LinkedIn fundamentals

By Generation Next Governor at Large 
Amy Dobrikova, president, Intelligent Fleet Solutions

LinkedIn profile

Published in the October 2015 issue of Generation Next Edition

I am sure many of you are already on LinkedIn, but are you using it properly or getting the maximum benefits from it? I was first introduced to LinkedIn early on in my career when I was transitioning from one company to another. My former boss asked if we could connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch. I quickly learned it was like Facebook for business! Your profile is your resume, but the great thing about it is the networking opportunities. It allows you to connect with colleagues, former classmates, clients, supplier partners, and pretty much anyone you come in contact with in the business world.

Tips for sales professionals

To sales professionals, LinkedIn can be a great tool for locating prospects or researching contacts in an organization. Be careful to be respectful and not just randomly connect with people you have not met, though. The most professional way is to send a prospective LinkedIn contact an InMail message indicating that you would like to speak with them. InMail messages go directly to your intended recipient -- there are no gatekeepers to go through. This option allows recipients the choice of accepting or declining your message. Don’t feel bad if they decline; they may not be the best person to speak with, or they may truly not be interested in your offering. So, you just move on to the next prospect. After tradeshows, be sure to connect with people you met. Sometimes when you look at a business card you don’t quite remember who the person is - but once you pull up their LinkedIn profile and see their picture, the light bulb comes on and you're ready to follow up!

You never know when you may need to be introduced to someone through another contact in your network. It’s amazing how my fellow business class students have worked their way up in organizations that I now sell to. LinkedIn is a great way to ping them and get their insights on the purchasing process or people I should speak with in their organization. They can help open many doors.

Hints for fleet managers and recruiters

Fleet managers are inundated with sales calls, emails, and now LinkedIn InMail. You have the choice to accept or decline any InMail request. Also, when you are tasked with finding a solution for something regarding your fleet, LinkedIn can be a great tool for locating and reaching out to potential suppliers.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool for recruitment. I have been in many meetings where the organization brings up a need to hire someone in a specific department. Based on the criteria, I search for potential candidates that could be brought in for the interview process. If you are currently in job transition, use LinkedIn as a tool to connect with recruiters who can connect you with available positions. As a consultant, I get a lot of my clients by reaching out to suppliers in my network to see if they need any of my services.

Lastly, my advice is to do your best to have a completed profile. I highly recommend having a recent professional profile picture in business attire; you want your business connections to see you in a business environment. Prior to a client meeting for the first time, I look up their profile to understand their background, but also know what they look like. I have had situations where I show up to meet them and it's obvious their profile picture is 30 years old. Don’t just state your positions and employers - make sure you summarize your responsibilities and results. This will minimize the number of prospecting emails you receive for things that have nothing to do with your area.

A final word: if you haven't yet done so, I would also encourage you to join Generation Next's LinkedIn group, to easily access your industry colleagues engaged in professional development through NTEA. This resource is open to members of Generation Next. (Not a member of Generation Next? Learn how to join!)

LinkedIn also offers many other benefits, including the ability to post and participate in groups, but I hope these few little insights are helpful to you. Have fun networking.

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