Many companies invest in using a customer relationship management tool, or CRM, such as Salesforce. But there’s a free tool at your fingertips that you need to take advantage of: LinkedIn. LinkedIn has plenty of functions like searching and tagging that allow you to keep track of and maintain your professional relationships, sometimes better than CRM tools that are already out there. After collecting boxes of business cards for many years, I decided it was time to take the plunge and use it as my CRM. In this week’s episode, I explain why you should do the same and use LinkedIn as a CRM.
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In This Episode:
- Years ago, I wrote an article on Maximize Social Business where I said your Twitter handle is basically your new email address: wherever you go, that stays with you; It makes you accessible to anyone in the world, they don’t have to have your email address
- So if your Twitter handle is your new email address, how do we keep track of all of the people that we meet in our life?
- CRM is Customer Relationship Management software; Salesforce is the one that everyone knows about and uses
- If you’re using Salesforce for your CRM, that’s great, but how are you keeping in touch with your professional network
- These days, with the emergence of the internet, we are making more weak connections over a large geographical area
- In the same way that Twitter is your new email address, LinkedIn should be where you manage all your relationships
- What if you’re a small business and you’re not using those enterprise-grade tools? And what about maintaining those connections for yourself?
- There are tools like Sprout Social, which allows you to manage your personal accounts along with your corporate accounts
- The paperless revolution happened twenty years ago, and I’m trying to minimize
- Business cards really pile up, especially for someone who does a lot of speaking and networking, and I’ve tried those services like Shoebox, where you send them your business cards and they scan them in and collect them for you, but a lot of the context is lost when you get rid of the business card
- I decided to start using LinkedIn as my CRM, to really put time and energy into connecting with people I had met
- Here are 7 reasons why:
- If you haven’t invested in a CRM before, you’re not going to start now
- LinkedIn reaches one third of the global professional audience
- The discoverability of hidden connections
- People don’t change their LinkedIn URL; your ability to reach that person once you’ve connected with them stays the same
- LinkedIn has added the contacts functionality: keeping up with birthdays or work anniversaries is a great way to stay in touch with people; other functions include the ability to add tags, search by organization, and more
- If you’re looking for a new job, need help, or published a new blog post, those might not be things you want to share or that will get engagement on other networks like Facebook, but they might do better on LinkedIn
- It’s free
- Recently LinkedIn made it harder to search – they’re counting how many you do and they’re capping it at a certain number, and I don’t know what the limit is – they’re saying you have to pay the subscription to do that many searches each month
- A couple of days ago, I decided to invest in the premium program because I do a lot of searches, and time is money; I can also send InMail
- Take advantages of the functions of your social networks while they’re free! You never know when you might have to pay to use them, and when you do have to pay, really think about whether it’s worth it to you
Resources & Links:
- What to do once you’ve connected on LinkedIn
- Speaking of the LinkedIn’s functions, use tags to better search your connections
- Here’s what you get on LinkedIn’s Personal Plus paid account.
- Tips to perfect your LinkedIn Profile.
- Still not on LinkedIn? You should be.
Hey everybody. This is Neal Schaffer. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Social. Hey, I’m really sorry I missed you last week. Although I try to keep these podcasts to a weekly frequency, boy, I think I posted on my personal Facebook, which I invite you all to become friends with me on by the way, I posted I’ve just been real busy lately, really busy in caps, and as I prepare for obviously the launching of the Social Tool Summit in Boston May 12, my first conference, and just reaching out and engaging and really developing relationships with speakers, with sponsors, with new social media tools companies that I didn’t even know existed and just all the good things that have come from that, obviously really, really excited about that. You’ll be hearing a lot more about that until May 12.
And then March is just going to be extremely busy with me. I signed on a new client for social media consulting that I hopefully will be able to announce soon because I think it’s a very, very interesting organization that I’m working with that I’d love to introduce to you. So, I’m flying back to New York for that next week. I have a Facebook for Business webinar on Wednesday, March 13, and then I’m off to Las Vegas for a Motorola Channel Solutions workshop where I will be talking on social selling in front of, I don’t know, been told at least 400 people have registered for that. And then I’m off to Germany to speak at CeBIT, which is the world’s largest IT conference so if you’re out there in Europe, I hope to see you there. They’re also having a one‑day Rock the Blog event for corporate blogs, which I will be the MC and moderator for for the entire day which I’m really excited about as well.
