How to make money on LinkedIn

There is a lot of talk about social media, including the subject of actually making money off social media efforts.  Can you you legitimately build a business that makes money using social media marketing?  Many feel that the only people actually profiting off social media are the ones who teach others how to do so, charging big fees in the process.  LinkedIn, like other social media sites is only a mean to an end.  Think of it as a high end tool that you would buy at Home Depot to do some work in your house.  The issue is not the tool, but the person actually using the tool to do the work.

In January 2010, I was brand new to LinkedIn, having some 30 connections and never had used it for transacting any business or getting any leads.  I signed up for it back in 2006 because a good friend of mine in Philadelphia suggested I do so.  It was like buying a tool at Home Depot and then bringing it home, where it just sat in the garage doing nothing.  In February 2010, I began doing some advanced work in the executive search business and began to do research on companies, industries and individuals using LinkedIn.  I started connecting with more people, joining groups and participating in discussions and discovering companies and people that I did not know existed.  By the end of the year, I had placed 5 people into one company, all connections I made on LinkedIn.  I had more than 1,000 connections and had build a reputation and following.  90% of my income in 2010 were off connections I made on LinkedIn.  I now am booking speaking engagements and continuing my placement work thanks to connections, groups, comments, blogs and continuous activity that I drive through LinkedIn.

Does LinkedIn work?  The answer is YES, with this caveat: to the degree to which you use it properly.  Here are the top 3 keys I’ve found to making LinkedIn work for business and money making purposes:

1. Groups: The key to LinkedIn is not just to know more people, but to become known by others.  The best way to do this is through groups.  You can join up to 50 and go in and out of them, thus rotating through different groups.  Get involved in the discussions.  Post good questions that make people think.  Answer questions and volunteer good information in the discussions.  People will get to know you as someone who is a resource, not just a contact.

2. Target specific people in specific companies:  If you know you want to do business with certain companies, look them up and find out who from that organization is on LinkedIn.  Join the groups that they are members of and get involved in the discussions.  Once you’ve met some people, ask them to be connected to you.  Then you can ask them if you can be introduced to some of their connections.

3. Provide relevant content:  take advantage of a free slide-share account to post video content that will benefit your contacts.  Write and post blogs that have real world take away value for those who are connected to you.  Give away useful and relevant information.  Be seen and known as a resource.  People will do business with those who they see in such a light.

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Cash For Cars (the secret to long term sustained success)

When is the last time you bought a new car?  How much did it cost you?  An average new car today costs around $25,000.  Sound like a lot?  How about paying cash for that car?  When is the last time you did that?  How many people do you think can afford to do this?  Obviously not many.  However, if you’re like Jeff Rendell, it is much easier than you think.

Jeff is now 44 years old and he pays cash for all of his cars.  Here is the secret of how he put himself in this position for life.  When he was 18, his dad refused to co-sign for a loan and the entire burden to pay for the car was on Jeff.  Jeff’s father taught him this principle that is the take-a-way from this blog.  “Jeff, if the loan is for 5 years, keep it for 10 years and continue to make payments to yourself in years 6-10.”  Now after 10 years when Jeff got his second car, he applied that amount to the new car.  Again, he financed that second car for 5 years but paid for it for 10, paying himself the difference over the 5 year period.  Do you get the point?  Twenty years and two cars later, Jeff is now set for life to pay cash for his cars.

Think about how this principle, paying “Cash For Cars” can have applicability in so many areas of our lives.  For sales people, if the requirement is to make 40 calls a day, make 45.  Anybody can make 5 more calls.  Consider this an extended warm up period.  Over the duration of a year that person has made 1,000 more calls.  Do think this will have any impact on their sales, accomplishments or income?  You do the math.

The cash for cars principle is all about self imposed discipline.  It’s what Jim Collins’ refers to as the “20 mile march.”  This is just the 20 year march.  Same principle at work.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get the book and read it.

