Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Linkedin . . . The Right Way!

In the spring of 2008 I addressed the Consolidated Graphics national sales force and told them they needed to get Linkedin! I told them it was the best thing since sliced bread and how their personal brand depended on a venue like LI. A month later, I scratched my head, clueless, wondering what all the fuss was about. 2 months later, I thought it sucked, wrote it off and moved on!

After some serious soul searching in November 2008, I had to face the hard, cold reality that I basically showed up to Linkedin, sat on the sidelines and expected the world to beat a path to my computer. I don't think I'm the only one, who went about it all wrong and offer the following 25 tips for you to leverage this powerful venue to enhance your personal brand.

Warning: This is gonna be a lengthy post. I wasn't about to milk 3 blog posts out of this. If you are like me, you want the info and you want it now. So fasten your seat belts!

1) Change your expectation of Social Networking. There is no quick fix, silver bullet, get rich quick. This is a long term strategy to say the least. Kind of sucks, huh? Well I think its safe to say that thanks to this economy many things are now long term strategies so perhaps a little patience is in order! Social Media Jedi Master Chris Brogan says "It's not the kind of project where you show up, build your profiles, friend a few people and call it good. It's a lot like tending the farm" Be sure to check out Chris's blog by visiting

2) Put some thought into your profile and make sure it does justice to the wonderful brand we call you! Want to improve your "Googleability"? Then by all means make your profile public by clicking here By the way, you Google potential clients, don't you? Think they Google you? This will give you at least one good result that comes back. Consider using the privacy settings if you don't want people to know that you viewed their profile. This way you can check out a potential client without them thinking you're a stalker.

Thought: Do you want your connections visible to everyone in your network? Do you have some clients that may get a tad pissed if they find out you are doing work for their competitors? Then click here and change that bad boy

3) Use a cool tagline to help set you apart from the masses. Examples: Craig Wilson is the Chief Appreciation Officer of his Sendout Cards business. Mi Amigo Hank Trisler isn't the President of The Trisler Companies . . . He's the Supreme Commander! Desire McBride is The Print Diva. My favorite is John Hudson who is The Dark Lord of Staffing. Our biggest challenge these days folks is being memorable. These people get it!

4) Join Groups: The biggest mistake many people make is joining groups in their industry exclusively. I think that's great, but you better branch out. I mean how many widgets do you think other widget dudes are gonna buy from ya Gomer? My advice to you is to join some sales groups as well. First, it will help you keep your finger on the pulse right now since sales people are pretty much out there on the front line. Second, you will pick up some good best practices and lastly, sales people can be a point of entry often overlooked in getting in the door. I would also recommend that you join some industry groups for the verticals you want to penetrate. Go where the money is right now. What industries aren't hurting as much?

Did you know?: You can join up to 50 groups. When you share a group with someone you can usually send them a direct email without paying for inmails.

Did you also know? That emails sent through LI have a much higher open rate than traditional emails. Can you leverage that as a sales rep? Damn right you can!

5) Get off the damn sidelines! This is where I screwed up big time. I joined groups but didn't participate. Get the feel of your group. Contribute! Add value. By the way, doesn't this help make you more visible and help with the whole branding thing? If you do it right it does! Start your own discussions in those groups. This is how you stand out! What are some thought provoking. appropriate discussions you could start in your group(s)?

6) Want to look like a Grade A, Ahole? Then spam the discussions with ridiculous infomercials on your company, start discussions that are blatant self promotions or get cute and start a discussion with the old "For the rest of the story, click here" That's how you build a brand as a jackass real quick.

Do you belong to a group that is littered with spam and self promotion? Tell the group moderator and if that doesn't work, then put your efforts in elsewhere. They aren't worth your time!

7) Facilitate your discussions for God's sake! This is by far one of my biggest pet peeves on LI. If you start a discussion and then disappear, you are an idiot! You not only display bad manners in doing the disappearing act, you allow your discussion to go inactive, sooner. Why wouldn't you want your discussion up at the top of the first page of discussions? Isn't that a great visibility position? Check out my rant on this subject here

8) Show appreciation for those who contribute to your discussions 2 ways. First, you should always thank people in the discussion with a simple "Thank you for your input (insert name here)" By the way, do we all enjoy being acknowledged in front of our peers? Do you think acknowledging contributions encourages additional contributions as well as folks following you to other discussions and groups? Worked for me. The other way I show appreciation is by sending a TY in a quick email. It's a great door opener and helps me differentiate from the masses!

9) Avoid ninjas like your online life depended on it. It amazes me how many otherwise intelligent adults will attack someone online in front of thousands. Trust me, when I tell you it will happen to you and if you are like me you will want to stick your virtual foot up their virtual ass. In a word, DON'T! You won't change ignorant people and you will damage your brand in the process. Doesn't mean you have to like it folks!

10) Use a hyperlink in your signature when you contribute to a discussion. If all you do is put the old "www" it would read as a link. Here's how ya do it the right way: Put a handy dandy http:// in front of your domain and viola. Check out how I do it.

