LinkedIn: The Cold Call Killer

"From the mind and desk of" is a new blog series devoted to chronicling trends in digital media and executive-level professional networking tools.

from-desk-of-todd-razorFrom the mind and desk of Todd Razor

If a prospective client asked for a business card, would you neglect to hand him or her a current email address and phone number?

Doubtful. You’re in business. Warm referrals, credible leads, job offers. Those are the lifeblood of your trade. The stuff people build careers on. Build companies.

And if you’re giving people a reason to find you, it’s best to have something relevant to share when they arrive. That’s a best practice in the publishing industry, and the essence of branding and content marketing in a digital age.

On LinkedIn, that relevance lies in offering an executive profile and an online resume, or at the very least a professional headline and current bio that tells me your profession is alive.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably into marketing, sales, digital media or commercial real estate. Maybe you’re a CEO or financial services a representative. You’re a communications director and possibly own your own business. You’re hunting down a resource or forming a new connection. Perhaps you’re my next customer. Maybe I’m yours.

“How do you know so many people?” said the text in LinkedIn message I received from a connection while conducting research for this article. “What does a person have to do to get 500 connections?” Great question. I wondered the same thing this week when LinkedIn informed me that in 2012 my profile was in the top 5 percent of 200 million users in regards to the number of views of that page.

It started years ago, when I realized that networking isn’t about standing around looking uncomfortable in a suit with an elevator speech and business card in hand. It is about showing up in the right place at the right time with something of value to share with those you wish to reach.

Then it happens. You’re working away and one day the phone starts ringing. A lot.

The reason you’re still reading is because I’m not trying to sell you. You’re already here.Todd_Razor_Top_5_LinkedIn And I’m already sold. I’m sold on the idea that LinkedIn is powerful branding and networking tool with enormous potential for those striving to achieve “100 percent completeness” in the professional networking space.

What’s nice about LinkedIn is that the person who finds you there - some weeks my LinkedIn page garners more traffic than my website - already knows what they’re looking for.

So the real question lies in what will they see: A fragmented resume and underutilized digital asset? Or an executive summary of the credentials, qualifications and contact information that set you apart from your closest competitor? You know, the one trying on that near-zero content and outdated image approach.

LinkedIn kicked off the New Year with about 202 million members worldwide, and more than 64 percent of its members coming from international markets. Highlights for the company last year included the development of modern profile schemes designed to make it easier for LinkedIn members to personalize profile pages, and the opening of a new professional publishing stream geared toward influencers.

On average, the number of LinkedIn members putting effort into updating their profiles is exploding, with that number doubling in the fourth quarter 2012, compared with the year-earlier period. Cumulative membership grew 39 percent on a year-over-year basis. And LinkedIn claims to add approximately two new members a second.

If a prospective employer asked for a resume, would you submit a document without any work history? If he or she wanted a reference, would you name an acquaintance with whom you hadn’t spoken to in years?

First, don’t waste time with cold calls without taking the time to develop the necessary infrastructures that allow people to find you online. And remember, if you’re in the business of warm leads and word-of-mouth referrals, a LinkedIn makeover could open a door to dynamic leads that help you kick the cold-calling habit for good.

The business card represents one of the last strongholds of print in a digital-age branding. Don’t give it up. And certainly don’t give up on developing your online presence in a hard-and-fast business world full of commerce, trade and industry that no longer slows down to find your profile in the Yellow Pages.

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