6 ways I’m creating opportunities from LinkedIn

I like the idea of LinkedIn. There are good “general” social networking sites but I like having a business-focused site where I can visit with the intention of doing business. For the past couple of years, LinkedIn has been part of my business plan but my participation has waxed and waned.

Recently, I started looking for some resources and tools that might help me use LinkedIn better. Twitter has a bunch of downloadable or web-based tools so I was hoping that LinkedIn would, too. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot (although I have added the LinkedIn toolbar to my browser). I’d like to see more in this area.

So, from all of the thinking I’ve been doing about how I can use LinkedIn more effectively, I’ve developed these 6 ways to gain value from my network:

  1. Article ideas: I write business articles for magazines so I’m always on the lookout for a good story. By reviewing some of the LinkedIn questions, or a group discussion, I can find common questions people are asking. And chances are, if they’re asking them, someone else might want to know, too.
  2. Article sources: I’m always looking for an interesting source to quote. In the past, I mined my email list for people to talk to but now I have a much broader community to approach.
  3. Article reserach: Gaining a different perspective on an article is very helpful. So reviewing answers to related LinkedIn questions and discussions can give me that different viewpoint.
  4. Business examples/studies: As a business writer, I want to find businesses that are doing interesting things, trending in certain ways, or are relevant to a pre-defined topic in some way. LinkedIn’s various search functions, along with my own ability to review contacts in different ways, can help me to find the businesses I want to connect with.
  5. Strategic analysis: In applying the Business Diamond Framework™ to businesses, LinkedIn offers a valuable place to gather data-points on numerous aspects of an organization.
  6. More stickiness: As a business owner, I want to find new ways to connect with my clients and keep them thinking about me and deriving value from me. LinkedIn helps me do that. Connecting with clients seems like an obvious one, but connecting with the intention of adding value takes it to a new level.

In my search for tools, I didn’t find much in the way of downloadable or web-based stuff, but I did find a lot of ideas about how to use LinkedIn. Guy Kawasaki’s post is one of the more popular posts on the topic, but then I stumbled across this page: Linked Intelligence: 100+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn. There is a lot here! If LinkedIn is in your marketing plan, take some time to read it.

I’d like to invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn!

What periodicals of tomorrow will look like

Newspapers are struggling. Magazines are wondering “what’s next?” I wouldn’t say that paper-based communication is dead but I would say that it’s in the hospital and doctors are calling up the specialists.

Chris Brogan, a business/tech/social media consultant (okay, that description falls short of what he actually does) had some insightful things to say about print publications and opportunities for their survival. He delivers meaningful specifics that show how information delivered by the “ideal” next media company intersects with the needs of the audience.

Read his post here: The Next Media Company.

Facebook ads suck

This ad, and all the other ones just like it, drive me crazy. They perpetuate a myth that entrepreneurship is easy and that your computer is some kind of ATM. Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that owning a business is hard work. Not slavishly hard, but you certainly earn your success.

I guess this is just an updated version of those “work at home stuffing envelope” classified ads from pre-web days.

A good helpdesk experience?

Normally, I avoid helpdesks as much as possible… for all the regular reasons. But I recently installed a new wireless router and the “quick install wizard” was neither quick nor installing and completely wizardless.

In the process of installing, the wizard was supposed to replace the account I normally used to connect to the internet with a new account representing my new configuration. Well, it got half of it done (deleting the old account) and decided to stop. So before I could continue with the router, I had to call the helpdesk.

I dialed, expecting a long, long wait.However, what I got was a recorded voice that told me to input my phone number and someone would call me back within 22 – 28 minutes. The voice assured me that I had a place in line and I would not lose it by indicating that I wanted a call back. 22 – 28 minutes recaptured in my day? YES! I’ll take it!

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, I got a call back and they resolved the issue.I’m sure this isn’t an usual experience for some, but it was for me.

I’m realistic to know that you can’t always have the staff capacity to answer a phone right away. And I also understand the risks associated with just having an answering machine where people should leave their name and number for a call back.

My experience was a positive one and it falls right in the middle — an excellent way to solve the staffing issue without trying to decipher the incoherent mumbles from the recording of a frustrated customer. This service provider added real value to my day by helping me to recapture time.

