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Social media cont from front page and attention as demonstrated through their actions and words.” Solis said, “Trust is earned and its stature is representative of our collaboration and contribution over time. If the Social Web is an ocean, trust funnels into distinctive and distinguishable rivers.”

Widening the Circle of Trust Regional LinkedIn social network trainer and book author Wayne Breitbarth agrees that we live in a trust economy, and that social media has allowed individuals to enlarge their trust networks. But when the self-proclaimed “finance guy,” with a CPA and an MBA from Marquette University discovered LinkedIn four years ago, he was highly skeptical of its potential as a legitimate marketing and business tool. “Nobody knew me a few years ago,” Breitbarth quipped. With business declining, along with the economy, he started experimenting with the tool as a means of self-branding. After winning several significant jobs through LinkedIn, he was a believer. In one case, Breitbarth was working towards winning a contract with a prospect he had no prior relationship with and was competing with seven other vendors. He found a friend on his LinkedIn profile connected to his prospect and asked the friend to put in a good word. The friend told his prospect, “You can trust him,” and ultimately he won the contract.

Four years and “500+” connections later, Breitbarth published his first book in March, “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search.” Breitbarth has traveled to Rockford several times promoting his book and sharing what he’s learned on the power of LinkedIn in building connections and credentials in the world of business. As Breitbarth said, “people do business with people, not with businesses.” Breitbarth credits LinkedIn for its usefulness in tracking whom your connections know and in creating a road map of people to meet. What used to be a cold call now can be “warmed up” and decisions can be made based on connections and trust. One attribute he said that the younger generation knows intuitively is social media’s capacity for keeping many relationships going on a daily basis — something impossible just a few years ago when the most expedient form of communication was the telephone.

B2B Marketing According to Breitbarth, LinkedIn is most useful as a business-to-business marketing tool. Kimberly Buchanan, co-owner of Eventus, an event production and meeting management company located in downtown Rockford, has used LinkedIn in this way to attract new clients and secure event sponsorships from large corporations. One of her company’s clients is CherryVale Mall. The mall was searching for a company to develop a lineup of consumer expos and contacted Eventus


LINKEDIN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT— THE TOP 10 ’GOTTA DOS’ 1. Use Advanced Search Function once you have a lead or target. 2. Look at profiles of the new people you are going to meet or call. 3. Add “trusted connections” consistently. 4. Beef up your profile. 5. Review connections of your first-degree network. 6. Look at the company profile. 7. Keep track of what your network is doing and help them. 8. Look up competitors (individuals and companies). 9. Join some groups. 10. Spend some purposeful time each week on LinkedIn, with a strategy/ plan, or don’t waste the time; instead, do some other form of networking. More resources at Wayne Breitbarth’s website,

based on the LinkedIn event postings it saw the company make for other clients. Eventus eventually formed relationships with additional managers throughout CBL, the mall’s owner/manager, to create an additional 18 mall shows throughout the Michigan area and already is in talks for additional malls in the Midwest. “Networking through LinkedIn has made our company visible to people who otherwise may not have known about our service offerings,” Buchanan said.

Strategy for Various Social Marketing Platforms Breitbarth discussed other types of social media, saying that Facebook was a good pick for business-to-customer applications, based on the sheer numbers of people who use it. The drawback, from the perspective of business, is wading through a sea of personal information to

get to the pertinent information. He recommended Twitter for sending sound bites and grabbing customers’ attention, or in sending customers to the company website or LinkedIn profile. In positioning oneself as an expert, he recommended blogging. “Most people think they aren’t good writers and wonder what they are going to write about. I ask them, Are you good at anything? Are you passionate about anything? That’s what people want to hear about.” Breitbarth said the biggest mistake he has seen in the case of LinkedIn is jumping in without a strategy. “You’ve got to understand what the tool is designed for and understand the audience. Tie your usage in with what you currently are doing in marketing your business.” He said, “Use your profile strategically to give your expertise story to people, and be consistent with your status updates.” ■

May 2011 Voice