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YOU are the Sale

17 Jul

In 2019, we are selling ourselves. It doesn’t matter what your position might be – frankly, it becomes more and more important the higher you are in a company. And as an entry level salesperson, you carry YOU forward – whether that’s at the same company all your life or more likely, whatever career is generated from your first few years in the workplace.

How do you sell yourself today?

1 – You have a kick-butt LinkedIn profile. Because that’s what professional people do. You also have other social media sites – at least Facebook – where you are community-facing on a regular basis. In the old days, networking happened in your neighborhood or at your place of worship or the grocery store where you knew everyone. Today, it’s on the world wide web.

2 – You operate every day with every person under the golden rule. People around you start saying (because you usually succeed at living the golden rule), “I wonder what that guy does…”. They won’t listen or remember – unless they ask with genuine curiosity. That curiosity only comes when they like you as a human being.

I grew up learning from people and many sales books that the buyer didn’t need to like you. It’s actually true – but then you can only be one thing – an expert with a perfect product or service. In case you aren’t the expert yet and/or your product service is only very good in a competitive field, genuine, trusting relationships go a long way in the ten years that I’ve been running my own business.

3 – You are authentic. Part of being likeable is being vulnerable. You have a couple warts and you talk about them openly.

For example, I don’t like golf. That makes me a bit odd in the business community, but I haven’t played a hole since my third child was born. Somehow, I’m accepted.

I’m also a spazz. My children and fiance definitely understand this. They also know they can say “shoosh you dumb bear”… and I’ll immediately realize that I might be talking an octave too high about something that probably isn’t that big of a deal.

4 – You strive to be the best in the world at something. It doesn’t have to be work-related because whatever it is, it makes you human and helps people remember you. I’m not the best in the world (yet) but my passions and talents are in writing. I’m a recruiter, consultant and salesman, so I decided to put off the fiction novel and pour my efforts into these blogs and business books until I’m 50 (then I write the novel).

If you have these four principles above well in hand, there are many directions you can go from there. It’s all about taking your passions and making you memorable – beyond the privacy of your friends and family...

You’re good at golfing… then represent your company at EVERY charity tournament this year.

You’re a juggler… then learn how to juggle EVERYTHING and tell everyone about it (think concise, short stories ūüôā ).

You love to travel… is your office covered with pictures from your vacations away? What’s the front-page screensaver on your phone? Buy a padfolio with photos on the cover. Start a blog for photos or writings.

You’re a pastry chef… then why isn’t EVERYONE at your office getting a birthday cupcake from you every year? Or maybe deliver some cakes to your clients? They will think you are nutty… but they won’t forget you.

You’ve got a heckuva story to tell… you don’t have to be a writer to be an author. What would be cooler than starting your own book? I can help you with that one if you reach out.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

Blogs Written at a 5th Grade Reading Level are Better?

9 Apr

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Surprisingly, blogs (or any of your marketing materials) that are written at lower grade reading levels typically get the most attention. I’m failing. My last three blogs were written at 8th, 9th and 9th grade reading levels. This article is written at an 8th grade level. I’m striving for a 7th grade reading level.

The Wall Street Journal is written at an 8th grade level. My local paper, the Star Tribune (and probably most newspapers), is written at a 5th grade level. Hemingway wrote at a 4th grade reading level and Leo Tolstoy wrote at a 7th grade level. The Affordable Care Act is written at a college reading level! 

4 reasons why I think blogs written at lower levels succeed:

1. Your entire audience can’t read at a 7th grade reading level.¬†

There’s a book called What Makes a Book Readable that cites:

  • 1/3 of adults read at a 2nd-6th grade reading level
  • 1/3 of adults read at a 7th-12th grade reading level
  • 1/3 of adults read at college levels

If you write at a lower level, everyone obviously has a better chance at being able to understand it.

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2. Even the smart people need new material dumbed down a bit.

Learning Solutions magazine says that we forget 50% of what we learn within an hour.¬†The more complicated, the more likely we are to forget. Humans require immediate comprehension of the material to increase our chances of retaining the information; when reading an article, we are often reading about topics that we don’t know a lot about.

3333. We want it quick and fast. 

In the internet age, things get skimmed, not read. The most popular blogs are one of two types: Lists and How-to’s. The most attention any of my 100+ blogs have ever received was a recent post I did on the Top 50 Largest LinkedIn Groups (Largest Groups on LinkedIn). Lists are simple – and how-to’s tend to be quick lessons that can immediately be applied. It has been found that on screens, we read faster and consequently, understand less.

