Monthly Archives: March 2014

LinkedIn groups: a key way to generate leads

According to a new infographic by Oktopost, 80% of B2B leads are through LinkedIn. The most popular method to generate leads and to then convert those leads is to get involved in group discussions.

LinkedIn groups: a key way to generate leads

The power of groups often goes unrecognised by those in professional services. Well-run groups are their own community of people with similar interests.They’re a great place for you to find and engage your prospects. From there and over time you can generate leads and new work. 

While you’ll definitely want to join groups to which your ideal prospects belong, you should consider setting up your own group if there’s a gap.

Why set up your own LinkedIn group?

There are multiple benefits of doing so, including:

  • Building your profile in your area of expertise.
  • Positioning yourself as an authority in your area.
  • Finding and attracting those with similar interests or who may need your help.
  • Widening your professional network by building relationships with group members.
  • Learning more about the views and perspectives of those in your industry.
  • Establishing a community.
  • Generating interest in you and your firm, including inbound enquiries.

However, if you decide to do so you’ll need to make sure you plan it properly and designate time to build it.

How to set up and run a LinkedIn group that delivers value to its members

The vast majority of LinkedIn groups are a waste of time because they haven’t been nurtured or policed. As a result they’re either very small with little activity or they’re full of spam. To make sure yours doesn’t go the same way, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Plan – what’s the purpose of your group? What’s the scope of discussions you want to see? Who do you want to join? What discussions will you start each week?
  2. Create your group – ensure you use Keywords in the name so that people searching the LinkedIn groups directory can easily find it, and write a clear summary and description that will appeal to those you want to join.
  3. SKIP the step which prompts you to send invitations to join your group – why would anyone want to join an unpopulated group?
  4. Populate your group with at least 2 discussions. A welcome discussion is always a good one, as people like to comment on these.
  5. Get your house in order by selecting your settings, permissions, drafting your group rules, templates and setting up sub-groups (if appropriate).
  6. Pre-approve your group managers (you can have up to 10 including the Owner) and a few ‘friendly’ clients and colleagues who you’d like to join the group early. The aim is to get them to comment on the existing discussions and to add their own so that, when you invite others to join, there is already some activity.
  7. You’re now ready to invite others. You can use LinkedIn’s standard one liner but it doesn’t really tell people why they should join so you may want to consider a personalised email to each of those you wish to invite. You can work from a template so it’s simply a case of inserting their name each time.
  8. Commit to ongoing moderation of your group. If people have to request to join or have their discussions approved before they’ll post (a good option to prevent spam), ensure you, or one of the group managers, goes in at least once a day to do so. It’s really frustrating for group members if they try to post something and it takes a week or two to be approved – often it’s out of date by that time.
  9. Start one new discussion each week in the early days. If you want people to return to your group it’s important that there’s fresh, relevant content. You’ll need to drive this until the group takes on a life of its own.
  10. Comment on others’ discussions and stay involved in threads that you start. You may want to summarise these at the end or to put together blog posts summarising a discussion. Remember to give credit to each contributor.
  11. Continue to invite people to join the group and encourage others to do so. You may want to ask your PA to send out a certain number of invites on your behalf each week.
  12. Promote your LinkedIn group. For example, you could include it in your email signature, on your website, your blog, your newsletters etc.
  13. Look for opportunities to move relationships beyond LinkedIn. For example, you may want to hold an event or a webinar for group members, you may invite someone in the group to write a guest article, you may seek their opinion on something. The options are endless.
  14. Monitor and analyse key statistics about your group. This will enable you to track its growth, determine what’s working well, understand what you need to do differently, and track leads generated by the group.

How’s doing so benefited others? 

In early 2011, a lawyer I know set up a group on employment law issues for HR Directors and Managers. A little over a year later the group had grown to over 1,000 members and the firm had hosted two HR Question Times in its offices. In total, almost 200 people attended, the vast majority of who were NOT clients of the firm.

The lawyer and his colleagues were able to start to build relationships and to generate work as a result. He describes this as the most successful business development initiative his firm has ever undertaken. The group now has over 1,600 members.

Here are links to two audio interviews with other successful LinkedIn Group owners:

An interview with Tom Skotidas, who runs the group Social media for lead generation

An interview with John Grimley, who runs the groups International Business Development Blog and Asia Law Portal.

To benefit from running a LinkedIn group you’ve got to be prepared to give it the time and effort it deserves (I spend around 30-60 mins a week on the group I run). However, the effort is well worth it. Remember to focus on others and their needs rather than how they can help you, and you’ll start to see a pay-off.

If you would like more info about setting up and running a successful LinkedIn group, my e-book “Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups: Network with the right people. Generate new leads. Get new business” is now available for NZ$ 18.97. 

Image Credit: www.funnyjunksite.com

Content curation: the poor cousin to content creation in professional services marketing?

Just as every superhero needs his or her sidekick, so too does content creation.

