Monthly Archives: May 2014

Be seen as an expert in your field: leverage an issue

Imagine you’re a client of an accounting or law firm. Your accountant and lawyer both seem to be doing a good job. There’s just one problem: you don’t hear much from them when they’re not working for you.

Be seen as an expert in your field: leverage an issue

Each month you hear from another accountant and lawyer – they send you information you want to know, their posts pop up when you log into LinkedIn, they call you when there’s a tax or legislative change that looks like it will impact your business. You see them quoted in the media, they speak at conferences you attend. In short they’re everywhere.

Would you stick with your existing accountant or lawyer or would you switch? I guess it depends on how good a job they’re doing for you but at some point you’re likely to think “I really should give this new guy/girl a go because they’re clearly know what they’re talking about.”

If I was the incumbent accountant and lawyer I’d be worried!

The point is this: if you’re not top of mind with your clients and prospects you’re missing out on business: business that you want.

So if you want to stop that happening and be seen as an expert in your field, you’re going to need to work hard to own the space.

How?

You need to identify key issues that will impact your target market and then leverage all the tools and channels available to you. One very effective strategy is to take an issue and leverage it to death: own it! 

The ideas below are based on some work I did with one of my clients a few years ago that positioned her as a leader in her field. Those operating in the same area say she’s still right up there today.

The first thing you need to do is to brainstorm the upcoming big issues in your area of practice. When doing so, think about:

  • whether there is any new/emerging legislation
  • what your clients and prospects say their big-ticket items are going to be for the next year or two
  • what’s happening in your area overseas that may impact your clients or may become legislation in your country
  • whether there’s an opportunity to commission some research that will be of value to your target audience (such as research to uncover attitudes, future trends, issues etc) or to run round-table sessions

Then choose your topic or issue and create an action plan:

  • write down your goals ensuring they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). For example a goal might be to generate $X in revenues from water-related projects between Jun 2014 and May 2015. NB: goals don’t all have to be financially related and could include converting specific prospects into clients, or to be the go to person for the media for enquiries in your area etc.
  • write down the measures you will use to ascertain whether you have achieved your goals. For example, number of clients, number of repeat clients, percentage of overall work from this area, client feedback etc.
  • write down the actions you will take and when you will take them (see below for some ideas of how you can leverage the various channels). You may want to do this as a timeline so you can see what you are going to do when and include when third party decisions will come out that you will need to respond to (such as when Bills before Parliament are due to have their next reading or when the next Budget or Reserve Bank decision is due out). Doing this means you can allocate time to read through decisions/key points and summarise these to your clients/prospects.
  • keep updating your action plan with next steps to ensure there is forward momentum.

How to leverage the issues

I regularly see professionals put out a news alert to their clients, and they may even speak at a conference and put together an article on the same topic but I very rarely see them proactively leveraging all communications channels open to them to really own the space. While it might look like a lot of work it’s actually surprisingly easy to repurpose content. You can also ask your colleagues and marketing team to help with some of the activities. Using the example of some new legislation coming into force, here’s what you can do:

  1. Call your top 5 clients who are likely to be impacted. Don’t wait until the legislation comes into force. Give clients an early heads-up and then let them know you’ll come back to them when you have more information.
  2. At the same time post a LinkedIn update, both personally and on your company and/or relevant showcase page; post an update to Google+, Twitter, and Facebook if relevant and ask your colleagues to do the same. You could direct those interested in hearing more to sign up to your notifications list. If you set up a landing page, where they can input their name and email address you can grow your distribution list for this issue.
  3. Talk to colleagues whose clients may be impacted by the upcoming legislation, including what it may mean for their client. If they agree this may impact their client, ask them to give their client a heads-up and offer to go and talk to the client when the time is right. If you want a colleague to set up a meeting between you and their client, give them a few prompts they can use when talking to their client as this will increase the likelihood of client buy-in.
  4. Talk to your main referrers about the issues and offer to speak to their clients. Down the track you could offer to run a workshop, webinar or round-table for them.
  5. Put together a short news alert setting out the issue, who it will impact and what it is likely to mean (or when further info will be available). Repeat as Bills have their next reading or become legislation.
  6. Put together a short video along the lines of the information in the newsalert.
  7. Speak to conference organisers early and look to get a speaking slot at any relevant events.
  8. Organise a seminar/webinar at an appropriate time. You may want to look at specific events for specific clients plus more of a catch-all session.
  9. Put the news alert on your website, consider adapting it into a blog post and/or Slideshare presentation, and share via social media networks. Do the same with the video and conference/webinar slides. You could also put your videos on your YouTube channel and they could double as your blog.
  10. Identify the best publication to reach your target audience and call them to give them a heads up on the issue and how it might impact their readers, and to see if they would be interested in an article or some commentary on the topic. Repeat for other media including TV, radio, and online.
  11. Do a roadshow in the main centres in your country.