44444. Reading has changed.

With the younger generation clamoring to YouTube and Facebook for “news” and information – and communicating through short texts and emojis, the demographics have shifted to suit our shorter attention spans. As a writer or blogger, you should embrace this change versus fighting it. If you want to write the next Moby Dick, go for it! But recognize that half of your audience CANNOT comprehend it (granted, it is probably much better material than your average blog).

What is the ideal grade level for your writing? 

The answer is dependent upon your audience, but my overall point of this blog is that it is probably a few grades lower than what you think. A few suggestions for “improving” your score include keeping your paragraphs and sentences short, avoiding complicated and unnecessary words and breaking up your content. And a few pictures and bulleted lists go a long way in keeping the reader’s attention.

There is a measurement called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Reading Formula to determine the level of any piece of writing. It was first published in 1948 and it relies on the structure of the English language taking sentence and word length into consideration in order to determine readability.

How to figure out the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level:

  • If you are a user of Microsoft Word, go to the Review option at the top of the screen and Check Document.
  • This will give corrections (like spelling, as you probably know) and other refinements; after running through those, the¬†Readability Statistics window will pop up.
  • Listed are the word counts and averages as well as the readability score which shows the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of your document. This will pop up after you run through the suggested corrections and refinements.
  • If you aren’t a Word user, you can also go to this site to measure the documents readability: https://readable.com/
  • Here is another site for editing lengthy and complex sentences: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
  • Lastly, there are a few other formulas if you’d like to try them out: the Gunning-Fog Score, the Coleman-Liau Index and the Dale-Chall Formula.

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Now, my title is a bit deceiving… I don’t think 5th grade level blogs are “better”. But if our end goal is to garner attention and educate, we need to be thinking of our audience and cater to them. I personally need to do a better job of making it easier to read my material. It’s not about dumbing it down but rather making your point clearer and more concise.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew Schmitz

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

Adios Data.com … Hello 2.0 CRM’s

26 Mar

goodbye

In 2010, Salesforce purchased Jigsaw and renamed it Data.com… On May 4th, 2019, they will be calling it quits.

As a recruiter and salesperson, it has been a tool for many years providing phone numbers, email addresses and titles of prospects. Like Wikipedia and LinkedIn, Data.com was good at getting other people to contribute just-in-time information and share it through their platform. That was a novel idea many years ago when we were still collecting business cards and putting them into our Rolodex (or Outlook if you were tech savvy). The mass amount of DATA (primarily free of charge) was wonderful and we dreamed that the site would only benefit from the Salesforce acquisition.

T-Rex_1_grande Salesforce couldn’t make it really work (or didn’t want to make it work) and now Data.com, a once powerful place to acquire and manage CRM records, is a¬†dinosaur.¬†The primary reason for shutting their curtains is that it was full of a bunch of junk – inaccurate records in terms of titles, phone numbers and email addresses. Today, their data is more inaccurate than ever.

So where do we go from here?

There are many options to gravitate to in 2019 and within the universe of CRM’s, they are all a little different from one another. Most of them are going to cost you some money… and I’m going to let the companies battle a little bit before understanding who will be the quality, long term players. They are going to grow (CRM software grew faster than any other software segment in 2018) and gobble one another up – and I don’t see it sorting itself out quickly.

What is a CRM in 2019? The definition is changing every day. A CRM (customer relationship manager) was created to move us past an Excel spreadsheet to organize and manage all of our interactions with customers and prospects. Today, a CRM is certainly focused on doing that, but it is becoming more interactive pulling records from sources outside of your organization.

Recently, SelectHub provided a 2019 snapshot by looking at a sample set of 254 companies (CRM Survey):

  • Outlook is the CRM tool for 29% of these companies
  • Excel is 22% (what?!)
  • Gmail is 14%
  • Salesforce is a mere 6%
  • Mailchimp has 5% of the market
  • The remaining 24% includes HubSpot (3%), Microsoft (2%) & Oracle (2%)

How accurate is this sample set? Admittedly, the list is made up of primarily companies under 1000 employees (84%) and a majority of those are under 500 employees. For small businesses, I’ll assume this is a pretty good snapshot.¬†

smh260% of these companies are using Outlook, Excel and Gmail as a CRM!¬†It definitely surprised me that Salesforce has captured a mere 6% of the CRM market. It’s no wonder that Salesforce is hiring salespeople like crazy as they are probably drooling over the market potential. I’m reminded of Coca-Cola in this instance… In 2011, Coca-Cola had over 40% of the carbonated beverage worldwide market. At the time, 55 billion beverages were consumed world-wide per day (excluding water) and Coca-Cola sold “only” 1.7 billion beverages per day. With only 3.1% of the beverage market, they have incredible potential!

