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Welcome to Futureforth

We teach companies how to reach their people.

We are a social media strategy, digital marketing consultancy, and communications company based in Nashville. Our goal is to teach you inbound marketing, social media best practices, and everything you need to succeed with content marketing including your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other favorite social networking platforms.

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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Category: Blog

What are LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

Dave Delaney

Back in November, LinkedIn introduced Showcase Pages to a number of large companies. Shortly after it began to roll out the new feature for all LinkedIn Company Pages. Here is a reminder of what they are and how to use them and some Linkedin Showcase Page examples. In the past, by following a LinkedIn Company Page (you're following us, right?), you would see all relevant updates they were posting. This was fine, since you were following them in the first place. However, what if the company had many brands to manage?

The case for managing multiple brands

Not everyone wants to hear and see every piece of news from large companies with multiple brands. PepsiCo’s Company Page is dedicated to all areas of the company, which includes a product portfolio of 22 brands. What if I only want to follow news from Pepsi-Cola, and I don’t have an interest in the other 21 brands such as Tropicana, Gatorade, Quaker, and Frito-Lay?

LinkedIn’s blog describes the new Showcase Pages

“...dedicated pages that allow companies to highlight different aspects of their business and build relationships with the right community. Whether it’s a brand, a business unit, or an initiative.”

LinkedIn provides company page owners with an easy way to create Showcase Pages to send updates to the right audience. It also includes an analytics tool to keep an eye on how well your content is performing and who is interacting with it. Specifically, the analytics includes: engagement, trends, and demographics.

Smart move by LinkedIn

What are LinkedIn Showcase Pages?
What are LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

I have seen plenty of large companies create sub-brand Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, so this makes sense. It’s a smart move on LinkedIn’s part, because in the past large companies only had one place to post their content on LinkedIn. I’m certain many Xbox fans aren’t terribly excited to receive info on Microsoft Office. Speaking of which, Microsoft is one of the first companies to use Showcase Pages, you can take a look here: www.linkedin.com/company/Microsoft.

When you visit Microsoft’s LinkedIn page, you will see a section on the lower right side entitled “Other Microsoft Pages“. Companies can have up to ten Showcase Pages. Other examples include Adobe, Cisco, and HP. You will also notice that companies can advertise on Showcase Pages using Follower Ads. Sponsored Updates are also ads that a company can purchase to promote their Showcase Pages to those who are not yet following. Futureforth can help you make sense of this all.

Can you handle managing yet another profile?

Like everything we do online, the more channels we create, the more we need to pay attention. This means that it is crucial for LinkedIn page administrators to keep a watchful eye on their Showcase Pages, so they need to be sure they have time for this. It is certainly worth doing if you manage multiple brands with multiple audiences, but don’t just create a Showcase Page because the big kids are doing it.

If you feel like you may be driving your LinkedIn Company Page followers nuts by sending too many mixed messages regarding a number of brands that appeal to different people, Showcase Pages is for you, and did I mention it’s free?

Have you seen good examples of a Showcase Page? Will you be using Showcase Pages for your business? Let's chat how we can help you with this.

5 LinkedIn Mistakes You Could Be Making

Dave Delaney

Top Five LinkedIn Mistakes
Top Five LinkedIn Mistakes

If you're not actively using LinkedIn you're missing out. The professional social network just surpassed 300 million users, which is more than Twitter. If you question why you should invest your time, consider how LinkedIn just spent 1.5 billion in their acquisition of Lynda.com, an online education company. That's a move by a company that has big plans for it's future. If that doesn't convince you, consider that one new member is joining LinkedIn every two seconds.

At Futureforth.com, my job is to review personal profiles and train companies how to capitalize using LinkedIn. Here are the top five personal profile LinkedIn mistakes I see frequently made and how to fix them.

1. No head shot. Let’s face it, doing business with someone without a head is pretty unappealing. Your eyes are the windows to your soul, so why not share them and the rest of your beautiful face while you’re at it?