Paul Castain
Vice President Consolidated Graphics

11) Don't use the automated invites, they are lame and you will sound like every other clueless person. Take a moment to make your invite personal. Think about the power of first impressions and more importantly, the power of being memorable. Reference something you have observed about them in the groups, a point they made, their company, some common ground or simply:

Dear Jake:

I would be honored if you would join my network.

12) How to minimize IDK's: IDK's stand for I Don't Know. If you invite someone and they select I don't know you get a real nifty snotgram from LI. If you continue to get them, LI can remove your ability to invite, because everyone has basically labeled you a dick. The real problem isn't with LI its in the ignorance of the recipient. They simply don't know how to tell you to piss off gracefully. That's why you have to educate them.

Dear Jake:

I would be honored if you would join my network.

Should you choose not to connect, that's fine, simply hit the "archive" button rather than the dreaded "I don't know" button.

13) Start your own group: One bit of advice I always give in conventional networking is to get on a board in a leadership position. The same can be said for LI. I waited until I had enough involvement in the groups and started The Sales Playbook group. Its grown by more than 2300 members in 3 months and it has dramatically enhanced my brand. I'm also happy to say that I have done so by enhancing other people's brands.

Come join our Linkedin Sales Playbook community by clicking here:

14) Post interesting articles in the news section. Use the "share" button to alert other folks in your network when you read an article of value to them. Comment on interesting articles. This contributes value to your group and keeps you visible in the process!

15) Add value to your network: One of the best ways you can do this is to be a matchmaker. Introduce them to people they want and need to meet. With so many displaced workers in these challenging times keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. Not a bad idea to have a recruiter or three in your network while we are at it. Neil Wood replied to me privately when I asked for advice on some good branding books. He told me he had an extra copy of a really good book and sent it to me. Stacy Stateham has given her time very freely to folks that have needed advice and I too try my best to give value (even to my competitors believe it or not) When you do these types of things ladies and gentlemen, you don't create followers, you create evangelists spreading the good news of your brand!

Branding 101 Moment With Uncle Paul: Do you think it packs more punch when someone else says cool things about you and your company or when you self promote? Sorry to get basic on ya but if you are on LI then you know there are many who didn't get the spam memo!

16) Use LI as part of your meticulous pre call planning. I think its an incredible way for me to get inside my prospect's head by getting a feel for how they think in the groups, perhaps they link to a blog etc. This is a great way for you to get the inside track!

17) Let people get inside your head by using the applications such as amazon bookshelf, slideshare and links to your blog. Tip: People buy from people they trust. One of the first steps towards trust is familiarity. Make sure you give your network every opportunity to experience "Brand YOU"

18) Cross pollinate your efforts by putting a link to your LI profile in your email auto signature.

19) Status updates: This is a great way for you to stay on your network's radar screen. Avoid boring play by play. Donna Highfill puts inspirational quotes in her status updates. Others will put a link to a timely article, links to articles and blogs you have written. The key here is to stay on the radar screen by continuing to add value and avoidance of over saturation and taking it easy on the self promotion. You also need to use your head. Trust me when I tell you that your network doesn't find value in a status update that informs us that a bottle of Cuervo has your name on it or that you are having a meltdown. I can't make this shit up! Make sure you comment on status updates from your network. Example: someone in your network just mentioned that they started working at ABC company this week. Leave a congratulatory comment etc.

Tip: Scan the home page daily. There are tons of opportunities for you there but you have to remember Everyone's favorite subject is usually them self so make it about them!

20) Want to expand your reach? Comment on the blogs of your connections. Doing this opens you up to their community. In today's online world, it's not who you know, it's who knows you and who knows those who know those who know you and, well you get the picture.

21) Be consistent: You won't build your brand worth a damn if you show up two days in a row, take two weeks off, come back for a day or two. This needs to be a daily investment. Remember, this is a long term investment. Don't ever forget that!

22) Recommendations: Use your head on this one. Please! One of the quickest ways for me to yell Jackass is when someone I barely know, hits me up for a recommendation. When I call them out on it, I'm usually given an explanation that they used the automated send to all feature which is just plain stupid if you ask me. Be selective who you ask and be selective who you give recommendation's to. Remember, its your credibility dude!

23) Stop with the juvenile "I want to have the most contacts" BS! How in the hell can you realistically connect properly with 12,000 contacts. Seriously dude! Better to have quality contacts. Be selective in who you ask to join your network. Be selective who you allow to connect with you too! Be deliberate and intentional in this department. By the way, I'm in the process of writing a book. When I first started I didn't know a thing about finding an agent, a publisher and all that fun stuff. I purposely hunted folks with experience in these areas and avoided contacts that had nothing to do with what I do or who I can impact.

24) Ask and answer questions to further position you as a thought leader by clicking here:

Cool Tip: Want to get a better response and greater visibility when you ask a question? Choose the option to send the question out to up to 200 people in your network.

Hook a fellow Jedi up: by suggesting someone from your network as an expert to a question. This is a nice way for you to continue to add value to your network and encourage a really cool thing called reciprocation!

25) Understand that you must move this virtual online stuff to real time or its absolutely meaningless! One of the things I do is make a goal each week that I will connect live (face to face, phone, coffee, lunch, drink, etc) with at least 2 people from my network. When I do, I make sure my time with them is about them, not me. My goal is to not only get to know them, its to find out who an ideal client would be for them, their goals, their dreams their challenges.