Why content curation's not the poor cousin to content creation

But far from being its poor cousin, content curation has a multitude of benefits, many of which are overlooked in the drive to display “thought leadership”.

3 often overlooked benefits of content curation

1. Generating demand for a particular service

If people don’t perceive they have a need, then they’ll never buy. My friend, Tom Skotidas, put it brilliantly when he said “content curation is essential for demand generation.”

Think about it.

If Harvard Business Review says why more professional services firms need to be thinking about social selling and the benefits, people in those firms will start to consider social selling. They’ll be more likely to notice information about social selling in professional services firms.

It paves the way for your own content.

2. Overcome pigeon-holing

Unless you have a lot of time and/or an army of content developers on board, it can be difficult to regularly put out compelling content. However, by regularly sharing good third party content, interspersed with your own, you can keep in front of your clients, referrers, prospects, and colleagues.

You can position yourself as a go to source of info and as being on top of the issues in your area. Over time people will begin to associate you with the content you share and think of you when they have a need.

3. Adding rocket-fuel to your referral and prospecting strategies

By sharing others’ content you get on their radar.

You can then begin to have conversations and start to build a relationship with them. They then start to notice your content.

Don’t underestimate the power of this.

In the past month alone, I’ve had three new business enquiries from people who’ve been referred to me by people I’ve never met!

I’ve had conversations with them on social networks and talked via Skype and they’re recommending me on the strength of that, the content I share (both my own and third party) and discussions we’ve both been involved in within LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities.

I’m convinced that if I’d taken a Kath and Kim “look at me” approach and only shared my own content (however helpful), this wouldn’t have happened.

No-one likes a self-promoter!

How do you find good third party content?

There are so many great sources of content including:

  • Aggregators such as Feedly, Pulse and Flipboard. Download one of these onto your phone and follow bloggers and publications of interest to you and those you wish to engage.
  • Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook feeds including groups, lists, trends, communities etc.
  • Industry publications.
  • National and international media.
  • Google Alerts.
You’re likely already consuming some of these. If you do so online, sharing info with your network is simply a matter of writing a short intro setting out who should read/watch/listen to it and why, a key finding/message or how something may impact your ideal client, and then pushing a button to share it.
Action
  • Find two pieces of third party content relevant to your area each week and share them (remembering to include your own intro) via social networks, emailing selected contacts who will benefit from the piece, and your other channels.
Your turn: how’s curating third party content helped you? 
Image Credit: fansided.com

 

Professionals: how to take advantage of LinkedIn opening its blogging platform to all users

A couple of weeks ago LinkedIn announced that it’s opening its blogging platform to all users.

LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

This provides a HUGE opportunity for professionals who post helpful, authentic original content.

What’s LinkedIn doing?

Over the coming weeks and months LinkedIn is rolling out its publishing platform (i.e. the place where Influencers currently post) to all members. You’ll know you have it when you see the pencil edit icon within your ‘Share an update’ box on your homepage.

What does this mean?

Once you’ve got the feature you’ll have the potential to reach more of the people you wish to by sharing helpful, relevant and inspiring content.

Think about it.

If your content hits the mark then people it would currently be difficult to reach will share it with their networks. And they will choose to follow you on LinkedIn.

There could be a snowball effect.

This does assume people will use the feature selectively. LinkedIn’s put up some great guidelines within its Help Center that you should check out. These explain what to do and what not to do.

Putting up your latest PR piece will undermine the feature and it will be hard for other members to sort the wheat from the chaff.

So, please only post content that is genuinely going to be of interest or helpful to other LinkedIn members.

How will your posts be distributed?

I’ve paraphrased the below from the LinkedIn Help Center:

  • All of these posts will be public so can be found by people not on LinkedIn. 
  • They will be shared with your connections and followers through their newsfeeds. 
  • Posts will be displayed on your LinkedIn profile, directly below the top section, which contains your photo and headline. 
  • Interactions such as likes, comments and shares will help distribute your content beyond your immediate network. 
  • LinkedIn may also distribute your posts independently as part of aggregated ‘best of LinkedIn’ content. 
  • Your posts can be found in an Articles search on LinkedIn.

You can also share your posts via other social networks, email, on your website and so on.

If you put together original content, you should seriously consider whether it would be worth posting this directly on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn says, “You can republish something that you have published somewhere else as long as it is your original content that you own the rights to.”

You know all those great blog posts you’ve compiled? Why don’t you take a look through them, work out which resonated most with your audience and, if they fit LinkedIn’s best practices, re-post them there.

You wouldn’t want to use LinkedIn in place of your blog because your blog is easily searchable, gives people an instant feel for you, helps you get found and is under your control…but it’s definitely another tool you can use to disseminate your best content.

LinkedIn hasn’t been specific about when the feature will roll out to everyone but you can apply for early access

I will be.

What do you think of this development? How else do you think it will benefit professionals?