When I was young, my father always used to tell me, “Son, it’s not what you know in life that is important, it is who you know that will bring success.” It is a common belief in our culture that those who have reached high levels of success often have been well connected in their given industry. Education is, of course, a very critical element along the way but once you embark on a career both personally and professionally most of us have learned that surrounding yourself with the right people fosters success. There is also an old adage that says the real pathway to success is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. For some of us that is a very easy task but the concept makes a lot of sense!
Most of us in business have learned that networking through various organizations helps promote our firms and services. Locally we join chambers of commerce. Regionally we may belong to medical organizations like the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management or Healthcare Financial Management Association. We become active in our state units of ACA International and of course network nationally at ACA International conferences and other various industry association events. But, how do we keep track of those many names and faces we meet along the way? What happens when a colleague makes a career move and their email or cell number is no longer valid? This is where the power of social media comes to the rescue!
I typically find that most are very familiar with Facebook and use it pretty actively. This is a good informal tool to keep in touch with friends and family. The best resource for our professional contacts is through LinkedIn. Although virtually everyone has heard about the resource, I find there are still many who have not tapped into this incredible networking platform. But the numbers are growing almost exponentially. LinkedIn was launched in California in 2003. According to Statista.com, from 2009 through the end of 2015 LinkedIn members have grown from 37 million to 414 million. Approximately 25% of members are U.S. based. It is available in over 200 countries and in 20 different languages. The average user has between 500 and 999 connections. Are you one of the businesses or professionals benefiting from this resource?
I recently had an enlightening conversation with Steven Gan, president of Stellar Risk Management Services, Inc. I’ve known Steve for many years and about 18 months ago I enlisted in his firm’s LinkedIn consulting program. In just a year and a half I have grown my contacts from several hundred to almost 2,800 through a proactive process of targeting and inviting key industry operators and professionals.
According to Steve, one of the most important ideas while you are building your pool of contacts is to participate in Linked- In discussion groups.
Just like any professional or industry association or meeting, a LinkedIn discussion group is a forum where people of similar professional backgrounds or common interests can discuss a wide range of ideas.
Through regular and thoughtful participation in LinkedIn discussion groups:
• Your name and face will become well known within your groups – groups you joined specifically because people you want to know are members.
• Your expertise and insights will be recognized as valuable.
• Your professional “brand” will become a reliable resource.
• Some of the people you have new relationships with may become new clients.
As I presently participate in a few of the LinkedIn discussion groups. Here is a quick guide to the types of posts I’ve found will encourage a discussion:
• Request information.
• Describe a problem and ask how others would solve it.
• Ask a thought-provoking question…carefully!
• Post an article for discussion.
• Post data.
We encourage our readers to submit a “best practice” idea for inclusion in this column. Until next time, I’m in a collection office near you!
Harry A. Strausser III is president of Remit Corporation/Interact Training & & Development. Contact him at harry@