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Taking LinkedIn to the Next Level

inmap3This past October 1, Ralf VonSonsen and I delivered a webinar, Becoming a Social Selling Pro. Ralf (@rvonsosen) works at LinkedIn. He is Marketing Leader & Visionary in Social Selling & Marketing. I learned a number of things hosting Ralf during that hour-long session. I recommend you listen to the archive.

With a few critical projects going on here at ESR and me guest speaking and presenting at several online and live events, this post was delayed.

What brought me back to the subject of LinkedIn was Donal Daly’s post on his blog, Why LinkedIn is losing its value to me. Although Donal and I share a common frustration, I do find that my use of LinkedIn on a daily basis is increasing.

One of the many things Ralf shared with the Webinar audience was LinkedIn’s InMaps. I had never seen this tool before. If you click on the graphic, you’ll see a full-size version of my network in a new window, along with the key to determining what each color means.

I won’t get into the strengths or challenges regarding my own network, however having spent two hours or so analyzing the categories and sources of my contacts graphically, I have formulated a few new strategies to apportion my portfolio of contacts somewhat differently. I’m excited about that.

I recently published a post on Google+ about InMaps and got some interesting comments. (Thanks to all of you who jumped in…)

Bear in mind that I review my contacts regularly and cull out the ones that no longer have present or future value—especially the ones whose names I don’t recognize. That could be risky, sure. But it impacts my personal capital when someone asks for an introduction to, or a reference check with, someone whom I don’t ever remember connecting to.

Without any formal research on the part of ESR, my sense is that sales professionals and their managers could get significant more value from LinkedIn than they are getting.

Here are two places to start: During the archive of the webinar, Ralf talks about LinkedIn’s Social Selling offering and how sales professionals can leverage the tool. Another very helpful and insightful source is the Sales Benchmark Index blog.