Hey, I come back here, I teach another class at Rutgers University and then I’m off to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. So, I always like to mentally try to prepare for these events as far in advance as I can and you can imagine how all the different speeches and PowerPoint presentations and the logistics that goes into the planning has kept me busy. So, let’s move on to the content. I’m all about the content and hey, if you wanna know about my personal life, follow me on Facebook or Ping me, but let’s move on to the topic of today. Another reason why I was unable to publish a podcast last week is I go through these periods where I have this newfound love for different social networks and I unearth new insight and new value from using them and so last week was the week where I found this new love.
It’s really hard to love a platform anymore than this for LinkedIn and that’s gonna be the topic of today’s podcast. And the reason why I took so long is I really wanted to put a little bit more time into developing my thoughts before I recorded the podcast. I’m usually good at doing it in real time in all honesty, but this one, I thought the subject was so important that I wanted to rest on it a little bit and here it is.
So, the title of the podcast is Why LinkedIn Should Become Your New CRM. And I should preface this podcast by saying that I published a blog post. Man, you can do a search on Maximize Social Business, it was either in 2009 or ’10 or ’11 where I said think about it, Twitter, your Twitter user name is your new email address because no matter where you go, that Twitter handle stays with you. For most people, they don’t change it. It also just makes you easily accessible by anyone in the world. They don’t even have to have email to access you. They can just go on Twitter.com or on the Twitter route to access you. So, it’s pretty revolutionary when you think about it that way and that’s why a lot of celebrities have obviously thrived on that platform and anyone can really thrive for that reason.
So, if your Twitter name is your new email address, how do we keep in touch or keep track of all the people that we meet in our life? Now, CRM is Customer Relationship Management software. In the old days, I used something in my sales job, it was called Goldmine, which the founder of Goldmine now created a social CRM software application called Nimble. I think Salesforce.com is really the one that everybody knows about. It has the No. 1 market share in the same way that Goldmine did before we had all our information up in the Cloud.
So, if you’re already using Salesforce for your job, that’s great. That is a CRM, but really, how do you keep in touch with your professional network? And I think we can all agree that we are all creating more connections, more weaker connections, over a broader geographical area because of the emergence of the Internet and, you know, technology and the social networks, which have allowed us to do so, right? So, in the same vein that Twitter is your new email address, LinkedIn should be where you manage all your relationships. So, as I said, if you work for a business, Salesforce or maybe using other enterprise CRM, that’s great, you already have access to it, but I ask you two questions. No. 1, what if you’re a small business and you’re not using those enterprise-grade tools and/or what about for yourself, right?
Now, there are some tools I use, one of the social media dashboards, and I use a lot of tools and I have such respect for the industry, it’s why I’m launching a Social Tools Summit all about it, but one of them I use is Sprout Social as a social media dashboard. And Sprout Social has a pretty interesting functionality that allows you to also manage your personal accounts together with the corporate accounts. So, in other words, from 9:00 to 5:00, you’re doing a community manager role or whatever role you might have for the company, but you also wanna checkup and see if you’ve gotten something important on LinkedIn or on Twitter or what have you. Sprout Social allows you to easily within the dashboard switch to a personal mode and that information then is protected and it’s not going to be highjacked by enterprise networks or what have you.
No, I don’t use that and I don’t know about a lot of tools that have that functionality and even if they did, I don’t know if you’d use that. I still keep my personal personal and my work work and that’s probably the way your employer wants you to do it as well. But even if you did use it, you’re still tied to your company email address because you probably use your company email address to log in to a tool like that, whether it be a Salesforce or a Sprout Social, and what happens if you change companies? It happens a lot; a lot more than people realize for a lot of different reasons.
And that’s why in the same vein or your Twitter email address, once you connect with someone on LinkedIn, that connection is golden regardless of what happens, regardless of where you go in life. So, my sort of newfound love or my ah‑ha moment was I’m always trying to downsize, you know, the paperless revolution happened 20 years ago, but if you looked at my office, you think Neil, you’re 20 years behind, and I try to be as efficient as possible and to really keep the unnecessary paper to a minimum.
