Benjamin Harrison is a lifelong entrepreneur and product developer who has worked with some of the top musicians in the world. Through teaching the methods he created while pitching his own products, he has helped hundreds of innovators and entrepreneurs to successfully get their own ideas into companies of all sizes.
Benjamin has also created a system that uses LinkedIn to help inventors connect with potential licensees. He recently published a book that explains licensing ideas using LinkedIn, detailing how inventors can use LinkedIn to obtain superior results. He co-wrote the book, Licensing Ideas Using LinkedIn with Stephen Key.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Is Benjamin Harrison a musician?
- How using LinkedIn helped Benjamin connect with top music executives
- How professionals use LinkedIn to build connections and how it’s different from other social media accounts
- Leveraging LinkedIn to find licensees for your products
- What makes LinkedIn better than cold calling or emailing?
- The right way to send connection requests and get introductions on LinkedIn
- Benjamin talks about co-writing Licensing Ideas Using LinkedIn with Stephen Key and building the Smart Pitch community through inventRight
- How to get in touch with Benjamin Harrison
In this episode…
Getting in touch with top executives in most industries can be a big challenge for most inventors. You can try cold calling or cold emailing, but your efforts may be futile. One reason why you’re not getting any responses with this strategy is pretty straightforward: your outreach methods are too easy to ignore!
So, how do you pivot? By appearing as a colleague instead of a nuisance looking to pitch or sell to them.
This is where LinkedIn comes in handy for creating professional connections; but, most people make a number of mistakes when trying to connect with professionals and executives on LinkedIn. For instance, most people send marketing scripts or materials immediately after they connect with someone—before getting permission from them. By doing this, they end up looking like a bot or spammer, and their pitch gets ignored.
In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein is joined by Benjamin Harrison, entrepreneur and product developer, to talk about how inventors can find licensees through LinkedIn. Benjamin explains how to soften an introduction on LinkedIn, how to create a professional LinkedIn profile, and how his Smart Pitch community works.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Goldstein Patent Law
- Rich Goldstein’s book: The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent
- Benjamin Harrison on LinkedIn
- Licensing Ideas Using LinkedIn: Ditch Cold Calling Forever! Connect with companies looking for new products by Benjamin Harrison and Stephen Key
- Stephen Key on LinkedIn
- Victor Wooten
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to https://goldsteinpatentlaw.com/. They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process.
You can email their team at [email protected] to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’
Welcome to innovations and breakthroughs with your host Ritz Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host rich Goldstein
Hosts of the innovations and breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders and the path they took to create change past guests include Rex’s Ari, Stephen Key, and Louis Foreman. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein patent law, where we help you to protect your ideas and products we’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 26 years. So if you’re a company that has software, a product or a design, you want protected go to Goldstein patent law.com, where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. And you could eat me on my [email protected] to explore for some match to work together. You can also check out the book I wrote for the American bar association that explains in plain English, how patents work it’s called the ABA consumer guide to obtaining a patent. I have here today. Ben Harrison, uh, Ben Harrison is a lifelong entrepreneur and a product developer. Who’s worked with some of the top musicians in the world through teaching the methods he created while he was pitching his own products. He’s also helped hundreds of inventors entrepreneurs to successfully get their own ideas into companies of all sizes. Benjamin has also created a system that uses LinkedIn to help inventors connect with potential licensees. He recently published a book that explained that explains licensing ideas using LinkedIn and goes over in detail. How inventors can use LinkedIn to obtain superior results. So I’m just honored today to welcome here, Benjamin Harrison. Welcome Ben.
Hey rich. I’m honored to be on your podcast, buddy. Thanks for having,
Yeah, my pleasure. And I’m just going kind of oscillating back and forth between calling you Ben and Benjamin, but I’m going to see if I could stick with Ben from here on out
Here on out. Hey man. And we’ll see how you do. I’ll recommend you keep, keep score. Okay.
So we’ll, so we’ll put another one in the Ben column, you know? So, so you’re on the road right now,
It’s really awesome. I appreciate you taking the time. You did pull over to the side of the road though, to do this interview, correct?
