If you're not in the LinkedIn game, you're missing out on a TON of opportunities.
Long gone are the days of the platform merely being a repository of resumes. Over the past couple of years, it’s evolved into a powerful B2B content and networking platform, and each day increasing numbers of retail, foodservice and pharmacy buyers are regularly active on it, as well as those suppliers that serve these groups. And not only are they making great connections on it through posting/sharing content and engaging with each other -- they are also getting business from it. Lots of business.
Case in point: from just one LinkedIn connection I made last year -- along with the catalyst of ECRM's programs -- three suppliers and one packaging design firm received new business (including a seven-figure deal for one of the suppliers), three retailers will soon be adding innovative products to their shelves, ECRM received three supplier registrations and had three amazing educational sessions, and a dozen pieces of content were generated, as well as several solid ongoing relationships between all of the parties involved.
Here’s how it happened…
It all started when Emily Page, CEO of packaging design and product development firm Pearl Resourcing, messaged me on LinkedIn regarding one of my posts. This led to a regular dialogue which we then took offline with a phone call, during which we explored ways in which we could collaborate on content around packaging design, an important topic for our audience of buyers and suppliers of food and consumer packaged goods.
Once I was connected to Emily on LinkedIn, I saw her post in my feed showing the newly-launched Jocko White Tea, for which she had designed the packaging for Jocko Willink, one of the owners of the brand. For those of you who don’t know Jocko, he is a former Navy Seal Commander, NY Times bestselling author, co-host of the extremely popular Jocko Podcast. I’ve been a fan of Jocko’s since he published his first book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win, back in 2015. Emily sent me a sample of the tea, which I saw was certified organic. By chance, ECRM’s Natural, Organic & Specialty Foods EPPS was a couple of months away, and it was going to be held in San Diego, Jocko’s home city.
Long story short, Jocko White Tea participated in our program as a supplier, and Jocko gave a presentation on leadership at that session to a standing-room only audience of 140 people, plus I was also able to do a video interview with Jocko and Emily about the Jocko White Tea products. As a result of its participation, the company already has deals with two grocery chains.
During that session, when Jocko learned that ECRM also had a Vitamin, Weight Management & Sports Nutrition EPPS coming up in Phoenix, he offered to participate in that session, too, this time with a nutritional supplement company in which he is a stakeholder, Origin USA.
He delivered another great presentation on leadership, and the Origin USA team of Peter Roberts and Brian Littlefield, as well as Emily (who was there to lend a hand) met with almost 80 retailers. Once again, I did a video interview with Jocko – this time along with Brian, who runs the nutritional supplement division of Origin, called Origin Labs. The result of its participation? A seven-figure purchase order from a major national retailer.
While in Phoenix, Emily and I began collaborating on content, filming some video interviews in which Emily provided tips on packaging design, videos that we both published on our blogs and LinkedIn pages. The response to these videos led to our inviting Emily to speak about packaging design at our Store Brands Leadership Summit earlier this month. To help promote her session, she wrote a column on how to leverage color-blocking that we posted on our site and shared on LinkedIn.
This column landed Emily several new clients, who reached out to her via LinkedIn to help them with their packaging design. One of these clients was looking to expand their distribution, as well, and so Emily recommended ECRM, and they ended up registering for our Store Brands Foods session.
Finally, at our Store Brands Leadership Summit, Emily delivered a very well-received presentation on store brands packaging design, and we shot several more videos together (see below).
What’s more, we’ve all further developed our relationships – me, Emily from Pearl Resourcing, Peter Roberts and Brian Littlefield from Origin USA – and are in touch regularly, both on LinkedIn, but also offline via phone and in-person (I’ve since seen Peter, Brian and Jocko when they visited New York in November, and will see them again at Origin’s Jiu Jitsu Immersion Camp this summer, and Emily and I chat almost every day).
All of this, mind you, came from just ONE LinkedIn connection: that one message Emily sent to me about one piece of content I posted. Just think of how much business can come from working all of your connections in this way. It’s not difficult. Just keep these things in mind:
Post regularly on LinkedIn. There is no secret here. In order to build a following for your brand (whether it’s a company or your personal brand) you have to post and share content that delivers value for your intended audience. Lots of it. Regularly. Several times a day if possible. This includes sharing content from other LinkedIn users, as well, but try to include as much original content as possible.
Build your network. Connect with everyone you engage with during the course of doing business. Anyone you meet in person, have a conversation with, or exchange emails with, if they are relevant to your business, should be added to your network. The larger your network, the more people will see, like, an share your content and increase the exposure of your content.
Engage with other LinkedIn users. Provide thoughtful comments on relevant posts; this can create a dialogue on the topic with other like-minded users and expand your network.
Reach out to users. This is one area in which you need to be careful. While most users love receiving messages thanking them for posting a piece of content, or to start up a direct conversation on a topic of mutual interest, nobody likes being spammed. Don’t start off by throwing your products and services at someone. Start a conversation first.
What I recommend is that you treat LinkedIn as you would any in-person networking function. Engage with people, share your thoughts and opinions, and ask for others’ thoughts and opinions. Build relationships on the platform, and look to bring them offline and in-person whenever possible. And when you do, involve them in your content, as well.
LinkedIn is a gold mine of opportunity, but like a gold mine, you have to work it to extract the value.
And, of course, don't forget to follow ECRM on LinkedIn!
Originally posted on ECRM’s BLOG on 4/22/19 and written by Joe Tarnowski
MORE ABOUT START TO SOLD Whether it’s packaging, product development, brand design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, or operations and logistics, you’ll get the in-depth, relevant and actionable advice and resources you need, here at the Start to Sold Video Podcast. Click to subscribe: http://startosoldpodcast.com
MORE ABOUT EMILY PAGE Emily is CEO of Pearl Resourcing and has managed and launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon. She’s bringing you the expertise, resources, and mentors you need so that you can develop products and make them sell.
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