Here is another take on who owns the market: CRM market share?¬†Salesforce cites that they have 19.6% market share (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft & Adobe making up the next 20%). This article also says that Salesforce is fudging their numbers a bit – part of this is because it’s difficult to completely define WHAT-IS-A-CRM. Even if this is accurate, the top 5 still own less than 40% of the market.

With the removal of Data.com, Salesforce is going to push their product called the Lightning Data Engine. They have a head start because Lightning has partnered with many players (via their AppExchange which has over 5,000 “solutions”) and they’ve become an aggregator of your CRM options which include:

  • Dun & Bradstreet Optimizer as well as D&B Hoovers
  • Equifax (Business Connect)
  • ZoomInfo
  • Bombora
  • HG Data & HG Insights
  • Datafox Orchestrate (Oracle)
  • Clearbit
  • MCH Strategic Data
  • Compass
  • InsideView
  • Owler
  • Business Watch
  • Aberdeen
  • Relationships promised to come include Thomson Reuters and others

Salesforce’s product isn’t great, but they are winning. Their partnerships may be the driver that moves them from good to great. Another reason they are a decent choice for a CRM is because they have been around for 20 years. This doesn’t mean Salesforce is better – but they have become a name brand. This has driven them way beyond expectations to a net worth today of $122 Billion. Also, Salesforce has a reputation of taking good care of their employees – you can’t underestimate the power of a company with a great culture.

Is LinkedIn going to be a player in this universe? Microsoft will claim they already are with their CRM Dynamics 365. I’m disappointed in the results so far but since Microsoft owns LinkedIn, I would imagine that they have a gold mine if they can figure it out as quickly.

boxing

8 Bullets on 13 Players:

  1. Based on history, I’m concerned that Microsoft isn’t moving fast enough.
  2. It feels like Salesforce is trying to think for us by driving its users towards any old CRM tool.
  3. Does Oracle or SAP even care about being a solid CRM for the small business community? Is Adobe going to be a major player?
  4. Is Google’s Copper CRM (formerly ProsperWorks) making a dent in the market?
  5. What about the unified CRM’s like Pega, BPM Online and SugarCRM?
  6. HubSpot, Zoho and Mailchimp have garnered significant growth over the last five years. Are they going to take us to the next level? I think they can push everyone to innovate.
  7. I’ve heard good things about Intelligent CRM by Avtex – which so far hasn’t partnered with Salesforce’s AppExchange.
  8. There are many others that aren’t even on my radar (yet)…

dandelion

I’m disappointed that Data.com didn’t survive… I wish they’d continued with a shared platform and just made it better. The fact that it was free made it pretty cool too. I’m not investing in any of the above at the moment, but I’m curious to see how this plays out and what innovations are to come.

I’m not the expert on this topic. I’m just another user of the products that is trying to understand how it is shifting. Per usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/adios-datacom-hello-20-crms-drew-schmitz/

 

 

The Friendly World of LinkedIn

19 Mar

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In February, I wrote a blog that I thought had a shot at being featured on a channel of LinkedIn Pulse (link to article here: The 50* Largest Groups on LinkedIn). It’s not really an “article”, but a list filling a void that I couldn’t find updated anywhere on the world wide web. After publishing and getting some organic steam, I decided to drive as much traffic to my post as possible. I did some considerable research on the topic of getting featured on LinkedIn Pulse and certainly got a lot smarter along the way as I interacted with a lot of friendly connections…

receive

The primary way that my post received a lot of attention was by reaching out to my network one by one and asking for their support with the article. I certainly didn’t have time to invite all 14,000 of my connections, but I asked about 400 people and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support from my network.

I used the opportunity to reconnect with 100 people that I hadn’t communicated with in some time and I shared it with 50+ clients asking them for a ‘like’. Then I rolled up my sleeves over the weekend and really dug into mining my connections and asking the biggest influencers in my network for help.

