Monthly Archives: July 2012

Lawyers & accountants: what do your social media profiles say about you?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Lawyers and Accountants - what do your social media profiles say about you?

There is one thing worse than being invisible.

And that's making a really bad first impression.

Frankly, if you were invisible at least you could start with a clean slate but there's no taking back those first few seconds when you first meet someone.

It's even worse if that first 'meeting' happens online and without your knowledge.

Yet this is what happens every day.

Take a look at who's viewed your profile on LinkedIn, what your Twitter followers get to see when they click on your name and what you say about yourself on your Facebook page. 

Are your social media profiles working for you?

If your profile doesn't clearly position you

Or, worse still, is skeletal

Then you're missing a trick and could be losing out on potential business. 

If you've made an informed decision not to use a particular network that's fine. Just make sure you delete your profile.

How can I set up a compelling profile?

If you are on a network then the first step to making social media work for you is to make sure your profile is as complete as it can be and that it clearly positions you. 

Answer the questions:

  • Who do you help? 
  • What do you help them with? 
  • What results have you achieved for your clients? 
  • What's unique about you that your target audience will value? Perhaps you are the only lawyer in your market with an MBA or you've written a book on a particular topic – if you can then answer the 'so what?' – what does this mean for prospective clients? Why should they care?

Include social proof where you can in the form of testimonials (if permitted in your jurisdiction), case studies, and links to your blog or other content repository.

Include information about your interests outside of work. A number of lawyers have asked 'is it really necessary to do so?'

I was recently contacted by a Barrister I did not know via LinkedIn. The reason he got in touch with me? We'd both run the New York marathon. He told me as much. Yes, he wanted someone who could help him with his marketing but the clincher was that we shared a common interest. Don't underestimate the power of that.

Let people know how they can contact you and include a sentence asking them to do so. There's little point in a well-crafted summary if you're not going to include a call to action. It's important to let people know you want to hear from them.

Some good lawyer profiles on LinkedIn, that you might want to check out, are:

Jessie Foley 

Callum Sinclair

Once your profile(s) is complete and you're happy with it, you're ready to move to Phase 2: Connecting with others – the topic for next week's post.

What are your top tips for creating strong social media profiles? 

My book 'The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers: Connect, Engage and Grow your Business' is now available from the LexisNexis store. If you're sceptical about LinkedIn, are unsure how it might be able to help you, or just want some practical tips you can put into action straight away, you might find it useful. 

A 5-phase process to leveraging social media in professional services

by Kirsten Hodgson

The wrong way to approach someone you've never met before

A couple of people have approached me in the past month via LinkedIn. Prior to this I'd never come across them but they both sent direct messages requesting a meeting. I accepted out of curiosity

Or perhaps it was my British reticence to say 'no' or, more to the point, 'why?'

Both meetings were predictable. The person told me about their business and their ideal client and asked if I could refer them work. They asked very few questions.

I walked away thinking they'd have to do more if they wanted a referral.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to refer work to others but they have to demonstrate their credibility first and I have to have built up some sort of rapport and trust with them. 

I'm not saying you can't approach someone you've never conversed with before on LinkedIn.

But there is a better way to go about it.

A better way to go about it

Focus on the other person and their needs.

Offer something of value to them. Or thank them for something they shared and ask them a question.

For example, if someone approached me about a roundtable or webinar on a specific topic of interest to me, I'd go along. If they asked for some input into something (and said why they wanted it) I'd help. Wouldn't you?

While the aim of any social media activity has to be to build relationships one by one and to take these offline, there are some things you need to do first.

A 5-phase process to leveraging social networks

Here's a simple 5-phase process to leveraging social networks.5 phase process of LinkedIn

 

Phase 1 involves setting up compelling profiles that clearly position you, on each of the networks you use for work purposes

Phase 2 is about connecting with others

Phase 3 involves engaging with others and being active on each network on which you wish to have a presence

Phase 4 looks at taking relationships offline

Phase 5 covers measuring your performance

The speed at which you move through each of these phases will vary.

It is important to have all your ducks in a row so that you are well placed to take advantage of new work opportunities when they do arise. If your profile clearly positions you, if you are connected with people in your target industry sector(s), if you regularly engage and share valuable content, then others are more likely to want to meet you offline.

And you're more likely to get requests from people to meet up.

