Monthly Archives: May 2011

Two cool ways for professionals to use LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful marketing and business development tool and there are some fantastic examples of professionals using it really well to engage with their target audiences.

I thought it would be good to share some great things others are doing every now and again. Here are two that I particularly like:

The first example is from Toby Marshall who runs the GBO (Get Booked Out) Group on LinkedIn. He and his team regularly initiate great discussions but the brilliant thing they do is summarize discussion threads in a blog, pulling out the salient points and attributing them to group members. Toby then:

  • posts this for members of the group to share with their networks
  • tweets the link to the blog

This provides a really good record of the discussion in an easily digestible form enabling people to see all perspectives. It also gives those members who have commented additional exposure.

The second example I like (and that I recently did myself) is producing a free guide, or a summary of some market research that your target audience will value and offering this to people via relevant LinkedIn groups. This is not only a great way of positioning yourself but is also a great way to try to help people. As a result of offering a free guide to getting valuable client feedback, I have had some interesting discussions with several people and have sent well over 100 people a copy over the past month.

I’ve also taken others up on their offers of sharing free information and have always been able to take away at least one or two things I can implement in my own business – to me that’s really valuable. For example, late last year I requested Adam Gordon’s free LinkedIn opportunities guide, which I thought was well written and provided some good ideas about how to start leveraging LinkedIn. It inspired me to further research some LinkedIn functionality I wasn’t previously aware of. Since then I’ve had a couple of discussions with Adam and would definitely recommend him to friends and ex-colleagues in the UK looking to leverage LinkedIn.

The great thing about offering a free guide is that you tend to stay top of the discussion forum for a while. This is important because people often don’t check LinkedIn every day. Having your discussion show up near the top of the page for a prolonged period maximises your exposure to others and increases uptake.

What other examples of professionals using LinkedIn well from a business development and marketing perspective have you seen? 

What would your top tip for engaging with groups be? 

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Do you market to your colleagues?

If you’re looking to build your practice, one of your best referral sources is likely to be others you work with. However, in order for them to recommend you to their clients and networks, they need to know who you help, what you help them with, and some examples of issues you can resolve or assist clients with. It’s less about cross-selling and more about working together to uncover unmet client needs.

6 tips to market effectively internally:

1. Show interest: schedule a half hour catch-up with a different colleague each week – particularly those you don’t know or don’t know well. Going for a coffee or popping your head around the door of a colleague’s office is a great way to get known within your organisation. By showing an interest in your colleague’s work, and discussing issues, you can let them know how you might potentially be able to help them out.

2. Give to get: focus on how you can help the other person – what does their ideal client look like? (n.b. you may have to ask this a few times as they may not know themselves), how would you recognise an ideal referral for them? Be on the lookout for opportunities to help them.

3. Agree to do something for your colleague and then do it: for example you may introduce them to a client or friend of yours if you believe there is mutual benefit or you may forward one of their articles/news alerts to your network.

4. Share client intelligence that they may be interested in.

5. Treat your colleagues and their clients like your own: if an issue arises, or is likely to, which will impact a colleague’s clients, let your colleague know what the issue is and what the key implications are so that he/she can contact his/her impacted clients. Suggest your colleague schedules a meeting with their client, which you can join to discuss the issue.

6. Buddy up – share plans and ideas, set weekly actions, and keep each other on track.

If you want to leverage your internal connections then you do need to spend time developing them. Even spending one hour per week on internal marketing will pay huge dividends. You need to connect the dots for your colleagues – how are your practices complimentary? Where are the overlaps in issues / clients/ work flows? If you focus on the other person and follow through on your promises, you should notice more colleagues trying to help you.

What other internal marketing tactics have worked well for you? What internal marketing advice would you give to other professionals looking to build their practices? 

Professional services marketing lessons I’ve learnt from Supernanny

I confess, I occasionally watch Supernanny. I quite enjoy seeing children who behave worse than my own and picking up tips about how to deal with various situations. Last week, while watching a struggling family, the parallels between the parents’ behaviour and the way some professionals market themselves really struck me.

