Rick Itzkowich is a LinkedIn evangelist who travels the world espousing the wonders of LinkedIn, the networking platform for businesses. As the creator of the Link Power Coaching Program, Rick has created live presentations and products that meet today’s demand for tools to use with social media. Internet-recognized Focus Experts just selected Rick’s LinkedIn recommendations, techniques and practices for their “10 Best Practices for Using LinkedIn as a Recruiting Tools.”
Most recently Rick was a presenter at You Learn Twit Face, an international social media conference held in Dubai where he earned the Best Speaker of the Event Award — voted by over 300 attendees.
MO: Why do you think that LinkedIn is so important for a company’s marketing plan? Are there any other sites you think are equally as important?
Rick: The reason LinkedIn is so important for a company’s marketing plan is because we live in a hyper connected world. With this means is people have access to products and information instantly. In addition there is also an overabundance of information. This means that people are often overwhelmed by having too many choices. Therefore more and more people are relying on recommendations from people they know and trust to purchase products and engage with new vendors.
The two currencies that individuals and companies need to build on LinkedIn are credibility and trust. When they amass these two currencies, it makes it much easier for people who are looking for them to trust them and one engage with them.
LinkedIn is a relationship site. The old saying: “is not what you know but who you know has taken a new twist in our hyper connected world. It is neither what you know nor who you know, but rather, who knows you. LinkedIn makes it easy for others to get to know you and your company.
In addition, the power of LinkedIn is that: “You don’t know who the people you know, know.” LinkedIn makes those relationships visible. And once they are visible, you can tap them to get introductions to the right people you want to meet.
For the company’s salesforce, learning how to effectively use LinkedIn will eliminate the need to making calls. They will instead rely on personal introductions.
As far as other sites LinkedIn is THE business site. LinkedIn is to business networking sites what Google is to search. If you’re a professional today, people expect to find you on LinkedIn. A company that adds its employees on the site will humanize the company. Also recommendations from customers on LinkedIn are far more credible than recommendations on their website. The reason for this is because you cannot manufacture a recommendation on LinkedIn. Recommendations can only come from others and can’t be altered. They can also be traced to the person giving them. There is no other site that offers this level of trust.
MO: You only started your consulting firm earlier this year. How have you managed to attract clients and build a base so quickly?
Rick: Mostly by getting out in the community and doing presentations where I educate people about the opportunities available for them on LinkedIn. In addition, I share a lot of free and very useful information that has many people subscribing to my funnel. I can then convert a percentage of them to paying customers. Lastly, is that I have accumulated a significant amount of the two currencies I mentioned: Credibility and Goodwill. If you see my LinkedIn profile you will note that there are over 175 recommendations. This makes it much easier for them to trust that I have value for them.
MO: What ever made you decide to start your own company during a recession?
Rick: Necessity. I am a partner in another business offering personal growth seminars and trainings. The downturn in the economy had a huge impact on our company. As a result, the company couldn’t afford both my partner and I to draw salaries from the company. So I starting my own company was pretty much my only choice – since being an employee is something that I no longer view as an option because it is too restrictive for my personality. I’m an entrepreneur at heart. And as an Entrepreneur, you start a business at any time not when the time is right.
MO: You’ve recently started to do presentations in Dubai. How have you managed to gain a foothold in the Middle Eastern market? Have you had to change or alter your message at all or does the core remain the same no matter the culture or type of business you run?
Rick: LinkedIn is responsible for me doing this! I am a member of a worldwide networking organization called BNI and I was contacted by one of the directors from Dubai who wanted to recommend me to one of his members for a Social Media conference they were having in Dubai last year. I said, “sure” thinking that it would never amount to anything. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the organizer saying that they had looked at my LinkedIn profile and were so impressed that they hired me. I since have been back another time and will do so again next February.
I have had to alter very little since the core content remains the same. The only thing I change a bit are my metaphors and stories to better reflect the local culture.
MO: On your website you ask ‘Are you ready to triple the number of referrals you give and receive?’ Tripling the number of referrals is an impressive promise, what strategies to you employ to fulfill it?
Rick: It is all about using the VCP process (this is a registered service mark of the Referral Institute.) This process stands for the following : Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. Simply stated, people need to know of you first (V) then they need to trust that you are both competent and reputable (C) and then only then will then do business directly or indirectly (refer) with you. So I teach strategies to help people increase their Visibility and Credibility on LinkedIn. Plus I also teach them how to integrate LinkedIn with offline face-to-face networking.
MO: In addition to your consulting firm you also have a product called ‘QuoteActions’ consisting of motivational quotes and actions sent to businesses each day. How do you continually find inspiration and why do you feel it’s important to pass it on?
Rick: I’ve been a quote collector for years. I find that quotes pack a lot of punch. However the inspiration comes from doing not thinking. So that’s where I find my inspiration – from the people doing incredible things. I also get a lot of inspiration from people doing “impossible” things. I do believe that we all need to be inspired on a regular basis. And when you are the catalyst of that inspiration, you build a lot of Visibility and Credibility.
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