Your New Rolodex
A classic business essential is your Rolodex. For decades, folks in business and especially people in sales valued their Rolodex file of business cards and contact information as one of their greatest business assets. Many people were hired or promoted based on their strong file of business contacts.
Meet the new Rolodex. It's called LinkedIn and it should be one of your business tools. There are over 100 million regular users of LinkedIn. If you are on no other social networking site, as a business person, you need to be on LinkedIn. This is where you manage your professional identity. This is where you can build and engage with your professional network. This is where 80 percent of HR departments, recruiters and talent search firms go to look for talent.
As you make connections with your business friends, acquaintances, suppliers, clients and colleagues, you will be amazed at the size of your network. For example, as I write this posting, I have 790 connections on LinkedIn. (Connect with me @paulkiewiet) That puts 157,500 people at my fingertips who are friends of friends. There are nearly 5.9 million connections that are just three degrees away. That means that I have nearly six million potential people to whom I can easily get an introduction.
People can not only find me and learn about what I talk about in my updates. They can view my professional history, see who endorses me and who I endorse. They can find out who I might be able to help them connect with and can recommend people to me with whom I can connect. I can connect presentations and other content that I want people to notice.
As a prospecting tool, it excels. In the upper right corner there is a search box. If I'm traveling to a city, I can enter that and find out who I might know who I can connect with there. If I want to target a new company, I can enter that name and find out who I'm connected with and if it is a first-, second- or third-level relationship. I can use this information to create a talking point or to get a formal introduction.