The Power of One Decision

By now we’ve all heard the tragic story from Penn State University, where many people have come forward to tell their story of abuse.  Joe Paterno and his staff have built an icon in State College and developed a reputation on and off the field as being a premier place not only to play football, but to develop yourself as a young adult.  Joe stood for values, quality of relationships, putting discipline into schoolwork ahead of sports, and so many other principles that we all know are important to succeed at anything in life.  Joe spent fifty plus years on the coaching staff, forty-six of them as head coach.  He built the Penn State reputation, as well as his own, one game and one season at a time masterfully for four plus decades.  Just a week or so ago, it all came crashing down because of one incident (at least that is all we know at this point, as there may be others).  If what Joe is saying is true, and that he did go to his boss after learning of the abuse, that was a good thing.  You should go to your boss at your company if there is a problem.  However, it is what Joe did not do that caused the house to fall.  Joe should have also gone to the police, which he did not.  What his reasons were is a mystery to us all.  Certainly he and the university would have a lot to lose, but that fact has nothing to what his moral, legal and ethical obligations are to do the right thing.

What this horrible story teaches all of us is that we need to understand the power and impact of each and every decision we make.  Every relationship, every conversation, every sale, every incident has tremendous power and potential to do us and many other people.  Depending on what we decide to do, say, or act on, or not do, say or act on determines whether the outcome if favorable or destructive.  In this case, the destruction is enormous and is likely smoke that may lead to a bigger fire.

This story really hits home for me, as I was born in University Park, PA when my parents were students at Penn State.  Joe became the head coach the year after I was born.  Growing up in PA, the influence and reputation of Joe, his staff, the team and the university was incredible.  How sad it is that the house the Joe and others spent 50+ years building came down in one incident because one or more people did not do the right thing when it counted.  The put themselves, their jobs and their reputation ahead of doing what was right.  Let’s learn from these mistakes and do the right thing in every situation we find ourselves having to make decisions, even when they are hard decisions to make.

Changing Your Definition Of Difficulty

“I love it when things are hard and hate it when things are easy.”  You read this correctly.  This was the mindset of the great Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton.  He was often heard saying this.  Shackleton was one of the greatest polar explorers who ever lived, having made his hallmark expedition in 1914 when he led 28 people into the Antarctic, attempting the first ever trans-continental crossing on foot.  The expedition went wrong from the start and Shackleton led his people for nearly 2 years to safety in 1916.

People often ask me why I’m such a fan of the Antarctic and why I decided to run multiple marathons there.  It is because of Shackleton and the kind of person and leader he was.  Think about it.  Don’t you really want to work for someone and a company that will push you to your limits?  Don’t you want to engage all of your talents and make a difference and not just a living?  I think inherently, most people would say yes to those questions.  I think the best workers are those who find a statement like Shackleton’s very magnetic, as they know that they will be pushed and tested to their limits.  It will force them to acquire new skills, try new things and take calculated risks.  Deep down, my contention is that we all want this from one degree to another.

That is why  in 2005, I made the decision to go to the Antarctic, and to a small degree, follow in the footsteps of my Antarctic heroes who preceded me 100 years ago.  To prepare for such an arduous task, I trained in a commercial freezer in San Diego for months.  Because the freezer was only fifty-nine feet long, I had to go back and forth, and back and forth, and so on, in order to run many miles.  People could not believe that I could withstand the monotony of back and forth for hours with no scenery change, no ipod, and no contact with the outside world.  This monotony and repetition was to my advantage, as I thought to myself, “if I can withstand this for hours, how much easier will it be when I get into the real thing.”  That is exactly what happened.  The marathon I ran in the Antarctic took me 7 hours and 15 min.  The 100km I ran a year later took 17 hours 16 minutes.  The hours seemed like minutes, as all the training in the freezer paid off.

