Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has come a long way. Originally little more than a Facebook for the working world, the professional social network now boasts more than 575 million members. Along the way, it’s become a top recruiting platform, a must-have for marketing, a networking platform and a saving grace for salespeople.
But LinkedIn’s legacy isn’t written just yet. In fact, the social media platform’s future looks brighter than ever. Media consultancy 4C reported last August that the only social media platform to beat Instagram’s 204 percent year-over-year growth in ad spend was LinkedIn, which posted a 212 percent jump over the same period. For all other social platforms, 4C found that ad spend grew less than 50 percent last year.
Why leaders are banking on LinkedIn.
Getting ads in front of the right people, however, is just one of many reasons why business leaders are investing more in LinkedIn. In addition to its networking tools, LinkedIn offers:
1. Best-in-class integrations.
To help salespeople convert their connections into revenue, LinkedIn offers a suite of tools it collectively calls Sales Navigator. Although Sales Navigator offers lead recommendations, connection maps and real-time updates on accounts, its real magic is its partner integrations. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) features integrations across the sales stack, ranging from Engagio to Demandbase to Adobe Sign.
The latest addition to SNAP is Mixmax 2.0. The email automation platform’s latest iteration lets users send LinkedIn Mail and connection requests, view Sales Navigator profiles, get icebreaker suggestions and check prospects’ recent activity. Users can also add connection requests and communications to Mixmax sequences, which automate routine tasks like follow-up emails.
According to Mixmax CEO and co-founder Olof Mathé, the partnership is a natural fit for Mixmax’s mission to help businesspeople communicate more effectively. “Many of our users live in Gmail and our integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator ensures users can conveniently make richer connections and seamlessly expand their networks as part of their email workflow,” said Mathé in a press release.
2. Smarter sales education.
Nothing about sales is static. There’s always a new tool to discover, trend to learn about or prospect to sell. But while 87 percent of Millennials — the generation your young salespeople likely belong to — approach jobs as development opportunities, Spherion Staffing found that just 14 percent of surveyed workers would give their employer an “A” rating for training and development.
So where can workers turn for training they’re not getting at the office? LinkedIn’s Sales Academy provides online coursework and training resources for salespeople looking to get a leg up. Two currently on offer are “The Art of Selling,” which covers how to understand, target and engage buyers across channels, and “The Art of Sales Coaching,” which digs into management and mentorship tactics that sales managers can use to maximize their impact.
Kurt Shaver, chief sales officer at Vengreso, suggests LinkedIn’s sales training, particularly for inside salespeople. After using it to help train an external team in digital sales, Shaver points to its universally relevant recommendations, high-quality content and peer engagement tactics as helpful legs up.
3. Exclusive research.
What do 1,200 talent developers, 400 people managers, 200 executives and 2,200 employees have to say about workplace training and development? To find out, download LinkedIn’s latest Workplace Learning Report. Surprisingly, the survey showed that all groups surveyed on the subject agree that it’s more important for employees to learn “soft” skills like communication and collaboration than role-specific skills.
But LinkedIn doesn’t just dump the data and forget about it. LinkedIn’s learning center covers topics ranging from talent acquisition to marketing to employee engagement, often drawing insights from its own research. LinkedIn’s “8 Ways to Engage Your Learners” playbook, for instance, combines its first-party data with case studies from companies like Sage.
4. Sector-specific resources.
Neither sales nor networking look the same in the retail industry as they do, say, in financial services. To help leaders take a tailored approach to talent development, LinkedIn regularly publishes guides and webinars that cover best practices in each industry.
LinkedIn’s latest industry webinar, for instance, helps those in the financial services sector maximize its tools. “The growing complexity of the advisory business is requiring Wealth Managers and Financial Advisors to rethink the way they do business,” LinkedIn’s Jennifer Benincasa wrote in a blog post. “Social networks can help financial professionals differentiate their value proposition to prospects and clients.”
