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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jared Hamilton

Jared Hamilton Founder - CEO

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Recently I was in a group with a bunch of my dealer associates, the discussion was about trends in the economy, it turned into web 2.0 and then into social networking. Most dealers in the discussion agreed, they didnt have much interest in social networks, particularly from a dealership view point. One dealer in particular stated, "I just dont get it, all these kids are connecting myspace; now professionals are getting into it on other sites. Its just a waste of time, i dont see the value in it." He then asked the rest of us, "Do any of you see it any different? How could there possibly be value in that for a car dealer?" I actually bit my tounge... but only for a few minutes. I wanted to see how others responded and was suprised that some staunch supporters of online networking came out of the wood work and made some valid arguments. Finally I couldn't bite my tounge any longer (knowing that the nationwide release of DrivingSales.com was looming).  I shared some value propositions as I saw them. Here's how I responded: 1. I agree Myspace and facebook have an entertainment/social focus. They tend to attract a younger population (althought its growing older) and the main objective of those networks is to connect people socially, not professionally. To form an opinion of the value of online networking for industry professionals through a "MySpace" lens would be incorrect. 2. Answer the fundamental question: Is there value in networking? Well hmm... dealers shell out big bucks to be in 20 groups (granted the location of the meetings are quite entertaining), the NADA convention (the BIGGEST networking event) attracts over 1/3 of the dealer population so they must see value in the networking and lastly we all know that some of the biggest deals in business are both started and closed in networked environments. Deals start off on a better foot when parties are introduced by a mutual friend and seem to go better when discussed at the golf course. We all agreed it was a stupid quesion, there is extreme value in "who you know." Since its virtually non-arguable that your network is extremly valuable, you have to look at practical dealer applications to using an online network like: a. have you ever met someone through the industry whom, months later, you'vew anted to offer a job to because he/she is perfect for the position but you cant find or dont have thier contact info? In that case what do you do? You start calling other people you know to try and get the number this long lost potential hire. Wouldn't it be nice to to log in and get it? b. I cant go to a dealer meeting without someone asking "Hey Jared, your a techy guy, who's got the best CRM system or website product or search marketing solution..." We are always leaning on our peers for product recommendations. Why not just join a network, honestly rate your vendors so all of us dealers can see, and then we can all make better choices and push the vendors to be more innovative since their performance is now so transparent? c. Recently I faced an issue at our store and i was unsure how to proceed, i called an associate, then another... and another. After wasting half a day on the phone i began to feel comfortable with how to proceed, thanks to my "networks" expert advise. The only problem was the calls took half my day. If only I could have posted the issue online and then logged back in later to read my peer responses, it would have been a much more efficient and effective (becasue i could have received MANY more opinoins) then the old fashioned telephone. d. Think of how much your job/career security is increased if you are well connected, reference checks, strategy sharing, not losing contact with associates over time, even keeping others up to date on your life... we could go on and on. In the end all online networking does is take your already extremely valuable professional network and make it more efficient and more effective, saving you time and increasing the benefits. In other words, it makes your extremly valuable network even more valuable to you. Unfortunately, for my conversation with the other dealers, i didnt even get to finish. They were all so excited about networking that they interrupted half way through and continued with their own stories why their personal network is so valuable and how they could see the online network making it even better. At least they caught the vision. :-)

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