As I’ve found out since having kids, it can take time, effort and perseverence to finally get a message through to a child. And it takes the same sort of effort to build your personal profile and develop strong, long-term relationships with clients and referrers.

Here’s how what I observed on Supernanny relates to professional services marketing:

1. You get out of a relationship what you put in. If you want to build strong, enduring relationships with your clients, you need to invest time in them in an ongoing way. For example, maintaining regular contact even when you are not working with them, providing status updates when you are, sending them info useful to their business, visiting them at their premises etc.

2. You must be consistent in your behaviour. I regularly work with lawyers who are great at getting out and networking, catching up for coffee with clients, referrers and prospects and sharing useful information when they are not busy. But when they get snowed under, all their marketing efforts fly out the window. This results in marked peaks and troughs in their business rather than a steady stream of work. You have to market during the busy times too – the best way I have found to do this is to block out time in your diary each week for marketing activities and to stick to using this time for that purpose – make it a habit.

3. You should always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Rather than getting frustrated with your clients, think about what their needs might be and why they are behaving that way. Understanding their drivers, beliefs and values often helps you to modify your own behaviour, resulting in much better outcomes.

4. Give your clients the attention they deserve. When you’re busy it can be tempting to only give something half the attention it deserves, or to put something off until later. It’s totally understandable that you’re not going to be able to meet deadlines 100% of the time. But you do need to manage your client’s expecations. As soon as you become aware that you are not going to be able to deliver to a pre-agreed timeframe, let them know.

I’m really making a conscious effort to do the above with my clients and with my kids and I’m noticing positive responses on both fronts!

What other parallels have you noticed between raising kids and professional services marketing? 

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Protect your firm’s reputation on LinkedIn

One of the things I’ve noticed recently on LinkedIn is that a few of my contacts still have profiles showing they are employed by a firm they’re no longer with. Presumably their account is either inactive or they haven’t bothered to update it.

While that doesn’t reflect particularly well on them, it could have huge implications for their previous employer. In fact, a couple of clients have asked me if I know how to get their company details removed from ex-employees profiles.

I asked LinkedIn and, while it is possible for organisations to get the link from a person to their company page removed (you just need to email LinkedIn customer services at http://help.linkedin.com), LinkedIn can’t amend a user’s profile in any way, shape or form without a user’s permission.

So, what can you do? 

If you email the person’s account details and the name of the company with which they are wrongly affiliated to LinkedIn, LinkedIn will contact them to ask them to update their account details. While that is definitely the first step for anyone with this problem,  I’d recommend trying to prevent this from happening in the first place.

How can you try to prevent this from happening? 

I would include updating LinkedIn (and other relevant social media) profiles as part of your exit process. This would mean that during a person’s last week (assuming they are on LinkedIn) you would ask them to change their current position and to list you as a past, rather than current, employer.

How do they amend this information? 

To change this information, the person needs to:

  1. log into their LinkedIn account,
  2. select ‘Edit Profile’ in the drop down box under ‘Profile’,
  3. click on the ‘Edit’ button next to their current position,
  4. uncheck the tick box next to the words ‘I currently work here’,
  5. put in the month and year they left the role into the boxes that appear next to the start date
  6. push the ‘Update’ button
They should also make sure their job title disappears from their Headline. If it doesn’t then they need to: 
  1. select ‘Edit’ next to their name at the top of their profile
  2. delete the text in the ‘Professional Headline’ box
Other things you should ask them to do include: 
  1. remove your company website from their profile
  2. remove your contact information/telephone numbers/any Twitter or blog accounts etc associated with your organisation

Someone should then check their profile prior to them leaving to ensure that everything that needs to be has been removed.

What other advice would you give to firms to manage this issue? 


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LinkedIn plans in action

Thanks to Robert Algeri and Promod Sharma for inspiring this post. I recently put together a blog about common things successful LinkedIn users do. Robert and Promod said they’d be interested to find out more about other people’s LinkedIn plans and how they put them into action…so here is what I’ve discovered.