I want to leave you with a bit of a challenge. One that I wish someone told me about when I left Linkedin after only 60 days of half assed effort. Try these things that I mentioned for 90 days. Give it your all. Be consistent and do something daily to enhance your online brand. Give value to people unconditionally and don't keep a scorecard. Learn everything you can and if at the end of 90 days of you getting off the sidelines you feel it was a waste of time, then move on.

I, for one am quite pleased with my results. The Castain brand is alive and ticking and as a bonus, I've made some wonderful friends along the way. Also been talking to a few publishers so its nice to be moving toward that important milestone in my life!

I want you to think about something else that many people don't realize. Your linkedin experience is about community. All human beings want to belong to or be a part of something. Can you leverage that?

There's your million dollar question to chew on!

Please forward this to your community!
Subscribe to Paul Castain's Sales Playbook by Email

PS Our blog has a new home


  1. Paul,

    Great post as usual. I hope you find a publisher that makes you a star!

    One other piece of advice I would add to your comprehensive checklist is learn how to disagree agreeably when participating in LI discussions.

    Its not at all uncommon for someone to post an opinion you disagree with in a LI discussion. Rather than flaming the poster and creating a possible enemy in the process, take the time to find and recognize the common ground between your views and theirs and then lay out your case.

    LI is not the place to win philosophical battles. Rather its a wonderful environment to get different perspectives of the same issue and hopefully broaden ones perspective in the process.

    Ken Knickerbocker

  2. Best article I've seen about using Linked In!

  3. @ Kathryn. Stop you're embarassing me! Thank you for the kind words!

    Ken: I couldn't agree with you more. I mentioned them slightly when I mentioned "Ninjas" and I really do want to stick my virtual foot up their virtual ass but that diminishes my brand.

    Thank you both for the input and contributing to the discussion!

  4. Paul,
    As someone who is really just getting started with the "LI Thing", I really appreciate your insights.

  5. Paul, you are right on the money, I still see LinkedIN and Social Media "gurus" posting blogs and articles telling users to create a basic profile and wait for people asking to connect.

    LinkedIN is a networking tool, as in any networking situation, users have to be proactive. Social Networking as you say is not a quick thing, it's a long term approach, it takes time and it's a pay it forward system.

    LinkedIN is a powerful tool be it for job search or business, but as in any tool, it's useless if you don't use it and use it the right way and you pretty much summed it up.

  6. @ Dana Thank you. Most of the things I shared were learned the hard way for me. Glad you found value in this post!

    @ Philippe I really wish more people had your outlook. I certainly didn't when I started!

    There are no quick fixes these days. Why not embrace something that is sustainable!

    Thanks for stopping by Philippe!

  7. Hey Paul,
    I really enjoy all your articles but this one's particularly stellar!
    I'm going to be sure to forward it to all the LinkedIn detractors I know.

  8. Thank you Lisa!

    Truth be told, its been something I've wanted to write for quite some time now and I declared this morning as my GOYA time and went for it full throttle!

    Many of the things I shared are things that frustrate me because I was guilty of them myself or I had them happen to me.

    Any who, thanks again!

  9. I recently spoke to a group about Social Media. I covered everything from Facebook to Phones while another presenter covered LinkedIn. Of course the most popular question was "How can I use any of these for my business?" Your article on LinkeIn is great, you hit it spot on Paul and I am excited to share your Blog. Thank you!

  10. @jdowdy Muchas gracias my friend!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being a part of our sales playbook community!

  11. Good stuff -I like the no holds barred simple conversational tone with "meaty" content. We're all out there hustling, the key is to not LOOK like your hustling. Thanks for the detaled info and your personal feelings on this one!


  12. Paul-
    Bravo! This was an insightful & delightful (as in, not boring!)blog.

    I am especially fond of #19 & #23. It's important to remember that LinkedIn needs to be treated more professionally than MySpace & Facebook (although, we should give careful thought to what we post or allow access to on those social networks,as well)

    Count me in as a new subscriber to your newsletter. I look forward to more from you.

    Sher Conner
    Staffing Consultant

  13. Paul, thanks for putting this information out there. One of my goals this week is to become better acquanted with social networking media and put them to work for me. Your article gave me some great gems!

  14. @ Sher I am particularly found of #19 and #23 as well. Welcome to the Sales Playbook community and be sure to look us up on the linked in groups under (get ready for this) Sales Playbook!

    @Jess Its all about the baby steps! Go get 'em!

    Thank you both so much for taking the time to comment!

  15. Paul, Thanks for sharing your Knowledge on this subject. You have some great ideas insights. As a novice user of LI this will help me get a better so thanks again

  16. Paul:

    Great post - your items #4 & #5 made the biggest LI difference for me for me. I believe in LI so strongly for networking that I block out time on my calendar for LI in the same way that I block out time for cold-calling, etc. Thanks for helping me be smarter with my LI time.

  17. Paul,
    Thanks for the great LI insight and excellent guidelines on how best to utilize LI to everyones advantage.

  18. @anonymous: I appreciate that . . . thank you. We are all works in progress so let's continue to share our best practices!

