Using LinkedIn for Contact Management

How to Leverage and Optimize LinkedIn

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This is a guest post by Sidney Angelos.

Small to medium sized businesses and larger companies usually invest capital in some sort of customer relationship solution. It is important the information relating to the client is well organized and easy to access. Likewise, individuals (and many smaller businesses) also employ contact management at some level of sophistication. Challenges arise for some when time or money are invested in developing contacts via any of the wide variety of social media communities.

Here’s a quick look at the scenario:

  • Sign up for account at the likes of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Agree to have the social site automatically search for friends, followers, or network members.
  • Perform searches for new contacts and add them to the existing, growing list of existing contacts.
  • Spend hours, days, and months actively recruiting new contacts.
  • Decide it makes business (or personal) sense to use that newly acquired contact data for some sales or marketing purposes.
  • Discover all the time, effort and energy devoted to contact aggregation for many of the social communities has been for naught since many of the terms of service prohibit members from harvesting contact information.
  • Wonder what the heck to do now!

In reality, the next step, should have been the first one taken. Consider focusing all of ones time and efforts in the area of contact management with the social community found at LinkedIn.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. This community is more business focused. One adds people to their “network”. Serious folks looking for their connections to make sense in a financial, business oriented way.
  2. LinkedIn is one of the very few communities which allow its members to export the contact data of all followers of their account.

If those two reasons aren’t enough, how about a third? The easy to find link to export ones LinkedIn contacts can be found right here.

LinkedIn Contact Management

Viewing contacts in LinkedIn.

The folks at LinkedIn provide for their users the ability to export in the following formats, depending upon the contact management service they prefer.

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Outlook Express
  • Yahoo! Address Book
  • Mac OS Address Book

Even though most users of the LinkedIn site tend to be more business oriented, various other social media communities are spawning sub-groups that essentially focus on business, marketing and other activities outside the tradition social environment. Twitter recently added a feature to their service called Lists.

Exactly as it sounds, the List feature provides users to create highly focused groups of like minded individuals. Many business and industry oriented lists have been created over the past year or so.

Likewise, Facebook provides its members with the ability to create pages for their business. While the site technically does not allow for individuals to also open a separate business account, there are ways around this rule.

If one doesn’t mind associating what Facebook refers to as a fan page, with their personal account, it is quick and easy to create a place on Facebook for the business to be found. If having the personal and business is not acceptable, simply log out of the personal account, create a page and when asked for an email address to log in, provide one different from the address associated with the personal account. Now, effectively, there is a page without an account.

From there it can be easy and fun to collect followers, or fans of the business. But what to do with those folks? Other than appealing to them via the Facebook page, there is really not much which can be done. This is not to say time and effort should not be put into collecting a following from that community, only that one is limited with the follow-on marketing efforts.

It is best to cultivate the community and make it easy to migrate from the Facebook page to the LinkedIn profile. Once there and accepted as a member of the network, the business or individual has the ability to easily export that contact information opening up many more avenues of contacting abilities.

This guest post is by Sidney Angelos, a writer for a All Things CRM which covers CRM trends and social media for customer relationship management.

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