Who were the last 250 people I asked?

lion1. LION’s aka LinkedIn Open Networkers. I may go a little overboard as a recruiter connecting with other LION’s (I have over 2,000 of them), but they have real value and I saw this in action. I didn’t invite all of them, given this was actually me doing the invites (I don’t let my virtual assistant touch my LinkedIn due to it containing many real relationships, so I don’t want them to feel spammed). Instead, I searched through the LION’s that were most active, the ones that had the most connections and the individuals that also wrote articles that I could help to cross-promote. LION’s typically have a lot of connections so their resharing value is exponential.

I sent them different versions of this message (within LinkedIn):

Hello Susan, I’m trying to get this article featured on one of LI’s Pulse channels. Is there any way I could get you to reshare it and/or comment on the article? Let me know how I can return the favor. Many thanks! ~Drew

bee1

2. The Busy Bees. I asked people that were more active on LinkedIn. I view my newsfeed almost every morning, so I’m aware of who is most involved in using LinkedIn. These connections certainly got an invitation.

3. Recruiters and HR Professionals. They use LinkedIn probably more than any job title. All of the recruiters and HR folks that I know well received a message from me.

4. Groups. These weren’t individual people I messaged; I went to almost all of my LinkedIn groups and posted my article there. In turn, this generated a lot of visibility from 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Since I do not promote very often in my groups, I don’t think any took down my post. A lot of them were listed in the article, so it was certainly relevant material.

I assumed I’d get help from 1 out of every 10 people but that ratio ended up being closer to 1 out of every 4. The number of reshares was my biggest surprise and more than not, they reposted with a nice plug on the blog post and me. The comments were awesome as well and many of them came with thoughtful questions and meaningful feedback.

thumbsblogOngoing, I realized who in my network could help again if I asked. I’m guessing half of the aforementioned connections would be annoyed if I asked for another “favor” this month, but the other half offered to help anytime. These 75 or so connections (you know who you are) recognize the enormous value of a supportive community on LinkedIn. I will be liking their posts, reading their articles (and reposting if I like the material), joining some of their groups and likely asking for their help in the future.

As of today, I have over 800 views of my article, 168 likes, 47 comments and 97 reshares.¬†Woo hoo! Of course, it never got featured on a channel of LinkedIn’s Pulse, which was my original objective… but it did garner a lot of attention, my answer on Quora is on the first page of results when you Google “largest LinkedIn groups”, I have a meeting with a new prospect and last Friday, I got a call from a radio host that wants me to be featured on his program.¬†Listen to me live on¬†Cover Your Assets with Todd Rooker on ESPN 1500 AM 8:00-9:00 am on April 13th!

I have been loudly reminded all over again of the utility of LinkedIn and the value of my 1st degree connections. The key is to actively engage with them on a regular basis. We all have only so much time… but I don’t think you can afford not to comb through your relationships and communicate with them on a regular basis. Thank you, Microsoft and LinkedIn, for your imperfect but valuable social media site. A thousand thank-you’s to my network for your ongoing support!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

P.S. Can I still get featured? If you like this post, please give it a thumb. If you benefit from reading my articles, please go here and give me a like, comment or reshare: The 50* Largest Groups on LinkedIn

 

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/friendly-world-linkedin-drew-schmitz/

Getting LinkedIn Recommendations

12 Mar

recommended

In my blog posts over the last six weeks, I’ve covered LinkedIn as a part of a 7-part series (this is my 7th and last post!).

In my opinion, recommendations (not to be confused with skill endorsements) are the most important section on LinkedIn. Recommendations are probably a bigger differentiator than anything else on their site.

If you are a job-seeker or salesperson, recommendations may be the number one thing that make people comfortable hiring or doing business with you. We can all tell people how great we are – but someone else’s words mean a lot more. Get at least 10 recommendations on your page.

givehands-and-heart

How do you get recommendations? Give them. I make a concerted effort to write them on a regular basis – and in most cases, it’s an opportunity to ask for one in return. Don’t make this a bigger deal than it is; write 3-4 sentences about why you think highly of them (and if you don’t, do not give them a recommendation!). And don’t get caught up in making it perfect.¬†

My recommendations say something like:

“I worked with Joe when we were both at ABC Company. I had the opportunity to see him in action and he did SOMETHING really well. I’d highly recommend Joe – please reach out if you have any questions!” (under SOMETHING describe 1-2 specifics).

This took me about 90 seconds to write.

write

Here are the 3 steps for writing a recommendation:

  1. Go to their LinkedIn profile and click on the 3 dots in the right corner. In the dropdown menu, choose Recommend.
  2. Choose how you know this person and your position at the time.
  3. Write your recommendation.

