for Biz Development


by Mark Elliot, SPARK President

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful web tools for professionals looking to network. I recently conducted a live online demonstration and discussion to the Sales and Marketing Professionals of North East Wisconsin on this social networking tool. We all had a chance to share our thoughts on the benefits to companies in the areas of sales development, business and group membership features.

In a nutshell, makes invisible networks visible. It can facilitate professional networking, word of mouth marketing, referral-based recommendations, share of knowledge bases, and affinity group communication. In the real world it is hard to see who knows whom. In social circles, that is like driving to a destination without directions.

Neilson Research does an annual review of the most effective marketing. Word of Mouth always comes out on top, meaning referral based experiences is where people gain comfort of making a purchase. It is with this basis that LinkedIn is so successful–it provides opportunities for people to share their network experiences and give their endorsement of people or a company.

Once you create a profile, you can search for anyone and start to build connections that will help you down the road. I describe the benefits in more detail below.

Sales/Business Development Benefits
One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn is in the area of business development or sales. In most cases you’ll find the contact you are looking for with their general information, such as previous work history, associations and groups the individual is involved with. This can make a cold call a great deal warmer and the conversation smoother.

Then there are the all-important connections the individual has. Your ability to see their connections is based on the individual’s privacy settings. If the settings are private,  you’ll have to work a little harder to find this info. However, with a public profile, you can typically see a visible trail of their circle of influence, prospects, or additional connections that may be valuable info for your business development efforts. You can also do an advanced search by company to find others that may be able to help you in your current or future efforts.

General Business Benefits
Some other benefits include job searches, background checks, asking questions, researching companies, seeking competitive information and sharing of knowledge base.

If you happen to be seeking a service provider, LinkedIn provides an avenue to search based on their customer referrals. You can also ask questions of service providers to receive advice on issues before making any moves.

Part of the search feature allow you to gain information about the company through profiles, actual employee posted information or even competitive information. This information can be helpful in searching for job candidates, or for info on a company and its employees.

Affinity Group Benefits
Lastly, group membership on LinkedIn can also have it benefits. Chances are many of the affinity groups a professional is a part of also have an online LinkedIn group. This provides a forum for posting discussion boards, huddle workspace for shared documents, and a slide presentation space. Each group is allotted 1 Gig of space to work with.

Another benefit: groups can edit and post committee work documents in real time instead of through a trail of hard-to-manage emails. You can also receive email updates as to who has recently been invited into the group. This will extend your network further and provide another leverage point.

Another nice feature is getting a weekly e-mail that updates you on all the activities of the people in your entire network. In an easy-to-read update, it alerts you to job changes, new connections and new group members.

This is just scratching the surface of LinkedIn’s features. At a minimum, you should have your company’s sales group be made aware of the business development tools. It will surely help your business grow.

Happy linking,

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We’ve rolled up our sleeves and are ready to put our talents and tools to work on your business. Please contact Mark at or (920) 379-4575.