Monday, April 29, 2013

Your Tipping Point on LinkedIn (The Waldo Factor, part 19)

In recent studies from Market Connections ( and others, there are two topics that keep rising to the top for government contractors:

   - the need to develop a thought leadership/subject matter expert platform and position;
   - the use of LinkedIn throughout the government contracting community.

These two concepts work well together, and each is very important to those seeking to move their company to the next level.

LinkedIn has become perhaps the most important marketing venue for BtoB and BtoG companies to position themselves, to define and defend an area of thought leadership, to demonstrate a clear subject matter expert status.

Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point was a huge success (deservedly so) when it came out in 2000. I highly recommend the book for anyone seeking to understand how small fads become big trends, and how small things come together to make a big impression.

The subtitle of Gladwell's book is How Little things Can Make a Big Difference.

For those of us leveraging social media, there are some very big lessons in this, things we can learn and apply to help our respective businesses' stand out on platforms link LinkedIn.

There are many things I could point out about the book that would be pertinent, but I will limit myself to three.

First is context: where things happen. Context makes little things become big things. As they accumulate in a  particular venue, they stack up and start to move.

Several of the more active people on LinkedIn share ideas, comment on discussions, post articles or links to blog posts- things that are pertinent to a particular group, or to selected groups. The more they do this, the higher their respective value rises in those groups (communities) and the more visible they become.

Second is the stickiness factor. If the right message is placed in the right group at an appropriate time, it becomes "sticky" and resonates within the group(s) where it is posted. Most of us have seen posts in groups that accumulate many comments and stay active for weeks or even longer. Not only is the person who posted the original comment a beneficiary, many of those adding value by commenting are as well. They benefit by adding value to the group, and the group benfits from that action.

The key people are the third and final point I wish to make. The kinds of people that make a difference in The Tipping Point and on LinkedIn are connectors, mavens and salespeople. Gladwell talks about them on the chapter title "The Law of the Few". My definitions are slightly different than those of Gladwell and are used as they apply to LinkedIn.

Connectors are the people in a group/community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. These are people on LinkedIn you see in multiple groups, who have hundreds or thousands of connections, and who help you make connections when asked.

Mavens are subject matter experts, the people we rely upon to connect us with new information.  Think of mavens as thought leaders.

Salesmen  are "persuaders", charismatic people with powerful selling skills, often seen supporting the ideas of others.

Note that the chapter in Gladwell's book is titled the law of the few. It is Gladwell's premise that it only takes a few people to make a big difference, but it has to be the right people. It is the law of the few primarily because only a few people actually engage in a regular, positive manner. While few in number, there is always room for a few more.

Connectors, mavens and salespeople are all active people, but active in different ways. When they are active around the same subject, it can go viral, or at least viral in a defined community, like a group on LinkedIn.

If that group has people you need to influence, people you want to know better and do business with, you need to be part of that overall information sharing process that occurs on LinkedIn.

If you are part of a company where employees act in unison on LinkedIn, without being too "sale-sy", you can start raising the visibility for your company, evolving that subject matter expert platform your company needs to move to the next level.

Developing a thought leadership platform requires positive, regular action. LinkedIn provides one of the major venues where this can and should take place.

By developing and sharing great content, you can help your company reach its own tipping point.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Facebooking of LinkedIn- part 2: LinkedIn changes "Contacts" functionality

Yet another change on the LinkedIn front are the changes that occurred over the past week to the Contacts page.

The previous Contacts configuration allowed you to search quickly, send emails, sort by geographic and more. While the new set-up may do the same, I cannot as yet figure it out. And I don't see how to send emails.

It seems as if LinkedIn is making it more difficult to do the things that many like to do and are used to doing, and continues to make changes that baffle current users.

Now, down the left side (left navigation) we have

All Contacts (which includes any "saved" profiles)

Your Day (stay in touch with these people): I don't need LinkedIn to tell me who to reach out to today or any other day.

Connections (self explanatory)

Saved  (self explanatory)

Tags (self explanatory)

Companies (self explanatory)

Titles (self explanatory; but in my market, government contracting, job titles of Feds & other govies have no uniformity, so this does not help at all)

Locations (self explanatory)

Sources (LinkedIn wants you to import contacts- don't do it)

Potential Merges (not sure what this is and when you click nothing happens)

Hidden (not sure what this is, 632 people show up as "hidden", with me leading the list. Not a clue what this is for)

On the top right we have

Add contacts (self explanatory)

Settings  - which allows you to

     - sync your email program to LinkedIn

     - apply 3 apps: CardMunch, Evernote and TripIt

     - import contact files (except Google....)