Choose a professional head shot. Never use a goofy photo (unless you’re in the business of being a goof). Avoid cropping others out of photos. It looks odd to have a profile photo with someone’s hair along the edge or a random hand on your shoulder.

2. Sending default connection requests.

I’d Like to Add you to My Professional Network on LinkedIn.

I’d like you to tell me who the heck you are? Where did we meet? What did we talk about? Why do you want to connect on LinkedIn?

Make sending a connection request part of your networking effort. When you meet someone new, follow up with a connection request. Do this by sending a custom message and include where you met and what you talked about. Here’s an example.

Hi Mary,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Refrigerator Conference. I had no idea you had such a rich history in the industry. It was a pleasure speaking with you over lunch.

Let’s be sure to keep connected via LinkedIn. If I can provide you with an introduction to someone in my network, please let me know.

A caveat to this rule is an issue with mobile. Unfortunately, LinkedIn mobile apps automatically send the default connection request message. Even if you accidentally send the default, follow it up with a normal email.

3. Not selecting skills. How can you pay the bills if you don’t show off your skills? The skills you choose to be associated with will become LinkedIn endorsements from your connections. On the flip-side, if you find you are being endorsed for older skills, it’s time to update your skills section.

4. Writing a crummy summary. Take the time to write a killer summary that tells visitors to your profile about you. Who are you? What do you do? What are your amazing talents, and how have they helped your employer or clients? Avoid being too boastful, but don’t be shy about including milestones and facts, figures and statistics related to your successes. People want to know they are connecting with a winner.

5. No keywords or terms. In this day and age we always need to consider search engines when creating content online. Our LinkedIn profiles are not excluded in this. Gone are the days of a recruiter finding your resume because it was printed on pretty paper (that once worked). They use search tools to seek out candidates by searching LinkedIn.

You want your profile to be optimized and appealing so people find you and want to connect.

You must be sure to include relevant keywords and terms related to your industry in your profile and LinkedIn headline. As I always advise my clients, don’t write your profile littered with keywords, write it so it is pleasant to read for humans. Just don’t forget about the robots that also read it. Be strategic in how you include those keywords for LinkedIn so the bots can find you, too.

Just as you would want your brick and mortar business to be appealing so customers enter, you want your profile to be optimized and appealing so people find you and want to connect.

Don’t file this post away for later. Get started updating your profile now.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

Why LinkedIn's acquisition of Lynda.com is important

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn pays $1.5B for online educator lynda.com in its biggest acquisition yetIt was hard to miss the news today. LinkedIn has acquired Lynda.com, the online education website. The 1.5 billion dollar purchase is LinkedIn's largest acquisition to date. It's also an important one for the future of the company. Ryan Roslansky, head of content at LinkedIn explained in a blog post, "Imagine being a job seeker and being able to instantly know what skills are needed for the available jobs in a desired city, like Denver, and then to be prompted to take the relevant and accredited course to help you acquire this skill. Or doing a search on SlideShare to learn about integrated marketing and then to be prompted with a lynda.com course on the same subject."

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, explains that LinkedIn will develop the world's first economic graph. They have already started, you may recall my previous blog post about findings on global recruiting efforts.

Weiner went on to explain that LinkedIn will digitally map the global economy with profiles for every member of the global workforce. They will have a profile for every company in the world and a digital representation of every job and skill needed for those companies.

Now is the time to be sure your company page and executive profiles are to date. Your staff need to know exactly how to use LinkedIn and I will help you with this.

Let's talk.

The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn Webinar

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Webinar A couple of months ago, I teamed up with my friend, Brad Farris at Enmast to create a free LinkedIn webinar. The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn was such a success that we have decided to do it again for those who missed it.

You will learn how to identify leads, generate traffic, and grow your business using LinkedIn. We will also include ways to optimize your profile and use your company page to network with peers.

Don't miss our free LinkedIn webinar this Thursday, April 2nd at 12 pm CST.

