Tag Archives: LinkedIn

How Do You Rebuild a Company? Nine Strategies

Situation: A CEO is in the process of rebuilding the firm following a period of inactivity. Historically their marketing was word-of-mouth. How do you reestablishing a network which has been dormant for a period, find new clients and communicate an updated value proposition? How do you rebuild a company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Track down and visit old customers and contacts. Let them know that you are rebuilding the company and ask for their advice and help.
  • Use LinkedIn to find and reconnect with old contacts. Have breakfast or lunch with them, even those who are retired. Reestablish old connections and ask for an update on their companies and activities.
  • Focus on your knowledge base and the results that you’ve produced historically. There are more technology choices available now than there were in the past. Help old and prospective new clients to navigate the array of choices.
  • Development assessments to show your prospects where they are and where they need to focus their effort.
  • Many have built companies on their own – without professional assistance. The results often look good on the surface but lack a solid foundation. You have the perspective and expertise to bring it all together in a coherent and cohesive strategy.
  • Rejoin professional associations and networks that you may have dropped.
  • Go virtual – use virtual assistants to manage expenses while you rebuild.
  • Do webinars, and give talks on developing and executing a successful plan.
  • Create some pro-bono or low-cost programs for charities. Your target is the Board Members who may become future clients.

How Do You Recruit Outside Board Members? Five Recommendations

Situation: A company wants to add outside members to its Board. They seek individuals with industry knowledge, experience and contacts, among other things – members who can provide high level introductions to potential clients or key players within these organizations. The team is struggling to develop a list of candidates. How do you recruit an outside Board member?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Your best bet is to hire a firm with a good track record of Board placements.
    • Given your other priorities, it is unlikely that you can devote the time required to develop a list of candidates on your own. Ask yourself whether this is how you should be spending your time, and what the value of that time spent would be.
    • What level of business do your expect from the contacts that the new Board member will provide for you? Calculate a fee that you would be willing to pay a recruiter as a percentage of future business. A fee of $25,000 or more for a good member is not out of line.
  • Network with significant players in your industry, and also look at who is serving on their Boards.
  • Investigate LinkedIn Groups – Groups that focus on Board members. These can be helpful in learning who might be available and connecting with them through mutual acquaintances. In addition, firms that specialize in Board placement frequent these sites. Also look at LinkSV.com which is more focused on Silicon Valley.
  • Determine what you will offer as both liability protection and compensation for new Board members. At a minimum you want to have a good directors and officers insurance policy, as well as stock and cash compensation that is competitive for your industry and company size.
  • Current Top Executives may be too busy to meet your needs. Consider individuals with deep experience who are nearing retirement or recently retired.

How Can You Ramp Sales With Limited Dollars? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company survived the recession by cutting back and using cash reserves. Business is now on the upswing with significant new opportunities. However, the company has limited resources to invest landing new opportunities. How do you ramp up sales and business development on a constrained budget?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Identify and focus on your niche market, and invest your limited resources closing qualified clients. This is a rifle shot approach, not shotgun. While seeing new business, make sure that you have sufficient production capacity to handle new business. You want your clients to be satisfied so that they will refer others to you
  • Cash is the most critical resource. Spend carefully and get the most from your investment in business development.
  • While marketing materials are important, they may not be essential if you have and can leverage excellent referral sources. Word of mouth and referrals from trusted clients are your top assets.
  • Leverage Linkedin as a free or low cost resource to identify key contacts in your top 100 customer prospects.
  • You can also use Linked-in.com to recruit additional sales resources who may be amenable to a pure commission sale. This can help you to augment your efforts so that you only pay for success.
  • Your most important current unused resource is leads and referrals from existing satisfied customers. Let them know that you are looking to grow and ask whether they know of contacts in other companies who could use your product. It is surprising how frequently they will share their contacts with you. Ask whether they would call the contact and provide a personal introduction.

How Does Social Media Aid Sales Efforts? Three Factors

Interview with John Lima, CEO, Coffee Bean Technology

Situation: As with anything new, there are varying adoption rates for social media. Many top executives aren’t sure  how social media can improve their sales. How can social media effectively enhance sale efforts?

