Transitioning From Corporate America to Small Business America: It's all about the network

April 2, 2014

StartUp Office

I still remember the day that I decided to leave my job at Hewlett-Packard to become the CMO at a much smaller company by the name of Balihoo. I’d always dreamed of running a small business, and this was my chance to make that happen.

My first day was memorable. I introduced myself to my seven new colleagues, sat down at my desk (an old door perched on top of two filing cabinets), and then it hit me – now what? I was no longer at a company with hundreds of marketers, sales teams, and support people. Budgets were tight, timelines were tighter, and my “to do” list went on for days. I took a deep breath and dove head first into this scary but exhilarating new world.

I learned many lessons during my time at Balihoo, and much of what I learned highlighted how LinkedIn can help make this transition from corporate America to small business America a successful one.  Everyone’s situation is unique, but hopefully these LinkedIn tips can help you succeed in your small business:

Find the influencers: At Balihoo, I needed a new set of connections since I was now in a whole new industry – marketing automation software. I used LinkedIn to find people in this space who were thought leaders and experts, and who could help me ramp up on the market and advocate for my company.

Create and participate in groups: Once I began to broaden my network at Balihoo, I turned to LinkedIn to reach more of our target customers. I created a LinkedIn Group about local marketing automation and shared the thought leadership we were gathering.  This helped us build up a name and voice in the market.

Do research before events and meetings: LinkedIn gave me the inside scoop so that I could gather intelligence before events – looking at speakers and attendees, identifying the people that I needed to meet, and uncovering some conversation ice-breakers.

Follow your competitors’ Company Pages: To get more insights on the other players in Balihoo’s market, I visited their Company Pages – checking out the news they posted, who they were hiring, and the products they were launching. It’s free market intelligence, so take advantage of it!

Expand new business opportunities: I used LinkedIn Advanced Search to research prospects and figure out how sales organizations were structured, which made it easier for me and my sales teams to find decision makers and close deals.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Shane’s story, or find out how you can make the most of LinkedIn for your business. If LinkedIn has helped you transform your career or business, please share your story with us or write a post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #MyLinkedInStory. For more inspiration, check out more success stories.