Space is limited.

Register for free now to reserve your spot. 

10 Ways Students Should Use LinkedIn

Dave Delaney

Photo by smi23leAttention college students. Why aren't you on LinkedIn yet? I am often hired to speak at colleges and universities about business networking. When I do, I always conduct an informal poll of the students to see how many have a LinkedIn profile. The result is usually less than a quarter of the attendees. This is troubling to me.

LinkedIn is now over 238,000,000 members strong, with more than 84 million in the United States alone. The professional social network has 30 million students and recent graduates. LinkedIn claims students are the fastest growing demographic, and yet I'm not seeing this as often as I would like. Savvy students are jumping on board, something I recommend you do too.

LinkedIn is often mistaken as a place to look for a job. You may vary well find employment, but it is also a powerful networking tool. One point I reiterate in my book, New Business Networking, is you must build your network before you need it. This is why every adult should have a LinkedIn profile and be actively growing their connections.

10 Ways Students Should Use LinkedIn

1. Use a professional photo. Most students own a smartphone, so it is relatively easy to create a decent headshot. Avoid cropping someone out of the photo. It just looks weird to see a random hand on your shoulder. Keep the goofy photos to Facebook or Instagram. Remember, LinkedIn is for business.

2. Grow your network. Begin by connecting with your friends and family by sending them connection requests. Connect with your classmates, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, faculty, and guest speakers.

3. Avoid generic connection requests. Remind the person who you are and how you met by writing a custom connection request.

4. Write recommendations. Reward your best group project members by publicly posting how they were great to work with. Consider writing a recommendation for guest speakers and faculty who you most enjoy. Never write a recommendation expecting one in return, but you may just receive one.

5. Claim your custom URL. Just like a dot com or Twitter handle, it is more professional to own your own URL.

6. Use keywords. Think like a search engine user and add keywords and terms to your profile. Focus on your Skills & Expertise section to include your keywords. You want recruiters to be able to find you, right?

7. Find and join Groups. There are more than 2.1 million groups on LinkedIn. Search for groups dedicated to your area of study, join them and participate in the discussions. Don't discredit your education with your perceived lack of professional experience. In many cases, you can become the expert in the group, because you are living and breathing the latest information from your studies.

8. Create a group. If you cannot find a group you wish to join, consider creating your own. Your group can be about a topic of interest from your curriculum, industry, or perhaps it is a group specifically for members of your fraternity. Groups can be public or private, so decide what type best suits your members.

9. Share great content. Find and share interesting articles that pertain to your professional area of focus. Find stories to share using free sites and apps like Flipboard, Feedly, and of course the Tennessean.com.

10. Promote your work. Share your best work on LinkedIn by posting a link to the content. Post your presentations to Slideshare.net and include them on your profile. Why limit your finest assignments and projects to within your classroom? Share your knowledge with the world and your growing LinkedIn professional network.

Using LinkedIn won't guarantee you a job right away. The point is to build your network today, so when you are ready to embark on your career, you will have a network of peers to reach out to. A large, solid network on LinkedIn can open doors for you by providing introductions to people at companies you wish to work with. Be a savvy student and visit university.linkedin.com to learn more about how LinkedIn is focusing on students and why you should join too.

What tip would you add for students using LinkedIn? Leave a comment below.


This article, "LinkedIn can be crucial for students in building network", originally appeared in the Tennessean.

Photo from Flickr by: smi23le

Are You Making This LinkedIn Mistake?

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Live There is a terrible misunderstanding some company managers and owners are making about LinkedIn. The problem isn't with the social network specifically, but rather, it is a problem with their misunderstanding of what LinkedIn is and how it works. I was reminded of this misconception recently, which sparked the idea of writing this article for you and hopefully said managers.

