Using the iPad and LinkedIn to Grow your Network

Posted by Jeff Coon on Nov 13, 2012 9:03:00 AM

Using the iPad for businessAre you looking for creative ways to use the iPad for business? Have you ever wanted to do more with your LinkedIn Connections? In this article, I'll share some ideas on how you can do both to help grow your network and strengthen relationships with your current customers.

I had the opportunity to interview Tom Boudreau of R&R Insurance (a client of ours). Tom is a Commercial Insurance Account Executive who was looking to provide better resources for his current and prospective customers. Tom was kind enough to share his thoughts and process in how he's using his iPad and LinkedIn network to do a "52 in 52" video interview series featuring Wisconsin business professionals.

Below is a recap of my interview with Tom:

Q: Tom, what is "52 in 52"?
A: "52 in 52" is a video interview series where I'm interviewing 52 Wisconsin Business Professionals, with nothing but my iPad, over a time period of 52 weeks. I've wanted to do this "52 in 52" initiative for years, but it took time to build my network of Wisconsin experts. I am now in a position in my career to leverage the collective expertise of my network. They are a great group of people and I'm happy to be able to share their knowledge in a way that can help all of us grow our businesses.

Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I sell business insurance like a lot of individuals. But my goal is not only to be the best at that, but to also help my clients build their businesses — whether it's insurance related or not. "52 in 52" is my attempt at putting the "social" back in my social networking.

I really wanted to offer my clients and prospective clients something of value. I also wanted to do something with my LinkedIn Connections. In the past, I was simply accepting new connection requests on LinkedIn and then not doing much more with it. I wanted to reach out to my network and learn more about what their businesses do to see if they could help my clients. Ultimately, my goal of "52 in 52" is to share knowledge.

Q: How has this worked for you?
A: It's been great! I'm spending an hour with each individual for the interview - and prior to that we're communicating about what we'll be discussing in that interview and what we can provide the audience as a leave-behind.

It's really strengthening my relationship with these individuals. This process is kind of a bonding process. I share with them the analytics and they feel that I'm truly trying to help them - and that's my goal.

This has also resulted in new and additional business for me. I had a client that I was working with sign an 'Agency of Record' letter for additional services because he appreciated the fact that I was differentiating myself from other insurance agents and working hard to help my clients grow their businesses.

I've also had several opportunities present themselves in ways that I didn't expect. Just by staying in front of my clients, I'm having them refer opportunities my way, as well as introduce me to other professionals that help me strengthen my business network. Even beyond the sales, this has helped build brand awareness for me in a way that doesn't come across as salesy.

Q: How has this benefited your network?
A: It's been very beneficial for them as well. As an example, the interview I posted a couple weeks ago resulted in business leads for the individual being interviewed. A couple hours after I sent out the email to my network letting them know that I posted the new video, three people reached out to me asking to have my guest speaker contact them about quoting some business. It really was a win, win, win for all of us involved.

Q: From a production standpoint, how are you doing the video interviews?
A: I'm using nothing but my iPad set up on a tripod. My father-in-law was kind enough to let me set up a little studio at their office (Circular Marketing in Waukesha, WI). I purchased a couple lights and printed up a sign, but the rest of it is just setting up the iPad and shooting the interview.

I purchased the iMovie App for the iPad and do the editing right on my iPad. When completed, I upload the video to our YouTube Channel and then with your help (Stream Creative), we build out the blog post, create a landing page and upload the leave-behind piece.

When those pieces are in place, I create an email in SubscriberMail and send that out to my network. From start to finish, including the interview, the entire process takes about 4 hours.

Q: In closing, do you have anything else you'd like to share with readers?
A: As a sales person we try very hard to get that initial meeting to learn what our prospects' businesses are all about and where R&R Insurance can help them. Through these "52 in 52" interviews, I can ask these same questions through a totally different process that doesn't feel like I'm selling to them - which I'm not selling - I'm trying to help them reach a new audience, and they get a better value out of that.

If I had to do something different, it would be finding a way to shorten the final videos - but I just can't find a way to get them between three to five minutes without cutting out a lot of the content or sacrificing the personal element involved with these interviews.

Overall, this has been a great experience!

So how are you engaging with your LinkedIn Network? How are you using your iPad for business? Please share any of your ideas in the comment section below.

About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: online networking, online business networking, online referrals, iPad, Tom Boudreau, inbound networking, linkedin, stream creative

LinkedIn's Power Move in Hosting the B2B Conversation

Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 27, 2008 9:41:00 AM

LinkedIn is about to make a power move.

I've been using Facebook a lot more lately. It has some powerful features that enable me to initiate conversations with people. LinkedIn, by comparison is very sterile. However, LinkedIn is where business happens. I think too much play still happens on Facebook. Business happens on Facebook. But, I don't think 40+ serious business professionals (outside of the marketing world) will ever really adopt Facebook as a business networking tool, atleast until the kids just graduating college are 40+.

So, what's LinkedIn's power move? For a few years now, people have been building groups on LinkedIn about all kinds of topic. There was very little benefit to the members of the groups. Owners of the groups, could of course, send emails to the members. (Not many marketers caught on and I expect to see the controls tightened on the ability to download email addresses.) 

I also expected for a long time that LinkedIn would launch functionality to enable the groups to interact via the site. The first thing they're launching is forums, which is an obvious idea, albeit nothing that new. What'll be revolutionary about it, I presume, is that when users post to different forums, their contacts will probably be notified via their feeds. LinkedIn Answers already does this, making it possible for people to tap the collective wisdom of their network and the wider linkedin network very quickly. (Answering questions is also a good promotional tool.) I bet their forums will be used more frequently and will draw in all kinds of conversations. 

Here's the official announcement from LinkedIn (from an email):

First, thank you for managing your group on LinkedIn. We sincerely appreciate the time and effort you devote to your members, and we know they value it. Together you have made Groups one of the top features on LinkedIn.

This Friday, we will be adding several much-requested features to your group:

  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members. (You can turn discussions off in your management control panel if you like.)
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive. (We will be turning digests on for all current group members soon, and prompting them to set to their own preference.)
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.

We're confident that these new features will spur communication, promote collaboration, and make your group more valuable to you and your members. We hope you can come by LinkedIn on Friday morning to check out the new functionality and get a group discussion going by posting a welcome message.

What do you think of the new move? About time? Implications?

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Topics: social networking, business networking, online business networking, linkedin

Nick Inglis Presents: Networking on Steroids with Linkedin + BlitzTime

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 9, 2008 3:36:00 PM

Register for the short webinar and online speed networking event.

Here's a quick introduction/explanation of the material to be covered:

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Topics: blitztime, online networking, online business networking, linkedin

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