Bill McCormick, owner of Catskill, New York-based distributor Team Creative Connections (PPAI 624673), confesses that he was a poor salesperson early in his career. But times have changed. McCormick has become so accomplished at using LinkedIn to build his distributorship that he now owns a second business to teach others about the platform.

In this standing room-only presentation at Expo East on Monday, McCormick outlined specific, step-by-step instructions to maximize LinkedIn’s effectiveness as a B2B networking tool in the promotional products industry. He explained the necessity of creating a value-centric profile, with tips on making the most of the recently redesigned LinkedIn format. With the platform’s additional functionality, he recommends adding video when possible, saying, “Video is not the future; it’s the present.”

Before utilizing LinkedIn for prospecting, McCormick stresses the importance of identifying your business’s ideal customers and their characteristics, refining your digital search efforts using that criteria. He also discussed the limitations of the free version and the additional filters available with the paid subscription.

Finally, McCormick gave examples of best practices in online interactions, including finding reasons to connect with others unrelated to sales, sending personalized requests and sharing informative content.

Bruce Browing, owner of New York, New York-based distributor OlleyMay Media (PPAI 690156), says, “I thought this session was very informative, current and valuable,” adding that it aligns well with a current Proforma initiative encouraging distributors to condense sales planning into smaller, more flexible increments as opposed to within a 12-month calendar.

Melanie Richards, owner of Highland Mills, New York-based distributor Increase Your Visibility (PPAI 304523), says, “This is my 15th year of PPAI sessions, and the education is life-changing. We need to learn from people who have an understanding of the industry, who keep us ahead of trends and techniques to help us stay in front of customers in a unique and memorable way. Without PPAI, I wouldn’t still be in business or be a distributor.”