Last October, I had the great honor of being the keynote speaker at the LinkedIn Live Conference in Nashville. Brian Huddleston and his team at the Nashville Technology Council (NTC) did an amazing job bringing together a group of 250 people to learn from LinkedIn pros like, Matthew Hall, John Maddox, James Soto and Jennifer Way. Renee McAllister, LinkedIn's Senior Marketing Manager, also shared the stage and presented eye-opening statistics about the impressive growth of "the professional social network".

The NTC was kind enough to organize a post conference social hour, so attendees could mingle and continue networking. It was during this event that I was reminded of the misunderstanding that is causing frustration, lost business, and poor morale.

Banned from LinkedIn

LinkedIn MistakeA gentleman pulled me aside at the mixer and confided in me. He explained that all of the information he received about LinkedIn from the talented speakers was great, but he couldn't use any of it. I inquired why this was and he explained. This story isn't a new one, and it continues to happen across many firms.

It turned out his manager had banned his staff from using LinkedIn. Why? The manager feared that his team members were using it to look for new jobs! It was the manager's own ignorance that created a massive obstacle for his company's sales, marketing and human resources departments.

What Managers Need to Understand

While LinkedIn certainly can be a great place to spend time when you are seeking employment, it is also an essential tool for human resources, sales and marketing departments. The following are a few examples of how these departments can benefit from using LinkedIn:

Human Resources use LinkedIn to research job candidates. They review their profiles to see if they are qualified for their open positions. In addition to this, they review candidate's recommendations to see what their previous employers, customers, and associates have written. Human resources can advertise their open positions using LinkedIn to receive applications and fill vacant positions faster.

Sales teams use LinkedIn to research leads before they make their initial calls. They use LinkedIn to find connections to people they seek to meet to request introductions. When they have a meeting set up, they use LinkedIn to learn more about the potential customer. Information about where they went to school, organizations they belong to, and articles they have shared or written, help sales learn about leads to make their sales pitches more personal and successful.

Marketers use LinkedIn to set up their company and showcase pages. They use these sections to promote new blog content, products and services. They belong to industry-related groups and use their time to grow and nurture their professional networks. They can also assist with the aforementioned departments in developing and executing strategies to optimize their efforts.

These are just a few examples of how each department use LinkedIn. If a manager is so concerned that his or her staff is using it to seek new employment, perhaps they should consider why this would be and address it.

In chapter four of my book, New Business Networking, I write at length about ways you can use LinkedIn to improve your professional networking efforts. I even include my own similar example of dealing with an ill-informed manager.

During LinkedIn Live, I learned that LinkedIn now has more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second!  These are sure signs that the professional social network is invaluable to its users. Smart management - take notice.

Let's talk about how I can help you

[Tweet "A new member joins LinkedIn every two seconds."]

This article originally appeared on New Business Networking

Recruiting Tech Talent in Nashville? Read This!

Dave Delaney

Nashville Technology Map I previously wrote a post showing how LinkedIn's Economic Graph revealed the top skills in Nashville professionals.

In August 2014, LinkedIn shared the top ten cities attracting LinkedIn members with technology talent. The results are:

  1. Bangalore, India
  2. Pune, India
  3. Hyderabad, India
  4. Chennai, India
  5. San Francisco Bay Area, United States
  6. Seattle, United States
  7. Austin, United States
  8. Melbourne, Australia
  9. Sydney, Australia
  10. Gurgaon, India

LinkedIn also found the top ten cities that attracted the smallest percentage of tech talent. Unfortunately, Nashville made the list as the third least popular city to attract technology talent. The full list is as follows:

  1. Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, United States
  2. Paris, France
  3. Nashville, United States
  4. Cleveland/Akron, United States
  5. Las Vegas, United States
  6. New Delhi, India
  7. Madrid, Spain
  8. St. Louis, United States
  9. Washington D.C. Metro, United States
  10. Mumbai, India

The good news is organizations like the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Technology Council and Nashville Entrepreneur Center are all doing excellent work promoting the great people and companies in Music City.

Remember, LinkedIn's findings were from August 2014. I would bet we are in much better shape this year. How do you think we are doing recruiting talent to Nashville? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

How does your city shape up? 

