Don’t Be LinkedIn-Lazy — Use it for Business Intelligence

By regularly nurturing your LinkedIn network, you can get valuable business intelligence that can open doors. It happened to me and I want to tell you how.

LinkedIn MerlinWizard

LinkedIn MerlinWizard (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

If you’re like most of my friends, you treat LinkedIn as an online resume-storage box. You probably devote most of your social media time sharing information with friends on Facebook or Twitter, and rarely visit or update your LinkedIn profile, seek recommendations, join groups, list accomplishments or even add a profile photo.

If you’ve been LinkedIn-Lazy, it’s time to change your ways. It’s the first place recruiters do their hunting; it’s a place where it’s totally cool to strut your stuff, and your achievements get showcased in a nicely organized way.

What’s most important to me? On LinkedIn, you can easily gather business intelligence by learning about nearly everyone who is sizing you up on a daily basis.

That little bit of information — above all else — is LinkedIn’s most valuable benefit to my business.

I treat LinkedIn as my little treasure hunt in reverse. The treasures aren’t hidden. They are in full view EVERY DAY. Every single day I find valuable gold nuggets for my business — the names and companies of those who’ve visited my profile page.

It’s my free business intelligence about who may be looking for a PR or social media consultant. It also tells me who’s trolling for possible partnerships or internships. With a little chutzpah, you can connect with those people and see what unfolds.

Here’s a nugget that recently dropped in my LinkedIn lap. I noticed a few days ago that a marketing exec from a major university visited my page. So I took the initiative to send this message:

Dear PERSON, I couldn’t help but notice your recent visit to my LinkedIn profile. Please let me know how I might help you or whether any potential job candidates have listed me as a reference. Enjoy your summer!

The next day I received this response:

Thanks for the note. I am looking for a XXXX to take XXXX to the next level. Ideally I am looking for INDUSTRY X, Y AND Z who can help to further raise our profile and engage prospects. (TEXT ALTERED BY ME)

By simply checking up on my LinkedIn profile visitors, I now have a continuing conversation with someone I might never have met. A door opened for me and I didn’t even push. I’ll let you know if it leads to business.

Having a solid, 100% complete LinkedIn profile is a must for any professional, whether or not he/she is looking for work. And it’s equally important to make daily trips to LinkedIn to see who’s scoping you out.

It also helps to take the initiative (or maybe, audacity) and let LinkedIn visitors know that you’re looking at them while they’re looking at you. As long as you can do it in a welcoming, helpful, non-creepy sort of way, you have nothing to lose and some valuable business intel to gain.

Happy Reverse-Treasure Hunting! 

Post happily written by Michelle Damico

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The Press Release is NOT Dead!

Long Live the Press Release!

It’s a major weapon in your organization’s PR and media relations arsenal and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They are effective (especially when search-optimized for Google and Yahoo!) in helping customers find your business, and for arming reporters with information about your product or service. I have proof, and it comes courtesy of my PR and marketing clients.

Here’s a press release that prompted executives from consumer warehouse retailers to call my client. Imagine having high-value prospective customers CALL YOU? It happened to Green Delete, which helps firms safely and responsibly delete data from electronic devices. If I hadn’t written and distributed this press release to the journalists who cover recycling, data protection and asset management, these giant companies would never have learned about Green Delete and its expertise in on-site digital asset disposal.

Or check out the release I wrote for Lloyd Bachrach, an amazing, inspiring motivational speaker who also runs Premier Showcasean annual entertainment event to help school administrators and volunteers see the talent before they book their school assemblies. This press release provided valuable, time-saving information that helps time-crunched reporters quickly get the information they need to not only decide on covering my client, but to write a factually correct story. Reporters are so stressed with multiple deadlines and demands, and a well-written press release helps them better do their jobs.  In fact, see the TV and print coverage that I secured for Lloyd who continually reminds me how those news reports helped grow his business and boost credibility among his business partners.

I have scores of other client news stories that appeared in major market media and started with a press release. Just go to my News section here and take a look. Or contact me to learn about why a compelling, helpful, well-written press release should be a key launching pad for your business’s PR efforts.

 

“How do I…?” The entrepreneur’s most common PR question

“How do I use PR to…    

  • Get more customers?
  • Grow my business?
  • Stand out from the competition?
  • Inject new life into my online presence?

Almost every week, small business people and entrepreneurs ask me how can PR build your customer base and grow your business?

It doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re one of those rare savvy jack-of-all-trades who hits the PR jackpot and has your product or service featured on The Today Show or on the Chicago Tribune front page in your first round of media outreach.

It starts with building relationships with the people who can help you spread word about your business.

Look at your local newspaper or radio station. What stories do you see about your industry? Who is the reporter, how can you contact them, what are his/her interests? Do you have any interests in common?

You can find out a lot about reporters by simply following what they write about. Many media outlets provide online profiles about their writers and editors. Often, they’re buried online under the “About Us” or “Contact Us” sections. For example, many major metro newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald (serving the North and Northwest suburbs), have a very detailed list of their reporters, writers and editors.

These editorial directories can be a bit hard to find. For example, the Daily Herald lists their media contacts under the tab “Services & Info, which isn’t the most intuitive for searchers. Often, media outlets bury their “Contact Us” link at the bottom of their web page in very fine print. Take the time and patience to look for it.

If you’re looking for contacts on a magazine web site, often you’ll find an editor to reach by clicking on their “Advertising” tab and clicking on their “Media Kit” or “Editorial Calendar.”

Trying to reach TV reporters? You’ll often find their contact information online as well, although it seems TV stations make it the hardest to find that info. For example, this NBC5 Chicago contact site has minimal information. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, pick up the phone, call the station or outlet’s general number and ask to be connected to the Newsroom. Someone staffing the news desk will be able to direct you to the appropriate person. Don’t be surprised if you get a reporter’s voicemail.

Use the search tool available on nearly all media outlet web sites to see past stories. If their stories are archived (often for a fee), make a small investment to get copies of their most recent reports.

Consider ways to get their attention by sending them samples of your product, inviting them to visit your business, or sharing a new angle or bit of advice on something they’ve reported on. Better yet, send an email, complimenting their work and offering your expertise for a future story.  Invite them for coffee (most reporters don’t have time for lunch, but you should still extend the invitation.)  Don’t be discouraged if they say they’re too busy for an in-person meeting. They really are busy – their jobs have become more demanding. Besides reporting the news, media reps also are expected to post on social network profiles and/or provide additional content for media-owned blogs (or even their own personal blog).

Are you on Facebook or Twitter (either a personal or professional page)? It’s very likely that reporter is also on social media, so take the time to “Like” their page, follow what they do, and engage. Post items on their wall that are helpful. And I mean helpful - not bragging or advertisements. Show them that you can be a valuable resource.

Establishing media relationships is one way to open the door to possible coverage and demonstrate your expertise and credibility.

Next time we’ll talk about how you can use social networks to spread word of mouth and get your customers and their friends talking about you and providing untapped exposure.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences working with reporters. What have you done to get their attention?

Was it fruitful? What could you have done better? Leave a comment and I promise to respond!

 Post happily written by Michelle Damico

 

 

 

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Sweet! Great PR results by simply following a blog

Most business people I know are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but the majority don’t follow blogs or write their own. “There’s no value,” they say, especially since social media already is a time drain.

What if, by subscribing to just ONE blog, and interacting with that blogger you’d get a free ad seen by tens of thousands of Chicago Tribune readers?

It happened to me today and it’s the perfect example of why every business short on PR resources should follow at least one blog. Not just any blog, mind you, but blogs about topics that interest you (that’ll keep you coming back), and that are supported by a local newspaper. Most newspapers have bloggers. Many Chicago Tribune reporters are bloggers, and the Trib also owns the ChicagoNow network of community bloggers. I follow ChicagoNow bloggers Catherine Morgan and Judy Marcus.

Besides loving PR, I also love to eat, cook and create sweet things. So when I heard about Judy’s Sugar Buzz Chicago, I became an instant follower. I subscribe to her blog and receive emails about new blog items. I send her ideas all the time, and after mentioning that  my sister opened Jam ‘n Honey, a new breakfast restaurant  in Chicago’s trendy Lincoln Park, Judy wanted to learn more.

Yes, it was wonderful having Judy blog about the restaurant, which is only weeks old and already has lines of diners waiting for tables. But here’s the icing on my cake: The blog’s parent company — the Chicago Tribune — began sprinkling links to her blog within the online version of the paper. Here is a screen capture of my sister’s restaurant  posted adjacent to a local story that attracted tens of thousands of readers today.

The headlines lured readers to a news story and then drew them to valuable real estate about Jam ‘n Honey Restaurant. How long did that info remain on the news page? Maybe about eight hours today (the ChicagoNow promos interchange regularly online). But hey, eight hours of free PR hours is far better than zero hours of free PR!