Now, business cards are interesting because they really pile up. They pile up fast for someone who does a lot of speaking at events and does a lot of networking. And I have shoeboxes full of business cards and I’ve tried those services. I know what you’re saying. Neil, there’re services like Shoebox that you can use and you send them your business cards, they scan them and put them in an Excel spreadsheet and yes, I’ve actually used a service like that before. I’ve actually recorded a video of the founder of the service describing it, which I’ve yet to upload to YouTube, which I’m gonna have to do one of these days. And I did that once and I got my Excel spreadsheet, but at the end of the day, the Excel spreadsheet is based on scanning and you lose a lot of the context when the data gets removed from the business card.
Oftentimes, you remember things from looking at the business card. Some business cards have photos or whatever it might be. So, I decided that now was the time that I was going to do something with my business cards and guess what? If you haven’t invested in a CRM before, and I am a Nimble user by the way, and I’ve looked into others, at the end of the day, if you haven’t invested in something like that, you probably won’t, but you’re on LinkedIn right? So, I decided that LinkedIn was going to be my CRM going forward and I was going to invest the time and resource, above and beyond what I’ve already done, to go through and connect with those people that I had business cards for or, you know, 99 percent of the people that I had that I remembered where I’d met.
Some of them I had vague memories because literally these business cards went back to 2008, and I know it’s gonna sound crazy, but that’s what I’ve been doing; 50 business cards a day. You can do it too, 50 business cards a day, one by one, do a search for their name on LinkedIn and you too can have LinkedIn as your new CRM. Now, you’re probably asking why. Well, I spent a little time really thinking and to some it’s obvious, to me it was sort of obvious. If it’s not obvious to you, let me go through seven reasons – maybe this should be the new title of this podcast, right, seven reasons why LinkedIn should become your CRM.
No. 1, if you haven’t invested in a CRM, you never will, right? This goes back to that previous point. If you’ve looked into the technology or what have you, just use LinkedIn, you’re already a member and although with CRMs you’ll get additional functionality, and some of those CRMs will attempt to integrate with LinkedIn, but the minute that you integrate with LinkedIn and you integrate with a Twitter and a Facebook and your email database, you start getting multiple contacts that aren’t easily integrated and you have a whole new headache of managing things, which is why I like to sort of keep it simple with LinkedIn. So, that’s No. 1. You’re probably already a member so you already have access to a CRM tool, why not use it.
No. 2, LinkedIn reaches one‑third of the global professional audience. It’s a pretty strong stat that LinkedIn makes, but I do believe it’s true, and especially if you live in the United States or the Netherlands, you know, countries where there is a large population that’s on LinkedIn. And I wanna ask you something. So, I go through the business cards and not everyone’s on LinkedIn. Now, the executives and the people that I wanna make sure I keep in touch with better than I have been over the past eight years, or seven years I should say, are on LinkedIn, but there are some others that aren’t. Well, what do you do about them?
So, over the last seven years, I haven’t had any value in the relationship in the business card so if they’re not on LinkedIn to begin with, it just doesn’t seem to have value holding onto that business card in the future. Now, this is all about maintaining professional contacts. If there’s a handyman or hey, I have a broken window, can you repair it, those sorts of business cards are a little bit different. I’m talking about from a professional career perspective.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of an influence marketing – a social scoring company I should say, called PeerIndex, out of the U.K., together with Kred from PeopleBrowsr in Australia/San Francisco and the more famous Cloud, they also have a social score that they give to people and it’s really big in Europe and Brandwatch, the social listening company, which I’m proud to say is one of the sponsors of the Social Tool Summit, actually bought out PeerIndex a few months ago. And the founder and CEO of PeerIndex, Azeem, really, really smart guy, reached out to me and I remember having a conversation with Azeem when I met him after iStrategy in London when I presented in London in I think it was May of 2012 and he had just written an article for the Harvard Business Review.
And I share that because it’s one of the more compelling pieces of content that I’ve ever read that delivers deeper insight into social media. And the thesis of what he talked about, and it was about proving the ROI of social media to executives who didn’t think there was ROI, was all about Customer Lifetime Value or CLV. Customer Lifetime Value is simple. When the cable company or the phone company, when someone signs you onto a service, they predict that: 1.) You’re gonna pay X dollars a month for the service, 2.) you’re gonna stick around for X months on average, you know, people move around or change services, and 3.) there’s a chance that you are going to refer a friend to become a customer as well, which is why a lot of companies have these refer-a-friend campaigns or give you $5.00 off for referring someone or what have you.
