Top 100 tips: How social media can connect you to the market's biggest players

Marketing guru Mark Amtower shares tips on how to use LinkedIn to bring you closer to the major companies in the government market.

Washington Technology has been my favorite business to government publication for years. Back in the 1990s I would read it with a hi-liter in hand, making notes on people and companies I wanted to meet and do business with.

With the advent of Web 2.0 and especially social media, I now read it online on one screen while I have LinkedIn open in another. I bounce back and forth identifying people and companies. And many of those people are in my network (network as defined by LinkedIn is anyone within three degrees).

Why would I do this?

As a B2G marketing consultant it is important for me to have my finger on the pulse of the market.

So here is the resolution for 2010:

Washington Technology provides me with the lists of the best companies in the B2G market: top contractors (Top 100), the fastest growing (Fast 50 Small Businesses), the top minority-owned firms (Top 25 8a’s) and more. My resolution is to be connected to at least one person, preferably three, at each of these companies by the end of March. One contact would be OK, but three is better if I can connect at an executive level, the program management level, and the sales/marketing level. Those cover the bases I need to grow my business and keep my finger on the pulse.

I can do this at one of three social networks: LinkedIn, GovLoop or TFCN. I focus on LinkedIn for the simple reason that it has 55 million members with over 3,200 government-related groups. While both GovLoop and TFCN are growing (and I am a member of each), neither has the reach I require.

My initial research on LinkedIn last summer showed me that all of the Top 100 companies were represented on LinkedIn in more than sufficient numbers, usually way more. So the process was started in August.

I did not reach my 2009 goal of connecting with all of the Top 100, but I am close. So for 2010, I added (it was in the plan all along) all the Washington Technology lists.

As I connect with each person, I invite them to join one or more of my groups and offer free assistance in using LinkedIn, where I am more than proficient.

I have also had requests in the last 60 days to help companies find key employees and to help individuals find jobs. I do this, but as I am not a headhunter the rewards are more on the karma side than the dollar side. But, as we all know, this is part of the market, the ability to build relationships by making connections.

And it has helped me further differentiate myself in this market: if you are on Linkedin and active in any way, you probably see my name with some frequency posting discussions or articles, answering in the Q&A forum, or my frequent profile updates.

And if you are curious, here are my LinkedIn stats as of 11: 55 AM on 1/6/09:

  • 2,199 contacts
  • 50 groups (7 of which I own or manage)
  • 12 sub-groups
  • 210 recommendations from clients and peers
  • 25 “Best Answers” in 14 categories

If you are in the government market, especially if you are in the Top 100, Fast 50, Top 8as, or if you simply want to resolve to leverage one of the new platforms to improve your business, take a look at my profile and consider connecting.

My best to you all for a successful and better connected 2010!

Mark Amtower can be reached at LinkedIn.