    @ Kevin: I couldn't agree more! We need to block out that time. As I often teach my participants We would never break an appt with a client, right? We need to look at this time the same way. The best part is, we can easily do it during non "money hours"

    @ Adrian One day we will figure this online thing out!

    And much thanks and appreciation to the 3 of you (or you's guys as we say in New Yawk)

  19. Paul: Thanks for the great tips and information. I am just new to Linked In. I have joined some groups but I havn't really gotton the feel for this yet. It's a learning experience and what better way to learn than by hearing about someone elses success and not so successful experiences. I'll be following you. Thanks again!

  20. @Toni My best advice to you and everyone else just starting is the same advice I give those who are exposed to a new perspective of selling. Beware of our human tendancy to avoid that which we are uncomfortable with! I can't tell you how many times it would have been just easier for me to hang this whole online thing up!

    I'm glad I didn't!

    Come join us in the LI playbook group we need people like you to give the joint atmosphere!

    Thanks for sharing Toni!

  21. Paul,

    Thanks for sharing the lessons you've learned on LI. Hope to be able to return the favor some day!

    Twitter: @jmichaelthurman
    LI: /jmichaelthurman

  22. Paul, I attended a "certain" Chamber of Commerce event last week where the speaker wanted us to join his email list of 43,000 people! When someone deigned to ask how you could possibly stay in touch with that many people he said, "Simple. Make a 1 minute video, and email it to all 43,000."


    Thanks, therefore, for #23!!!

    Dave in Houston

  23. @ J. Michael Thurman you can by buying my book someday once I decide to get it published! :)

    @ Dave #23 brings it all together my friend!

    Muchas gracias to you both for stopping by and sharing the love!

  24. Paul,

    Tnanks for the excellent reminder and kick in the pants! After reading your article, I realize that I have been guilty of not using LinkedIn as consistently as I should. No more! I'm also forwarding your post to folks I know who rarely touch their LinkedIn profile after creating it.

    Barbara Reed
    Terra3 Communications

  25. That's what I'm talkin bout Barbara. You go girl!

    Thank you so much for the kind words.

    Uncle Paul (who has been kicked in the pants mucho times :)

  26. Paul,
    That was some great information. Thanks for sharing it helps us newbies on LI.

  27. Hey Tony

    Wasn't that long ago that I was a newbie!

    Thanks for contributing to our Sales Playbook community!

  28. Paul,

    You don't know me, but because of the stuff you write on LI I now subscribe to your blog. That's where I found you. (Though I haven't been on for a while - I connected to this blog from my email.)

    I actually have a point though - and it is that at times it may not feel like social networking is in fact working - but you just can't know how many people might take an interest in a particular thought or topic and then act in some small way within their own environment under the influence of that idea. That's POWERFUL! It is the army of persuasion, the silent hand, the whateverthehellitisitis....

    Your stuff does that and provides real value. Like you say, I think thats key. Thanks for the wake up call - I'm going to try your 90 day "LI" challenge.


    Danny Perry
    (Insert "Nickname" here)
    "The Printstigater"
    Naaa - I don't think so....I'll keep working at a cool tag line.

  29. Danny it nice to have you onboard!

    Social networking is a lot like growing. We don't see it when we look in the mirror, but we are in fact growing and you are in fact growing your brand!

    I'm digging the Printsigater thing but I'm a sick dude!

    Thanks for stopping by my friend!

  30. Thanks for the mention, Paul. What a terrific article you've written. You have a real flair for the written word. I wish I'd met you when I had a sales organization. I'd have swept you off your feet, or at worst case, rented the hell out of you. You're a keeper.

  31. Thank you Hank.

    Hank is yet another example of why I'm glad I didn't quit. I would never have connected with Hank who is the author of a sales classic No Bull Selling!

    Knowing high caliber folks like Hank help me to stay sharp and have nothing short of a blast on this crazy journey!

    Hopefully you can all see that this is lots of fun. Life is way too short for it to be anything else!

    With mucho respect,
    Uncle Paul

  32. Hello Paul,

    What a wonderful article!

    I am a virgin to Linkedin and had just begun to experience buyers remorse at not getting a sudden rush of activity.

    Having read your aricle I realise it is like most things in life - a process that you have to pay the price of.

    I look forward to exploring your Sales Playbook and who knows, doing some business down the line.

    Gach dea ghui, (Irish for all the best)

    Padraic O Maille

  33. Hello Padraic:

    First and foremost, I am really glad you translated that for me. I won't go into detail but I thought you had called me a goat lover and I thought that was an odd way to end such a nice comment :)

    Seriously, I am glad this post has renewed your mission and wish you incredible success in the linkedin in world and the old fashioned world I like to call "face to face"

    Thanks for stopping by and just in case the real translation of your comment is that I like goats then Gach de ghui to you too!


  34. Paul- excellent blog - Count me in as a subscriber

  35. Thanks Rick.

    Welcome to the party!

  36. Excellent Blog Paul - Good advice and a timely reminder too. Thanks David

  37. Hi Paul,
    Your message here has prompted me to offer my first post. First, all good advice. Second, I just returned from a networking event in greater Philadelphia. There were four retained search executive recruiters there. One of the first things they said to the crowd was "use LinkedIn". Best of luck.