Advice from John Lima:

  • Business is about people, and people are increasingly using social media to connect with others and to express themselves. Social media platforms encourage us to be ourselves – to take off the business mask that we normally present to the world. This enables the savvy company to better know their customers.
  • First, social media enable you to find customers more quickly. Almost everyone is somehow connected to social media. The problem is the inefficiency of searching for them through LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, etc. Software-assisted search makes this more efficient. Develop a customer Social ID: a profile of what you believe your customers interests and buying behavior to be to serve as your social media connector.
  • Second, find people who fit this profile and engage with them in social media. Let them bring their conversations and interest to you, and refine your Social ID as you gain additional information. This gives you insight into the person – who they interact with and what interests them – and enables you to approach them as a human being. Envision an open marketplace where people connect first and then tell their stories. This allows salespeople to quickly build empathy and smooths the sales process.
  • Third, your evolving customer Social ID can help generate new leads. As the Social ID becomes more sophisticated you can develop key words to find similar customers. Software robots use these key words to find relevant conversations in Twitter or Facebook and flag then for a sales person who can then dig deeper to determine whether the individual identified is a competitor or a prospect.
  • To make this work efficiently, you want to have an integrated system with a set of tools that allows you to cost-effectively sift through the millions of daily entries logged through social media.

You can contact John Lima at john.lima@coffeebeantech.com

Key Words:  Sales, Marketing, Technology, Social Media, People, Mask, Customer, Connect, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Software, Social ID, Follow, Profile, Empathy, Relationship, Trust, Leads, System

How Do You Aggregate an Audience? Three Strategies

Interview with John Hollar, President & CEO, Computer History Museum

Situation: Traditional media for reaching audiences – television, newspapers – have broken down. Audiences are atomized and increasingly “what you want when you want it.” How do you aggregate an audience in this environment?

Advice:

  • Develop partnerships that align with you both in terms of audience and purpose.
    • We just finished a $20 million expansion. With 1.5 million technology workers in Silicon Valley, how do we spread the word?
    • We work with corporations in the tech sector, corporate alumni groups, tech retailers, convention centers, hotel concierges, and schools.
    • Our new campaign – Silicon Valley Starts Here – encourages Silicon Valley visitors to start their Silicon Valley journey with us.
    • School field trips are booked through the end of the year. Local foundations support transportation costs.
  •  Leverage the digital world to expand your presence.
    • Everything physically present in the museum is also available digitally to a global audience.
    • We use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to generate viral networking.
    • Live events are captured in HD and broadcast through our YouTube channel to 2 million viewers.
    • We update our Facebook page and tweet daily. Facebook is fun and playful with “Today in Computer History” and Friday YouTube films.
    • Tweets include a quiz – “Who Am I?” – of famous figures in computer history with prizes.
  • What are the implications for companies and institutions?
    • We must embrace the notion of living in parallel worlds – having both a physical presence and a broader digital presence.
    • Expert knowledge is here, but we must be able to access an increasingly digital audience that is global.
    • Digital capabilities can’t just be bolted on to an old structure. This must be a marriage that connects our knowledge and expertise organically to our audience, their needs, and the knowledge and expertise that is happening in the world.

You can contact John Hollar at jhollar@computerhistory.org

Key Words: Media, Audience, Partnership, Purpose, Awareness, Campaign, Digital, Presence, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Inflection Point, Digital Lifestyle

How Have You Attracted a Resistant Audience? Three Thoughts

Interview with Pradeep Bakshi, CEO, Foundation3

Situation: A new start-up has developed a SaaS application focused on helping sales people and small businesses leverage LinkedIn and other social media for prospecting. The Company’s customers build Private Shared Networks which can be used by sales people to accelerate the Pipeline. Their concern is that historically sales people have not adopted sales productivity and prospecting solutions.  What have you done to attract and accelerate trial and acceptance when addressing a resistant audience?