In addition to its content for the financial services industry, LinkedIn also publishes articles and guides specific to marketing, higher education, recruiting and more. What’s more, LinkedIn encourages users to fill its industry gaps by suggesting the best content for company pages to share.
No longer is LinkedIn just a place for professionals to connect. Whether it initially meant to or not, the social network has shaped itself into a forum for learning, leadership, sales, marketing and just about anything else its users might want to learn about. With more than half a billion users, LinkedIn really has become the backbone of the business community.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Rashan Dixon
Today is St. Patrick’s Day—the holiday that, although it originally was established to honor the patron saint of Ireland, has been commercialized into a day of parties, parades and celebrating the proverbial “luck of the Irish.” That said, how big a role does luck play in startup success?
In recognition of St. Patty’s Day, we whipped up a list of five iconic business owners that struck it rich and prove that, while the luck of the Irish certainly helps, all that small business owners need to succeed is hard work and the resolve to overcome failure.
5 Business Owners who Didn’t Need the Luck of the Irish
James Dyson, head and namesake of the now dominant vacuum cleaner manufacturer, did not receive too many lucky breaks in his pursuit of fortune. Before earning his billions and dominating his market, he first designed 5,127 failed vacuum prototypes over a fifteen year span. Can you imagine fifteen years of unlucky breaks? But Dyson didn’t let the failure phase him—he kept at it, despite his bad luck, and is now estimated to be worth north of $4 billion.
It is funny to think that the man whose very name is associated with the epitome of wealth was ever grappling with an unlucky failure. But sure enough, success did not come easily to the world’s richest man. His first business venture, Traf-O-Data, couldn’t turn a profit and eventually failed. A resilient love for computer programming kept Gates in the game, though. He later founded Microsoft, and the rest is history.
The Thomas Edison story of a thousand failures has become the stuff of legend—the inventor of the light bulb is an icon for resilience and a can-do attitude. Before he launched the world into a new era with his invention, he tried—and failed—1,000 times to successfully create a light bulb. Luck had nothing to do with it.
If you would’ve looked at Steve Jobs as a young man—a college dropout who was backpacking India and taking psychedelic drugs—you wouldn’t necessarily have thought that he would one day found one of the most successful brands in the world. The business scene didn’t come naturally to the creator of Apple. Nonetheless, he took the path less travelled, experienced some unlucky low points and eventually went on to kick start one of the planet’s richest companies.
Vaynerchuck, who through relentless work amassed a fortune with his family’s wine company and has since become an investor, is very proud of how little luck had to do with his rise to success. Having learned to rely on hard work rather than luck, Vaynerchuck continues his affinity for entrepreneurship by dabbling in a multitude of different industries—he has even written books, mastered social media and hosted a very popular podcast.
So, it can be seen from the above examples that although the luck of the Irish is certainly helpful when it comes to starting a successful company, many have changed the world despite years of misfortune. That said, every entrepreneur needs a bit of help to get started. Need funding to launch your small business? Factor Finders is an industry expert when it comes to securing small business funding for startup companies.
Originally posted on FactorFinders.com.
A couple of years back, Elon Musk famously tweeted that an entrepreneur’s life is not all glitz and glamour, but one also full of “terrible lows and unrelenting stress.”
As a career entrepreneur, I can unequivocally attest to Musk’s assertion. I still vividly recall being overcome with anxiety driving to my own wedding, not from marriage jitters but because I was seriously worried my company would not survive in my absence. We were in the midst of the Dotcom crash and when such crises strike, all hands need to be on deck, keeping the boat afloat. Luckily we made it through that rough patch. But it was only one of countless moments of unrelenting stress I’ve experienced over the last two decades.
Throughout this entrepreneurial journey, I’ve developed a more empowering mental framework to get through these high-stress moments. And these simple mind exercises have helped me prevent myself from burning out — at some of the most critical of times for my team and business.
