Monthly Archives: April 2012

Follow-up: the missing link in professional services business development?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image courtesy Simon Howden @freedigitalphotos.net

How many times have you had a great meeting with a prospect, sent them a follow-up proposal and wondered what became of it? 

I'm as guilty as the next person. Often I'll follow up once or twice and leave a message if I can't get hold of the person and then simply…

…give up. Just like that. I write it off and tell myself they would have called if they were interested. 

And that might be the case. But do I know that for sure? 

No. And that's the problem.

It might be uncomfortable to be a squeaky wheel but you've put in the effort to get this far so it's vital to follow up until you get a definitive yes/no answer. 

There are a whole host of reasons why people don't get back to you: 

  • They get busy. 
  • They need to talk to someone else internally. 
  • Something more urgent crops up and your project becomes lower priority. 
  • Their decision-making process is notoriously s l o w. 
  • They need to do some work at their end and haven't got around to it. 

Perhaps you can help your contact along by offering to present to their key stakeholders to overcome any objections and to get them on board. 

Or you may just need patience and persistence. 

And a diary note about when to follow up. 

Following-up until you know what decision the prospect has made could make a huge difference to the number of opportunities you turn into work. Even if they have decided not to go with you, you then have the opportunity to understand why and to modify future approaches accordingly. 

Have you ever thought an opportunity had died only for it to spring back to life? 

What other tips would you share? 

 

Does your LinkedIn profile position you to win new business?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan @ Freedigitalphotos.net

It's all very well having a complete LinkedIn profile BUT does it position you to win new business?

Using your LinkedIn profile to DEMONSTRATE why you are the right person for the job is critical if you are to position yourself for new business before someone has even met you.

It needs to reflect the key things that clients say they look for when selecting a lawyer or other professional services adviser. Based on interviews I have conducted with over 200 clients of professional services firms since 2009 these are:

Someone with the necessary technical competence/expertise as defined by:

  • their past experience working on similar projects/matters/cases
  • their reputation, including their ability to influence decision makers
  • their knowledge of their subject area
  • their level of professionalism.

Someone who is the right fit: 

  • at both a personal and a team level (including the wider team of consultants and other experts).

Someone who understands, or shows they are willing to learn about, the client's business: 

  • an adviser who will anticipate needs and protect the client's interests.

If this is what they look for, then think about how you can showcase this in your LinkedIn profile:

For example:

  • Including results and past work in your summary section as well as in job descriptions helps to showcase your expertise.
  • Including a short paragraph about your working style and approach helps people begin to understand how well you will fit with them and their team as do recommendations (if you are allowed to get these in your market).
  • Adding additional apps to your profile such as Projects, Google presentation, Slideshare presentation or Box.net allows you to display presentations, videos, case studies or other information relevant to your prospects (again this will help to demonstrate your expertise and/or your understanding of an industry sector).
  • Adding the Blog link app means you can display your latest blog posts within your profile, which is another great way to showcase your knowledge.
  • Including some personal information about your hobbies and interests enables people with similar interests to connect with you.
  • Regularly sharing valuable information via your network updates helps to position you and demonstrate your knowledge of your subject area and your client's industry. The latest posts appear on your profile.
  • A good headline can inform people, at a quick glance, whether you have the expertise and industry sector understanding they need and can encourage them to read further. For example, imagine a construction company that has a dispute with another company on an international project. They need an arbitrator and see an arbitrator's headline which reads 'International Arbitrator specialising in the Construction and Infrastructure sectors'. They're likely to investigate further and that person will almost certainly stand out from someone else who merely has the headline 'arbitrator and mediator'.

If you want to increase the likelihood of prospective clients requesting a meeting with you and winning new business, make sure your LinkedIn profile positions you in the best possible light. Doing so could mean the difference between a prospect contacting you to find out more and moving on to the next person.

Take a look at your LinkedIn profile. How well does it position you? 

Look out for my forthcoming book 'Lawyers: LinkedIn made easy. Learn how to grow your business using LinkedIn'. It's packed with information like this and is a step-by-step guide to leveraging LinkedIn to achieve your business development and marketing goals. It will be available by June 2012.