Advice from Pradeep Bakshi:

  • Keep it simple and make the application very intuitive and easy to use.
    • Do not try to change behavior; make it easier for sales people to do things they already like to do.
    • Create an instant “I get it” experience.
    • Bias the interface toward instant gratification. This is critical to generating viral marketing.
    • Make it easy to tell others what you’ve found – similar to a “Like” button to share a YouTube video.
  • There are 15 million sales people in the US.
    • You won’t get everyone, but you want to get the “believers” and avoid the “haters”.
    • You must quickly find segments of the market who are likely early adopters. For us, the early adopters are in the SMB segment (startups, 25-200 emp.) and the service provider industry.
  • Select channels which are open to your messaging and solution.
    • LinkedIn Groups are becoming an excellent way to network with like-minded people who can spread the word.
    • Look to past contacts to whom you have provided value and who value you. They are more likely to get your value proposition and introduce you to others.
    • Allow customers to collaborate with referral sources: potential business partners and collaborators who aim at the same audience that you will serve; and lead sharing partners. These individuals can help you find customers who will value your solution.

You can contact Pradeep Bakshi at pradeep@foundation3.com

Key Words: Software, Prospecting, GUI, User Interface, Viral, B2B, Early Adopter, Professional, Customer Acquisition, SMB, LinkedIn, Private Share Network

What are Best Practices for Hiring at Minimal Cost? Eight Thought Starters

Interview with Stephane Dubois, CEO, Xignite

Situation: The company has been running very lean for the last few years, with very good people. New opportunities are opening up, and we need to staff up to execute. How do we get the best talent while minimize hiring costs?

Advice:

  • Job Posting Boards: You can often find specialized talent on industry specific job boards such as Dice.com, SimplyHired.com, Cybercoders.com, TheLadders.com or similar non-traditional job boards.
  • Online Interest Groups: There are a wide range of industry and product specific user groups through Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and so on. Connecting with relevant groups will not only position your company as a key firm within the segment, but also make you THE place for career progression.
  • Go Social: Leverage the power or social media to publicize your available positions.  Facebook advertisements, LinkedIn job postings and similar sites can build targeted interest in your company, and available positions.
  • Go Viral: Even if you don’t personally like Twitter or Facebook, these sites can create viral awareness of your company and technology. Tweeting that you are hiring now, with a 140 character job profile.
  • Be Cool: Create exciting new ways to add in the cool factor.  Skilled talent likes to work with fun, exciting, successful companies. Capture photos of company events and add them to a Picasa or Flickr gallery. Positive blog posts build good vibes around your company, your technology and your products.
  • Ground & Pound: There are many groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss skills, functional interest, best practices, business opportunities or to just mix and mingle. Sites like Meetup.com to find local groups that match the talent you’re seeking. You will often find candidates, people that can pass the opportunity along, or even someone willing to provide an awesome referral.
  • Attack: Be pre-emptive in your focus. Select a few top-notch recruiters who specialize in your technology, market and/or geography. These professionals already know the talent pool, may accelerate the process, and ultimately provide higher quality candidates.
  • These are a few thought-starters. What has worked for you to find good candidates at minimal cost?

You can contact Stephane Dubois at sdubois@xignite.com

Key Words: Hiring, Social Network, LinkedIn, LinkSV, Twitter, Facebook, Job Boards, Viral, Recruiter 

What are Best Practices to Open New Markets? Five Thought Starters

Interview with Greg Curhan, CEO, Clickworker, Inc.

Situation: Clickworker was founded and has gained nice traction in Europe. Focusing first on Silicon Valley, they want to expand into the US. This means identifying companies that could use their service, as well as appropriate contacts within those companies. What are best practices to open new markets for a product or service?

Advice:

  • Start with a set of profiles of possible customers and contacts.
    • If you have a history of success, look for companies in similar industries, and with similar profiles as your current customers. Build a set of profiles of customer companies, and use these profiles against the lists that you develop to identify and prioritize prospects.
  • Develop a list of who’s in your addressable market and narrow this list to prospects.
    • Work with your staff and systematically review past jobs and companies that you’ve been associated with, including vendors and suppliers. Identify a list of possible target customers, and use LinkedIn, Link Silicon Valley and other social networking sites to confirm and develop your contact list.
    • Also work with companies that develop and update databases of local companies including contact lists, web sites, telephone numbers, revenue data and SIC codes. For example, Rich’s Business Information develops searchable lists of companies Northern and Southern California. Dunn and Bradstreet and others also sell searchable lists of companies and positions.
    • Subscribe to the locally published Business Journals in your target markets. These Journals generate Books of Lists of local companies and contact information.
    • Network with those you know and ask who they know. This is more effective once you’ve developed a set of profiles, so that you can clearly characterize what kinds of companies you seek.
  • This is an initial set of ideas. What has worked for you as you opened new markets?