Correct? Correct. Well, I’ve got some, some beautiful snow-capped mountains and the distance that’s being on the road right now. Isn’t something that we planned, but we sold our house, our house, and we’d been moving across the country and a 38 foot class say RV and the vehicle that I’m in right now. So yeah, traveling, isn’t something that we were planning on right now, but it was, it was a little too late by the time we’d already left. So we’re doing what we can from the road.
Nice. Nice. And, um, so, um, you know, you you’ve worked with a lot of musicians as you, you said before, and so are you a musician?
Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask it, I’ve met, you enjoy playing music. Absolutely. And I’ve met so many amazing musicians and had the pleasure of working alongside of them that I hate to even call myself a musician, but I’ve also had some of those same top guys catch me saying that I’m not after they’ve heard me play and they’re like, you can’t say you’re not a musician.
So have you gotten to jam with some of those top musicians?
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Probably
To being a musician then than, than many other people that do,
Probably so, but my favorite, if you, uh, have time to check just to, to give you one example would be Victor Wooten. And if you’ve never heard of Victor Wooten, he is the, I think he’s the only guy to ever be on the cover of bass player magazine three years in a row for bass player of the year. And he’s not only just like, uh, you know, out just in the alien, he’s just a different level of player. He’s insane, but he’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met too. So yeah, I play, I played bass. I play a guitar. I sing, I play drums. I record, I do all of that. Just not as a living. God
Got it. But, um, but the music industry is part of what helped you create some of your, um, successful, um, techniques that you use for inventing, right? Because I guess there was a day when, when it was about getting in touch with the record executives and you had that experience. So do you want to talk a bit about that?
Sure. Whenever I first met Steve and key, as you mentioned earlier, and I first started learning about licensing, uh, became a student of his, because I had a really big idea that I was working on that was required me to get in touch with those top executives at record labels and some of the top entertainment, you know, industries or companies out there. And that was what really drove me to use LinkedIn was because you can’t get those cats on them.
These guys are not easy to get into contact with. Right? It’s like if you were trying to get in touch with someone, maybe who manufacturers construction products, they’re not used to getting bombarded, but record company executives are used to being bombarded musicians, trying to get them to play that tape. Right. I don’t know if they tape it anymore, but you know,
Speaker 4 (06:04):
Wait a minutes,
You may actually think they actually respond to that. It’s been so long since they’ve heard it. That’s a good man to try that sense of wonder that I can set see what happens. Right. Exactly. But yeah, that’s, that’s the thing. And I think that dealing with famous people and dealing with executives in those industries before trying to pitch business method IP to them helped me understand that they do get pitched all day every day. Even if it’s not someone pitching them directly, it’s people trying to get to know them because of how it could potentially benefit them down the road so they can smell a pitch a mile away. And it just doesn’t really work with them and getting them on the phone doesn’t work either. And that was what drove me to use. LinkedIn was Steven was mentoring me through this process. You know, it was just crickets.
I was not getting any responses. Uh, it was terrible, but whenever I started using LinkedIn, it took a little bit for me to understand how to, how to use it as a direct outreach platform. But once I, once I got a wrangle on it, I was able to get in touch with executives on just insane levels and not only get in touch with them, but reach out to them in a way where they received me as a peer, rather than someone that was just, uh, uh, another nuisance, another person gumming out on them and I’m trying to, to, you know, sell them something. She, so, yeah, but it made a very big difference having that backdrop of, Hey, these people are used to this. You have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the mass of other people that need them for something too.
Yep. Got it. And so, uh, I mean, for anyone who’s listening, who isn’t familiar with LinkedIn, LinkedIn is I’m a social media platform, I guess, essentially where, um, it’s used by professionals of all kinds and all different professions. And basically the, the, um, the focus of it is kind of professional experience, professional, um, professional qualifications. And so you’ll find people that are at all levels in every type of company having a profile on LinkedIn. So, um, often it’s a way that, that business people network with each other. And so really what we’re talking about here is using this platform to find people, um, that are in companies that could appreciate the type of idea that you have because it’s in a relevant industry. And also they’re in a position to, um, to make it happen because they’re in the right industry. So the kind of the, really the nexus there that we’re looking for is someone who, um, because of the position they’re in, they can, they can appreciate how, how important or how good your idea is. And also they’re in that position to make it happen because they have the, the, the resources with regard to manufacturing and distribution, et cetera,
100%. And what’s really unique about reaching out to people using LinkedIn, which let’s take a step back for a second, just so everyone knows before you, before you form this opinion about me and go ahead and shut off every thing that’s going to come out of my mouth, because I’m talking about social media. I’m not a social media guy. I’m not a big fan of social media. I don’t have, I have less than 10 friends on Facebook. And I mainly use it because I’m a cheapskate. And I like to use Facebook marketplace on not the, if it required being an influencer in order to get your ideas into people on using LinkedIn, I never would have pursued it. I never could have done it. That’s a misconception that a lot of people have. One of we start talking about this is they think, Oh, that’s great. Yeah, you can use LinkedIn, but it’s a social media platform. I really can’t stand social media. I don’t want to have to be an influencer in order to get my ideas in the companies, but it’s not the case.