What other ways could professionals enhance their LinkedIn profiles to better demonstrate the key things that clients say are important to them? 

Inundated with LinkedIn emails? You needn’t be

by Kirsten Hodgson

Photo courtesy David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things I regularly hear from professionals when talking to them about social media is that they're fed up with all the LinkedIn emails they receive.

Often they've set up a rule so that these go into another folder and they don't have to read them.

There is an easier way.

You can set your preferences within LinkedIn, ensuring you either receive no emails or you only receive those emails you want to and on a frequency that works for you.

Here's how to do it.

  1. When you're logged into the LinkedIn platform hover over your name (which appears near the top right hand corner of your screen).
  2. Select 'Settings' from the drop-down box (n.b. LinkedIn may ask you to input your password before it will take you to the settings screen).
  3. Select the 'Email Preferences' tab – which appears below your account information on the left hand side of your screen. It's the second of four tabs.
  4. Click on each of the four options in turn and amend them accordingly:
  • 'Select the types of messages you're willing to receive' – uncheck any boxes next to the types of information you DO NOT want to recieve.
  • 'Set the frequency of emails' – go through each of the options and select 'individual email', 'weekly digest email' or 'no email' according to your preferences.
  • 'Select who can send you invitations' – select which of the three options you prefer.
  • 'Set the frequency of group digest emails' – go through each of your groups and select 'individual email', 'weekly digest email' or 'no email'. It's great that you can change this for different groups.

When deciding which emails you do and don't want to receive, think about why you're on LinkedIn. If it's for business development then you'll want people to be able to connect with you or to send you a personal email via the LinkedIn system. You'll also want to know about relevant discussions in your key groups. You may prefer to check those groups on a regular basis. It's up to you.

Hopefully this helps some of you overcome LinkedIn email overload.

What other tips would you share?  

How are law firms using Infographics?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Source: The Christensen Law firm website

Following my blog post last year about how law firms can use infographics, I thought it would be good to find some examples of infographics law firms have put together. 

A quick google search threw up the following 5 examples. It’s great to see some law firms are embracing these but disappointing that it only appears to be US firms that have produced these so far.

  1. One of my favourite infographics is by Loeb & Loeb. I love the fact that this is not stand-alone but is part of the firm’s Media MindShare series that looks at what the dominant issues will be in 2012 in the digital marketplace. The firm’s also put together some videos and this is a great example of a firm thinking about an issue and creating and sharing a variety of content around it. The only downside is I couldn’t find the infographic on the firm’s website or blog. I’m sure it’s there but it wasn’t obvious to me.
  2. Christensen Law Firm, personal injury lawyers, has produced a number of infographics on various issues related to its areas of expertise. These are designed to help clients gain valuable, accurate information and to communicate it in an entertaining way. It certainly looks like they are on top of the issues. Their infographics include distracted driving, US oil consumption, cycling injuries revealed and insurance profits.
  3. De Witt Law Firm put together an infographic around a high profile murder trial that captivated the public’s interest in their market – the Casey Anthony Trial – the infographic set out the possible outcomes of a trial and the key elements the prosecution must prove to get a conviction. I like the fact they prominently displayed the code so that people could embed the infographic on their website or blog. While a horrendous Case, this was a smart use of an infographic to communicate information the public would want to understand. 
  4. The Cowan Kirk Gaston Law Firm, DUI (Driving under the influence) lawyers in Seattle have put together an infographic about Washington DUI facts. It’s another good example of a firm using an infographic to position its lawyers in a specific area of expertise.
  5. California firm Bohm, Matsen, Kegal & Aguilera, estate planning lawyers, posted an infographic entitled What happens to debt after you die? I’m not sure if the firm put it together or just posted it, but if the latter, then it’s great that they’ve found and shared some content that will be valuable to their clients and prospective clients.

Infographics are a great way to break down complicated information in an easy-to-absorb way.

They are another way you can re-purpose content.

They are a way to position your firm and your lawyers and to show you are specialists in your field.

So why aren’t they used more widely by law firms? 

What’s your view?

What other examples of law firm infographics have you seen?