If you have a clear sense of what it is you're looking to achieve and if you measure how you're doing, using metrics that matter to you, you'll probably find integrating social media with your existing business development and marketing initiatives helps them to fly.

Over the coming weeks I'll be posting a series of follow-ups covering each of the 5 phases in more detail. Subscribe using the email subscription form above if you'd like to receive these articles by email. Alternatively you can subscribe to the RSS feed. 

My book 'The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers – connect, engage and grow your business' is due out on 31 July 2012. It's being published by LexisNexis. If you'd like to pre-order a copy or find out more click here.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this process? What else would you include? 

How has following a similar process helped you/your firm? 


Measuring social media ROI in professional services firms

by Kirsten Hodgson

Here's a question I hear from lawyers, accountants and professional services marketers quite often:

"What should we measure in terms of our social media activity?"

The answer: measure what matters to you for a particular initiative or channel. 

Measuring social media ROI in professional services

Measure against the stated KPIs in your marketing or business development plan.

If you're running an event and your goal is to attract a certain number of attendees then you may want to measure how many people sign up via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other social network.

If your goal is to inform the audience about a topic or issue to try to generate additional work, then you might measure the number of people who signed up via social networks who subsequently gave you work.

Why you might need to measure in stages

In many cases you'll want to measure things in stages given the longer lead times in a professional services environment. It may take several steps to reach your ultimate goal – particularly if that goal is to generate new business.

For example,

Someone might sign up for your seminar via LinkedIn.

They attend and meet one of your Partners.

They fill out a form at the event saying they'd like to receive your news alerts.

Over the next few months, they receive these alerts.

The Partner they met at the event catches up with them for a coffee.

Six months later, you receive instructions.

You can't say that the work solely came through LinkedIn (in this instance) but promoting your event on LinkedIn was the catalyst for getting this new client. The reality is a number of steps probably contributed towards this.

Don't fall into the trap of measuring things that don't matter

It's easy to fall into the trap of measuring things that don't matter.

They might be important to someone else but, for what you're looking to achieve, they aren't priorities for you.

Such as number of Twitter followers. Sure, it would be nice to have thousands of Twitter followers but are they engaged – are they re-tweeting your content and are you re-tweeting theirs?

Are they the sorts of people you want to follow you?

How actively are you conversing with them?

How many of these followers have you built a relationship with? 

How many have you met in the real world? (I use this terminology in the loosest term – as you may have had an online meeting or Skype conversation).

Far better to have fewer followers with whom you have started to build a relationship than collecting numbers for numbers' sake.

Equally it's nice to have hundreds of LinkedIn contacts or Facebook friends but you can't measure the success of your efforts by this alone. Engagement is key.

Only measure those things that are important to you achieving your overall goals

If your objective is to position yourself as a specialist in your area you'll want to know what traction your blog posts are getting and from whom – are those people you want to position yourself amongst leaving comments, retweeting, or even seeing your posts? Are they viewing your LinkedIn profile? Are they asking to connect with you? Or are they following you on Twitter? Are journalists starting to ask you for commentary in your area? Are you getting any inbound leads?

The bottom line is you only need to measure a few key things. 

What you measure may change for different initiatives but these should be tied to your business development and marketing goals. 

Social media is a means to an end rather than an end in itself so measure your efforts in conjunction with your other online and offline initiatives and track trends over time.

Are you any closer to achieving your goals because of what you're doing? If your answer's yes, you're doing something right. If not, you may need more time or to tweak what you're doing.

I'm not sure we always measure the right things in professional services firms. We can start to put that right by measuring what matters to us.

I'd love to hear what you think those in professional services should measure and any tips you have. Please leave a comment below. 

Free image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Using LinkedIn in convoy: helping professional services firms to win new business

by Kirsten Hodgson

In mid 2011, Brian Inkster talked about the importance of tweeting in convoy (a term coined by Jon Bloor) to win new business. Tweeting in convoy is about ensuring that your team's personal accounts, your practice group/industry sector and your firm twitter accounts link up and complement one-another. This concept should also be applied to a professional service's firm's LinkedIn activity. 

Using LinkedIn in a convoy

There is a synergistic effect to be gained from doing so and this is likely to lead to greater business success. Here's why.

Why should professional services firms use LinkedIn in convoy?  

Typically there are multiple professionals from within your firm on LinkedIn. But they're all doing their own thing. 

They're making a small dent and, provided they are actively using the platform, they're staying front of mind with their own individual networks.