I learned very quickly that I had the ability to change my paradigm and definition of difficulty.  I knew that if I could run a marathon in a commercial freezer, running back and forth just fifty-nine feet at a time before turning around, I could for sure make in the real setting of Antarctica. Because I had conditioned my mind by continuous and consistent monotony, I saw the challenge in front of me as much easier and achievable because, in my mind, I changed my picture, paradigm, and definition of difficulty.  A marathon now seems like a long training run and not such an insurmountable task.

Facing difficulty head on and voluntarily engaging in what I call “intentional difficulty” has many benefits including changing what you see in front of you and redefining what difficulty is and is not.  It is a powerful lesson for all of us and a very worthwhile endeavor.

Are you the “accidental” or “accidentally on purpose” salesperson?

As I look back on both my career as a sales person, there were many times when I would fight feverishly to make sales happen.  I had many periods of both success and failure.  There were times of plenty and times when sales dried up, like water in the desert on a scorching summer day.  When I look at how inconsistent my activity and sales plan were, it is a miracle that some great things happened in my favor.  No doubt that much of my early success was accidental.  I was in the right place at the right time.  While I’m thankful for this, it certainly was not a sound strategy to build a career on.  In the sales field, there are and always will be factors beyond anyone’s control, no matter how good you are or are not.

The sales people who are consistently good and who stay in the race for the long run, are those who are what I call the “accidentally on purpose” sales people. While some of their sales success comes from being in the right place at the right time (accidental), the cornerstone of their success is build on the “on purpose” factor.  They have intentional purpose and plan their activity and strategy accordingly.  They know how to harness the things that they can control and do so with incredible consistency, never letting the highs become too high and the lows becoming too low.  They see the sales and good fortune that comes their way by accident as icing on the cake, not the cake itself.  They are thankful for the extra they get, but don’t count on it.  Most of their success comes because of a sound, specific and purposeful plan of activity.  They have clear goals in mind and continually know how to benchmark their success, always knowing where they stand.  They don’t put energy, time and money into the factors they can not control.  They simply let them go and put their reserves only into the things they can do, influence or control.

How to put the manage in manager

I have been involved in the business of helping companies find and keep great people for many years.  One of the earliest lessons I learned in my business is put well in this statement: “People join companies and leave managers.”  There is much more truth in this than many people realize or would care to do so.  Remember back when you joined the company  you now work for or one that you recently went with.  The level of excitement and anticipation was overwhelming.  The picture you had in your mind to accomplish things that were meaningful to you and the organization were vivid.  Having a vision of where your career with the company would go fueled your engine.  The same level of excitement lives in most employees who make a decision to take a job.  They become engaged and fired up to do great things with their time and talents for the organization they just committed to.  After the honeymoon period cools off, reality sets in.

Unfortunately for many people, the initial level of fire power begins to fade quickly, as today just one in five employees is truly engaged in what they do for a living.  Why is this?  Was it a bad hire from the start?  Is the company not all that it was cracked up to be?  Was the job that the candidate took much different than what they thought they were being asked to do?  These could all be partially to blame for the situation.  More than likely, assuming that person hired was really the right choice, it is the fault of the manager.  People really do join companies and leave managers.  I have had hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations with candidates in most every industry and state, who have repeatedly told me that the reason they either left a company or decided to become active in looking for a new job, was because of something that went wrong between them and the person they directly work for, their manager.  I realize that there are always two sides to every story, and I’m sure the managers in these cases would have their say, but there are many common patterns of discontent and root causes of the problems that I see in the thousands of people I’ve spoken with.  Based on what they have told me over the past 15 years, here are three of the most common denominators that people are looking for in their manager.

1. Manage the whole person, not just the worker:  People must know how much you care before they will care about what you know.  I’m sure you have heard this before, and it is true in the employment arena.  The real question for managers is this:  Do the people who report directly to you really believe that you have their best interest at heart and that you really care about them as an individual, not just as a contributor to the organization.  The key is their perception of you and your managing efforts.  As a manager, you may have a strong opinion of what you are saying and doing, and what your intentions are, but the question is, is that reality in the eyes of the person you manage.  It is amazing to see the transformation in an employee when they really believe that their manager has their back and really cares about them as a whole person, beyond just someone who works for them.

