At this year’s Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s Entrepreneur University Flip the Media partnered with Jenni Hogan, CEO of TVinteract, to hear “Prime Time Pitches” from local start-ups. This article is the sixth and final installment in a series of profiles of up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.
Social media has made building your personal network as simple as clicking “Connect.” But how meaningful are those relationships and how do you leverage the power of an ever-expanding catalog of connections? This is precisely the problem OFunnel is out to solve.
In his interview with Jenni Hogan, OFunnel CEO Kushal Shah explains that sales are all about relationships, but keeping track of those relationships and knowing when and how to leverage them is laborious and time-consuming in the fast-paced world of sales.
That is why he and co-founder Van Chappell created OFunnel: “Google alerts for relationships.” The web-based app uses the information in your LinkedIn account to automatically find connections to the companies on your sales target list. It looks for people you already are connected to, and the people they are connected to, to see if there are any matches that could offer an introduction.
There could potentially be other uses for a tool that organizes and curates your online connections, and it sounds like the team at OFunnel is open to discovering different ways to use the tool. What started out primarily a sales solution has grown into a recruiting and competitor research tool as well.
Corporate recruiters use OFunnel to find potential hires within their network by telling it to look for connections with certain keywords, such as “developer” or “marketing manager.”
Or – “[Perhaps] one of [your] connections is actually [your] competitor,” explains Shah. ” And – who is he connecting to, because those are potential leads.”
Apps like this one raise questions about one’s individual connection strategy as opposed to corporate use. There is an entire class of LinkedIn users called L.I.O.N.s, or LinkedIn Open Networkers, who are open to connecting with anyone who sends them a request. (Please note: this practice is not endorsed by LinkedIn.) Their goal is gain as many connections as possible, thus giving their network the most reach.
If a L.I.O.N. (or other connection made “willy-nilly”) is your only link to someone at the company you are targeting, what is the likelihood of getting that introduction without a personal connection supporting it? Arguably, though, this could lead to more responsible LinkedIn practices.
What are your thoughts? Could your LinkedIn network use a little organizing? How many of your connections would you feel comfortable asking for an introduction? Will apps like OFunnel become indispensable in the future? Let us know in the comments.