This week’s blog post is a follow up to my post a few weeks ago called “Gen Y Is Here – Are You Ready?” We got a lot of great feedback on that article, and it made sense to continue the conversation by including some insights from a successful salesperson in that demographic.
Enter Nate Koch… I met Nate when he came to my Enterprise University training course on using LinkedIn for business. Nate does marketing and development within the manufacturing industry. He mentioned to me that he had written a blog post about the power of LinkedIn and I asked if I could share that with the Blue Gurus audience.
You are all probably aware that I think LinkedIn is the best business networking and sales tool ever invented… and I am from Gen X. I thought it was interesting to read the Gen Y perspective on the power of LinkedIn.
Brief aside, one of the interesting conversations I had after my last Gen Y blog post was my use of the term Gen Y versus Millennial. I hear both terms used interchangeably, but some would say that Millennial is the proper term. I looked both terms up on Wikipedia and both entries have “also known as” referencing the other. Not sure if Wikipedia is a definitive source, but it is good enough for me. Also, Jason Dorsey calls himself the Gen Y Guy. Regardless, it was a great conversation that stirred passion… the most important part of a good conversation. Now on to Nate’s thoughts on LinkedIn!
My generation, Gen Y, identifies with LinkedIn on a different level than our more experienced, older co-workers. I grew up with social media. It started with AIM chat when I was in middle school, expanded to Facebook in high school and now I am an active user of all the blue monsters (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the emergence of Instagram.) I can easily see the benefits of LinkedIn and its potential as a selling tool because of the way my generation was raised, communication and relationship through technology.
LinkedIn provides tremendous value for its users. It’s an endless resource of professional contacts, and if used properly, it can be the best sales tool available. I work in a niche manufacturing industry, and I use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool. Typically, there are about four layers of people that sales people must sift through before they find the decision maker. Cold calls are a waste of time. The CEO of my company preaches the importance of making a cold call a warm call. Using resources like LinkedIn, you can expand your personal brand and help make any call a warm call.
When I realized that prospecting is hard and takes time, I started to tap into the resources right in front of me. I used our customer database (CRM system) and built relationships through industry associations. I also used LinkedIn, which proved to be the best and most efficient method. For me, a twenty-five year old right out of college, my professional network is basically another branch of my Facebook tree. Everyone is proud of their first job and they tell you about it through LinkedIn. However, this is not the case for my colleagues that have worked in the industry for 10-25 years.
Being able to see the potential of LinkedIn has helped to expand my professional knowledge more than any training, seminar or class I have gone through. Generation Y’s are social media bots. We know how to interact virtually and we know how to effectively communicate through these mediums. However, it is important that we are on the same page as management on what message we want to communicate. I suggest managers take time every week to further develop and evaluate social media strategies by incorporating all your Generation Y employees in a brainstorming session. It is important to us that we be involved. Don’t keep us out of the loop because of our age. If you do, you’re losing a great resource. We are here to help and know that we can.