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Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Reid Hoffman’s 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship


I’m here at SXSW and LinkedIn founder (and investor) Reid Hoffman just rattled off 10 tips for entrepreneurs.


10 Rules of Entrepreneurship

1) Disrupt — Ask yourself is this ’10X’ different. If it takes $10 in revenue and replaces it with $1 in revenue (e.g. Skype), then that’s disruptive.

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Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

LinkedIn IPO: Highlights From Their S-1 Filing


I’m one of those weird guys who likes to pour through documents like the 182-page LinkedIn S-1 Registration Statement (while flying to Salt Lake City for a trip with high-school buddies!).

An S-1 is what a company files in preparation for “going public.”

Here are some highlights:

Estimated LinkedIn Revenue & Profits in Calendar 2010

  • Revenue: $215 million
  • Net Income: $13.4 million*

This excludes what looks like an $8.2 million payout to preferred shareholders

LinkedIn Revenue Growth*

  • 2009 to 2010: 99.7% (impressive that they doubled in the last year)
  • 2008 to 2009: 53%
  • 2007 to 2008: 142%

* 2009 to 2010 reflects just 9 month periods.

LinkedIn Revenue Breakdown By Product Line*

Hiring Solutions:  44% — Recruiters (3,900 of them in 2010) pay LinkedIn to access and market to its database of users. This includes 69% of the Fortune 100.

Advertising: 31% — Marketers (33,000 in 2010) run ads on LinkedIn’s page views.

Subscriptions: 25% — LinkedIn members can use much of LinkedIn for free but there are additional things that users must pay for (such as seeing more than 100 results at a time or being able to filter your searches by seniority of a LinkedIn member).

*Breakdown as of quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010

“LinkedIn is not as automated a business as some may think…over half their revenue comes from Field Sales.”

LinkedIn Revenue By Sales Channel

  • Field Sales: 54%
  • Online Sales: 46%

Due in part to LinkedIn’s money spent on a sales team in the field, their profit margins are lower than Google’s and Facebook’s.

“I bet that Groupon’s profit margins will be closer to LinkedIn’s than they are to Google or Facbeook when Groupon files its S-1…due to the large field sales team they employ. “

Did anyone notice that I just quoted myself? I’m just trying to break up the text components here!

LinkedIn’s Profit Margins*

  • Gross Margin: 81.4%
  • Adjusted EBIDTA: 19.6%
  • Operating Margin: 7.8%
  • Profit Margin: 6.2% (this compares to 28%+ for Google and a rumored 25.7% for Facebook)

* For the 9 months ended Sept. 30, 2010

Interesting Stats On The LinkedIn Database*

  • 90 Million+ members
  • 1 million+ companies listed
  • 2 million+ groups
  • 25,000 jobs were posted per week (on average) during 2010

*As of December 31, 2010

LinkedIn Traffic Per Quarter (end of 2010)

  • 65 million unique visitors
  • 5.5 billion page views

LinkedIn’s International Business

  • 27% of net revenues come from outside the U.S.

LinkedIn Valuation

LinkedIn is currently being valued at around $2.9 billion according to the latest shares being sold on SharesPost (note: this is not in the S-1 Registration).

A LinkedIn IPO could value the company at a great price than the $2.9 billion based on those recent privately-traded LinkedIn shares.

Of course, the LinkedIn valuation could change big time if we have an Internet bubble burst before they go public.

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Thursday, August 5th, 2010

5 Tips On How To Get To Know Someone You’ve Never Met


Have you ever wanted to meet someone, even though you don’t know them? Perhaps you read about them in a book or just heard that they were an awesome person.

Here are some approaches I use to get to know a “desired connection” better.

5 Tips On How To Get To Know Someone You’ve Never Met

1) Look up the desired connection on LinkedIn for your common connections…it’s not that simple: read on!

First off, look them up on LinkedIn to see what connections you have in common.

If the desired connection is a 2nd degree connection (i.e. a connection of mine is a 1st degree connection to them), then look closely at those 2nd degree connections and determine if you have such a fantastic relationship with any of the 2nd degree connections that you’d be willing to ask them to introduce you to them.

If the answer is “yes,” then great…ask your connection for an intro (but read tip #5 first!).

If the answer is “no,” then instead focus on trying to add value to those 2nd degree connections and don’t bother asking for the introduction yet (reason: if you ask a favor of someone, you want them to feel like it’s worth their while!).

If the desired connection is a 3rd degree connection or more distant, then I recommend you work harder at expanding your LinkedIn connections (see my business networking section of articles (including LinkedIn tips!)).