Clients and people that you’ve reported to are the best recommenders, but colleagues you’ve worked with can also provide a recommendation. Just like the ones you give – only ask those that think highly of you and/or love the service you provided them. So don’t be shy and¬†ask for them! Then ask again… if they say yes the first two times, then politely pester them a third time until they actually write one for you.

People are heavily influenced by these so don’t wait until someone asks for your references after interviews – put them out there for the world to see!¬†

gifthatsallfolksIt has been fun breaking down some of the best features of LinkedIn over the past 6 weeks. If you took my suggestions to heart, you understand better how to sell, recruit, find a job, join groups and receive recommendations… and you probably have one of the better profiles on LinkedIn. The quality of your profile will have ongoing benefits.

Despite the length of my 2019 LinkedIn entries, we have not exactly covered the breadth of this site. If you have questions about anything on LinkedIn, feel free to reach out to me.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

http://www.blueoctopusllc.com

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/getting-linkedin-recommendations-drew-schmitz/

#linkedin

 

How to Maximize LinkedIn Groups

5 Mar

alone

This is my 6th entry in a 7-part series about LinkedIn. Feel free to check out my previous posts at: BlueOctopus. Next week, I’ll finish this series by covering recommendations.

Last August, LinkedIn updated the group section of their site and now have a dedicated team of engineers to support and focus on it. For a while, many of us were wondering if they were abandoning groups altogether – but even though their changes were subtler than I’d prefer, it’s a great sign that LinkedIn is now recognizing the importance of groups.

There are 6 primary reasons to join a LinkedIn group:

  1. Find a group that is specific to your industry.
  2. If you are looking for your next job.
  3. You are hiring.
  4. Your organization sells something.
  5. You’d like to lead a niche group (specific to your industry or otherwise).
  6. Discover various learning opportunities outside of your industry.

Searching groups on LinkedIn is a bit clumsy but can be done one of two ways:

  • Go to Groups by clicking on Work in the upper right. At the bottom of the page of your groups, you can click on Search other trusted communities that share and support your goals.
  • Otherwise, just use the normal search box in the upper left. Then you will have to define your search under More and change to Groups.

SUPER GROUPS.¬†The largest groups have the most activity. That doesn’t always translate to being the best options, but it’s a great place to start. Here is a list of the biggest LinkedIn groups as of 2019: Top 50. By joining some of the larger groups on LinkedIn – including some specific to your industry – you give yourself further exposure to others.

Image result for i got a job

GET A JOB.¬†If you are looking for a job, there are some obvious groups to join. If you aren’t looking for a job, you probably will be in the future, so joining a job group still isn’t a bad idea.

Here are three options for you: Linked: HR, Hub.Careers & Engineering Jobs Worldwide. These are larger group options but don’t forget to find smaller ones in your area and industry (LinkedMinnesota, Minnesota Job Seekers & Minnesota Jobs.com are examples in my home state). Also note that any and all groups can help a job seeker. They usually allow openings to be posted and can be extremely supportive for someone promoting themselves for work.

Image result for recruit

RECRUIT YOUR NEXT HIRE. If you are hiring, there might not be a better place to find your next hire than on LinkedIn. The Recruiter.com, The Recruitment Network and HR Jobs are great for full time recruiters and HR professionals. Also, join the three job groups mentioned above. And again, find a niche group to your industry and look for those specific to your area.

Image result for catching fish

LAND A NEW CUSTOMER.¬†If you’ve read my past articles, being active on LinkedIn as a salesperson is a no-brainer. Figure out where your prospects hang out and join all those groups. Worst case scenario, join all of the largest groups as this will allow you to directly message more people.

Image result for niche

 

FIND INDUSTRY & NICHE GROUPS.¬†If you are in marketing, social media or just curious about this industry, join SocialMediopolis, Digital Marketing, Marketing CMO Social Media Business Digital, Marketing Communications and Media & Marketing Professionals Worldwide. These are huge groups because marketing folks are among the most active on LinkedIn for obvious reasons. But if you are a project manager selling SaaS software, join a project manager and SaaS group… if you are fascinated with cryptocurrency, join those groups.

Niche groups are wonderful for everyone. Join a few and determine which ones are the most active. Even the smallest can be wonderfully effective depending upon their activity (and the manager that runs the group).

