Are you a LinkedIn addict?

I mentioned (a couple of blogs ago – pay attention now!) that my brother Anthony and his wife Alexis were home from Canada. I hadn’t seen them for some time so we were playing catch up on all the news and visiting ‘touristy’ places that I wouldn’t normally visit.

We went to the waterfall at Powerscourt and afterwards had a rummage in the Avoca gift shop. One section of the store had the cutest stuff for little kids I’ve ever seen. Alexis remarked: “This stuff is Granny Bait”. Great products and great packaging – leading to the dream marketing response: ‘I want it’.

Excellent marketing: It got me thinking. What does excellent marketing look like in the consulting world? Could we develop a business equivalent of ‘Granny Bait’? Perhaps someone had already done this and we could steal shamelessly? Innovation is great, but plagiarism is quicker and cheaper! It was a ‘slow day’ at the office. I powered up the laptop and started messing around. Here’s what I found on Linked In.

Using LinkedIn: The first person I clicked on was wearing sunglasses! At the precise time I was on line it was drilling rain outside – but he’d used a photo taken in Marbella or somewhere equally blue-sky-ish. A couple of people had cartoon pictures of themselves and the ‘creative’ types were using photos of themselves as kids. OK, you’re different. We get it! Cool.

The second group that fascinated me was the ‘high actives’. One guy had 527 contacts. I felt like ‘Johnny no Mates’ with my measly 300+. Now the way my brain works is called competition. Flashing amber lights. I know it’s a schoolboy instinct, Neanderthal, a half step removed from Orang Utang (“Now give me the secret man-cub, clue me what to do”) but it’s hardwired. So I started benchmarking who is doing what on the site. Forget about Myers-Briggs and 16 Personality Factors. See if you can locate yourself on the brand new LinkedIn Personality Test, which I’ve devised…

a. The Newbies: Less than 20 contacts: You are either new to the site or have just won the lotto and deleted every single contact that you don’t really like! The bad news is that you are seriously challenged as a networker. Get cracking if you want to up your street cred. This is just not good enough.
b. The Acceptors: 21-100 contacts: You probably don’t use the site for hunting, but just say YES when you get an invite. You don’t want to offend anyone by ignoring his or her request for a link. Your view of the site is probably along the lines ‘I can’t really see the benefit but what harm is it?’ Could try harder.
c. The Actives: 101-200 contacts: You are really getting into this, aren’t you? You might have a job where external contacts are important (e.g. some form of selling) or, more likely, you are thinking of changing jobs and ramping up your network of useful people. Yes, we’re onto you. The good news is there’s some potential shining through. You could become a player. One to watch!
d. The Players: 201-400 contacts. Now you’re sucking diesel. Admit it. You are a marketing guru, a recruitment consultant or an IT Sales Representative. We know you are. If not, you are seriously underworked during the daytime (hey, make sure that no-one in the IT department is monitoring your email traffic). This is impressive stuff.
e. The Addicts: 500+ members. This is Premier Cru territory. Take a bow. How are you doing it? Offering some form of inducement to get people to sign up? VIP passes to 02? Marriage counseling? Salsa dance classes for beginners? C’mon reveal the secret? You are creating ‘buddy envy’ and making the rest of us look pedestrian.

Why Bother? I’ve  heard of some people raising venture capital on the LinkedIn site, which seems like a good idea if you have the right product and the right contacts. The recruitment agencies certainly use it to good effect, either trawling through profiles to find a match or posting jobs on line and getting instant responses. Some people use LinkedIn to pose questions (are some of the teaser questions posed by consultants actually a subtle marketing ploy rather than real questions?). And, joining groups seems like a solid way to learn about topics of interest.

Leveraging Time: My rationale for being on the site is simple. To meet someone, I have to drive into town. Park the car and buy a ticket to stop being towed to some obscure compound. Get a seat in a restaurant where we can talk without being overheard (I know it’s not the Pentagon, but you still don’t want everyone knowing the company strategy). Then do it all in reverse. On this site, I have a simple means to connect to a wide audience plus I get to indulge myself by writing blogs about peoples’ motivations for being on LinkedIn and loads of other good stuff. What more could a man ask?

Face-to-Face: In Marketing terms nothing is as effective as a face-to-face meetings – but being on LinkedIn is an additional avenue to keep in contact with clients. It shouts ‘Hey, I’m still alive’. So, watch this space. I’m making loads of new buddies. I want to be up there alongside the addicts. No one wants to be in the second group? Right?

Is it working? I still can’t really figure out if it’s working. I’m on LinkedIn as a sort of Fear Factor around being left behind. It’s a herd mentality. The $64,000 question is whether it has generated any new business for Tandem Consulting (it definitively has). But has it generated enough business to justify the time involved? That’s a harder one to answer. While there’s something almost schoolboyishly joyful about soliciting new friends, I suspect that the real trick is following up on the contacts made rather than just having a succession of ‘first dates’. Our group will follow through on this in the near future with the launch of the Tandem Consulting newsletter (watch this space). Back in the real world, I’m open for that cup of coffee. Might even buy you one. Meeting people face to face works best. But in the meantime, happy Linking!

Paul Mooney PhD.

Ps Check out our website  www.tandemconsulting.ie

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About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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