We know the statistics on women-owned businesses (increasing but not awesome) and their rate of succeeding year one (not so great) or actually growing and reaching the five year mark, right? While I should probably share these stats I prefer not to dampen our mood.
Rather, I’d like to share what I’ve experienced. The ups, downs, missteps and successes have woven a tapestry of “Wow, how did that happen?” Mostly, over the last 1,825 days, it has been a fabulous journey of meeting great people and learning and loving the work we do. There have also been days of discovering new online tools, keeping pace with LinkedIn questions, justifying LinkedIn as a tool, and understanding how to be nimble, flexible and profitable.
Most nights I sleep well and others I don’t sleep at all.
Our goal at Intero Advisory is to be among the elite group of LinkedIn trainers, consultants and strategists in the country. I believe we are and I also know it will require working differently to keep us there.
Where most consultants have great expertise and leave to pursue work within that industry, I had to engineer the expertise. I’ve been working in Linkedin almost everyday since October of 2006 two years after it debuted. I’ve logged in and have spent more than 54,750 hours working in LinkedIn and that is just me, not our team of rockstar LinkedIn strategists.
Prove the concept.
People, no matter how smart or degreed, can’t keep up with LinkedIn. We saw a need. We answered the need.
Could you build a small business on one platform? Some were doubtful. Some suggested that answering the need to train on all social platforms would be a more stable business model. I never wanted to play in social media. I wanted to deliver smart, strategic thinking and best practices to business professionals so they could do their jobs more effectively, find a new job or build their personal platform. I wanted salespeople to be set free from cold calling and the frustration of voice mail and not meeting their quota.
I remember a meeting in October 2013 when Andrew Cohen reminded me, “you’ve proven the concept.” He was right, we had.
Own what you know.
We add substantive value to a conversation, individual, team and company as it relates to recruitment, business development and messaging on and through LinkedIn. Our insight translates into tangible, quantifiable results; what helps people find jobs, develop new and current business opportunities, be informed and knowledgeable, engage with strategic partners and other influential networkers. We help others stay relevant and competitive in business today.
We question the status quo, outdated sales tactics and those who say LinkedIn doesn’t work. It’s our responsibility to ask and challenge the “sameness.”
An open mind is everything.
There is no doubt that the clients we have worked with who have an open mind and a vision for what they can accomplish with LinkedIn have seen greater success. We’ve learned to identify this attribute quickly in others. Although difficult for me as a salesperson, I have learned to say no to those who prefer to use LinkedIn their way without a strategy, regard to their network, how they look, the platform etiquette or their brand.
Keeping up with LinkedIn is a lot of work.
We know this first hand. Between our Google Alerts, constant team chats and messages, clients and good friends, we have more information on LinkedIn than can be processed most days. At Talent Connect 2015, Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, shared that there would be more changes in LinkedIn in the next 12 months than the last 12 years.
We’re here to translate the good, the bad and the ugly that LinkedIn rolls out so it makes sense to our clients, readers and audience. There are more than 2,440,000,000 results when you Google LinkedIn. That’s a lot of content to scroll through to find what you need. People need to find the voice they trust and understand; we hope to be that voice.
People make a difference.
Our team has been, and continues to be, filled with people who take great pleasure personally and professionally in helping and supporting others, caring about results and sharing their knowledge. They work out creative strategies to keep our clients ahead of the pack. We encourage the small and large successes.
Our networks are our lifeblood. They refer, recommend and introduce us to others in their networks. From the early days of connecting with key Baltimore technology leaders (Ed Mullin, Steve Navarro and Patrick Wynn) to other local centers of influence — Ben Griffin, Sarah Sedlak, Hollis Thomases, Barbara Gassaway, Greg Behm, Susan Bishop, Eliot Wagonheim Lee Peters, Jonathan Oleisky, Vicki Franz, Jim Ries, and Jim Naylor (to name ONLY a few) and to several of our longstanding clients — Rich Rubinstein, John Leahy, Richard Carson, Ken Parezo, and Helen Todd, we have had the privilege to serve some of the smartest professionals I know. Today, our team of influencers and clients extend well beyond Baltimore. We’ve worked with professionals throughout the U.S. and abroad.
I doubt there will ever be a time when strong, personal relationships cease to exist and are replaced by online only. We, as relational humans are wired for interaction. We are wired to have a conversation, have a coffee or a drink, share a funny story, give a hug, fist bump a success. This is good. People need people.
Nothing in business can happen without people talking to one another. So, while I appreciate the terms social selling, social recruiting and social media, they also make me pause and wonder how we have so quickly forgotten that we’ve always been social. What’s changed is the medium and the need to adapt faster. These channels are not fads; they are a way to level the playing field, expand horizons and opportunities and cultivate a diverse community.
Speaking of great people, I am indebted to my family for all their support and encouragement. And, of course, those who work with me at Intero, our small but mighty team – Lindsey Stemann, Erin Dore Miller, Sydney Slavin and our awesome intern, Ali Barzyk. And a special thank you to those who stopped along the way on their career journey – Alicia Dodd, Lynne Leidy, Yvonne Lyons and Whitney Harmel. Each person has contributed in their unique way.
I have no idea what the next five years looks like. I do know that, in the next few weeks, we are poised to expand our offerings so more people can learn how to leverage LinkedIn better, on their own terms. We can only grow our business by merging technology into how we train, coach and consult.
We are collaborating with a group of the leading minds in social selling to create an online coaching site. Additionally, we are developing an in-depth series of guided tutorials for the novice and super LinkedIn member. How we train and consult will continue to focus on awareness, education and accountability. Social sales instruction and enablement programs will be at the core of all we do.
We will be sharing more in the near future and are excited that we can turn our learning into your learning. We have watched you learn, heard your questions and frustrations and am confident we can, once again, serve as your LinkedIn translators and enablement team.
For all of you who have worked with us, read our blogs, listened to our audiocasts, thank you. You have been a part of our “learning lab.” And, for those of you we don’t know yet – if you are ready to challenge your own sales and recruiting status quo, strengthen your digital presence and adapt behaviors and activities, we are here ready to guide you through the process with a complement of resources, strategies and training options.