The “data approach”
Understand that what happens is neither good nor bad. A few years ago, my company’s email newsletters were hit by a spam issue, and we were blocked from Google. The potential fallout could have had a very serious impact on our business. However, as a team, we intentionally switched out of reactive panic mode, and instead stepped back and assessed the situation with a more neutral, holistic approach. We came up with a plan, which was to, first, fix the immediate issue — and then ensure we took measures to have the cleanest email lists around.
By shifting our perspective, my team and I fixed a potentially devastating situation and also made it an opportunity to make ourselves even better and stronger as a business. This has worked on more than one occasion for us.
In this vein, over the years I’ve developed a mindset that I like to call a “data approach.” It’s not always easy, but the idea is to understand that what I see or hear is simply inbound data. Data is neutral. Good and bad things don’t happen. It’s how we perceive that data that makes us feel stress — or joy. So when something seemingly catastrophic happens at work, first try and step back and see it for what it is — data — before getting swept up in the implications.
A good question to ask yourself as part of this process is “How can I look at this in a way that will make it a win?” Or, try and replace negative questions such like “Why did this happen?” with a more positive question like “How can I make this a win?” I have found this exercise is a great way to train your mind to be able to shift perception toward proactivity.
Energy is energy
Learn to leverage seemingly negative feelings to your advantage. Amy Purdy is a Paralympics bronze and silver medalist who recently told ESPN that fear and nervousness are actually her unique competitive advantage. “Nerves are important,” she told the sports outlet. “I’ve heard they can either make you 15 percent worse or 15 percent better, so it’s not about suppressing them — it’s about using them.” The champion snowboarder goes on to describe her fear and nervousness as “energy trying to escape,” and that she uses that to fuel her game.
Indeed, science has shown that excitement and anxiety — while seemingly opposing feelings — actually involve the same chemical process in the brain. What separates the two are the associations we make with them. Another study, conducted by Harvard professor Alison Wood Brooks, showed that subjects who took a moment to reframe their anxiety as excitement outperformed the others across math, music performance and public speaking.
As Purdy describes, energy is just energy, and it’s in our power to leverage seemingly negative feelings like fear or anxiety to fuel positive outcomes.
Mentally commit to creating an optimal environment for success. Choosing the right pot, soil and climate can make or break whether a plant grows or withers. This is no different for “planting” a successful career or business. One of the most effective mind shifts you can make as an entrepreneur is to commit to creating an optimal environment for you to flourish. What does such an environment look like? I’ve found, time and time again, that the first and most important optimal “layer” is people. One of the most powerful decisions I’ve made in my career is eliminating those with negative mindsets around me. But don’t just take it from me. There is a ton of research out there to back this up. One particularly compelling study done by Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland, showed that the people with whom you habitually associate with determine up to 95 percent of your success or failure.
Of course, there are many other small shifts you can make towards a more optimal environment for success. Say being in rush-hour traffic stresses you out. Adjust your commute times so you are in a better mindset when you arrive to work. If I don’t exercise daily, I don’t function as well. So I drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and do my morning workout at 5 am every week day. It lays a favorable base for the rest of the day.
In business and life, you may forget to water the soil or have a stretch of poor weather. But if you’ve laid out an optimal solution to begin with, it’s much easier to get back on track.
Revered today for his groundbreaking leadership at Tesla and SpaceX, it can be easy to overlook that Musk has overcome his fair share of extreme lows. In 2008 for instance, both of these world-changing companies were on the verge of bankruptcy — and he was going through a divorce. And further back, in 2000, Musk was fired as CEO of PayPal while he was on his honeymoon.
The oft-cited statistic says that 75 percent of VC-backed startup fail. With such data looming over their heads, even successful entrepreneurs have their work cut out for them. One way to get through these high-stress moments is to develop habits around the one, very powerful thing we always have control over — our minds.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Randy Paynter