You should constantly work towards being just a connection away from meeting anyone.

2) Look up the desired connection’s LinkedIn page to see if they list any “Web sites” or their Twitter page

This is simple: if you can find your desired connection’s LinkedIn page, then look at their profile page (a few fields underneath their name) for any links they include next to “Websites” or “Twitter.”

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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

4 Easy Ways To Approach An Employer Who Has A Job You Want


You may periodically see or hear about a job you’d love to have — so what do you do next?

I believe that the best way to approach a job you want is to get the senior most person at the target-employer to refer you so that you get on the fast track for the interview process (with the hiring manager).

If you’re interested in that, here’s some advice I gave a colleague recently on how to do that through LinkedIn:

1) Identify The Employer’s Senior Most Person (Who Is Also On LinkedIn)

First, go to LinkedIn and search for the senior most person at the target-employer (I recommend you go for the CEO).

Note: If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn, read this LinkedIn For Beginners Article.

When I search on LinkedIn I use the “advanced search” and enter in the name of the target-employer  in the “Company” field (I start with “Current” in the drop-down) and then “CEO” in the title field.

Click Search.

Hopefully, up pops the CEO of the target-employer. If the CEO doesn’t pop up, then re-do the search by trying out other senior titles such as  “founder” or “president” or “vice president.”

Click Search.

Now you should have at least one senior person at the target-employer.

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Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A Networking Pro Explains How to Master LinkedIn in 8 Easy Steps


My friend Drew Sanders is one of the best networkers I know. He recently presented his Action Plan for using the networking tool LinkedIn to insurance giant Chubb…and was kind enough to let me share it with you.

If you want to know why you should be linked in, check out my You Must Be LinkedIn article.

Here’s the 8-step plan for setting up and managing LinkedIn:

Step 1: Complete your Linked in Profile (1 Hour)

  • Have a coherent narrative of your history from college graduation
  • Print out several examples that you like and model yours after theirs
  • Brevity is appreciated by all
  • Be factual, but humility is a good tack

Step 2: Email accumulation (1 Hour)

  • Export your outlook contacts to a (CSV file)
  • Do the same for your hotmail, yahoo, or Gmail accounts
  • Extra Credit
    • if you have emailing lists from when people have accidentally not bcc’d people and you saw some cool email contacts and saved the emails.
    • Export those as well.
  • Any email from anyone you have ever met now has more value than just a way to get a hold of that person.

Step 3: Contact Invitation Process (1 to 3 hours depending on number of emails)

  • Load all the emails into the LinkedIn Platform
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Thursday, April 30th, 2009

How To Mazimize The Number of Valuable People You Meet In Life (The Connector Exercise)


A number of people ask me how I obtained a large network of contacts (I have 3,000 names in my iPhone).

I took two of my "Connectors" to the Famous Gene and Georgetti's in Chicago

I took two of my "Connectors" to the Famous Gene and Georgetti's in Chicago

Strangely, I’ve never thought of myself as a schmoozer…I’m actually fairly introverted.

But I’ve been very lucky. A few things were in my favor:

  1. Same Career Track — I have followed a fairly narrow career track of technology/media/Internet for 20 years now.
  2. Social Positions — My positions have centered around other people (I was a journalist, a deal-maker, entrepreneur, etc.)
  3. Decently-Organized — I’m a detail-oriented/organized-type of person and so I’ve done an ok job at entering in people’s contact information over those years

So, the 3,000 names isn’t that impressive — it really just came from 20 years times of storing an average of 100+ contacts per year.

That’s just 1 new contact I made (and stored) every 3 days. I’m sure you could do that (unless you’re a monk at a convent in which case you’re probably in the wrong place right now!).

But there is one secret I was reminded of a few years ago that I wished I had implemented earlier on in my career!

It’s only briefly mentioned on page 37 of the soft-cover version of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

In a word: “Connectors.”

Here’s an exercise I’d like you to do (should take 15 minutes and be fun):

  1. Get out a blank piece of paper or word processing document.
  2. Make a list of the 40 most valuable people to you with one per line (exclude family).
  3. To the right of each person’s name, write down the name of the person who introduced you to that person (now you have two names on each of your 40 lines).
  4. Now to the right of that second name, write down the name of who introduced you to that person.
  5. If you can’t remember who introduced you to a person (or perhaps you just met at school or work then leave that line alone.
  6. Keep adding a person to the right of the previous person until you feel like you can’t go any further.