Image result for lincoln color

BE A LEADER.¬†You may want to consider starting and running your own LinkedIn group. As a promotional tool for you and your business, this is a great way to build awareness, position yourself as an expert, showcase your company, generate interest and nurture relationships. You may also be a part of a smaller group of people that you just want to “collect” for internal discussions (I’ve done so for two alumni groups). Just make sure if you start one, that you are actively leading the group and contributing to discussions at least on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. For more detail on starting and managing your own group, here is a resource: https://buffer.com/library/linkedin-groups.

Related image

GROW YOUR BRAIN.¬†Sometimes the benefit of LinkedIn isn’t a job, a hire or a new client. LinkedIn is a great place for educating yourself about the latest and greatest trends in business, technology, your industry/interests and other happenings in the world. There are people like me that post articles but within groups, there is all sorts of additional content – and you can post questions to the group. People love helping people and LinkedIn can be a great example of that.

If you want to join groups privately: 

  1. Click the Me icon in the top right of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy from the dropdown.
  3. Click the Communications tab at the top of the page.
  4. Under the Channels section, click Change next to Email frequency.
  5. Click the Right icon to the right of Updates from your groups.
  6. Check or uncheck the box next to the group you’d like to receive updates from.
  7. For more detailed control, click Manage to the right of the group name.

Once you’ve joined a few groups, you can message other members directly, post new conversations within the group (like “I have an opening!”) and comment on others’ posts without requiring a first degree connection.¬†

I highly recommend doing some work searching and joining groups. There are too many benefits, so join a few more this week!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

The 50* Largest Groups on LinkedIn

26 Feb

hugepublishable

Over the past month, I’ve been trying to find a way to cull a list of the largest groups by searching on LinkedIn and the web… apparently, it’s not that easy. There hasn’t been an updated list (that I can find) since 2017, so I’ve assembled the 50 LinkedIn groups below and would like to share them with you. There is an asterisk next to my title as it required a lot of inefficient hunting and pecking, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve missed a group or two or three that tops 300,000. If you know of one, please make a comment (or email me) and I’ll get this updated!

Please see my blog series on the LinkedIn topic at: blueoctopusllc.wordpress.com. I go into further details about selling, recruiting, job seeking, groups and recommendations.

There are many groups that have 200,000-300,000 members but the list below contains all that currently surpass 300,000 (note you can click name to link to any of the groups listed):

  1. SocialMediopolis.com (1.9 Million members)
  2. Software & Technology Professionals (1.8 Million)
  3. Digital Marketing (1.2 Million)
  4. Harvard Business Review (1.1 Million)
  5. Linked: HR (969K)
  6. Finance Club (900K)
  7. Forum VAGAS.com  (894K)
  8. The Project Manager Network (865K)
  9. The Recruiter.com Network (833K)
  10. Marketing CMO Social Media Business Digital (743K)
  11. Dubai Recruitment (715K)
  12. Marketing Communications (700K)
  13. On Startups (638K)
  14. Telecoms Professionals (599K)
  15. Media & Marketing Professionals Worldwide (582K)
  16. Lean Six Sigma (572K)
  17. Pete Asmus’ Real Estate Networking¬†(565K)
  18. The Recruitment Network (543K)
  19. Sales, Marketing, Social Media, Advertising and Technology (542K)
  20. Future Trends (534K)
  21. Retail Industry Professionals Group (525K)
  22. Engineering Jobs Worldwide (515K)
  23. Banking Careers (504K)
  24. Finance Plus: Private Equity Venture Capital and M&A News (481K)
  25. Consultants Network (468K)
  26. Digital Marketing: Social Media, Search, Mobile & more (464K)
  27. Cloud Computing, SaaS & Virtualization (460K)
  28. Oil & Energy Recruitment (453K)
  29. Oil & Gas People (445K)
  30. Hub.Careers (423K)
  31. Cloud Computing (410K)
  32. Information Security Community (399K)
  33. Event Planning & Event Management (379K)
  34. Project Manager Community (379K)
  35. Procurement Professionals (374K)
  36. MarTech Advisor BD Guild (368K)
  37. Vagas & Jobs (368K)
  38. Pharmaceutical Jobs (351K)
  39. SAP Community (351K)
  40. Big Data and Analytics (348K)
  41. Executive Suite (333K)
  42. Java Developers (326K)
  43. Information Technology, FinTech, Blockchain and Bitcoin (326K)
  44. Oil & Gas Industry Professionals (316K)
  45. Marketing Pros РLargest Marketers Group (312K)
  46. Sales Best Practices (310K)
  47. Sales Management Executives (310K)
  48. Business Development Рthe Missing Link (309K)
  49. International Export Group (307K)
  50. .NET Developers (302K)

thumbsblogWho did I miss? Let me know!