2. Manage the expectations from day one:  One of the most significant reasons why people decide to leave a manager and become active in looking for another opportunity is because they don’t know what is expected of them.  Defining and managing expectations is something that most companies and managers struggle with.  During my career, if I had a nickle for every time a hiring manager, HR person or sales director stumbled when asked the question, “what do you actually want this person to do in this job”, I would be a very wealthy person.  Defining a job at a ground level position, translating exactly what you want someone to do, how its measured and making it easy for someone to gauge their own progress is critical to keeping employees engaged.  People want to have a continuous sense of how they are doing, and don’t want to wait for a manager to tell them.

3.  Manage the rewards:  I was recently in a conversation with a CEO of a very well established company that he has owned for 30+ years and was dumbfounded when he told me this: “My employees still have a job.  If that is not a reward, I don’t know what is.  They should be more grateful just to have a paycheck.  If that is not good enough, they can find another place to work.”  It is not surprising that some key people have left his company and will probably continue to do so.  Rewarding people must go beyond a paycheck and an occasional bonus.  Non monetary rewards can often be more significant, as they really show people that you put some thought into what is important to them.  This requires that a manger really knows a lot about each individual and what specifically is important to them.  When you reward people in this way, the level of engagement goes up significantly.

Thank you for your attention in this blog and I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to send this to other people you know

You Play the Game the Way You Practice

I still remember the early Thursday evening when my hockey coach pulled me aside and said, “Mike, if you want to score goals and someday become a captain, remember this:  You will play the game the way you practice.  Make the practice harder and the game will go easier.  You will not play any better in the game on Saturday night than the level of commitment you put into tonight’s practice. I was just 8 years old at the time and now almost 40 years later, the impact of what he said on the ice has made an indelible impression like few things I’ve learned from anyone, anywhere.

The reason it made such an impression is because that principle holds true today in any environment where hard work pays off, whether in school, business, family, and many other situations.  Think about it: like any habit, after a while, changing your paradigm, habits and standard of acceptance is not hard.  Change is gradual and the ability to make consistent and realistic progress is very likely.

This is exactly how I trained for the Antarctic 100k ultra marathon.  When I signed up for this, I had never run more than a marathon.  The 100k was two and a half times that distance, or 62.1 miles.  After running the Antarctic marathon a year prior, and running several marathons during the year leading up to the 100k, the marathon distance seemed like a long training run, well within reach at a moments notice.  I then ran two 50km (31 miles) within a week, and I knew I was ready for the 100km distance.

I had also conditioned myself mentally, as most of my training runs were inside a commercial freezer.  The distance between the frozen walls that I had to work with was only 59 feet.  I had to go back and forth, and back and forth for hours to accumulate distance.  Most people could not believe that I could withstand the boredom of just going back and forth in such a small space for as many as 8 and 10 hours.  What I told myself was, “Mike, you will play the game the way you practice.  Make the practice harder and the game will go easier.”  I thought if I could withstand the monotony of just going back and forth, with no scenery, no music, and no other distractions or people, how much easier would it be when I got into the real thing.

That’s exactly what happened, as the marathon in Antarctica took me 7 hrs, but seemed like 7 minutes; the 100km took me 17 hours and seemed like 17 minutes.  How could this be?  Because I made the practice harder and the game did go easier.  Difficulty and hard work are relative.  If you change your definition of each through consistent training where you make the practice harder, you will have an easier time in the real situation.

If you are a sales person, who has to push hard and make difficult things happen everyday, think about how this mindset can help you to consistently work harder.  Think about how it can impact your level of endurance and ability to stay in the game for the long run.  After all, isn’t sales the ultimate “white collar marathon?”

I welcome your comments, questions and feedback.