  38. @ David: Thank you as I continue to figure this crazy thing out I will be sure to share more!

    @ Tim I'm happy to hear that! It all begins with a simple step. Learn from the experience and stay with it!

    Thanking you both for contributing to our thread!


  39. And to prove that I continue to be a work in progress, I have decided to change my tagline from a stuffy "VP Sales Development" to "Trainer of Rock Stars" because thats what I do, and quite frankly I'd rather train rock stars than be that stuffy VP dude.

    Can I get a group "Rock on"?

  40. Paul-

    I'd be only all-too-happy to pass this along as I've always found your blog to be entertaining as well as providing insightful & timely information!

    Keep on keeping on!


    Michael E. Schmidlen

  41. Wow this is awesome. I will definitely share this. It is great you put it all together in this blog. Without it --- it would have taken me several more years to figure out I have been clueless:0)

  42. @Michael I appreciate that. This is something we can all benefit from for sure!

    @anonymous Thanks and don't forget the author of that post was a card carrying member of the clueless brigade!

    Thank you both for stopping by!

  43. Paul,

    Two unrelated topics. First for LinkedIn contributors - take the time to proof read. If you're not a good typist, write your comments in word processor, run spell check and then proof read again. If you are going to use LinkedIn as a professional platform, take a few minutes to make sure your contribution looks professional instead of "off-the-cuff" (or might that be pooly thought out?)

    Now for the second thought.

    A few months ago I posted the following comments on the Social Media Marketing LinkedIn Group. Although it doesn't exactly fit into this discussion, I think it would be helpful to anyone who is serious about networking. I add it here for the benefit of your readers.

    Years ago, before the days of "social networking," I was an association leader, and was considered a very well connected networker. I created a set of personal networking guidelines that would seem to be as relevant today as they were back then.
    1. Always express more interest in the person you are meeting than you expect them to express in you (Can you say "How to Win Friends and Influence People" ?)
    2. Add value to the group before expecting to take value away. (That means you have to have something of value to offer - so build some expertise.)
    3. Don't be too blatant about your goal of using the network as a vehicle for building business. (If you sell "too soon" your motives are suspect and your input is less likely to be trusted.)
    4. Help others in your network to achieve their goals (As they might say in the Godfather," I will do for you and someday I will ask you to do for me.")
    5. Quality of contact is more important that quantity of contacts (Contrary to LinkedIn's goals and suggestions.)
    6. Follow up, follow up, follow up.

    Stan Piskorski
    (STWAIN - Sales Trainer Without An Interesting Nickname)

  44. Paul,

    Like you, I ended up wondering why I joined LI. Through trial and error I have built my brand and have figured out how this whole thing works. Now, not a day goes by without a new business opportunity finding it's way to me. Wish you wrote this guide a long time ago.


    Jack Skidmore

  45. @Stan I have been guilty of numerous typos in my Linkedin efforts. Thanks for the schooling amigo!

    I appreciate the thoughtful tips you have left and hope you will continue to contribute such high caliber material to our community!

    @ Jack Thank you for that. More people need to hear that. Money is to be made for those who are willing to stay the course (and adjust as necessary I might add)

    I really appreciate you both taking time out of your evening to contribute.

    With appreciation and respect,

  46. Paul you're now officially be my dearest guy on LinkedIn :) You're sincerety in helping people really touches me!

    I most agree with #23. What's the point having hundreds network, but you don't have time to keep up with them. Quality my friend, is always be my principal in building friendship/networks.

    #25 a bit more difficult. Well try to live in Jakarta, and you'll see it for yourself. The traffic can be big issues here. Even in doing sales visit, only can make two visits max. per day. I will not say this is impossible, it just a challenge! Lucky you who lives in states.

    When I put my 1st discussion on LinkedIn, my close friend (who constantly concerned about my 'not so good' grammar) warned me to pay high attention when i try to wrote something there, cause for him LI is a place for professional, and you definitely don't want to look otherwise.

    Lucky for me, the 'not so good' grammar's questions, drawn more than 100 comments. Hehe not so bad for the LI rookies ;)

    Sorry for blabbering too much about first LI experienced. I'm glad you admit you're not perfect either on typos, Paul. I certainly appreciate people who helps me on how to do a better writing.

    Tossing my margarita @you..hear..hear.. this for your new upcoming book Paul !

  47. Elle: You rock my friend and I think you are doing just fine. I have lots of respect for folks like you who can speak more than one language.

    As far as #25 while face to face is ideal, its not (as you so nicely pointed out) feasable. That's why the phone can really work too! Also, 2 a day isn't easy, 2 a week might work better.

    Keep up the great work Elle! Little by little we are all growing and moving another step towards mastery!

    Make sure you stop by the virtual happy hour in our sales playbook group on Friday and I will buy you a virtual Margarita!

    Rock on!


  48. Great post! I was able to eliminate "cold" calling from my to-do list by using LinkedIn. I love your list - it gave me lots of new ideas. Thanks!
    Meeting to Win, LLC

  49. Great article and thanks for taking the time to put this together. But a true Jedi would have installed this in my memory and not made me read it! lol Just kidding, thanks again.