If you enjoyed the post and are a LinkedIn user, please do me a HUGE favor Рclick on this link to the Pulse article and reshare or give it the thumbs up icon: LinkedIn Pulse article Thank you!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedins-35-largest-groups-drew-schmitz/

#linkedingroups #largestlinkedingroups #linkedinrecruiting #linkedinsales #sales

Time to Purchase a Sales CRM?

23 Aug

Customer Relationship Management

The short answer is, YES.

Last year, Salesforce, the largest sales CRM provider, grew their revenue by 26%. Companies are getting on board with CRM’s earlier than ever. If you are a small company in a growth stage, I would strongly recommend that you implement a basic program like Salesforce immediately.¬†I honestly don’t have a strong opinion about the best CRM – there strengths to all of them and I’ve consulted within many business using different programs.¬†

Here are 3 resources for investigating the software that works best for your business: 

https://zapier.com/learn/crm/best-crm-app/. 

https://www.nutshell.com/blog/infographic-capterra-best-crms/

https://www.softwareadvice.com/crm/small-business-comparison/

We can’t afford it right now. They aren’t that expensive relative to other software purchases and there are many options at a reasonable price. A business with 2-3 users can find a basic SaaS CRM for less than $100 a month.

Our business is too small. I’m amazed at how many companies are still using Excel or another type of spreadsheet!¬†If you only have two people selling inside your business there is a daily need to share information on prospects and customers. Simply put, you are never too small for a sales CRM.

My salespeople don’t like using it. Too bad – it’s a part of the job in 2018. It won’t slow them down and, in fact, should help them with pipeline management and efficiently sharing information with colleagues and management.

If your sales team is battling you on using a sales CRM, then you have some training ahead of you. Technology isn’t a burden, it’s a necessity… and this expands way beyond the use of a CRM. More selling than ever is happening via email, social media and eCommerce and not on the telephone or in person.

As a manager, the sales CRM will provide you with better visibility to customer/prospect analytics, pipeline revenue, real-time insights and long-term forecasts. With the ability to automatically convert your current information, it’s a much easier implementation than you realize.

If you are putting this off, bite the bullet and get this in place before the end of the year. Or how about tomorrow? Let me know if you have any specific questions that I can answer regarding purchasing and implementing a sales CRM. 

Forward, never straight~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

It’s time to grow faster.

 

Lessons from my World Travels

1 Aug

earth junk

I accomplished what few Americans do before 65 – I took two vacations¬†in one month. I’m not bragging as it comes with its share of challenges¬†(being away from Minnesota for 3 out of 4 weeks requires a little juggling of the demands of work and home, plus you really miss your kids if you don’t bring them along!).

On the first trip, I traveled solo to Sweden to visit my brother’s family living there and the second trip was to Colorado with my girlfriend. June was a fantastic voyage, but I’m more than happy to be back to the “norms” of Minnesota summer!


From a business practicum, what stands out to me about this past month is people. Being a traveling extrovert, I met many great Swedes and Coloradans, plus a horrible woman in Denver. There were many transactional exchanges at airports and gas stations that even surprised me.

I was reminded that I’m always in the “elevator” with the next potential client… and if I don’t think of that, then I miss opportunities. I imagine that a prospect could be sitting on the park bench right next to me.¬†There were two connections I made in Colorado that could lead to new business for Blue Octopus!

The Good 

  • Many kind people and fellow travelers.¬†Especially outside the U.S., I was blown away by some of their helpfulness. a.) One man walked me four blocks out of his way to help me with directions. b.) On a bike ride in Sweden, I was stopped by some locals and offered a beer as they sat on a bar patio. c.) In Stockholm, I met a woman in their legislature who chatted with me over fish and chips. She returned to the restaurant to make sure we connected on LinkedIn.
  • Even more great customer service people. a.) A bartender walked into the restroom to quietly warn me about the drunk we were sitting next to in Denver (suggesting we slide down a couple spots). b.) I think the woman from KLM airlines held an entire flight for me for 5 minutes; at the very least, she made sure my bag got on the plane as I ran to the gate. c.) I was navigating the light rail in Denver one day and this woman helped me figure out the confusing transfer to a second bus (‚Äúcome with me, I‚Äôm going that way!‚ÄĚ).
The Bad 

  • I’m not going to get into specifics on Mariah in Denver, but it was the worst customer service I’ve ever received in my life.
  • I had six flights in total – I was bumped twice and two other times the plane was delayed by more than 90 minutes. Apparently when you check that little¬†Terms & Conditions¬†box, you are agreeing that they can overbook the flight and you might get bumped. Airlines like United, Spirit and Frontier are unbelievably bad… I‚Äôve always had more luck with KLM, Delta and Southwest.