And on the right side there is a non-functional "Send feedback" button....

While some of this can certainly be beneficial, LinkedIn would be better served by getting more "buy in" from current users before implementing changes that removes some functions we like and use.

My guess is they have a group of 18 -20 year olds in a room with a ton of soda. This group is now in charge of the "Facebooking" of LinkedIn.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

LinkedIn Changes Search Function

Last year LinkedIn had 5.7 billion internally searches- 5.7 billion searches inside LinkedIn. To me, that is an indicator that the "search" function was working pretty well and was a popular tool.

Sometime over this past weekend I noticed that there was no drop-down box next to the upper right Search box. Initially I did not think much about this. The drop down box allowed you to search on companies, groups, people and more.

This morning I took I deeper look and if you type in anything in the search box, it pulls results from people, groups, companies, but not deeply.

To search for other things, you need to go to "Advanced" search, which has changed as well. It does not offer the same functionality that I was used to, and it has made some of the things I would search on impossible to do.

Take a look. If you used search regularly before, I am very interested in your feedback.

I do not like this new way of searching at all, and if I had a vote in the matter, I would vote to return to the old search method.

4/24/13: DUE to the many comments I have received on this, it appears that I may be an "alpha" test subject. Most others still have the old search intact - and I wish I was one of them!

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 1995 - Please take a moment today to recall

the tragedy that occurred at the Alfred P Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Power of PR and Media Coverage for Small Biz

When it comes to PR, most small business owners wonder how other companies get it: how do they end up in the story in the trade magazine that everyone reads? Why them and not me?  I have often marveled that some people are quoted even though they really don't know that much about the topic.

Increased credibility and visibility are the result of getting media coverage.

Being quoted in the media, print or broadcast, makes you the expert. The upshot is most people who read the article or hear the interview simply assume the one being interviewed is the expert.

I can tell you for a fact that getting press does not involve brain surgery or rocket science. I know. I have gotten a TON of media coverage since March, 1994 when I got my first major interview. I have been interviewed for and quoted in over 200 publications in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. I have been profiled in Entrepreneur, Marketing Computers (no longer with us) and Federal Computer Week. I have also been on television in Baltimore and D.C., and on over 50 radio stations.

I have accomplished this without a PR agency working on my behalf, through my own efforts.

I have a few thoughts to share , then a suggestion. First, the tips.

So, how do you get from POINT A (not getting any press/media) to POINT B (having some coverage, maybe more than some)?  A direct route is best.

What it takes is some time, a plan, and some patience - basically the same three elements it takes to start a business.

The first step should be obvious. You should know the publications that address your market niche: traditional trade publications like Government Executive magazine, Washington Business Journal, Baltimore Business Journal, Maryland Daily Record, Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology, and so on.

There are also popular e-publications (FedInsider, Washington Executive, Bisnow, Fierce IT and others), blogs and other news sources that have become popular.

And, of course, radio- especially Federal News Radio and

Make a long list and give each media source an A, B, or C, with A being most desirable, and C being towards the bottom of the list, but still on the list.

For each media outlet, you need to understand a couple things: what audience the publication or radio station/show serves and what you bring to the table that serves that audience. You need to be a tight fit for whichever media you target.

What you bring to the table needs to include some distinct elements. You need to be an expert in your field, preferably a legitimate exert. It helps if you have a track record of sharing your knowledge in other venues: speeches, articles, books, blog, videos, and so on.

It also helps if you have a distinct point of view, a slant on your market niche that offers a somewhat unique perspective. The more you study and learn about your area of expertise, the more likely you have a point of view.

You also need to know what the editorial schedule is for publications. Print publications have these; e-publications may not. Match your expertise with the editorial schedule. Then start your campaign to be included in that issue at least 90 days before the issue is due out.

A key element in all of this is knowing the editors and reporters, and knowing their work. Before you pitch any idea to any editor or reporter, read the last 3 months of their work. This helps you to understand what they cover and how they cover it.

You need to know who to develop relationships with in the media and understand what the media person expects from that relationship.

But what you really need to do is get some PR for you and your business!

Confused? Overwhelmed? Now it may be time for the suggestion.

At least twice a year the Government Market Master program at Capitol College ( will host our PR for Small Business Workshop. PR pro Bill Holleran acts as the facilitator of this session and he will have guests from the media, from a PR firm (Joyce Bosc in April), and me.

The next session is April 16 from 8 AM-noon.  You can register at the above URL or email me for more details.