The Top 8 LinkedIn Skills in Nashville

Dave Delaney

At Futureforth our job is to make sure you are using LinkedIn effectively for your company. This is why we stay abreast of all of the latest tools LinkedIn has to offer, like the LinkedIn Economic Graph for example. I studied the graph and drilled down to find Nashville's top professional skills. Here are the eight most popular business categories of Nashville based professionals. Not surprisingly music and healthcare take the lead.

  1. Music Production
  2. Healthcare Management
  3. Theology
  4. Sales
  5. Marketing Event Management
  6. Insurance
  7. Social Media Marketing
  8. Microsoft Windows Systems

What are the top skills of your city?

How does your city compare? Use the map below to find out. Leave a comment with your city name and the most popular category.

How to Remove a LinkedIn Connection

Dave Delaney

Remove LinkedIn ContactI had a conversation with a gentleman today who asked how to remove a connection from LinkedIn. Thank you for inspiring this post, David. We use LinkedIn to grow our networks, but in some situations we need to disconnect or "unfriend" a person.

You can't remove a connection on mobile, but you can from desktop.

How to Remove a LinkedIn Connection

  • Go to the connection's profile.
  • Move your cursor over the arrow icon next to the button in the person's profile. The button name may vary.
  • Select Remove connection.
  • Click Remove.

Important:

Don't worry, the connection will not be notified when you remove them. However, any recommendations and endorsements you exchanged will also be removed. They will not reappear if you decide to reconnect later, so keep this in mind before you disconnect a contact from LinkedIn. You will also lose any notes you have taken, so be sure to back those up.

Have you had to remove a connection from LinkedIn? If so, why did you do it? Leave a comment, so others may learn some best practices to avoid getting disconnected. Thanks.

Four Secret LinkedIn Tips to Maximize Your Time

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Tips
LinkedIn Tips

Did you know there are more than 350 million LinkedIn users? A new member joins every two seconds. Studies show Facebook growth has become stagnant, while LinkedIn continues to lead the way as the professional social network. Whether you are new to LinkedIn or a frequent user, I expect these tips will help you make the most of your time. The following are four LinkedIn tips the experts know and now you will too.

 

1. LinkedIn Advanced Search

Did you know LinkedIn has a powerful search engine? The search function is great, but the Advanced Search is the secret sauce; use it for even better search results. You can search by company name, location, title, school, industry, current or previous company. Advanced search allows you to narrow down your search to 1st Connections (those who you know), 2nd Connections (those who are connected to someone you know) and Group members.

2. Save search results

When you have created your search using the directions above, click the gear icon to access your settings. You will find a much over-looked Saved Searches option. Click it and save up to three searches (for basic LinkedIn users). You can set up email alerts and LinkedIn will automatically send them to you weekly or monthly. Saved searches are perfect for human resources recruiting and lead generation for sales.

 

3. Archive important messages

Your LinkedIn inbox can get unruly as you balance connection requests with personal messages and (those annoying) solicitations. Searching your messages isn’t easy. I recommend archiving your messages outside of LinkedIn should the service go down or you lose access to your account.

Under Account Settings, select Privacy & Settings. Scroll down to Communications. Under Email and Notifications, select the frequency of emails. Check your settings and make sure you are receiving messages from other members. This is important, because the messages will end up in your email inbox, where you can safely archive and find them again in the future.

4. Export connections

I applaud LinkedIn as the only social network that allows you to easily export (back up) your connections. Click Connections on the top of the screen and click the gear icon on the right side. Under the Advanced Settings, select Export LinkedIn Connections. Choose the file format you prefer to download.

Be sure you are exporting your LinkedIn connections at least once a month. Keep the exported list secure, since it is filled with the personal information of your LinkedIn network. I upload my connections to Contactually, so I can keep in touch. 

This story originally appeared in The Tennessean by Dave Delaney, Futureforth founder.