What do I mean when I say that successful LinkedIn users have clear plans?

1. They have explicitly stated objectives

2. They have identified clear actions in order to achieve their objectives

3. Their social media efforts are MUST do’s – rather than nice to do’s

4. They measure their results and tweak things accordingly

What objectives do those in the professional services space have (other than recruitment)? 

These vary from person to person but some examples successful LinkedIn users have shared with me include:

“To engage with a defined target segment and to lead a discussion on things I want to talk about. The added advantage of this is that any inbound enquiries are based on these value-added topics” (i.e. the person gets pre-qualified prospects into his sales funnel).

“I use social media to polarize people. I want them to be drawn towards me or repelled. This helps create my niche. The deeper purpose is to build trust. The elements are expertise and intent. We have competitors who our prospects see as reasonable substitutes for us. The real differentiator is intent, which must be proven continually. Social media is the ideal tool. You can’t fake intent for long. Most competitors quit.”

“To position myself as a specialist in my field amongst my target audience and to, ultimately, build new relationships with key influencers and prospects so that, should a project arise in my area, they consider me”.

Other objectives people have shared include:

  • growing their brand awareness
  • growing their marketing reach
  • positioning themselves for a specific opportunity
  • growing their number of leads
  • promoting an event
  • keeping up-to-date with their industry/competitors/clients
  • getting new work.

What sorts of clear actions have people identified to ensure they achieve their objectives? 

Typically those I spoke to consider:

  • how to use status updates – both in terms of content and frequency. For example, I typically use this to share relevant content that both I, and others, have created. Other people pose sales questions, or talk about what they’re working on. The similarities I’ve noticed in status updates that capture my attention is that they are all designed to make people think.
  • how to engage with others via LinkedIn groups – this includes selecting the right groups and being clear about which topics you wish to engage on (it’s very easy to get carried away and waste a lot of time without clear parameters). The best posts I’ve seen are those that share valuable content, pose interesting questions or provide an interesting perspective on an issue. Successful LinkedIn users tend to keep involved in the discussion thread as it grows.
  • LinkedIn questions and answers – again, it comes down to being clear about which questions you want to pose or answer. I do notice that some people seem to answer a LOT of these questions and I marvel at the time they have to invest in LinkedIn!
  • direct messages – this is something a number of people do really well. Once they’ve been involved in a group discussion for example, they may direct message someone else who was involved and ask for more information, or seek a meeting. If done well, this can be really powerful.
  • identifying and connecting with prospects – this may be through a combination of the above as well as by using the Advanced Search function within LinkedIn.
  • other LinkedIn functions some people use effectively to help them achieve their objectives are Signal (Search Updates), Polls, and creating an Event.

Social media as a MUST do rather than a nice to do

This really comes back to making LinkedIn an integral part of your day. It means that blog posts don’t fall by the wayside when you get busy and that you continue to be visible and engage in group discussions. Of course, we all go through phases of lesser activity but for a lot of the people I’ve spoken to, it’s about making time each day to spend on LinkedIn – generally between 15-30 minutes. Greg de Simone, for example, spends 10 minutes reading others content, 10 minutes engaging in group discussions and 10 minutes posting his own content. It’s about recognising that you need to have a consistent presence in order to build credibility and trust. This also demonstrates a person’s commitment and follow through.

Measuring results

Again, how people measure their results really comes down to their objectives and the strategies they adopt. Measures can be anything from number of views of your profile from your target audience, through to number of clicks on links you’ve shared, to web traffic, to direct enquiries or engagement, through to number of prospects who enter your sales funnel. The list is endless.

I strongly believe that, in order to avoid LinkedIn being a major time waster, you need to have clear objectives, a plan to achieve them, the necessary commitment to leveraging LinkedIn and be clear about how you will measure your efforts.

What other things would you include in a LinkedIn plan?

What else do you think helps people in the professional services space to effectively leverage LinkedIn? 

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