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Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Getting LinkedIn with the President

Barack Obama knows how to reach out to people

Barack Obama knows how to reach out to people

One of my colleagues pointed out to me that I am one step away from being connected to Barack Obama on LinkedIn, the online business networking service. I had no idea that I was so close to greatness through the web.

I’m sure Barack has got better things to do than get connected with me, but, if any of you recall, just how effective the new President was at using social media to reach out to voters then this illustrates just how close he can get to people.

I use LinkedIn every day so that I can understand people better before I contact them. If you’re not using it then you should try it. You may not want to contact the President, but you might well find the person you are looking on there.

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Recruitment in the Social Media Age

Big business connects with candidates through social media

Big business connects with candidates through social media

Some time ago, I wrote an entry about traditional recruitment companies facing the challenge of showing their value to employers when it is now so easy to use the internet to find potential employees through services like ‘Monster’ or LinkedIn. It was an entry which created more people to comment on my blog than had done for some time.

I read an article today on ‘computerweekly.com‘ which highlighted an example of how large companies like Microsoft and KPMG have recruited technical staff through LinkedIn and Second Life and saved themselves tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

Furthermore, companies like Accenture are using Facebook to attract potential employees to their business through the use of games. For a fraction of the cost of placing advertisements in newspapers, major organisations are now able to connect with candidates and present themselves in a less formal manner than more traditional methods.

Getting Big Leads for Little Money

Getting leads does not have to be costly

Getting leads does not have to be costly

All businesses need sales. It’s probably the most important activity to keep a business alive. With profitable sales, cash flow is the next most important aspect to get right. Most large businesses (e.g. Microsoft and HP) I have worked in have the luxury of being able to test marketing initiatives and they have vast armies of sales and marketing people to develop, test and refine them, along with the budget to do it.

In a small business, you don’t have such luxuries unless you happen to be swimming in cash. Most people start their own business with plenty of determination, some cash to keep themselves afloat, a great idea and the experience to be able to help other people with it, and, perhaps, a list of contacts who they can approach who might want to buy their product or service. Resources for sales and marketing are limited so every penny has to count towards getting sales.

Learning how to sell can often be the hardest part of starting your own business. The fear of rejection. The fear of failure. These are all common anxieties that occur when you are about to either pick up the phone to speak to a prospect, run your first show stand or talk to people at an event who you don’t already know. But you can break these fears and anxieties down by following simple steps in your business planning and not be tempted into sales and marketing activities that don’t fit into your plans.

When it comes to marketing, I hear plenty of worrying stories about business owners who have been recommended to get a web site for their business to bring in sales which, in the end, brings in no leads and, of course, no sales but takes vital cash out of their business. Also, people are often tempted to buy lists of names who are supposed to be qualified prospects in their target market at great expense but which can often be found for free on the internet using business networking sites like LinkedIn.

Often this comes down to a lack of experience in sales and marketing, which is understandable when these are not your main skills. But, when you start your business, you have to become good at sales and marketing to survive and get yourself into a position to grow your business and make profits.

When you have limited or near-zero marketing funds, then you need to be laser targeted in how you use them to bring you fruitful leads which convert into sales. You need to be clear about the objectives for your marketing. You need to be clear about your sales objectives too. Once you have determined your sales and marketing objectives, then you can begin to work on your sales and marketing strategies.

Sales objectives might sound like this: To cover my costs each month and to pay myself a living wage, I need to bring in £5,000 of sales per month”. And it might follow on like this: “In order to bring in £5,000 of sales per month, I need to sell two of my widgets per month”.

Sales strategies might sound like this: To sell two widgets per month, I need to send ten quotes out per month”. Sales tactics might sound like this: To send out ten quotes per month, I need to make fifty contacts with new prospects or customers per month.

Marketing objectives might sound like this: “I want to become the first choice when clients need an HR consultant in my local town within two years”.

Marketing strategies might sound like this: “I want to meet one new prospect a week who is in my target market”. A marketing tactic for this strategy might be “To meet one new prospect per week I am going to join my local business networking group”.

Only when you have planned your sales & marketing objectives and strategies, can you start to decide on the right tactics to achieve them. This is where many people starting up their own business start. They start with sales tactics and marketing tactics without fully understanding how they support their strategies and objectives.