  50. @ Jill. Great point and thank you for your kind words. I wanted to reference the blog post you did on Linkedin but couldn't access it on your blog. Can you share a link to it here so our readers can get some additional perspective?

    @ Mark. I know what you mean and that's why I am merely a wannabe Jedi my friend!

    A resounding Muchas Gracias to you both for stopping by!

  51. Hi Paul,

    I just did a seminar yesterday at our office for some business people in the Charlotte area on LinkedIn and how to use it to meet people and grow your brand and business along the way. One of my business partners generated 53%of his firms revenues from people he met through LI last year.
    It is amazing what people don't know about how to use this great tool, and as you gave your permission, I'm forwarding the blog to this group as additional information or as re-enforcement of what we covered.
    Great points along the way. I'm sure you could easily expand your list, but the 25 are really valid

  52. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the advice! It is very motivational to dive right in and make the most out of the opportunities that are available through this type of communication tool.

  53. @Tyler: That's some powerful evidence for all of us to chew on to say the least!

    Thanks for the kind words and yes I could have easily expanded that list. I decided to stop it while it was already at the way too lengthy mark :)

    Thanks again and all the best to you Tyler!

  54. @ Roger. Couldn't agree more. We all need to be using EVERY weapon in our arsenal right now!

    Our brands depend on it!

    Thanks amigo!

  55. Right on Paul...thanks for the tips! I diggin the social networking tool.

    Rush Press

  56. Thanks Kyle!

    You know, you're alright dude! I don't care what Gene says about you! :)

    Rock on!


  57. Outstanding as always, Paul. There are a number of "how to use LinkedIn" postings out there in the blogospehere but this is by far the best.

    Thank you for the recognition! I'm a big believer in a pay-it-forward approach, and I've throughly enjoyed being a part of your Sales Playbook group!

    Rock On Uncle Paul!

  58. Paul,

    Per usual, excellent work. I will forward this on to my company and to select connections with your credit. Bravo!

    With regards,

  59. @ Stacy. Thank you so much and thank you for all your help in moderating our sales playbook linkedin group! Couldn't do it without you!

    @ Andrew Thanks for forwarding this post and for the kind words too!

    Rock horns to you both for stopping by!


  60. No really, Paul, don't hold back ... tell it like it is ;-). Thoroughly enjoyed your post -- best I've seen on making the most of LI.


  61. @ Steve That's funny :)

    Very kind words from you indeed!


  62. Paul,

    I feel that more now than ever, experience marketing pays a critical factor in the success of individuals and of companies.

    Today the communication channels are wide open (almost to the point of being detrimental if not used properly) and individuals have the opportunity to have a positive or a negative effect on their personal brand through their activities on sites such as LinkedIn.

    Being seen and becoming active shows the experience and value that you bring not only to your clients and prospects... but to your industry as well. This also lends a certain credibility to your sales in person and can help to establish your title as a "go to person" when your services or products are needed.

    Positive mind share is something that every company struggles to maintain with customers and prospects... and using networking sites such as LinkedIn can assist you in establishing a great personal brand for yourself and your company.

    Seth Stokes

  63. Well stated Seth!

    I would also add that people want to interact with the brand. Its pretty cool when you can go on twitter and interact with the Starbucks brand or share ideas in a blog that Carnival Cruise provides for the community. I believe it is the final nail in the coffin of manipulative tactics and the re birth of a collaborative relationship!

    Its a different world now. Its moving literally at the speed of light and the smart professional is going to jump on board.

    Here's to seeing the proverbial light amigo!

    Thanks for contributing Seth!

  64. I am glad I read your post. I've been here for two months and have enjoed the Playbook bu I have always just kept my butt on the bench. Your words are great motivation, I plan to forward to my friends. Some friends and I have recently reached the under 30 entrepreneur status and are new to networking in general. Online networking has been a welcome venue to those of our generation. Until now I haven't come across a single bit of advice for LinkedIn that was worth reading.

    Thanks Again!

    John La'Gere
    Owner, PrintFirst Media Solutions,LLC.

  65. Well John welcome to life off the bench. My ass still hurts from sitting it out all those months so I literally share your pain!

    John, I have been studying up on your age group and their online practices. What many people of my (44 year, old ass generation) don't grasp is that your generation has now moved into decision making status within our accounts. Study after study has told us that many of your decisions to buy and even work for a company is in part, based on a company's online presence. We can embrace or resist that but that's where this is all going.

    Thank you my friend for getting off the bench and sharing your valuable input with us!


  66. Great article! I often share with my clients the importance of having a strong online presence. I relate it to Walmart and real estate. Walmart made decision to gobble up as much real estate as possible by openning a new store every 3 days. The tought was more stores = more revenue.

    The same thing can be said for online presence. If you can dominate the internet with multiple "locations" online you will generate more revenue.

    Thanks for the great tips!

    Hunter Hampton
    Internet Marketing Consultant

  67. No doubt Hunter! The key to this is the quality of that experience.

    For example, I belong to 50 groups on LI. Lots of real estate to say the least (especially now with all those damn subgroups)My theory is that I need to contribute value to that real estate or build something on that land so to speak.

