Don't arbitrarily dismiss LinkedIn

Bob Ulrich
Posted on June 28, 2011

Germano Julio Badi requested to add you as a connection on Linked-In,” read the e-mail request. The name sounded familiar, and he wanted to add me to his professional network.

I viewed Badi’s invitation, and remembered he is the Tire Industry Association’s director of international affairs for South America (his business card leaves out his middle name). I accepted his invitation, which gives me 164 connections.

Is that good or bad? How valuable is LinkedIn to independent tire dealers, or any retailer, for that matter?

LinkedIn bills itself as the world’s largest professional network. It connects more than 100 million “professionals” in more than 200 countries, either directly or in a “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” way.

It works. I communicate with Antony Powath, vice president of marketing with “Rubber Asia” based in India, only through LinkedIn.

How many of you are linked in to Linked-In, but do little more than accept the invitations because they are sent to your e-mail? I was like that at first, but have since realized how valuable LinkedIn is.

Certainly, the networking aspects of it are great if you are trying to find a job. I’ve even written a reference for a former colleague. And it works both ways: It’s  also a great place to find qualified employees.

But LinkedIn’s greatest strength may be in its business networking.

For example, if you have a business question, you have millions of people at your disposal to help answer it. “Post those vexing questions on ‘LinkedIn Answers’ to tap into the knowledge of the world’s foremost business experts,” says the site.

Alan Renzi, owner of The Tire Spot LLC in Newark, N.Y., sees the need for LinkedIn — and he has just started connecting to people. It’s all about networking, he says.

“I can see the potential value in it, but I haven’t utilized it yet. One of the three people I have linked up with so far is my former NTDRA (National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association) rep, and it was nice to know he was still around.

“He might be a potential source for information in the future for some of the resources NTDRA had. I am looking for the tire dealer survey book they put out in the ’80s. It was a dealer operations manual and workbook. It had financial ratios in it that you could compare to your own, and help you troubleshoot the financial condition of your company.”

(Well? Can anyone help out Alan? He’s also on Facebook, by the way.)

There are a lot of other ways LinkedIn can help you and your business.

In his recent Web article, “Three Ways to Use LinkedIn for Social Sales,” Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Chess Media Group, writes that he finds information on prospects before meeting with or contacting them. I would think wholesale distributors and commercial tire dealers would find this extremely helpful.

I know I do. As a journalist, I have used LinkedIn to keep up with executive titles. And you don’t have to be connected to the executive to call up his or her profile.

LinkedIn is a social network for businesspeople, which differs from Facebook. The latter says it gives people “the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

As it relates to retailers, however, Facebook is business-oriented, too, because it connects them directly to their customers.

Many of you have a Facebook page for your tire dealerships, where you can promote special offers and pile up “Likes.” I know a lot of you are nervous about giving customers a chance to post feedback on their vehicle repair experiences, but I’m sure the good comments outweigh the bad. It also gives you a chance to right any wrongs, either real or perceived.

Modern Tire Dealer has its own Facebook page, and 898 people “Like” us. (Next stop, 1,000!) We use it to post photos from the dealer meetings and product introductions we attend, and interact with our readership.

Sometimes we post news items. Sometimes we display links to fun videos, such as old tire advertising.

Although tire dealers are our customers, the MTD Face-book page is closer to a B2B site, whereas your pages are clearly B2C. Either way, as Alan Renzi says, it’s all about networking.

So when Germano Julio Badi or someone like him wants to connect with you on LinkedIn,  or a tire-buying customer decides to become a fan of your Facebook page, embrace the opportunity, and accept social networking in 2011.

Just don’t let LinkedIn and Facebook erode your face-to-face social skills.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at

Related Topics: Bob Ulrich, Editorial, LinkedIn

Bob Ulrich Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
Brent Windom is returning to Uni-Select, but heading to Canada.

Windom is Out at Pep Boys, and Heading to Uni-Select Canada

The man tasked with leading the integration of Pep Boys — Manny, Moe & Jack into investor Carl Icahn’s portfolio of auto parts businesses has left the company. Brent Windom has been appointed president and chief operating officer of Uni-Select Inc.’s Canadian Automotive Group.


Tariffs on Imported Steel Affect the Tire Industry

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is investigating the national security implications of steel imports, and the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) has testified consumers, as well as the U.S. military, depend on tires and the availability of certain imported steel is critical.

Vice Chairman and Managing Director Neeraj Kanwar (left), Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Chairman Onkar Kanwar celebrate the opening of the Apollo Tyres Ltd. plant in Budapest.

Apollo Opens Tire Plant in Hungary, Looks for Growth in the U.S.

The opening of Apollo Tyres Ltd.’s new $500 million consumer and commercial tire plant outside of Budapest, Hungary, last month was a huge global event. Said to be the largest investment by an Indian-based company in Hungary, the grand opening drew a visit from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.


Using 'Return on Sales' Measurement to Guide Purchases

Let’s look at two hypothetical tire and service stores, in the same town, a few miles from each other. Both stores do about $1.2 million in sales with about a third of their business in tires, the rest in service. Both see business is up and getting even better. It’s time to hire another salesperson. My advice to one of the owners is, “Go ahead, you need the extra help,” to which he thanks me for my expert opinion. To the other owner, I say, “It will make you lose money,” and he quickly tells me how wrong I am.

Anne Forristall Luke believes as the USTMA better explains the part it plays in consumer safety, consumers will be more likely to ask what part they need to play to keep travel safe.

The RMA Is Changing Its Name

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is rebranding itself, and its new name is more focused on what its members do — manufacture tires in the United States.


ZC Rubber Opens R&D Center

Zhongce Rubber Group Co Ltd. (ZC Rubber) has opened a research and development center in China in cooperation with a state-owned research and development institute.


Bauer Built Awards $6,000 in Annual Scholarships

Since 1994 Bauer Built Inc. has recognized the children and grandchildren of its employees through the G. F. “Sam” and Ethel V. Bauer/Bauer Built Inc. Scholarship program. Four high school seniors have earned the prize in 2017.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from MTD delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the tire industry and don't miss a thing!