You can contact Greg Curhan at greg.curhan@clickworker.com

Key Words: Customer, Profile, Contacts, Suspects, Prospects, LinkedIn, LinkSV, Social Networking, Rich’s, D&B, Business Journal, Network   

How Do You Attract the Talent to Build an International Presence? Seven Guidelines

Interview with E.J. Dieterle, President & CEO, YES Partners, Inc.

Situation: As corporate wallets start loosening up, companies are looking at market expansion opportunities. International expansion is one alternative. In the past this was done largely by sending Expats. In more recent years there has been a trend toward hiring locally. How do you find the right talent locally?

Advice:

  • Everything starts with the basics – a good job description.
  • Finding people is easier these days with social networks like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, hi5, Spoke and Plaxo. However, finding the right people remains a challenge.
  • Invest time and effort to research your target market.
    • Which country is a market or has the most likely prospective clients?
    • What is your competitive advantage there?
  • For a hiring company without an existing presence in the local market it is also a challenge to convince good local candidates that yours is the right company to join. It is important to understand the local business culture and values, and also to offer career-paths to qualified candidates.
  • Don’t assume the need for multiple offices as you start. You can start with a highly mobile person working from home who knows the local language(s), customs, and who already has contacts in your target market.
  • It is often assumed that it takes one year or more for an Expat to be efficient locally, and that hiring locally often accelerates first years’ startup-time. However, the local person has to understand and “fit” into the corporate/head office culture.
  • Working with an international executive search firm to find qualified local talent with the right fit to your business and needs can greatly improve your odds of success.

You can contact E.J. Dieterle at ejdieterle@yespartners.com

Key Words: International, Market, Expansion, Ex-Pat, Job Description, LinkedIn, Research, Competition, Brand 

How Do You Improve Company Competency to Support Growth? Eight Thoughts

Interview with Scott Dodson, CEO, AirXpanders, Inc.

Situation: Both in the case of a start-up, and when an existing company adds a new business unit, one of the biggest challenges is supporting rapid expansion during market launch. Talent necessary during the product completion phase may not be sufficient to support this growth. What can you do to improve company competency?

Advice:

  • Bring in “been there, done that” expertise to support the current team. In particular, you want to add individuals who have experienced both success and failure in similar markets, and in both larger and similar sized companies.  You want people who can be transformational to a company and not someone who can simply occupy a box.  Give them a chance to do more, add to their toolbox and they will in turn help the company achieve its goals.
  • A wide range of past experience with multiple employers is now seen as a benefit, whereas in the past it may have been a liability. It brings more knowledge to bear.
  • Among people with highly diverse resumes, how do you tell performers from non-performers?
    • Focus on what they did to transform their past company. Did they build alliances, make change happen or improve the organization during their incumbency? Look at ‘how’ they did it.  Chances are, this is a very leverageable skill.
    • Look for doers.  People who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves will make the biggest impact in the organization.
  • Look for people who possess “strategic humility.” Don’t be afraid of mistakes and foster an environment where the boundaries are continuously pushed.  The enemy of ‘good’ is ‘perfect’, and the best companies consistently make ‘good’ decisions.  If you make a mistake, own up to it, learn from it and move on.
  • Look for the ability to assess, develop, plan and mobilize resources to execute the plan.
  • Use LinkedIn to identify people with whom an applicant worked in previous jobs to conduct independent reference checks.
  • You can also use LinkedIn to identify candidates for open positions.
  • By adding resources with these traits to your team, you markedly improve your likelihood of success.

You can contact Scott Dodson at scottadodson@yahoo.com

Key Words: Ramp-up, Growth, Talent, Competency, Interviewing, LinkedIn, Reference Checks