    The same can be said for those who want 12,000 1st degree contacts. I agree they too have lots of real estate, but many are running to the next contact and failing to build on the existing land.

    I really like your perspective and appreciate you sharing with us!


  68. Wow~

    Paul you cut the fat and got to the meat of it. My kind of guy~

    Power Packed, valuable information that you share with everyone....(Thank you)

    To the people; its my opinion that Paul is speaking in truth. Save your money, simply apply Pauls teachings herein, its priceless.

    But first, you must take action, nobody else is going to do it for you~

    Great Post Paul~


  69. Thank you so much for the kind words and Tweeting this post to your followers Al!

    Much appreciation my friend!


  70. Hi Paul,
    Beautifully succinct and straight to the point.
    Well communicated and thank you for the opportunity to read it all.
    It has given me allot to think on in my business as whole.

    Thanks Again!

    Kind Regards,

    Join Me On Linked In:

  71. @Derek: Lots for me to think about too. I'm still trying to figure it all out without looking like too much of a jackass :)

    Thanks and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  72. Great post! I'm ging to take a closer look at Linked in.

    I've also posted a link from my blog.

    Continued success,


  73. Just tweeted this "One of the best posts I have ever seen on how to use Linkedin effectively at Paul Castain's Sales Playbook blog"

  74. What an outstanding and incredibly helpful post! I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to pass along so much helpful info-- it's guys like you who are giving social networking a good name... : ) Sincerely, many thanks!

    Cheers, Mark

  75. Paul...

    You write the book...and I'll buy a copy!


  76. @Art Sobczak Thank you so you much Art! I've been a big fan of yours for over a decade!

    @Trish Thanks for the tweet! Appreciate you spreading the word like that!

    @Mark. What a nice thing to stop by and say! You made my day for sure!

    @Michael. Very cool. So that's one person we know who will buy the book! :)

    Thank you all for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Talk about getting some serious ROI. These comments have really made me feel 10 feet tall!

    Who rocks more than you guys?


  77. Hi Paul, Thank you for your helpful and insightful blog. I am new to LI (after bailing out of Facebook, which in my opinion is no more than a popularity contest!) and find it much more relevant to what I always felt was the purpose of social networkingm making new contacts not being stalked by old school colleagues who you didn't really speak to when you spent 6/7 hours a day sitting in a classroom with.

    Thank you!

  78. @ Anonymous: Sorry for my late response!

    I tend to agree with you but it can also be an opportunity for you to show those bastards who you have become. Just kidding . . . sort of!

    You can leverage facebook as a place for people to get to know you from yet another angle. You can find out birthdays, post about more personal (yet appropriate things)

    Or you can get really successful and do the "In Your Face" dance like Uncle Paul does!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  79. Paul,
    I read your 25 Tips. It was great! I've been in the network for only 5 months, and I'm learning more and more every day how to use it "wisely", and not "foolishly". I've met a lot of great people and made some excellent business contacts.

    Thanks for the continued advice, and the support to keep it up!

    Hope your day is a great one!

  80. @ Anonymous: Glad to hear that you are sticking with it. Its a wonderful adventure for those who give it a fair chance.

    Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to comment!

    Have an awesome day!


  81. Dear Paul

    It feels good to look upto you guys and learn all the lifetime.

    Damn, I do feel, one life is not enough.



  82. @ Sandeep: Its always an honor for me to give back!

    Much appreciation to you for stopping by to share your kind words!

    Rock on!

  83. Many thanks! I've been attempting to get our sales people to 'buy-in' to linkedin, and see the true value. Now I can provide them with this to read/dwell on... in addition for someone not using it at all, its a great 'how-to' guide.

    Many thanks for this valuable post.

  84. Paul ---
    Marvelous tips ! I've been on LI for about
    4 - 5 months and your info is very helpful.
    I'm meeting some wonderful folks and it has made my ongoing job search palatable ! :)
    LinkedIn really is the best.
    You have an incredible way with words and I look forward to your Playbook. I'm subscribing
    right away ! You are truly inspirational.
    All the Best,
    --- Linda

  85. Welcome aboard Linda! Thanks for your input and the kudos!

    Rock horns to you!

  86. Hi Paul,

    What a truly interesting and inspiring article. LI has been one of those "passive" networking tools for me for so long, and in reading your words I remember my anticipation from the day I signed up. So much so that I immediately started implemententing several of your thoughts!

    Thanks a bunch,

  87. Very cool Anders! Glad this was of value to you.

    Wishing you all the best and incredible success my friend!


  88. Very informative article! Thank you so much.
    I think that so many of us have been passive with linked In and other social sites expecting to somehow magically generate new business by just being here.
    It is not much different than networking in person. Connections, connections, connections and quality trumps quality everytime.

  89. Hey Paul Thanks for the info! I hear so much about "social networking" and you get out there and become easily overwhelmed! It's all about or in person...get involved, stay involved and see how you can help someone else!

  90. Hi Paul,

    Quick note. I bumped into your group while I was stumbling around trying to get this LI thing figured out. Well, the old "blind squirrel and acorn" adage holds true in this case! I've just joined the group and will take heed of your advice regarding LI. All the best.