 

The 8 Things I Learned:
  • You never know when/where you’ll find the next client¬†– and you don’t have to be wearing a suit. So always be friendly and say please and thank you.
  • The Mariahs (sorry nice Mariahs) are everywhere. They wear the same face at work or play. I try to stay as far away from them as possible as they’ll pull you apart (clients, candidates, family or friends).
  • When meeting someone for the first time, assume their dog died today. I’m a spazz that jumps to conclusions. People have good days and bad days – if you return their attack on the bad day, they will reciprocate (often understandably).
  • Never ever visit the IRS office¬†(a story for another day).
  • Ask for help.¬†From my experience, 50% of the world LOVES to help their fellow man. So, if your Google Maps isn’t connecting, then ask the first friendly-looking person for directions.
  • Don’t ask the other 50% for help.¬†They are Mariah. They carry a neutral or negative vibe (i.e. people who don’t make eye contact) … and it is easy to see by their eyes and body posture or words that they are exchanging with the person next to them.
  • Don’t refinance your house in between two vacations. I won’t bore you with the details…
  • Be brave.¬†Fear is the #1 reason we don’t discover new opportunities or meet new people. Get comfortable asking for help and looking stupid. It’s all in your head. If your mind gets foggy, then take a nap or go to bed early (you are on vacation!). The only other reason you don’t ask for directions is laziness.

Make it a great day~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

http://www.blueoctopusllc.com

It’s time to grow faster.

 

 

The Dog Days of August

31 Jul

dogdays

How was your summer? Nope, it’s not over, but it is getting closer to Labor Day…

When it comes to my business cycle, August is always similar to the January turn at the beginning of the year. It’s still a bit slow – but we all know a busy season is approaching us. Given the Blue Octopus’ pipeline, it may be the busiest fall/winter yet! So… I can stall a few more weeks – or get “back on the horse” and prepare as if I’ll have no time September through December.

An August To-Do List:

  1. Email, Paperwork, etc. Are your files in order? If you don’t clean out that inbox this month, you are going to find July emails at the bottom of your inbox in January! Delete ’em, refer them onto someone else, file them away or take action.
  2. Finances. Personally and professionally, where is the cash flow going to fall for the rest of 2018? Match this up with the planning that I suggest below in #8.
  3. Networking. I vacationed twice in June and July and my networking plummeted. I have a lunch, three meetings and a networking event set for the first half of August. I’m shooting for at least 12 of these in August before I start getting comfortable.
  4. Marketing. I have a nearly finished second sales management book that I’ve been sitting on since April. It’s time to finish proofing and editing so I have a prayer of getting it out this fall. Partnering with Elite Holding Co., I also released a YouTube video last month (https://youtu.be/jkMq-HS-iZM)… and we need to get two more done this month.
  5. Sales. Not everyone is working hard this month, but those that are in the office aren’t getting as many emails and phone calls. This is a great month to keep the sales push going. Catch them now and you probably double your chance at a meeting with them in September.
  6. Old Connections. A different bent on sales & marketing is simply dropping an email to those that you haven’t talked to in the last few months. My best clients and referrers are practically friends. Don’t forget to proactively reach out to them regularly (and ask in return if there is anything you can do for them).
  7. Management. My personal responsibilities are to my recruiting team. I’m the salesman and they do the bulk of the recruiting and screening work. It’s time for a simple 2-way review. I certainly evaluate their performance but a one-on-one with each of them is important to make sure (a) Are we on the same page? (b) How is your boss doing? (c) What do you need in order to hit our numbers the rest of the year? This one hour interaction goes a long way towards better retention of your employees.
  8. Planning (and Thinking). It might sound stupid, but this could be your last chance to really think before the boss, clients, spouse and kids start dictating most of your schedule. Lay out your year and 4Q goals. Are they still achievable? What actions need to take place?

People are generally happier in the summertime (particularly here in Minnesota), so it’s a better time to catch them on a good day and bend their ear.

Don’t let your August blow away without some serious planning as well as taking action on that plan. What are you going to accomplish before Labor Day??

It’s time to grow faster.

Drew Schmitz

drew@blueoctopusllc.com