Now, the thesis of Azeem’s argument was don’t social media users have a greater Customer Lifetime Value than those that aren’t in social media because of their power to refer your company and others, which is exponential to people that aren’t on Facebook or aren’t on Twitter or aren’t on LinkedIn. That’s not to say you need to be on social media to be influential in real life because that’s not necessarily the case obviously. There are extremely influential people that don’t need to be on social media they yield so much influence. But if I could choose between someone that is nowhere online and someone that has profiles with 100/200 friends, chances are they might have a greater Customer Lifetime Value than someone that’s not on social and the more active they are on social, the more real friends they have and influence they have, the larger potential Customer Lifetime Value they have.
So, I believe that might be the same for professionals that are on LinkedIn versus not on LinkedIn. All the benefits of being on LinkedIn of the introductions, of finding information or having them find your information in the newsfeed; all these things come from being a member of LinkedIn. So, I’m arguing, as I went through the business cards, you know what, if they’re not on LinkedIn, I’m just not gonna worry about it. Now, if they’re not on LinkedIn and I got their business card and we reached out to each other before, they’re probably already somewhere in my Gmail or what have you, it’s not anything to worry out.
But if you’re thinking well, what about the people that aren’t on LinkedIn? I almost wouldn’t worry about them because I really question how much value that they might have for you in the future, and if they already have value for you, you’re already well connected with them where you don’t even need to have them in your CRM because you’re already in touch with them. I hope that makes sense. So, that’s why I believe that members of LinkedIn for your professional career, your professional network, will yield a greater CLV than those that aren’t on LinkedIn and that’s another reason why LinkedIn should become your CRM.
And on that note, the third reason is what I like to call the discoverability of hidden connections. It’s when you have a reason. I spent the last few weeks going into all these tools companies that some I had been in contact with, some I hadn’t, and trying to find someone that could put me touch with someone that was in charge of their events or marketing or in some cases, the CEO. And for almost every company, there’s a second-degree connection somewhere, right? And therefore, you never know who that second-degree connection is gonna become because I don’t know who your first-degree connections are, you don’t know who mine are.
You may be best friends with the CEO of a company I’ve been trying to knock on the door for years and vice versa, but when we are connected and we have an objective for doing an advanced people search, we discover these hidden connections and that is only something possible on LinkedIn, can’t do that, and I know that there’re CRM companies that are trying to develop the technology to do it, but LinkedIn obviously has that down and that’s the big buy of LinkedIn and that’s where your CRM becomes a multidimensional CRM, not a single dimension, but you get to reach out to second- and third-degree connections and at least have visibility.
No. 4, similar to a Twitter user name, when people change, they don’t change their LinkedIn URL so when their email address changes and you can’t get hold of them, you can still message them through LinkedIn. So, no matter what changes they have in companies or email addresses, the contactability of that person remains the same and that’s what a CRM should be about, right?
No. 5, LinkedIn has added the contacts functionality. They’ve had it for a while and they’ve experimented with LinkedIn iPhone apps and Connected and CardMunch and they’ve had all these different things, but the [inaudible][00:15:51] is if you go to LinkedIn.com and you go to Connections, at the very top, it’s gonna show you who’s had birthdays today; in fact, sometimes they show it on the right-hand side of your LinkedIn.com screen. They show you who’s had birthdays, who’s had a work anniversary, who’s changed jobs and these are great ways of keeping in touch with your network, I mean that’s what a good CRM would do for you, would put out those reminders. And in fact, on the note of reminders, if you wanted to remind yourself to get in touch with someone after a month or three months or a year, you can add those within LinkedIn. So, LinkedIn has really brought in a lot of the CRM functionality to make it easier to use as a CRM.
Let’s talk about some other functions, and I guess No. 6 would be these other functions that LinkedIn has as a CRM, the ability to add tags, put in where you met, to be able to search by organization. When you have a CRM, you’re only able to search your contacts. With LinkedIn, you’re able to search your contacts and who they work with or used to work with, and that’s another critical thing of finding or creating an extended network.
So, these are all the additional features that LinkedIn has that you can and should be taking advantage of, you know, when was the last time you were in touch with them, LinkedIn will give you all of that information, where were your past messages, so a lot of what I’m talking about is already built into the CRM programs, but like I said, if you haven’t invested in a CRM yet, you probably won’t. You may not wanna deal with a new user interface or pay an additional fee, and we’ll talk about paying a fee at the end of this podcast, but LinkedIn just makes sense, you’re already on there, it’s free, what have you.