  91. Kathryn, Shirley & Pat, thank you for stopping by!

    @ Kathryn: I agree, it isn't much different than networking in person. Great point!

    @ Shirley: You hit the nail on the head. Its all about relationships. Let's never forget that this online stuff is useless until we move it to real time!

    @ Pat: Well, I'm glad you bumped into my group. I could use all the help I can get over there. Welcome to the party!

    Again, thank you so much for the all the great comments!

    With respect and appreciation (and a rock horn or two for good measure)

  92. Thanks Paul - as a relative newbe, this was very helpful.
    Acres of diamonds my friend, acres of diamonds.

  93. Thanks Paul for your valuable insight. Social networking and business networking websites such as LI are useful when there is mutual sharing of ideas and when people help each other in achieving their goals.

  94. @ Craig: Thank you Sir! One might even say Acres of Diamonds with regard to the wonderful folks like you who stop by and share insight in our sales playbook community!

    @ Nitesh: You have raised one of the most important points about social networking: sharing. The way I like to look at it is: Give value, upfront, unconditionally and without a scorecard!

    Thanks again for contributing and Happy Friday to you both!

  95. Hi Paul!

    I had the distinct honor of joining your group over the weekend; and I have read your 25 tips. Great read btw!

    One question - point well taken re: Tip #23, but should this also pertain to Groups? I belong to many groups. If I truly want to contribute via discussions, Q + A, etc - how can I possibly keep up with all the groups I am associated with? Should I pare down the groups I belong to? - or simply pick 3 or 4 that I would like to diligently follow?

    Thank you in advance for your input! I look forward to participating in Sales Playbook..

    Best to you,

  96. Paul,

    Thank you for taking the time to share all this mightily valuable info! I am about to launch a new business and doing all I can to educate myself in the ways of social networking and you have given me a couple of tips which I acted on immediately!
    Jolly good work and I thank you!


  97. Thanks for the great advice - Usefull, to the point and entertaining. I already want to buy your book :-)

    Here's a tip I made for myself:

    26) Set up a reminder to read this blog again in a week and check progress.

    Mike Swan

  98. Paul,
    Self promotion would have been fine if it was the introduction of me to this website earlier.
    We spoke on the phone when I was in the interviewing process with Keys Printing. Thanks for this great insight and particularly the passion you use to deliver it!
    I look forward to meeting you at the next Sales Bootcamp.

  99. Paul,

    I really thought the blog was great, true and meaningful. I look forward to reading and following more!

    Michael W. Nicosia

  100. Paul -

    Interesting insights. I read your post and shared it with my sales team.

    Good selling!

  101. I am the newbie on this and I will adhere to the rules. I too am a serious net-worker.

    All the success to everyone!


  102. Paul - Great post and comments. The biggest value I've gotten from LinkedIn has been the ability to access my own petrie dish of experts. Whenever I'm stuck on a business issue, I post a question in one of my groups. It never fails - multiple heads are better than one! I recently "curated" the answers into a presentation I gave for a client and was a big hit! My #1 piece of advice to newbies on LI: Ask for help (don't ask for the sale). Everyone wants to help.

  103. Paul,

    Fantastic article! Everyone on LinkedIn needs to read it. And thanks for the useful links!

  104. Paul,

    Really good stuff. I especially liked the idea of making real (not virtual) contact with people from my network.

    As a newbie to this group I really look forward to learning and sharing sales practices.

    Thanks for making this group available.

    Dave Gardner

  105. All I can say is WOW!!!! I have been to Linkedin seminars that didn't give as much useful information as you had. I am so looking forward to reading anything I get from you. I love your humor...just makes my day!

    Brenda Reuter

  106. Thanks everyone for your continued contributions. We've moved to a nicer website since this post first appeared way back in July.

    I hope you'll stop by our new site and sign up for our free tips. Also, we have some cool, free (no strings attached) E-Books if you click on the "Free Stuff From Uncle Paul" tab.

    Hope to see you all there!

    Paul Castain

  107. Paul -

    I really appreciate this thread! I am new to LI (6 mos) and have worked hard at trying to market "My Brand" with little results. I will implement your tips and take your challenge. We make sacred pact - you say, I do!

    Nick Taylor

  108. Linked In is a great way to market yourself! Facebook and twitter are for socializing and people treat them that way. Linked In is for networking and promoting yourself as a professional and a reputably voice in your industry. Use it right and it will do work for you.

    Internet Marketing

  109. Paul - These are great tips! About the dreaded "I Don't Know" button: I try to choose people to link up with who have at least 80 contacts. By then, folks understand how everything works and aren't as nervous to link up. Also, the folks with just a few connections probably aren't maintaining their account or checking their LinkedIn email address. Check back on those potential contacts later and see if they have become more involved; if so, that's a better time to put out an invite. And be sure to remind them how you know each other and what the benefits of linking up will be. Invitations are a good time to practice our sales skills!

  110. Great tips. Always looking for fresh and newer ideas

  111. This is good site to spent time on .I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your very well written blog posts. I will be your frequent visitor, that's for sure.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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