Reflections on the first Executive's Guide to LinkedIn Seminar

reflectionToday was a major milestone for the Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn. Partnering with the Samurai Business Group, I launched the EGLI’s public seminar program at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center in front of a sold out crowd of business executives. The seminar, “LinkedIn Core Value Realization,” is designed for experienced LinkedIn users who want to significantly boost their LinkedIn ROI. My two sessions, “The Executive’s Toolbox” and “Template and Technique,” were followed by Samurai Partner Bob Lambert’s “Connecting the Online with the Offline,” which offered some profound insights on trust and networking.

Here I’ll offer you some personal reflections on the topics and the sharing that went on in the room.

Attendees were executives who were focused on growing their companies. They hailed from many industries and professional services firms. It was not a “technie” crowd, and their intelligence and interest in the topic reflected post-chasm adoption in spades. It felt like a validation of the prediction that 2008 would be the year when B2B adoption of Web 2.0 would become obvious.

A key point I tried to get across was that disruptive phenomena like technology tend to change *how* we do things, but they don’t change what lies beneath the how, in other words, people’s motivations. Social networks, even though they may seem weird or strange at first to Boomers, actually reflect humanness quite well if you know where to look. People got this. Thanks to Bob’s leadership, we were aware of the role of trust in this. Trust is a way to manage risk, the way the Samurai talk about it.

seminarsI also got that LinkedIn was a major risk management tool. A colleague of mine across the Atlantic is very focused on the role of expertise in diminishing risk through reducing uncertainty. Members can use Answers to crowdsource from the (generally high quality) LinkedIn network. Members can ask other members anything, from how you enter a market to statistics for a certain retail business in terms of sales per square root. The main limitation is imagination.

But there’s more. For most business executives, it is counterintuitive that they could receive high quality answers to important questions.. from strangers. But people began to see how social dynamics played out in digital social networks. 1) people want to help other people and 2) people want to look good (or at least avoid looking bad) and be rewarded in public. This means that they put their best feet forward ,^)

I also saw tremendous potential to collaborate and rapidly develop collective experience around case studies, and I look forward to doing that.

If you have an appreciation for the fact that members of online social networks are still people, you realize that they will have human motivations, but the way they carry out their motivations will appear different (the “how” people do things often changes in the face of disruptive market phenomena). However, humans know that we can manage risk by trusting, so it follows that we need to understand how to assess risk and build trust online. It’s not a handshake, but the notes and actions we observe online begin to assume equivalent yardsticks.

One opportunity that emerged during the debrief with the Samurai team: developing a construct for the equivalent to online body language.

Imagination is a key limiting factor to using LinkedIn, but people will rapidly discover how to unlock it by sharing and working together, which will be a key mission of the EGLI wiki… it is difficult to grasp that the world is a huge candy store of expertise and LinkedIn members can unlock it by learning how to transfer their offline networking skills online.

A new concept we discussed was the diminishing limitation of physical proximity on creating relationships. For virtually all of mankind’s existence, going back 250,000 years, our potential relationships were limited by the people with whom we were in close geographical proximity. It takes some getting used to realize that, once we develop the skills, we can find and engage tremendous expertise, almost on demand, and we can build relationships around very specific, purposeful interests, whenever and wherever we want.

The centerpiece of Session Two was using the Action Templates to create a personalized LinkedIn plan. That turned out to be a breakthrough idea.

Also there was a lot of learning potential around the five Key Processes that people could identify and improve. The EGLI emerging methodology is that (LinkedIn) features fit into processes, which fit into the Action Templates that people can use to create their own LinkedIn plans.

Bob helped me see that former relationships, say, with old college friends, contain trust that often lies dormant. By enabling former schoolmates, colleagues and association compatriots to find you on LinkedIn, you are enabling opportunities to find you.

Beginning this year, I predict that *not* having a professional storefront on a venue like LinkedIn will start being questioned. In 2006-2007, it was a relative novelty to be on LinkedIn for people in many industries; people did not expect you to be there. This is rapidly changing.

LinkedIn features are very well designed, but many participants were not aware of the finer points which, when they work in concert, are very powerful and make LinkedIn an excellent venue to create and build trusted relationships online.

People began to gain an appreciation for the potential of listing personal interests on LinkedIn profiles. Two participants connected around their love for motorcycle riding.

In sum, it was an invigorating morning! That’s it for now!

4 comments to Reflections on the first Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn Seminar

  • Kathryn Neal Odell

    After attending this seminar, I realize that our biggest leap will be developing a new form of trust in our digital social networks. It would be easy to stand back and say “no” to using a venue like LinkedIn but if you look at this as an evolutionary step in business relationship building, you can more easily embrace it. On demand global expertise? How can you say “no” to that?

  • Kathy, thanks for writing. I have also been reflecting on online trust, and it’s one of those things that doesn’t sound like much at first, but it’s more profound the more I think about it. Especially when you realize that lack of trust serves as the biggest barrier to connecting with people. So learning how to trust effectively, online and off, becomes core to achieving your goals.

  • I was amazed how much I could reach out to my target market once I took this seminar. I joined groups, I asked questions, I talked to LIONs, and I just met someone that will change my business for the better. This gentleman had 500 of my target company suspects in his 1st line. Social networking along with Samuari is and amazing tool for business development! My 3rd network has in many cases now become my 2nd network, so now I am only one person away from meeting people I may be able to help.

  • Tom, that’s so exciting! Thanks for sharing. You make me think about one of the marvels of digital social networks: we are all ships passing in the night and chance too often determines connections we make. Once it’s digital, we can see the patterns and conduct ourselves with more intent. Digital SNs don’t give us anything organic, but they help us to realize the potential in the people we have access to, which is increasingly everybody! Mind-blowing concept but, I think, very true.

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