NYTimes.com: LinkedIn status sparks ‘accidental’ global enterprise

October 9, 2008

New York Times Blog)
(Photo: Anita Kentie, New York Times)

Yesterday on the Shifting Careers blog over at The New York Times, Marci Alboher wrote up a great account of an international LinkedIn success story.

Dutch tech consultant Henk van Ess was frustrated with his 3G iPhone's battery life, so he turned to LinkedIn.

...[van Ess] sent out a note to a few groups on LinkedIn trying to find a way of extending the battery life of his new iPhone. A representative of a Chinese manufacturer answered his query with information about its battery and he bought one. He was immediately pleased with the results.

But that's not the success story. After updating his status with something like "You hate the battery life of your iPhone too? Perhaps I have the cure," he found himself in the position of fielding orders from his network. That turned into something much bigger:

“I didn’t want to do all this paperwork so I set up a little Web shop, and then the company asked me to be one of its distributors.” He says that in his first day of online sales, he took orders from 1,200 customers...

This story illustrates several angles of business opportunities on LinkedIn. At the consumer end, Henk turned to his Groups looking for a solution to his battery woes, and a Chinese manufacturer met his need. On the retail end, Henk updated his Status to see if anyone else had similar needs, which unwittingly made him an international distributor and developer of his own iPhone battery, 3GJuice. On the manufacturer end, they have a new product, a new market, and a whole new pool of customers, just by maintaining a presence in the Groups. If this is what users can accomplish unintentionally on LinkedIn, focused entrepreneurs might start reaching out to their networks and updating their status daily. To learn more about using LinkedIn features, check out learn.linkedin.com.

New York Times Shifting Careers Blog: The Accidental Entrepreneur