Here’s a snippet from my list:

  • Jamie>Chad>
  • Charlie>Ted>Erin
  • Jen>Ted>Erin
  • Lenny>Jen>Ted>Erin
  • Alex>Ted>Erin
  • Zack>Chris> Chad & Ted
  • Bruce>Chad>
  • Todd>Dave
  • Mike>Dave
  • Jacquie>Tracy>Erin
  • Robert>Chad
  • Mary>Dave

Now, you’ll start to notice that just a few people — in my case Chad, Ted, Erin and Dave — are responsible for connecting me to most my friends.

Gladwell calls these people “Connectors.”

I’m a Connector too, though not as good as my Connectors.

So, if you want to to expand your network, here are a few lessons:

  1. Identify the Connectors in Your Life — Find out who they are and add value to their life (so they’ll keep introducing you to others).
  2. Ask Your Connectors Who Their Connectors Are — Connectors are usually very good at having many Connectors themselves.
  3. Try Being a Connector Yourself — Offer to introduce people of value to others who need help!
  4. Leverage LinkedIn — Read why You Must Be Linked In, an article about that amazing networking tool.
  5. Read Tipping Point.

I was inspired enough by this exercise to take Chad & Ted out for a yummy steak dinner at Gene & Georgetti’s in Chicago where I presented each of them with a personalized gift. It was of minimal value compared to the value they have given me through their Connections.

Thanks, Mr. Gladwell and thank you, Connectors!

What do you know about Connectors and Networking? Please comment below.

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Friday, April 24th, 2009

Why You Should Be LinkedIn: Is $948 Per Connection (Per Year!) Appealing?


Are you linked in?

If you’re in business, you likely should be!

LinkedIn is a business networking tool that allows you to keep track of your previous and current contacts as well as get linked to new ones.

Why should you care? Because each of your contacts is worth an average of $948 in annual revenue, according to a 2009 article by Business Week Magazine/Harvard Business Review. (note: there used to be a link for this article but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been archived — at least I can no longer find it). .

I’ve been using LinkedIn since it was founded by Reid Hoffman in December of 2002.

You can see my profile here: LinkedIn (note: You’ll only be able to see my public profile there unless you are already a LinkedIn member).

LinkedIn is similar to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, only it’s focused purely on business.

There are numerous other professional networking sites out there — with names such as Plaxo, Xing, ZoomInfo, Ecademy, Spoke, OpenBC — but I believe LinkedIn has them all beat.

Here are some of the reasons I recommend this online networking tool:

  • Old Friends & Colleagues Can Find You — LinkedIn has a neat feature that allows you to enter in past emails that you have used (e.g. from old jobs or personal email addresses you don’t use much if at all) so that your contacts don’t have to know your current email address to reach you.
  • You Can Network Into New Partners & Customers — You can go onto LinkedIn and find individuals with their titles at most major businesses and many smaller ones. LinkedIn will indicate how many connections away from you they are (e.g. 2 connections away means that the two of you have someone in common (which LinkedIn will then tell you so that your friend can introduce you to the third-party!).
  • Company Profiles — You can search a company by name and find profiles of many of their current and former employees; as well as see who their newest hires are and the most-viewed profiles. The Companies section even shows you their average age, gender breakdown and top schools that their people attended!
  • You Can Size Up People You Are About to Meet — If you’ve been introduced to a person and are soon going to meet with them for the first time, I recommend linking in to them ahead of time; that way you will be able to see who their connections are (perhaps you even have shared connections) and do some extra homework for the meeting.
  • You Can Have a Permanent Resume/Biography — LinkedIn allows you to put the background of your entire career in one place for you or others (recruiters love LinkedIn) to use.
  • You Can Post/Find Jobs Closer To You — LinkedIn’s Jobs section is a very logical way to match a business with a worker since it shows how many connections away from each other the hiring manager and prospective employee are.

I have a short-cut for you to beef up your number of LinkedIn connections..the following tool helped accelerate the growth of my linked in network.

Use their Import Webmail Contacts feature (It’s an option in the Add Connections section and might also be offered when you first sign up). LinkedIn then will go check out all of the email addresses from your email account and offer you the option to invite any or all of them to link in.

I personally chose to invite only the people who were already LinkedIn members (LinkedIn indicates that) and you can send one email to all of them with a personalized message (which I recommend).

Here’s a great 8-Step Action Plan on Setting Up & Maintaining LinkedIn written by a networking pro for a Webinar he presented to Chubb.

And if you want to expand your network even further, check out The Connector Exercise.

Good luck with your networkin’.

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