Jaime Campbell loves to learn about new things, and she loves to teach others about them, too. Although she didn’t try social networking until about a year and a half ago, she has already become an expert who can point to some great networking accomplishments as a result, and she has also started teaching others how to do the same thing.
Campbell and Beth Hyre of BMH Community Relations will give a hands-on workshop, “Are You Taking Advantage of All That LinkedIn Has to Offer?” at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 22, at R. Berman Development, 50 Millstone Road, Building 100, in East Windsor. The workshop is sponsored by the Mercer Chamber. Cost: $35. Register online at www.mercerchamber.org. Participants should bring a wireless-enabled laptop or iPad.
Campbell, who was recently named director of specialized services at Bartolomei Pucciarelli in Lawrenceville, first heard about LinkedIn and social networking in about 2003 but never got around to trying it.
“I just wasn’t clear on the benefits. I didn’t know how to use it and I didn’t want to take the time to learn,” she says, echoing the sentiment that many people have about LinkedIn and other social networking sites. Finally, after hearing more and more of her colleagues and friends talk about it over the years, in mid-2010 she decided it was time to learn.
Campbell started, literally, from scratch. She had no connections on LinkedIn, no followers on Twitter, and no friends on Facebook. Today she has more than 300 LinkedIn connections. She “dabbles” in Facebook and Google+, and has about 100 followers on Twitter.
While some people with more followers may feel her numbers are small, take a look at what LinkedIn has brought her.
A book deal. As a CPA and expert in QuickBooks and Excel, she has received a contract to write a book for PACKT, a publishing company that specializes in IT and technical books. She is currently working on chapter 10 of the book, titled “QuickBooks Enterprise Edition for Experts.” She expects to complete the book later this year.
Networking. Campbell has formed referral relationships around the country through which she has both given and received business.
Developed a “tutorial exchange” with a professor in California. She gave him guidance on Quickbooks while he helped her set up Facebook for herself and her company. The sites are designed to bring increased visibility and professional branding both for herself and for her company.
Created an online community on LinkedIn. Here clients of Bartolomei Pucciarelli can connect and discuss business with others in a variety of professions. The online community, she explains, is one more way for the accounting firm to live up to its motto of “uncommon service.”
Made business connections throughout the world by joining international LinkedIn groups. The groups have helped her “brush up” on her Spanish language skills as well as learn about accounting practices in other countries.
Added workshops. She used LinkedIn’s workshops to add to the repertoire of seminars that she gives on a local, state, and national level.
“I was born to teach,” says Campbell, who came to accounting as a second career; her first was as an elementary music teacher.
A Florida native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Florida State University in 1997 and taught for 10 years, both while she was in school and for several years after college.
She began her study of accounting “to exercise the left side of my brain,” she says, but in fact, both music and numbers have always been her two passions. “I began taking piano lessons when I was five and I was in the accelerated math program since fifth grade.”
Her parents were both surprised, however, when she switched careers in mid-stream. “My father was an accountant. He was surprised when I left teaching for accounting, but he was pleased. My mother was also surprised, but she wasn’t as pleased. She had seen me teach and knew that I am a gifted teacher. No matter what my career, I will also be teaching,” Campbell says.
After moving to New Jersey she went back to school and received an MBA in accounting from Rutgers Business School in 2003 and obtained her CPA accreditation in 2005. She is a Certified QuickBooks Professional Advisor as well as a Microsoft Certified Master. She uses her software skills to create financial models to help clients obtain funding for their businesses.
There are four steps to building a network on LinkedIn, says Campbell.
Connect. The first step is to connect with people, “in the same way that you would at an in-person networking group,” she says. She uses LinkedIn E-mail to ask questions, make comments, and learn more about her connections.
Join groups. Look for groups that help you in a variety of ways. There are groups designed to facilitate business referrals. A central Jersey small business network, for instance, meets both online and in-person to help people network in the community.
There are state-wide, national, and industry-related groups, as well. Campbell also belongs to a women’s accounting group to add to her referral relationships. Technical groups can help you get answers to specific questions or issues you may have, as well as allow you to help others with their problems.
Be Helpful. Answer questions, look for opportunities to refer people, and do all of the things on LinkedIn that you would in a face-to-face networking group. LinkedIn is about building relationships online in the same way that you would in person.
Meet Your Potential Customers. Don’t just join groups with people in your profession, join groups that attract your clients and prospects. For example, Campbell often works with start-up businesses, so she has joined a LinkedIn group for entrepreneurs.
Become a Top Influencer. The Top Influencers are those people who start a discussion that attracts the most answers. New Top Influencers are named each week.
To become a top influencer, you can start a discussion, post on someone else’s discussion, or have a large number of people “like” your comment. “If you are listed as a Top Influencer, you become more visible to people; more people want to view your profile and connect with you,” Campbell explains.
One of the biggest fears that non-users of LinkedIn and other social media have, she says, is that it will take too much time. And it does take time, at first, but as you learn her system and how to use it you can begin to connect and network effectively in just a few minutes per day.
“By developing the right strategy of knowing your messaging, deciding who you are looking to connect with and what groups you will use, you can effectively get in, get out, and move on and still connect effectively in five to ten minutes per day,” she says.