Finally, if I was gonna throw out a seventh reason, and hopefully you’re already sold in, but when you’re looking for help and you wanna let your professional network know that you’re looking for a new job, you’re looking for an introduction into a company, you just published a blog post, whatever announcement you have, that stuff’s not necessarily appropriate on Facebook, and a lot of people on Facebook may tune out because that’s not what they’re there for. Now, some people can get away with it. I have a quasi personal professional profile on Facebook, but I’m not of the norm probably. But LinkedIn is a place where you can do that. So, you never know what value that has until you have a need for it, similar to that advanced people search, and it also gives you the ability to gain knowledge about your network and about what they’re doing and that knowledge can have a lot of real benefits for you just by checking out your news feed, the network updates, what have you. These are things that you can’t get on other CRMs but you can get on LinkedIn.
Now, the beautiful thing about this is it’s free, and I wanna talk to this last point about paying for a LinkedIn subscription because you don’t need to pay to get access to any of this. Now, LinkedIn very recently has made it more difficult for you to do searches so if you do LinkedIn for sales or if you’re looking for a job or you’re trying to recruit people, you tend to do a lot of searches, and LinkedIn is counting these searches and now they’re saying you have reached the maximum number of searches. The search limit may be a hundred, it may be 50; I haven’t really counted. I think it’s somewhere around there, but if I’m doing 50 business cards in a day, sometimes I put in company names, I don’t know the exact algorithm that LinkedIn is using.
Some of these people I’m already a first-degree connection with so that’ll show up in the search. I don’t even have to do a search, but for those that I don’t, it added up pretty fast, and LinkedIn is now saying you must pay for a subscription if you wanna do that many searches each month. Now that being said, if you’re only looking for people, if you’re looking for your first-degree connections, it is unlimited, and LinkedIn is very, very clear about that. You will always see your first-degree connections show up in searches and even when you’re limited, the first few results will show up so it’s a little bit inconvenient, but if the person you’re looking for doesn’t show up in the first few results because they’re not a first-degree connection yet, you can filter down by company name, location and 99 or well, I’ll say 95 percent of the time, I was able to get those results.
That being said, I made the strategic decision just two days ago to actually for the first time I’d invested in the personal plus $99.00 a year program. I decided to invest in the LinkedIn premium $25.00 a month program. And the reason is I do a lot of searches and for me, time is money. I can’t deal with the inefficiency and it’s a new investment into seeing and reaffirming the value that LinkedIn has in my professional life, especially with the launch of the Social Tool Summit but not necessarily limited to that. Now, with that $25.00 a month, I have the ability to send five InMails and I’m gonna use those very, very carefully because I believe more about getting a warm introduction rather than just sending an InMail.
InMail, as I always say, is like the Hail Mary, but you know what, if you were gonna buy a CRM, you’re gonna pay $10.00, $15.00, $20.00, $25.00 a month for it anyway so it’s not money that’s lost. And you know, I’m going through a period now where I do a lot of searches, if I wanna tone it down, I’ll grade back down to a free profile, but I think with LinkedIn’s latest move, a lot more people are going to be upgrading and I think there’s gonna be a lot less resistance because I’ve always told people, when you have a functionality that’s killer for free on a social network, you use it as much as you can because you never know when that’s gonna go away. Well, here’s another one that’s gone away.
I hope that gave you some food for thought. I hope it was worth the two‑week wait for this podcast. I obviously put a lot of thought into it and with each podcast; I really wanna deliver thought-provoking, compelling content for you. Otherwise, it’s a waste of both of our times. So, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. I already told you that crazy schedule that I’m gonna be having. Boy, I don’t even know where or when I’ll be recording my next podcast. I will try to stick to the schedule, but hey, if there’s anything that I can ever do for you, if we’re not connected on LinkedIn, please send me an invite request, let me know that you heard it from the podcast. It’s pretty easy to find me on LinkedIn, and wherever you are in the world, and hopefully if you’re on the East Coast, you’re surviving this tremendous snow and cold that we’ve had, but wherever you are in the world, make it a warm and great social day. Bye, bye everybody.
Transcript provided courtesy of GMR Transcription Services, Inc.