Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Creating Visibility for You & Your Company

We have all read articles written by people who may not be the most qualified experts, and we certainly have all seen speakers who would be better off taking copious notes from the audience rather than dispensing advice from the podium. There are even some business book authors out there who have one or more books out that really offer little value, yet they seem to find an audience.

How did they get the speaking gig, article assignment or book deal, and how do they develop an audience?

Each of them has defined a niche and studied it at least enough to get the attention of a trade magazine or book editor or a conference director. Then they have designed a way to get on the radar, to generate some attention.

Becoming visible to your business community, your niche, is not an easy or quick process. It can be simple, but it is not easy, but we all need the attention only our niche can provide if we are to survive and thrive in these tough times. It does not matter if you have a small, medium or large company (although some will argue it is easier for large companies to get PR), or even if you are a solo-preneur like me - each of us needs enough attention to generate new business, to find the right job, to get the book deal or to move to the next level.

There are many tools available, and more becoming available every day, but the process of selecting and deploying the right tools for your niche.  There are hundreds of web 2.0 tools out there, but let's just look at one for right now: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has well over 100 million register business professionals, 990,634 groups (as of  11:22 AM EST, 7/19/ 11), many useful apps to use with your profile, and a ton of ways to help you stand out in a crowd and connect with key epople throughout your market.

But how many people on LinkedIn are really using it to stand out in their respective niches? My estimate is less than 2%. But key decision makers are using LinkedIn to identify the "experts" in various fields, and these include people who hire speakers, give writing assignments, and offer book deals.

So what does it take to truly stand out?

Knowing your subject well is always job #1.

Defining your area of expertise in terms that will resonate with your niche is job #2.

Getting the word out is job #3.

I use LinkedIn as the "hub" for my web activity. When I write an article, I post the link for it in pertienet groups on LinkedIn. The result this week is one of the most read and most emailed articles at www.WashingtonTechnology.com . It makes the editor happy to have fresh traffic coming into the site, it keeps my name active in the market niche, and it could generate some business. I write an article for Washington Technology's web site once a month, and each time my promotional activity helps make it a well-read article. And it doesn't take me long to do this.

I will also "tweet' the article link, which will put it on all the social networks I use and maybe generate some re-tweets as well.

How are you leveraging the available tools to generate some targeted viisibility in your niche for you and your company?

If you need some fresh ideas on how to stand out in a crowded market, drop me a line - markamtower@gmail.com

Best of luck with your efforts!


Friday, July 15, 2011

What to do when the budget shrinks?

I just received a question from a client who sells products to the government. Clearly this person, and their corporate management, were worried about the current economic and political climate - as are we all.

The question is: With budget cuts looming on a federal level, what might be a few things to say to management that would sound “good” to justify why the Government sector will continue to grow?

I think my answer was realistic, but optimistic, at least for the savvy.

I don't think the sector will grow, but I think the "shrink" in the government market will be less than anticipated and also less than other market sectors. Further, I think that the more savvy players will grow their market share by eroding the market share of marginal and less sophisticated companies. Many companies do this as a matter of course, but those ranks will swell in the current climate.

If you have any small business status,  now would be the time to truly try to maximize the value of that status with your current government accounts, and perhaps with accounts that have lapsed within the last 18-24 months. I would also go to a few agencies that have needs for your products or services and make certain they know who you/your company is, and what you bring to the table. If you have no connections at those agencies, go through the OSDBU office. The OSDBUs are not just there for e the "newbies" - they will actually enjoy visits from seasoned professionals.

I think some companies that have been marginal in the market will leave or fold, and create some market share that will have to go somewhere.

Your thoughts on this are welcome.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Top Priorities for Maximizing Your Presence on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a destination of choice for business professionals online, but there are still many not taking advantage of what it offers.

LinkedIn now has well over 100 million registered members, approaching 1 million groups (as of 2:23 PM  on 7/11/11, 982,417)- 6,022 groups that have something to do with "government", and a ton of ways to make yourself known.

But most of those 100 million members are not leveraging LinkedIn in ways that will pay long term dividends. Inactivity by many, spam messages from many others, groups that remain un-managed or poorly managed, it seems like a waste.

However, for those who seek to gain some recognition on LinkedIn, here are a few tips to stand out & stand apart.

First, fill out your profile to 100%. Use short sentences and short paragraphs and make it interesting. Don't simply cut & paste your resume. Also use a professional picture, not a family photo, or one with a pet. Edit and update your profile regularly, at least twice each month.

Second, the way you fill out your profile should define the audience you wish to connect to- so make certain you state clearly what you do and what your niche is. Your SUMMARY" area is best for this, although each job description is also important.

Third, join pertinent groups and participate in them. Joining a LinkedIn group is like joining an association- there is no value unless you participate. Comment on or start discussions, ask and answer questions. There is no harm in joining groups then leaving if you don't find them useful.

Fourth, remember this is a network for professionals, so act like one. Avoid flip answers and don't make fun of people who ask seemingly silly questions.

Fifth, if you have a paid LinkedIn membership, monitor those who view your profile. often these are people you may want to connect to.

Sixth, if it is your company, start and manage your company profile. Make it, like your summary, readable and interesting, and clearly state what your company does. Avoid platitudes.

Seventh, tie your LinkedIn profile to your company web site and to your email signature.

Eighth, if you blog, post the link to LinkedIn. There is an app which allows you to have your blog show up on your profile.

Ninth, use the Twitter-like update box at least once a week. You can also connect this directly with your Twitter account if you tweet.

Tenth, check your account in the early AM and the late in the day. You don't need to monitor your LinkedIn account throughout the day, but you should check it once early and once late.

This post is meant to offer a few tips that work if you use them and feedback is always welcomed.