For instance, you might say I want to build a web site to sell to new customers. But do your customers buy your type of product or service through the web? This is where your precious resources can be wasted in an instant.

So, before you spend anything, ask yourself how sure am I that I will get any business from this? If, for instance, you are buying a list, check on the web to see if your potential clients can be found for free. Before you build your web site, make sure it supports your strategies.

In my experience in owning and running small businesses, you should keep everything simple, focus on what you do best and learn how to sell. You need two types of lead generating tactics to get you sales. Tactics which can offer you quick access to prospects (e.g. your existing contact list or contact details from tools like LinkedIn), and tactics which can offer you an opportunity to build long term networks of leads (e.g. networking at events or business clubs).

These two are the cheapest and most secure ways to get leads and sales into your business and they are based upon relationships. You need to convince people that you are trustworthy. With short term tactics, it is good to have a nice logo and a well designed web site. They instill confidence in prospects that you are serious.

But, you should not spend more than you can afford until you have enough money to develop them into more sophisticated tools. Keep it simple. Use the great tools which are out there on the web to help you connect to customers which are free and adapt them cheaply. Keep the cash in your business for as long as you can.

You don’t need to spend lots of money on marketing at first. You need to spend lots of time finding prospects and working with existing clients. Always ask yourself how sure you about the return you will get from your sales and marketing investment and whether it supports your plans. Trust your instincts and be firm about how you invest your resources.

If you keep these principles in mind, you can generate good business without spending lots of money.

If you would like to contact me for further consultancy on how you can get leads to your business at low cost, then please email me: will@digitalbusinessblog.co.uk

Digital Recruitment Sheds Light on Lazy Head Hunters

Use Advanced Search to find candidates

Use Advanced Search to find candidates

It must be very hard to be a recruitment consultant or headhunter these days unless you are adding a lot of value to your clients. It’s so much easier to find a selection of candidates for a role, and then filter through them to a build a shortlist before inviting them for an interview. For a few hundred pounds per month, as an employer, you can access a site like ‘Monster‘ and search through a vast database of candidates.

You can also use services like ‘LinkedIn‘ to find prospective candidates to where business people will list their career history, skills and experience.

In certain sectors of the economy there is bound to be a larger supply of candidates then there are positions open. Many of my oldest friends are in this industry and make a good living from it. But with the vast majority of recruitment consultants are not very good at illustrating how they add value to their clients.

Every day our office receives calls from recruitment consultants trying to help us fill the roles we have open and which are advertised on our web site. I admire their enterprise for calling and trying to place their candidates with us. But their calls meet with our policy on not using headhunters to recruit new people.

Our experience with headhunters has been disappointing. When we have accepted the terms of a headhunter who then sends us candidates for our project manager or developer roles, their candidates were no better than the individuals we found through the online services like ‘Monster’ or through networking.  The difference is that you pay a large percentage of the successful candidate’s first year salary to a headhunter and you can save yourself some time trawling through the online services.

But the fact is that many headhunters send us the same candidates that we have found ourselves through the online services. Furthermore, we can find potential candidates through LinkedIn for free, bar the time spent contacting them.

So, the difference between paying 25% to 30% of the first year’s salary of a successful candidates salary through a headhunter and what you pay to trawl through ‘Monster’ yourself is so wide that you would expect a recruitment consultant to add something more valuable than if you did the leg work yourself. You would expect them to have vetted them to check their suitability, skills and experience for the role. This is simply not the case in our experience.

Digital technology and social media tools are shedding light on the mediocre and poor headhunters who add no value to the challenging task of hiring good people into a business. In the current economic climate, recruitment companies are going to have to work hard to show their value to clients. They used to take the leg work out of finding candidates by going down to the Jobcentre for you or placing ads in newspapers for juicy sounding jobs to attract prospective candidates.

You can do most of this yourself by simply learning to use the advanced search functions in the online job sites now. Top recruitment companies now have to do more for the large fees if they want to survive rather than using hope and ‘mud-throwing’ as a strategies to get a candidate to ‘stick.’ You would, at least, expect them to have a rigorous selection process themselves. The good ones will do this. Most of them don’t.