Yeah. That’s great context for people that you’re, you’re not, you’re not necessarily a social media girl. You’re far from it, as you said, and you are, you don’t have any special standing on any of these platforms, but yet you’re able to leverage, um, leverage the capabilities of the platform to make it work for you.
Absolutely. And while using a free account too, is another distinction. As a lot of people think that you have to have a premium LinkedIn account in order to use it for business purposes,
You don’t need a premium LinkedIn account.
No, you don’t need a dreamy LinkedIn account.
Man. I’ve been wasting all this money. All these years.
People will spend upwards of $119 a month, uh, thinking that if they spend the money that it’s going to do the work for them, but it’s simply not the case. You still have to connect. You still have to reach out to people. You still have to do all the work the same. So, yeah. So as a backdrop here, you know, big picture, this is a guy that doesn’t like social media, my girlfriend, we are not friends on Facebook. Uh that’s how far it is. And I’m not a influencer. I don’t, I don’t think that anybody should, should think for a second that you have to be an influencer or pay a premium every month in order to get your ideas. And
Great. So let’s, so let’s talk about it. So, so how does someone go about, uh, creating, uh, those types of contacts or really, how do they go about like looking to leverage LinkedIn, to find someone to license their product?
So the first thing that you need to do is you need to make sure that your profile looks professional. Because if you, if you don’t have a picture up, or if you have a weird picture or a picture that isn’t you, or a picture that, uh, doesn’t look professional, all of this is going to be in vain. Any of these, any of the future steps that you will need to take are not going to work. So you need to start out by focusing on making a professional looking profile. And it doesn’t take that long to do, and just need a picture that’s of your face because the icons are small and it’s difficult for people to see your face, but they, they need to be able to see you as if they’re meeting you in person. You need to think of it that way. This is your digital introduction to them. I call it a digital handshake. Um, so you need to make sure that you have a picture that that’s clear and professional, where you’re smiling and looking at the camera, right? You need to know
Like your Halloween picture or your typical Facebook, um, profile picture. Maybe sometimes. I mean, it should be something that just shows you professionally, but professionally you don’t need to dress up. You don’t need to wear a suit, but, but you should look neat. And like, as if you went to a photographer and said, take a headshot of me.
Absolutely. And a good, um, thing to shoot for a good way to say how dressed up you should be or not is to look at profiles of the people that you are going to be pitching to look at the, the professionals that you’re going to be reaching out to, and try to meet them professionally, where they’re at. If you’re reaching out to huge executives at Warner brothers, if you’re reaching out to the, uh, vice president of con consumer engagement, uh, Sony, you may need to have a little more polished look than if you’re reaching out to someone that works in bait and tackle or something like that. So just find the people that you’re going to be reaching out to get a good idea of how it is that they are coming across professionally on LinkedIn and try to meet them there. That’s good principle. There
Is that people like people that are like them. And so, you know, if you, uh, I think that’s great advice. What you’re saying is like, once you find your target community, you want to have them immediately feel like this guy is like us.
