a half-hearted attempt at creating a great profile, then gave up when you didn’t see immediate results, you’re not alone. This is the #1 complaint we hear.

So let’s look at the steps to creating a killer LinkedIn profile, so you can enjoy the benefits.

Within the profile, you’ll find these important segments:

  • Headline
  • Status Updates
  • Summary
  • Recommendations
  • Experience
  • Specialties
  • Contact Information

When optimizing your LinkedIn profile, no segment is more important than the Headline. I’m going to use a previous headline of my own as an example.

 Some time ago, my headline read “Results-Oriented Copywriter.”

Not terribly exciting, and it did nothing to promote my skills in social media marketing and customer relationship management. But I did what I thought I was supposed to do: describe my job.

This is incorrect thinking. More people will find you through the 'people search' feature on LinkedIn… and connect with you…when your headline uses the right keywords. Unless the searcher knows you by name, your job title is all he or she has to go on. A recruiter might search for all members in her locale with a certain job title. A company may search for an industry expert using common keywords. Just as with Google, keywords often form the basis of an initial search.

There are several recommended formulas for creating an effective headline. The one I like and use the most is:

 Value or Solution | Value or Solution |Trust/Credibility | Who I Am

This format allows you to describe what you do and how you solve problems for others, rather than simply regurgitating your job description.

Following this format, my new headline became:

Corporate Social Strategist | Social Media Help | Social Media Copywriter | CEO Modello Media

To get there, I thought about what I do, the value I offer, and how I wanted to be perceived. The task is to develop creative terms that are at once searchable, accurately descriptive, and not overly competitive.  And by the way, the headline is limited to 120 characters.

Next, I did a keyword check to see how much competition I had for my chosen phrases. You can do it too, like this:

  1. Go the search box on the top right of your LI screen
  2. Make sure the search box is set to “People”
  3. Type your term into the box, put quotes around it, and hit enter.
  4. A list of members will appear. At the top right of this list are the “results” (for example, “7,019 results”). This tells you how many members are using the exact same search term in their profiles…in other words, your potential competition.
  5. Play around with the filters to the left to find only those who are 1st connections, only those in your own town or country, etc.

Your aim is to get on page 1 of these results. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. Don’t forget that LinkedIn claims they are growing by one new member every second, so this process requires diligence.

If you do nothing else to improve your profile but craft a more compelling headline, I guarantee you’ll connect with greater impact.

Victoria Ipri, CEO of Modello Media, Inc.,helps business owners and executives break away from outdated marketing wisdom, social peer pressure, and follow-the-crowd mentalities that can block outrageous success. Programs focus on LinkedIn, Google Places, and superior copywriting. Please contact [email protected]

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