5 things I hate about TV commercials (#1)

#1: Any commercial shown before 6pm or after 12am.

Yes, I know that’s most of them.

Daytime and late night commercials are terrible. Plain and simple. Many promote gender, ethnic, and age stereotypes in an effort to target their demographic. And they are universally of such poor quality that it makes me want to purposely avoid the products.

Early morning commercials
In the morning, before the kids are off to school, commercials show little boys playing with exciting cars and military action figures while little girls dress in pink princess costumes and playing house. Gender profiling aside, these kids have way more toys than they need, they look a little too old to be playing with these toys anyway, and they don’t seem to be playing out a story but simply making sweeping exclamations: “Cool!” “Awesome!” “Pretty!”

Daytime commercials
After the kids are in school, and cartoons give way to soaps, talk shows, and tough-love “courtroom judges” (note the ironic use of quotation marks), the commercials change, too. Typically they fall into one of 5 categories…
Cleaning products. Busy (and good looking) woman says: “It’s tough enough being a mom. I don’t have time to keep my house clean! If you’re like me, you will clean your house better with these effective products”.
Car dealerships. Short, sign-holding car dealer shouts to the camera: “We’ve all gone crazy down here at XYZ Dealerships. We’re so crazy we’ve slashed our prices on new and used cars. You won’t believe the deals (etc., etc.)”
“Medicine” (again, note irony). Examples include HeadOn and the QRay bracelet. In general, these commercials depict regular people trying in various ways to verify the dubious claims of the remedy with anecdotal experience… or they simply ignore their claims all together.
Career Institutes. Essentially these are schools that seem to only teach medical transcription (which, according to every ad, is a growing field, although I’m not clear how). The ads seem to be so poorly produced that it makes me think that maybe the schools also teach video production, but just not very well.
Injury attorneys. This is the group of people you’d think could afford good commercials and yet they insist on a standard “talking head” commercial in which the lawyers themselves are clearly reading cue-cards. If they’re making as much money as they say they’re making, they need to hire someone to write a good commercial for them.

If you miss daytime commercials because you’re at work, count yourself lucky!

Here is one commercial you miss. Yes, it’s a real commercial. No, I have not cut anything out of it.

Somewhere between midday and late night (presumably 6-ish) the commercials improve in quality. Without a doubt it’s because more people are watching television at this time and the people who earn an income (hint: the best market to target!) are now home from work.

And for this short stretch of 6 hours, the commercials take on a new quality. Or at least they try.

Late night commercials
All good (or even passable) things must come to an end and by midnight, television networks are trading good commercials for bad once again. These ones target a completely different market. Daytime commercials targeted busy moms, potential students, and those who want to sue someone. Late night commercials target the elderly and the entrepreneurial with…
“Medicine”. Again with the remedies of dubious value. Not surprisingly, HeadOn and QRay are the two most common.
Reverse mortgages. This pull-equity-out-of-your-home commercial feels a lot like the “medicine” commercials: We see the product… but it has dubious value.
Get Rich Quick schemes. From their yacht or their Caribbean beach house, a white-pants-wearing wealthy person offers the secrets to their success for 4 easy installments. Testimonials follow (with disclaimers!). It’s usually related to real estate, for some reason. Thrown in for good measure are money-back guarantees and “if you call in the next five minutes, we’ll reduce the payment by one installment”. I’ve always been a “night owl” so I tend to see these commercials if I happen to leave the TV on after watching Leno or Letterman. Years ago, the very first get rich quick scheme I’d ever seen was this one.

Although there was some controversy over his ridiculous claims and “opportunity”, he was never charged with fraud. And, interestingly enough, he has made a comeback as a legitimate poker champion.As a self employed business person who works out of my home, there is one benefit to a day that is three-quarters filled with bad commercials: it improves my productivity. I have little desire to turn on the TV during those times, even if the show might slightly appeal to me because the commercials are so repulsive.Commercials are an interruption and viewers completely ignore most of them. There are a few that might get through, but they need to be compelling and well produced. Many of these daytime and late night commercials are neither compelling nor well-produced. And that makes it seem like they don’t even try.