May 1, 2021

Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn


Are you using a LinkedIn professional profile as part of your digital branding effort? Many of us are. With 740 million members from 55 million registered companies in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the most widely used social media site for businesspeople . Most of these members do not pay for the service, opting to create free profiles and keep them updated so they show up in Google search results and other digital search tools.

But many customers opt to expand the utility of the LinkedIn site with fee-based enhancements to networking, messaging, and access to lead databases. Many of my clients ask if investing in these extra features is worth it for their business efforts. 

My response is always the same: It depends.

LinkedIn offers several tiers with increasing levels of enhanced services, accompanied by an increasing monthly cost. The exact composition of each tier and the prices charged may vary country by country, and of course the prices change over time. The following chart was compiled by Top Dog Social Media and provides these details.

Generally, the free LinkedIn profile option allows you to create a profile, populate it with indexable content, including a head shot and blog posts hosted elsewhere, and create a “cloud” of first-level LinkedIn contacts through invitation. Those first-level contacts will be notified of changes in your profile (new blog posts, changes in work status, or other affiliations) and generally promote “staying in touch.” In addition, a limited number of “instant messages” can be passed to first-level contacts via the LinkedIn system, bypassing regular email channels.

As you can see from the chart, higher levels of LinkedIn investment allow for greater access to messaging and intelligence about who is accessing your profile. They also offer additional features (like LinkedIn Learning, which are canned courses for viewing on demand) and search access to second- and third-tier contacts of your first-tier contacts). This becomes useful (a quantifiable benefit) if you are seeking leads for specific services. The two highest LinkedIn tiers (most expensive) provide access to databases that go beyond the profiles created by LinkedIn members. Generally, recruiters and HR professionals typically find these tiers cost effective.

So, the answer to “should you upgrade your LinkedIn membership” depends on the nature of your business, and, in particular, your “pacing” and the nature of your lead generation process. If you typically engage in heavy direct prospecting year-round for new or expanded business, or if your business is heavily focused on recruiting, a significant investment in enhanced LinkedIn services might be a good decision. Alternatively, if your business is highly cyclical and heavily focused on referrals, you might be better advised to spend the time and money on keeping your free profile fully populated with your latest professional accomplishments. This will enable prospects to “check you out” when considering doing business, and will allow you to get the benefit of a larger digital footprint in search results.

The good news is that LinkedIn makes it easy to try out an advanced tier of service through a free trial program and cancel if the services are not meeting your needs.


Apr 20, 2021

Business Networking in the Time of COVID

 Many are finding that the normal in-person networking events, even if permitted, are risky for themselves or their customers. In the service business, there are two “types” of business networking that are critical to business survival, despite the current pandemic:

      •       Networking to find new customers
  • o   Networking to remind friendly contacts and customers that you are still ready to service them.

If you’re looking for new customers, it’s a great time to sharpen your social media skills and open yourself up to new possibilities. Consider a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which gives great access to lead lists that fit the profile of customers you are already serving . You can also use blogs and social media content (combined with options like Facebook’s Boost  to help get fresh eyes on your business content and ideas. Both of these can provide great intros to new contacts. Further, careful audience selection will allow you to titrate your ad investment to the preferred customer location and profile.

“With all the new electronic (touchless) lead generation, I remind people not to forget the older techniques. Postcards to a tested list, and joint venture outreach with trusted professionals serving the same market can be highly successful,” says Service for Profit’s Tom Pencek.

But what about reaching out to friendly contacts? Well, it turns out that it’s easier than ever to do that while staying home – especially if you have the contact info of the people you’re trying to reach. In this case, it is all about choosing a method of contact that is most convenient for your audience.

I’m a big believer in periodic emails that are tailored for your target audience. I recommend MailChimp for this, as it is free for smaller lists (<2000 names). Podcasting is becoming more accepted as an outreach method for some customers as well. Walking with earphones and listening to recorded content seems to be common these days in Silicon Valley. Google has stepped up to create an educational series on Podcasting, and provides new podcasters training on how to get into this outreach method .

Bottom line, some contacts prefer a light touch. It’s a good idea to make an initial contact and ask permission before routinely sending them an ongoing series of emails or other content. Once that’s done, you can use anything in your newly expanded toolkit to effectively market your services and connect with customers.

Apr 8, 2021

Making a Daily Plan – Is It Worth It?

