3 Sep 2008

LinkedIn: I'm a believer

Those of you who have not yet joined LinkedIn.com - I really urge you to do so. I can't overstate how useful it is in terms of keeping track of existing, valuable contacts as they move from job to job and country to country. Also, by establishing a presence on the site and offering something of value, any LinkedIn member can attract new contacts and new business opportunities.

Some weeks ago, I set up geography-specific networking groups associated with each of the Com World Series telecoms sector conferences of which I am the manager. So, I am now the 'owner' of networking and discussion groups for telecoms execs in the following regions:

Having set these up, and focussing on the two regions (CEE and Americas) whose conferences were coming up soonest, I invited existing contacts to join. I am now attempting to stimulate useful discussion in these two groups - with some success in the case of the CEE group, where I posed a question about the growth prospects of DSL in the region.

The effect is viral. These two particular groups are now growing strongly, but not because of me taking the time to send out numerous further invitations to join. Instead, some of the new members (I guess well-liked, influential individuals) seem to attract further new members very quickly. Scenario: a high-placed exec from a Southeast European telco joins the group. Within days, colleagues from many parts of that company join our group and enjoy the networking and discussion opportunities offered.

Today I enjoyed one of the real benefits of all this. Back in June, I hosted our Russia & CIS Com conference in Moscow. One of the most compelling speakers was the then-General Director of Ukrainian CDMA operator PEOPLEnet. Given that the event had previously been branded GSM>3G Russia/CIS, and that we were keen to broaden the appeal very considerably beyond the GSM MNO space, PEOPLEnet was precisely the kind of business we wanted to have involved. That goes for next year's event too, so it's vital to stay on top of who is running the business. So you can imagine my pleasure on welcoming PEOPLEnet's recently appointed Marketing Director to our Russia & CIS Com LinkedIn group this afternoon. I was even more pleased by a brief exchange of correspondence following my welcome note. From this, I learned that the gentleman whose presentation so impressed me in Moscow back in June has moved on. I also learned the name of his replacement, and I hope I have been able to keep my new contact interested in joining us in Moscow in 2009 - and encouraging colleagues and partners to do likewise.

All of this is really just a bit of preaching from a LinkedIn evangelist. I genuinely believe everyone doing business across time zones, cultures and complex value chains owes it to themselves to take advantage of the Web 2.0 functionality of resources as useful as LinkedIn.