How James Filbird built his company to $5,000,000 largely through his efforts on LinkedIn.
“If you can’t make money on LinkedIn, you’re deaf, dumb and blind,” says James Filbird of JMF International Trade Group.
It’s 6 pm on the west coast of the United States, but it’s already 9 am tomorrow at James Filbird’s apartment in Shenzhen, China.
Filbird is the proprietor of JMF International Trade Group Ltd., a company he built to $5 million in revenue largely through his efforts on LinkedIn, the only major social media platform that is not blocked by the Chinese government.
His beginnings in China, however, were less than auspicious.
An American in China
When Filbird moved to China in early 2006, he spent nine months working on a manufacturing venture that eventually fell through. He had planned to stay at least a year, so when the deal went sour, he did some soul-searching.
“I had very little money in my pocket. Usually it’s the Chinese coming to America with little money for their dream, but I did it the other way around.”
He decided to stay in China as a business consultant and contract manufacturer, the “feet on the ground” for inventors looking to source products there, and gravitated to LinkedIn as a way to connect with potential business.
A LinkedIn early adopter, Filbird had joined the site in 2004 as one of the first one million members. At that point he hadn’t used it much, seeing it as a resource for job-seekers. But in late 2006 when he began building his business in earnest, it seemed the only choice for serious professional prospecting.
LinkedIn has also remained the only platform accessible without a VPN inside China. “[LinkedIn has] never been blocked by the Chinese government except for one day,” Filbird said. “Whereas Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have been blocked for the last four years.”
He built out his profile to 100%, joined the maximum allowable 50 groups and spent up to two hours daily on the site engaging in group discussions and looking for people to connect with.
Since then, he has used his strategy on the site to grow JMF International to between $3.5 million and $5 million in annual revenue. “There are a lot of really good people on LinkedIn,” Filbird said. “They’re professional, courteous, friendly, fun, a wealth of information and they’re super-smart. That’s why I’ve been able to get most of my business from LinkedIn.”
Building an International Business Using LinkedIn
Here are Filbird’s seven steps to cultivating successful business relationships using LinkedIn, whether you live in China, Chicago or [Miami].
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