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LinkedIn at Its Best (Commentary by I. Barry Goldberg)

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Getting the best from LinkedIn, like many online systems, requires patience and a certain "arched eyebrow" quality when reading some of the bios. But the system can be golden for businesses that depend on expanding networks. I use it for sales leads and to look for resources when I need them, but there are bigger possibilities as well. Following is a great story of success.

Marc Effron is the vice president of talent management for Avon in New York. Talent management is a relatively new business idea. Those companies that have created a talent management function are finding their way. There’s currently not much consensus about where talent management belongs organizationally or what should be part of the discipline.

Marc put up a question in the Q&A section of LinkedIn asking if there would be interest in a "by us, for us" association of talent management professionals. A blog-like discussion ensued, which is how Marc came onto my radar screen. At the time, I was bringing a new service line to market and used the "get introduced" feature to request an introduction to him. The insight of someone familiar with the market yet unfamiliar with my work would be invaluable.

Without LinkedIn, it might never have happened. Even if I called the person who introduced us and asked, "Who do you know whom I can talk with about this?" he may not have thought to make the connection with Marc. But LinkedIn let me see Marc’s profile and the ways our networks overlapped. That meant I could make a specific request to be introduced to Marc. My connection was one degree away and well respected by both of us, so getting a meeting with this high-profile executive was easy.

(A word to the wise here: Just because you are connected to someone on LinkedIn does not mean you automatically have credibility. In this way, at least, LinkedIn mirrors non-virtual life.) 

By not taking advantage and trying to change my meeting with Marc into a sales meeting, I got more than just an objective view of my new product. I may or may not ever do any work for Avon; however, I am now part of a much wider conversation about talent management and have agreed to take a leadership role in defining how service providers will interact.

It may not be a straight-up sales lead, but it is a highly visible opportunity to serve an already global organization of companies and executives in my target market. It is an opportunity to contribute to an emerging discipline that I would not likely have even learned about for another year, except for a Q&A conversation on LinkedIn.

More information on the New Talent Management Network is at www.newtmn.com.                     

(I. Barry Goldberg, a regular columnist for Arkansas Business, is managing director of Entelechy Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm headquartered in Little Rock. You can reach him at barry.goldberg@entelechypartners.com.)


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