My team started our LinkedIn group, Mattress Industry Executives, in December of 2010 and we are very happy to report we have 3,000 industry members participating in the community with Demian Ross from Custom Comfort Mattress joining as #3,000. Back then, LinkedIn was really starting to grow and I was reading an article on how other industries were using the social networking site to stay connected. I did a quick search and found that there were no LinkedIn groups specifically for the mattress industry. So I called my top guy in web, Tom Hawkins, and asked him to get me a logo, call it Mattress Industry Executives (I wanted it to sound important), and make sure the logo had red in it. In less than an hour, we were off and running.
In the past, if you wanted make a few friends in the industry, catch up with old ones, share some ideas, have some good debates, and network with others that shared your passion for your business, you would need to go to some industry event and hope to run into people on break or at cocktail hour. Now we don’t have to go anywhere – you can do all of that right on LinkedIn. It’s pretty amazing if you really think about it. On any given day, if you wanted to learn something, teach something, or simply take the temperature of people that share your interest in the mattress business, you can simply log on and do that.
In this group, we have talked about how to make beds, how to sell beds, the tough topic of warranties, sex, politics and other things we should probably not be discussing, but we do because we can. I love reading comments every day because there is so much to learn when you are listening. I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up things I didn’t know because of the comments on a thread in this group! Here are a few things I have learned at the 30,000-foot level as a result of being a member:
- People in communities like this appreciate honest communication. Even if someone doesn’t agree with you, there is a lot of respect for your opinion, so speak the truth.
- Many out there don’t understand the dynamics of a group like this and come in guns blazing and shouting marketing messages at people that serve their own products or services. That’s not how this works. If you were the new neighbor in your hood and went to a barbeque to meet the rest of the people on your street and immediately started selling them insurance, my guess is that you are not going to get invited to the pool party once summer starts. Listen, learn, and be helpful to others in the community. This will earn you the right to share stories about your company when it is relevant!
- Name-calling is a good way to get a comment flagged and you deleted.
- You get out of it what you put into it. There are many that are involved in the group even though they may not comment, which is just fine – we are glad to have everybody. I encourage people to share their thoughts, however, because you never know what that will inspire from someone else.
- We are better together. If we are going to beat out other consumer products categories trying to earn the disposable income of OUR consumers, then we have to work as a team and drive our products and benefits.
- Being able to share thoughts with our friends in other parts of the world is really great. We can learn a lot from each other.
So I say to you, the members of Mattress Industry Executives, the ORIGINAL mattress group on LinkedIn, THANK YOU. I am glad to be in it with you and sincerely appreciate your insights. If you know someone who is not currently a member, tell them about us and let’s grow another 1,000. If this group isn’t for you that’s okay, just get involved with someone. Check out a few others like Mattress Marketing, or Mattress Sales Tips and Techniques and jump in. What is your best takeaway from being involved? Tell me in the comments section!