That’s a great point. So much of what makes LinkedIn work versus your cold call or cold email. So, so much of what gets a higher response rate are those social cues that you’re talking about. It’s the fact that through your profile, you can show someone that you’re professionally on the same level as they are, or show some kind of similar interests. And, uh, or that you’re, uh, you can add things to your profile to show that you understand that their technical jargon and those similarity cues that you’re talking about of people liking people that are, that are like them feeling more comfortable with them. That is what ends up resulting in such a high response rate, which on the low end for whatever people are getting started is around 20%. But on the high end of, of response rates for students that put the time in to not only have a good profile, but take it to the next step and start participating some on the platform, they can get into the, you know, 40 to 60% plus response rate, which anybody that’s for, anybody has ever done any cold calling knows that that’s just absolutely absurd.
Um, they’re used to getting more five to 10%. So you’re exactly right that ability to, to display or convey those social cues to people is very powerful. And I don’t think that people understand that until they start using the platform properly. So you need to have a good looking professional account, uh, or profile, and you need to also start building your network out and you do that by asking people for connections. And so what we’ve done with an event right, is we’ve had all the invent rights students all come together and everybody connects with each other, everybody that does the smart pitch program that we have specifically for people pitching through LinkedIn, everybody connects together to help start to build that base of connections, because in order to use a free account, you’re going to have to connect with people before you can reach out to them. Right.
I want to have a certain number of connections ahead of time. It’s like one of the things that people see immediately is how many connections you have. And if it says two, then it doesn’t look very serious. Uh, you know, as it almost could be a fake account, you know, when, when there’s a significant number of connections, it appears more real because there’s a certain momentum there, like, okay, if, if, uh, 250 people have connected to this person, then obviously they knew them, or, um, it’s just less likely it gives a more credible.
Absolutely. Once again, it says same social cues like you were talking about before and even more so when you start to build connections in an industry, and then you start to have similar connections with people, as you’re connecting with them, you, you may share 20, 30, 50 connections and those social cues, as you continue to build your account out like that, just help you, um, help you to get in very, very easily. Um,
Got it. So you leveraged the community, the community, um, of, uh, through the, the smart pitch program. Um, and, um, basically everyone connects to each other so that you have some connections, uh, associated with your account. Um, and then what’s next. Then you, you, you begin to target.
Yeah. At that point, you start to research companies that are on your hit list of companies that you want to try to get your ideas into. And as you’re researching those companies, you’ll see a list of their employees and you’ll want to start reaching out or not reaching out, but sending a connection request to the employees of the companies on your hit list at that point, and to try to start to connect with people within those companies, it doesn’t matter if it’s the CEO or, uh, someone in HR or someone in sales. It just matters that you get connected at first to where you can ask other people within the same company or connection requests as well. Uh, eventually what you’re going to want to do once you’ve connected with people within the company is you want to try to target just as a rule of thumb marketing managers, sales managers, and people on product development within those companies. So that once you’re connected with them, you can reach out to them directly with a very basic script and get them to tell you where it is that you need to send your product submission to, or even potentially help you along in that process. Does that make sense?
Absolutely. I mean, potentially you can get some introductions where, uh, I mean, you’re, you’re not, I’d say you’re probably not likely to land on the exact right person initially, but if you can make enough of a connection that they will then introduce you to the right person, um, then that’s even more valuable to come in, introduced by someone within the company, um, is, is an even, even, even more, um, an incredible way to, to meet someone then than coming in cold. So
Absolutely I call it a BV you’ve already been vetted and, and that’s what happens a lot of times is you reach out to someone and what I have students do. And what I’ll do personally is all even give it a L S all softened, the beginning of my script, some where first off, nobody asks for permission. Everybody just sends their marketing material over first, whenever they’re trying to reach out on LinkedIn, that’s a huge mistake. You need to give people the respect of asking them permission in some way to send your marketing material over, or you’re going to be seen as spam, just like all the rest of people that are out there spamming. That’s how you have to another way that you can separate yourself from the pack. And I like to do this by say, I’m reaching out to a marketing manager, I’ll say, Hey, rich, I’m sure it’s not your department, but I’d appreciate it.
If you could help point me to whoever it is within your company that takes care of open innovation products, admissions, and it, that first line, the, Hey, I’m sure it’s not, I’m sure it’s not your business. I’m sure it’s not something that you have to take care of. It softens that introduction a little bit by not immediately saying, Hey, I expect you to know this and take care of this and get back to me. I’m requiring something of you it’s softens the ask some. And if you do that, it seems like more times than not, people are willing to help you. And they’ll say, Hey, you know what? You’re right. I’m not the right person, but this is the right person. And, uh, feel free to let them know that I sent you over and then not allows you to put rich, sent me over rich. And the marketing manager rich sent me to you for this. And at that point, your chances of having that email be not only open, but responded to are infinitely higher than.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. Um, and, uh, so you, you put this together in a book, um, licensing ideas using LinkedIn.