It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. Aside from calendared meetings that are difficult to change, requests from housemates, doorbells that demand answering, and the endless emails and texts that arrive all clamor for your attention, time, and a fraction of your working day. So how do you stay on course? Consider a daily work plan.

Many years ago, I had occasion to see a video by productivity legend Steven Covey.  In it he demonstrated conclusively why only by planning your work can you ensure that the most important or complex tasks and deliverables are completed on time.

I’ve always advised people to create their daily plan the day before, usually before shutting down for the day. Adding breaks, and plenty of time for what Covey calls, “the big rocks” (your top priorities for the day) helps to clear the decks and avoid missed deadlines. Alternatively, some people like to set aside 10 minutes first thing in the morning to plan – if they can ignore the phone long enough to get it done.

When planning, even when forced to work away from the office, it’s important to use a modality that is comfortable and consistent with your preferred working style. For example, some of us like to use traditional paper planners (like Franklin Planner) or simple lists, while others prefer electronic tools. It’s possible to use Outlook as a planning tool with readily available software overlays, or you could choose to use a more comprehensive planning tool that encompasses not only work activities, but the activities of daily life .

Whichever solution works best for you, be sure to be on the lookout for those “time wasters” that can wreck any plan. I have found the “start time delay” to be the biggest problem for me personally. There is always something to deal with before starting the workday, and frequently it leads to another task that just “must” get cleared. Excessive travel between appointments can also run out the clock, although with the growth of Zoom and Skype meetings, this time waster is less common.  

Finally, don’t overschedule. Allow for downtime during the day, a reasonable gap between meetings, and a heavy “think” session. Increase the number of scheduled tasks and meetings to your daily plan only after you’ve had success with a less aggressive schedule.

By following these simple steps, you will get increasingly adept at meeting daily objectives and higher lever goals. 


Mar 20, 2021

The Need for Speed

 I was talking to my friend who is a year into a new sales role at a local company. I asked him how it was going, and he assured me he had found the secret to doing well. Unlike his previous direct service sales position, his new role required he work with a variety of outside sales partners to meet customer needs.

“When they call, I jump. No matter what my plans were, I change them and try to be the most responsive resource they can work with!”

How many professional service providers and sellers, when asked what makes their service better than others, talk about their experience, or the quality of the service they provide. No doubt those are important elements to distinguishing yourself. But in some cases, being quick and flexible can be more important. Indeed, by demonstrating your willingness to be prompt and flexible in the face of needs from your sales partners, a consultant can distinguish himself from other colleagues, and increase referrals.

There are software solutions to help you be a nimbler provider and seller of your professional service. Some solutions are tailored to your industry, and others are tailored to your size of business. There are even websites that allow you to compare features and select from a field of solutions.

But the most important thing is attitude. Are you willing to quickly revise your schedule to respond to a need from an outside sales partner? Do it often enough and you earn friendship and professional loyalty.

Feb 15, 2021

Tracking and connecting with clients, prospects, and contacts fills your services sales pipeline


I suppose it is common sense, but most of us have found that satisfied clients are the most likely to buy again, followed by persons that have already been contacted but haven't bought yet, followed by acquaintances that may or may not have a need for your service. 

Networking and word of mouth is a big investment. Don't waste time and money, and lose out on sales opportunity, by sloppy record keeping. Use a reliable tool to record and track all these highly valuable contacts.

I have found that routine emails or other "touches" is important if you want to keep these contacts viable. I call it shelf of mind (

I recommend to my clients that they use something simple, cloud based, and free to accomplish both contact tracking and email management: MailChimp. ( ) .  The free tool includes a database, and a limited number of emails per month.

Jan 30, 2021

A Software Tool that Helps Consultants Book Appointments Faster


Does the early bird really get the worm? These days, at least for consultants, insurance professionals, financial consultants, and professional service providers of all types, it can make the difference between a thriving business and one that is floundering. 

Cutting down on the back and forth negotiation that usually accompanies appointment setting can really make a difference in volume of your professional service sales pipeline and the speed with which it moves. If this sounds like it could be a problem holding you back, I recommend that you take a look at the cloud based scheduling tool, Calendly (

The tool runs in the cloud, offers a free version with basic functionality, shields your calendar details (only shows open slots), communicates with most major digital calendar systems, and can be upgraded for increased functionality or groups. 

As you can see from the dashboard, multiple types of meetings can be accommodated.