Showing people how to use a product can be easy, or it can be hard. If the product is itself a complex one, and especially if it is one that might need specialist training to operate, the demonstration needs to be as simple as possible.Complexity of use is a major barrier to adoption—so it is worth ensuring that the product looks easy to use. This may even need to be included as part of your product design.

The idea

When Remington first introduced the typewriter, they realized that most people would consider it to be a big investment, considering that a pen or a pencil seemed to be doing the same job perfectly adequately.The company needed to demonstrate the speed and efficiency gains that a typewriter could provide—if it could not write faster than someone with a pen, it was a pointless exercise buying the machine and learning to use it. The company therefore laid out the top line of the machine as QWERTYUIOP so that its demonstrators could type the word TYPEWRITER extremely quickly.The rest of the keyboard was arranged to minimize the keys jamming in use, even though this slowed down the operation (the later DVORAK keyboard is much easier to use). Remington’s keyboard layout was so successful in marketing the new technology that the QWERTY keyboard survives to this day, despite being relatively inefficient: the alternative might have been that typewriters might never have been adopted.

In practice

• This works best for complex products.
• Don’t be afraid to redesign the product to make the demonstrations more striking.
• The easier something looks to operate, the more likely it will be adopted.

Article by Christine Gallagher

I have had a profile on LinkedIn for a while now, but as with my MySpace account, I let it languish for a long time. I wasn’t seeing LinkedIn as a place to make connections and find others in my niche. It also seemed heavily corporate, with people looking for jobs more so than small business services or products.

Originally, serving that more corporate-type population was why LinkedIn was established. However, I have recently noticed more activity among small business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. While Facebook offers a more personal snapshot of a person, LinkedIn has really become a good place to create beneficial professional relationships as well as be found by potential clients and customers.

If you are interested in finding out how to use LinkedIn to help grow your business and boost your visibility, here are a few ways to use this social network to do so:Do a search for people in targeted fields and positions. Send them a request to join your network and be sure to personalize your message.Create a thorough profile with your photo, websites and title. It is a good idea to include past experience, positions and education as well–the more information you supply, the more ways you allow others to find and connect to you.

LinkedinAnswer questions posed by other members in your community that fall into your area of expertise. “LinkedIn Answers” provides a place for you to view open questions that you may respond to. This is a wonderful way to promote your specific knowledge.Ask for recommendations of your work and offer to provide them for others. The glowing recommendations you receive will be posted right to your profile.

Develop a targeted group of contacts in your niche and start connecting each other. Try to help others expand their own networks.Look through your contacts’ networks. Select a few people each month you think would be good to know and request that your contacts introduce them to you.As with Facebook, LinkedIn offers a way to feed your blog posts right into your profile. Add an application called BlogLink–this supports blogging platforms such as TypePad, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger and more.

Invite people in your network to ask others in their networks to a discussion group or an on-line networking event.A great tip for increasing your search engine ranking with your website listing: when you go to type in your web address for your profile, you will have several choices in the drop down menu. If you choose “other” you have the option to type in any text you’d like which will then link to your site. Choose the keywords that you think would best get you found when someone searches in the search engines and voila, instant search engine optimization! (LinkedIn is ranked very highly in Google.)

Get some publicity. Many members of the media as well as some of the top bloggers have profiles on LinkedIn. Why not reach out to them and connect? You never know where the relationship will lead. Of course, don’t spam them. Send a polite and personalized message and you will have a spot on their radar.

Finally, don’t forget to add a link to your profile in your email signature. The great thing is that LinkedIn allows you to customize the link to your public profile to include your name. You should always include your social networking profiles in your signature so that every time you send an email, others have a way to connect.

As you know by now, connection is what it’s all about!