LinkedIn Active Use 1 of 4

If you went to a networking event, grabbed a chair and sat along the wall, what would you expect to gain from the experience? A: NOTHING!!! To make the event work for you, you need to get out and interact with people. LinkedIn is much the same. You can expect nothing from it, unless you put something into it. You need to make active use of it. There are five basic active uses of LinkedIn. The first is the professional profile.

H (Diagram 2)

Just like when you head to the networking event, you need to not only be visible, but you need to put your best foot forward. On LinkedIn, you have the ability to create a profile for yourself. This is your face in the crowd at this online networking event. Be sure to take the time to present yourself well.

Note that this essentially is an electronic resume or brochure for you

• Don’t be shy and add a picture

• Provide a short statement of not just your title, but the value you offer

• Give a 30-Second Commercial like overview of what you are about

• List your work experience (listing anything that is reasonably relevant)

• Provide an overview of your education (as this can serve as means for lending credibility for you as well as be a point of common experience or affiliation with others)

• Seek some recommendations on the work you have done for and with others

• List impressive achievements and other experiences that might not come through in your work history (such as professional designations, awards and recognition).

The great thing about this profile is that there is no limit to how often you can revise it. So feel free to keep it up to date with whatever you are doing, producing or reading. Allow people to know as much as reasonably possible about you.

Creating A Referral Machine 1 of 7

You are ambitious. You are savvy. You want to be more successful. You want to work smarter and not harder. You know that referrals are the means of achieving that. Referrals are the most effective means of creating this greater success.

The best place to be in business, (any business or profession) is the point where your new clients are almost exclusively generated from people in your network. These are friends, colleagues, strategic partners and even former clients are sending you prospective clients.

At this point, your network becomes your sales force. In short, you have effectively created a referral machine and that machine (i.e., your network) is working for you, even when you are not working.

This begs the question, “How do I create a referral machine?” We start on this in part 2.

keep the gears

Networking And Stone Soup

In Marcia Brown’s old tale, entitled Stone Soup, plague-ridden villagers were stingy with their food and had no interest in sharing with anyone but their own.

This begins to change, however, when a peddler tells the villagers that he would like to share some stone soup with them (essentially throwing a few rocks in boiling water). This action, along with some goading words, moved villagers to become generous — one by one sharing. A head of cabbage here, some salt beef there, and voilá, before long there was a large brew collectively made and fit to feed all of them.

Brown essentially suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Is this just a hopeful fable? Or is there any truth to this assertion? Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

These researchers tookl set of 120 students were put into groups of four. The groups’ individuals were given some money to be used to perform an exercise composed of a series of tasks. Participants both profited and lost via these tasks in a capitalistic exercise. After each exercise, however, the individuals had the option of giving some funds to others at the expense of their own.

After each exercise, the groups were mixed up so that no two groups were ever the same throughout the experiment. In the first few rounds of exercises, no money was gifted.

Amongst the participants, however, was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person we will refer to as the “Stone Soup Peddler.” After certain exercises, the Stone Soup Peddler started to systematically give away some of the money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefitted from the gift, gave more. In addition, even the people who witnessed the gifting, but did not directly benefit began giving more. These altruistic gestures then began to spread through the group.

In business, no doubt, you are dependent upon others giving to you. You look for others to give you information. You look for people to share referrals with you. You need people to share insights and ideas with you.

Acts of generosity, however, are inspired somehow. That is people do not just give. Rather people are moved to give somehow, some way.

As the story of Stone Soup or the Christakis-Fowler study illustrates, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. The substance of the act does not matter. What does matter, however, is that you act, as this simple gesture becomes contagious. You can literally inspire your entire network with one small act to literally anyone. A simple referral. An introduction. Sharing of insight or information.

Any or all of this will inspire your network to give to others. In so doing, not only will you have done something wonderful, but you will also be in close proximity when the generous begins to materialize. V (Soup)

The “Kevin Bacon” Game

Kevin Bacon is a relatively well known and popular American actor. The idea behind the Kevin Bacon game — which is a popular pop culture trivia game – is to link any actor or actress through the movies they’ve been in, to Kevin Bacon.

Example: Mary Pickford was in “Screen Snapshots” with Clark Gable, who was in “Combat America” with Tony Romano who, 35 years later, was in “Starting Over” with Kevin Bacon. Three Steps.

In the 1990’s, computer scientist Brett Tjaden (University of Virginia) using the Internet Movie Database determined that Kevin Bacon was on average 2.8312 steps from any actor or actress (which placed him 668th of all actors and actress). Then using the database, he determined the overall connectivity of every actor and actress in the database. Among the top 50 were names such as Martin Sheen, Robert Mitchum, Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, Rod Steiger, and Shelly Winters.

In the magazine Nature, Duncan Watts and Steven Strogatz further reviewed this analysis and attempted to determine why an actor such as Burgess Meredith, appearing in 114 films, ranked in the top 20 when Gary Cooper with a similar number of films ranked even behind Kevin Bacon at 878th and John Wayne with 183 films only ranked 160th.

What they concluded was that while Gary Cooper and John Wayne appeared in a significantly greater number of movies, the movies they did appear in where similar movie types. In fact, over 50% of John Wayne’s movies were westerns.


