Friday, June 22, 2012

Using LinkedIn for CRM

Since 2003 LinkedIn has become one of the top social networking sites, and is the largest professional network on the Internet.  LinkedIn has become a valuable tool for every professional out there.  The network boasts more than 161 million members in over 200 countries, representing 170 industries.  Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of approximately two new members per second.

Ironically, it is also becoming something else, a constantly updated and comprehensive CRM system, used for lead generation, relationship management and a great resource for customer information.  I have sold various CRM systems over the years, and the biggest issue out there is keeping data up to date and accurate, LinkedIn does this very well.

A sales rep looking for a key point of contact at a company can find that information easily. Following introductions via connections, the rep and the potential client can develop a relationship, and the process works the other way, too. If a potential client is looking for someone who offers a particular product or service, a simple search can give them what they need.

Additional tools like groups and forums can really help reps use LinkedIn to get the word out about their organizations, as well as about new releases or product launches.

Selling always has been, and always will be, about communicating with others – no matter how that communication takes place. Social networking in general and LinkedIn in particular, is a great way to facilitate that communication and build stronger customer relationships.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Collaboration - Social Software for Business

News that Microsoft is buying Yammer for 1.2 Billion represents another big-dollar endorsement of social networking technology in business.  Big companies, including a large percentage of Fortune 500 companies, are now looking to leverage this technology.

We have all seen the power of social media, with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Now companies are looking to embrace this trend and to build internal social networking sites using Yammer, Jive Software, or's Chatter.

These products bring the power of social networking to the enterprise in a private and secure environment. They are as easy to use, but designed for business collaboration. They connect people, content, and conversations across all of your business applications with productivity software that employees love to use.

It was only a matter of time for companies to jump on the social networking bandwagon, and now they can reap all the benefits while maintaining control of the users and the data.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Take Control of Your Data

These days we hear a lot about Big Data and how companies are struggling to manage all the data they have.  We should also be concerned about how much of our own personal data is out there, and how much control we have over it.

Every time you go online you share information about yourself, and the more you do online the more important it is that you and your personal data are protected.

The iPhone secretly tracks your location. Amazon has lost your files in the cloud. Hackers have stolen the details of 100 million customers from Sony. This string of revelations has left many people wondering how they can get more control over their personal data.

Whenever you sign up to a website or install an app, you are potentially giving the company behind the service access to your personal data - even if you don't realize it. There are a lot of great aspects to “Web 2.0” and the rise of social media. But be aware that much of the online world is based on a business model of exploiting data about you without your knowledge or participation.

There are things you can do to take control, but it takes vigilance.

You can monitor for appearances of your personal data on the Web using a new tool that Google has introduced. “Me on the Web” appears on your Google Dashboard (requires a free Google account) and can send you email alerts when the data show up.

If you have serious concerns about your reputation on the Web, offers a unique set of paid services to help alleviate negative information or, conversely, to promote a positive personal brand. The website also offers a free set of suggestions to take an active role in controlling your reputation.

And finally, a Web startup is looking to turn the control of personal data on its head.  Rather than let marketers use possibly inaccurate information about you to shape your Web experience, seeks to create a business model in which you take ownership of your data, organized into “gems,” and grant those gems to websites based on what you want them to know about you.

It's a wakeup call to be more aware of who has control of your personal data.  Keep an eye out for applications and tools that will make it easier for you to take back control.