BUT they're not currently harnessing the power of the firm's combined network so they might not be making their clients, referrers and other contacts aware of other issues that could impact them or that they might be interested in.

As a result your firm could be missing out on new business opportunities. 

Consider the following scenario: a major tender is due out in 3 months. You want to position your firm as the leading authority in the client's industry sector. You blog about various issues they'll be facing, some members of your team share this with their contacts (some of whom work at the tendering organisation), you do all your normal pre-tender things to position yourself before the tender comes out.

How much more traction would you get if all of your team members on LinkedIn with connections at the client organisation posted the link to the blog on their LinkedIn status updates with some commentary about why it's important and who should read it. Additionally the key relationship people for that client/prospect might email their contacts within the organisation to give them a heads up on issues. Some of your team members might ask questions in group discussions where employees of the tendering organisation are active. Other team members may answer these questions or get involved in the discussion.

You can see how, even with a bit of coordination, your efforts are much more likely to get noticed. 

In terms of tweeting in convoy Brian talked about the firm account as being the battleship.

The practice group/industry accounts are the aircraft carriers. 

And the personal accounts are the destroyers.

In the LinkedIn context your company profile is your battleship.

Your individual accounts are your destroyers.

Any practice or industry focused groups that you run on LinkedIn would be your aircraft carriers. 

If everything you do on LinkedIn is part of an organised whole, you are likely to get more traction more quickly. 

What steps should you take to get your various LinkedIn accounts working in harmony? 

Firstly, you need someone, or a team of people, to coordinate activity. By this I mean there needs to be a central repository of content and a mechanism for firm updates to be sent to team members on LinkedIn to post to their status updates and for team members to request that their updates are shared by colleagues or via the firm's status updates. 

This is where smaller firms have an advantage as it's less unwieldy for them to do this. Large firms will likely need a more structured process. 

Secondly, answer the following: 

Are your people connected to one another on LinkedIn? 

Do they like, comment on or share their colleagues' updates (where appropriate) with their own network? 

Do they call or email clients, contacts or prospects who may be interested in some information shared by a colleague? 

These are all things which should be encouraged and which must be spearheaded by the 'coordinating person/team'.

Without the left hand talking to the right hand, your LinkedIn efforts will only be as good as each individual person. 

If you want to benefit from the sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and to maximise your chances of winning new business via LinkedIn, consider how you and your colleagues can use LinkedIn in convoy. 

What's your view? 

How has LinkedIn helped you and your firm from a business development and marketing perspective? 

Image by Brian A. Lautenslager, U.S. Marine Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

LinkedIn as an internal communications tool in professional services firms

by Kirsten Hodgson

When you think of internal communications you tend to think of tools such as Yammer. LinkedIn doesn’t automatically spring to mind. BUT if you’re a lawyer, accountant, engineer, or internal marketing professional it should definitely form part of your internal communications arsenal.

At a basic level ensure your profile positions you well with your colleagues. Even if your clients are internal, they may well look at your LinkedIn profile to find out more about you, your skills and how you can help them.

What conclusions would they draw from your profile? 

By connecting with your colleagues on LinkedIn you can not only leverage one another’s contacts but can also use LinkedIn to help break down silos and make them aware of issues their clients might be facing with which you can help (through the status updates feature). If you use this in conjunction with one on one meetings, door-stopping, news-alerts, key client, industry sector and cross-practice group meetings, it can be very powerful indeed.

A couple of weeks ago LinkedIn launched its targeted updates feature to all companies on LinkedIn. This gives internal communications teams (and the professionals they work for) the ability to send tailored messages to their colleagues. While these will be visible to anyone viewing the company page they will only appear in the updates stream of those ‘followers’ you select. This could be a great way to communicate or reinforce key messages and sharing these on LinkedIn makes it easy for your colleagues to share these with their networks. 

When using LinkedIn for internal marketing purposes, focus on helping your colleagues. If they share information that your contacts would benefit from seeing, share their update (or at a mimimum ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ on it). If you become aware of a skill they have that one of your clients may need, offer to make an introduction. Each month aim to introduce one of your colleagues to one of your connections who would benefit from meeting them. 

In large firms it’s almost impossible to know all your colleagues. You can harness the power of LinkedIn to get to know some of them a little better. It’s not a tool you should use in isolation but could add rocket-fuel to your existing internal communications initiatives. 

How else could you use LinkedIn for internal communications within a professional services firm?