Yeah. It’s something that Stephen Key and I did together. It’s something that we co-wrote, it’s interesting. Hopefully people, hopefully people will like it. It’s a little different, it’s something because, uh, when we went to co-write the book, we had, some people tell us that our options were that we would either just have one voice throughout the book, or we’d have to each take a chapter. And Steven and I are both hardheaded and difficult, uh, are used to having, you know, things work, work, uh, or we’ll find a way to make it work. And so he and I both shared almost in every chapter, there are a few chapters where it’s just one voice, but we found a way to mix both of our voices in the book and still try to have it, have that flow. But we give away all the, all the same tips and tactics and everything that’s been working for the community of people over at smart pitching and vent.
Right. All of that is in the book. And it’s, it’s been out for a few weeks now, maybe, maybe a little over a month. And it’s, it’s been really neat to see all the, the feedback from everybody so far, because this isn’t like overly difficult stuff. People just need some direction and they, they need a little bit of, uh, it’s nice to have all the experience on the phone and rather than having to learn all those hard lessons, the way that I did. And so we’re seeing a great response from people out of it. Everyone’s, uh, getting into companies very easily, especially right now, the good luck getting people on the phone. It’s just not something that happens. A lot of people are working from home and, um, they have tabs open and LinkedIn’s one of them, the it’s insane, the responses that students get. We have someone that I wouldn’t even call a student at this point.
Speaker 5 (25:30):
It’s the community in the community you’re talking about. Right. And not in the, um, in the smart pitch community. Yeah.
So through invent, right? We, uh, we’ve been offering a program called smart touch, and it is, uh, the mixture of over four hours of online course, like how to videos of how to make LinkedIn work for you. But it’s all, we also have bi-weekly meetings that are zoom meetings, where there’s over 50 and vendors from all over the world that all get together. And we all discuss, what’s working for us. What isn’t, uh, we have, uh, started out more as a Q and a for people that maybe didn’t understand that part of the course, but it turned into more of a community of everybody coming in and sharing their ideas and sharing what’s working for them, sharing their experiences. And one of the people in that smart pitch community is a inventor by the name of Dana Knowles. And Dana shared on our meeting that we just had last Tuesday.
And she’s the queen of this. It’s like almost every weekend, she gets with a new one, but she’ll reach out to people on Saturday afternoon on LinkedIn and have a response in under a minute. It’s just, it’s bonkers the difference in response rates that people get using that platform versus being constrained by business hours and office hours, having to call learn all of that. So, yeah, it’s been a really powerful thing for inventors. Um, so Steven and I wanted to put that book together to share that with everyone else and to, to continue to build the inventing community on LinkedIn, which is a goal of ours because we’ve seen how powerful it is whenever everybody comes together and supports each other.
That’s amazing. So people want to learn more about you get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so,
So look, look me up on LinkedIn. If you just look up Benjamin Harrison, uh, um, I’ll, uh, you don’t get a scratch. You don’t, you don’t get a tally. I’m the one that said Benjamin, not you, but, uh, look up Benjamin Harrison, uh, invent, right? I’ll just do a search for that on LinkedIn. And you can connect with me there. And we have tons of articles, videos, free stuff that you can check out on how to make LinkedIn work for you without having to be a member of smart pitch, or even getting the $19 book there, we have tons of information that can get you started. And I’ve had a lot of responses from people on LinkedIn already that have just watched YouTube videos and are already getting well off the ground running. So I want to encourage everybody to check out all that content and see what you can do with it.
Yeah. I’m going to pick up a copy of that book. Um, and I hope that all the people do as well. And I really appreciate you taking the time, taking time out of your trip to, to have this conversation with us and, uh, and all the valuable information you shared. So thanks so much for being here. Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Thanks for listening to innovations and breakthroughs with your host, rich Goldstein. Be sure to click, subscribe, check us out on the [email protected] and we’ll see you next time.