Burgess Meredith, on the other hand (who only appeared in approximately 60% of the movies as Gary Cooper and John Wayne) appeared in a wide variety of movies types: 42 dramas (including Of Mice and Men (1939) and Rocky (1976)); 22 comedies; 8 adventures; 7 action; 5 documentaries; science fiction, horror and a western; 4 thrillers; 4 crime movies; 2 children; 2 romance; 2 mysteries; 1 musical; and 1 animated film.

Here is the “take away” from the Kevin Bacon game and the analysis of the relativity connectivity of actors and actresses. First, take a look at your network. If it is unproductive or stagnant, look at whom you are involved with.

Does your network look like Burgess Meredith’s career? Great! Does your network resemble the career of John Wayne? If so, work to diversify your network.

If everything you do revolves around work, family, or one group of people, your network will have limited potential. To explore the real potential of your network, however, you need to live in lots of worlds. Get involved at work. Get involved at church, PTA, youth sports. Belong to a trade association outside your profession.

Networking Is Nothing New

Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.

Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behavior involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.

S (Old Book)

The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.

Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.

Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.

30 Second Commercial 3 of 8

Your 30-second commercial should address “who you are?” There is no magic to stating the WHO, the Basic Introduction . After all, it is (well) basic. Nevertheless, this part of the 30-second commercial is important.

In your Basic Introduction you need to clearly articulate your name (is it Mike or Michael … Kim or Kimberly) Then state your title and work you are associated with. Each of these are important.

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Now, nothing says it has to be in this precise order … You could achieve the same thing by re-stating the example “I am a franchise broker with National Franchising Group … I am John Doe” Or “I am with National Franchising Group. My name is John Doe. I am a franchise broker.”

Whatever the case, your 30-second commercial should address “who you are?” The next step is in part four.

30 Second Commercial 2 of 8

To build a strong network of contacts that give you referrals, contacts and information, you need to have a concise, yet very compelling, 30-second commercial. The problem is that you have SO MUCH to say and 30 seconds is really not a lot of time.

So to conquer the challenge of conveying lots of information in a short period of time, it is helpful to have a framework to work with. Here is an effective one:

• Start with a basic introduction for yourself (this addresses the WHO you are) …

• Add to that a Message (which addresses the WHAT you do) …

• From there, you need to Inspire Confidence or create credibility (which tackles the issues as to WHY you over all the other choices) …

• Then you wrap this up with a Strong Definite Request of what you need (this is the HOW they can help you).

Now, if you carefully draft each of these sub-part and then piece them together with your own personal flair, you end up with a very effective 30-second commercial. For more, see part 3.

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Tips For Improving Small Talk

“Small Talk” is an art. Like any art, you can, improve how you do it through practice. Here are some ideas for becoming more proficient at small talk.

• THINK … On the way to the next event or when you have some idle time, work through in your mind how you envision your “small talk” going. Review the questions you will ask in your mind. See yourself listening, summarizing, and sharing.

• LISTEN … “Small talk” is all around you, everyday. Listen to it, especially those who are good at it. See how they weave from one question to the next and how they transition to business, return to small talk and then exit the conversation.

• ENGAGE … Take every opportunity to engage in “small talk” When you are in line at the store check out. With a server in a restaurant. With the receptionist at your next appointment. You will find the more you engage in small talk, the more comfortable you get at it.

The most important thing you need to do in being good at “small talk” is develop an attitude or belief.

Periodically, you need to tell yourself, I can carry a conversation. I can. I am good at it. I enjoy it. I like how it lifts the spirits of others. And I love what it is doing for my networking. I can carry a conversation.”

M (Hand Shake)

AmSpirit Member’s Business Named To INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies List

Jeff Skinner, owner of Proforma Graphics and a member of the B2B Focus Chapter of AmSpirit Business Connections recently made INC Magazine’s annual list of the Nation’s 5000 fastest growing private companies. Proforma Graphic Services, a company that provides advertising and marketing services, came in at 4973 with a 43 percent growth.

This was reported in Columbus Business First. Click the following link to read more:


Small Talk To Big Business

Now remember, “small talk” is the warm-up and thus it should lead to a work out. The workout is talking business. To make this happen, eventually you need to transition from small talk to real business.

When this moment comes, you will know. Some time into your exchange, there will be a lull. Use this moment to get at a more meaty discussion on business (whatever that might be).

Be forewarned, however, this is not to suggest that you start to pitch them or set them up for a close. It merely suggests that once you have them comfortably engaged in conversation, you should ease into a more professional discussion of their business or your business.

G (Results)

For example, this might be a good segue … “Well, water skiing is likely not cheap … So what do you do professionally to pay for it?”

Do not try to steer them. For example a business coach, should not ask … “Do you use business coaches in your business?” … A financial advisor, should not go with … “How is your 401K doing these days?” … A promotional products person, should not jump to … “How do you use ad specialty items in your business?”

Do NOT push it. Keep the tone light and the sales probing to a minimum. If you do this right, you will have lots of opportunity to gather future business intelligence, pitch them, and close them. Remember, people do business with those they Know, Like & Trust.

Return To Small Talk

After the professional conversation has run its course, before the conversation ends, touch back on something related to your “small talk” conversation.

For example “Great talking with you. Assuming, you don’t get laid up in the hospital skiing between now and then, I would enjoy continuing our conversation over a cup of coffee sometime.”

Why is this important? By returning to “small talk”, you have demonstrated that you were listening and that you remembered. More subtly, however, you are reflecting back to a part of the conversation when they likely delighted in your interest in them.