By having fun and by staying in touch with people who write about my favorite things, this local restaurant received valuable exposure to thousands of readers!  PR doesn’t get any sweeter than this!

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DIY PR? Sure, you can!

 

Yes, you can be your own PR agent.

If you’re like many entrepreneurs launching a small business, a budget for PR is often last on the priority list. That’s unfortunate, because we’re all news providers these days, hungry for great news content for our own Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Twitter feed and other social media platforms. Having your story told through word-of-mouth marketing or in traditional media such as newspapers, radio, and TV is one of the most effective ways to attract new customers and build your business.

 

While it does require effort and learning, it’s possible to wear another hat and become your own PR rep. Like anything, you need to keep at it, even if you don’t see instant results.

I recently was interviewed about DIY PR for business people by Catherine Morgan, Transition and Entrepreneur Coach from Point A to Point B Transitions. Please take a listen and let me know if I can help you get started. Email me: michelle at michelledamico dot com!

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Making Your Business More Profitable

Early birds catch the worms, and it helps to be thoughtful too. (photo: michelledamico.com)

My friend and mentor Barry Moltz posed a great question to his following of entrepreneurs, and I thought you might like to see the 36 helpful answers to: “What are you doing to make your business more profitable?”

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Is Your Biz Missing the Social Media Boat? C’mon, Hop On!

Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...
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The social media bandwagon is getting pretty crowded with corporate marketers and PR professionals.  Big corporate players such as Old Spice, Kraft, Coke, Skittles,  and others have been one-upping each other with creative social media initiatives over the past few years.

While there’s lots of dazzle in these campaigns, the reality of social media is that you don’t need a big fat marketing budget to experience the direct customer engagement you’ll get from  Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and others.

If you walk down Main Street USA, you’ll find that many small businesses haven’t caught the social media bug. It’s easy to understand why. Small business people are the most time-stretched of all the entrepreneurs I meet. They’re often operating on a shoe string, and seek help from family and friends to keep the payroll down. It’s hard enough to consider promoting your small business brand when you’re trying keep the lights on and the doors open.

If you can relate to all I’ve just said, perhaps you might want to take a few baby steps before taking the social media plunge. Here are a few ideas that might save you time and budget.

1. Focus on Facebook. Don’t get dizzy wondering whether you should be on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. With 500 million users and growing, Facebook is where it’s at. It may not stay the most popular social network forever, but with that many eyeballs, and with the constant media chatter about its popularity, keep your focus on its potential to let you talk directly with your customers.

2. No need for high priced experts. Look in your own backyard for help. Better yet, look in the next room. If you’ve got a kid on Facebook, see if you can capture your attention for a few minutes to show you how to set up a page for your business. Hey, maybe you can dangle an incentive such as a boost in the weekly allowance in exchange for help in creating AND completing a business page. Don’t have a teenage techno wiz available? Small business development centers all around the country are offering social media introduction classes, and often they cost next to nothing.

3. Take advantage of customer relationships. The best small business people get to know their customers through casual conversations. You’ll probably find a few marketing professionals among your customers with experience setting up social media pages and profiles for their clients. Suggest to arrange some sort of barter relationship to take advantage of their expertise.

4. Be a Google Meister! There’s a wealth of how-to information on how to use Facebook. Facebook itself has a wealth of help resources, but don’t stop there. Sites such as AllBusiness.com and Mashable.com offer up-to-date news and knowledge about the best uses of Facebook and social media trends.

5. Inspire Your Customers. Once on Facebook, let them know you too have a presence. Encourage them to find you and “Like” your business page. When they leave comments or give you the thumbs-up sign on your page, comment with a thank you or post something on their wall. Make it relevant to their lives. Offer advice.  Explain your products or how to best use them. Post photos of happy customers.  Launch Facebook-only promotions. Give them tips. Establish trust. Entice them to come back for more.

6. Scope out your neighbors. See what other stores and businesses are doing on social networks. Join a club in your community. I found more than 88 million results in a Google search of “finding social media clubs,” so go find one, you’re likely to find new customers as well!

7. Don’t be intimidated. If somebody tells you they’re a social media expert just nod and walk away. We’re all just learning this new and exciting way to market your business. So start with a healthy but realistic search for knowledge.

8. Share your experiences with others. Social media is all about developing relationships and establishing trust. Help out others who face similar challenges, and watch your network of fans and customers grow.

Have any other ideas for small businesses dipping their toes in the social networking waters? I’d love to hear them!

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