Using a multi-pronged approach means you will achieve maximum reach and will be visible each time the issue comes to the fore. I strongly believe that taking an issue and leveraging it is one of the best things you can do to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Do you see yourself as an expert?  Comment below and share how you are positioning yourself and what’s worked well.

How to convert social media engagement into new clients and leads

If you’re a professional who’s wondering how to convert social media engagement into new clients and leads then this post is for you.

I interviewed Natalie Sisson, aka the Suitcase Entrepreneur about how to do just that. Natalie is a bestselling author, podcaster, speaker, business design coach and adventurer who travels the world living out of her suitcase. Social media has been a key component of helping her to build her highly successful online business, teaching others how to build an online business and lifestyle they love on their own terms. 

Listen to the 30 minute interview below for some fantastic tips that you can implement right now.

Nat covers:

  • How LinkedIn and other social networks helped her build her community. 
  • Why social media is your sales, marketing and client service tool rolled into one.
  • How to make sales posts authentic and aligned with your brand.
  • How to go about moving relationships beyond a platform.
  • Why email lists are so important.
  • The key ways to encourage people to opt in to your email lists.
  • Why you need to keep in regular contact with those on your email lists.
  • Tools to help you streamline your efforts both on social networks and when keeping in touch with your email lists.
  • How to go about setting up a landing/sign-up page to join your email list and what the ‘must have’ components are.
  • How you get people to buy from you.
  • Other tips for professionals wanting to generate leads from social media.
What’s the one thing you’ll do differently or put in place as a result of Nat’s tips? 
 
Are you a lawyer looking to grow your legal practice? If you want to use LinkedIn to position yourself and stay top of mind with your existing clients so they call YOU when they have a need and/or find and attract more of your ideal clients, you should sign up for “Grow your Practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers”, our new online training course with actionable modules. It’s your roadmap to LinkedIn success.
Grow your practice with LinkedIn

 

4 reasons why LinkedIn groups aren’t working for you

The vast majority of LinkedIn groups suck.

They’re full of spam.

They’re badly managed.

And the majority of members have checked out.

4 reasons why LI groups aren’t working for you

But there are some amazing groups out there.

Groups that are their own community. Where spam is not tolerated and people are focused on helping one another. 

If you’re finding LinkedIn groups to be a complete waste of time, it could be down to one of the following:

1. You’ve joined the wrong groups

Ask yourself:

  • why did I join this group? 
  • is it delivering what I want it to – or does it have the potential to?
If not, ditch that particular group in favour of another that will better meet your needs. There are three key ways to find groups: 
  • Look at the profiles of people representative of those you wish to engage. Scroll down until you see the groups section and then join the same groups. 
  • Use the search feature to find appropriate groups. Select groups from the dropdown menu to the left of the search feature, type in your keywords and press the magnifying glass. Groups will typically be displayed from those with the largest membership down to the smallest. Have a look through and click on any that interest you. If the group’s closed you can check out the description, stats and who in your network’s a member. If it’s open you can look through discussions, members and stats. You can then make a call about whether a group’s for you. 
  • On your homepage, click on the ‘All Updates’ button at the top right of your newsfeed and select ‘Groups’ from the drop-down list that will appear. Take a look at which groups your connections have joined and the discussions they’ve commented on or liked. 

2. Your sole purpose is to get as many people as possible to click through to your latest blog post, offer etc.

You’re essentially a spammer. There is nothing more frustrating for a group manager to continually have to move self-promotional posts into the promotions area.

But better that than have other group members faced with a deluge of stuff that may or may not be worth reading, watching or listening to.

If you’re going to post links to your articles, videos, blog, podcasts etc. then it should only be to support a conversation. Ask a question relating to the info you’ve shared, seek people’s views, use your content to support a point you’re making. But don’t just post your latest puff piece with no intro and no desire to talk to others.

By doing so, you could be at risk of being put on moderation by a group manager. And if one group manager does that it means your posts across all groups have to be checked by they group owner before others see them.

This happens a lot.

I manage a group and, once a month, I go through the members list to see who’s been put on moderation by managers of other groups. There are always a few. I remove the block within the group I manage but a lot of group owners won’t even think/or know to do this. That means if you want to comment on discussions in the majority of your groups your comment won’t go live until it’s been approved and none of your posts will appear until they’ve been approved.

That sucks. I don’t agree with LinkedIn’s anti-spam policy to which this relates but there’s little we can do about it.

So, don’t risk it. Read the group rules and abide by them. Focus on helping others and building relationships one by one.

3. You have no interest in talking to other group members

We’ve all come across the person in a group who’s all “me, me, me.”

The person who posts their own discussions but doesn’t stay involved in the discussion thread.

The person who blasts out their latest blog post every week but doesn’t interact with anything anyone else has posted.

The person who seems to engage…but who actually doesn’t give a stuff what others have said. They just want to make their point and move on.

LinkedIn’s a SOCIAL network. It’s about networking and building relationships one by one. It’s about building credibility and while a catalyst for getting new work, it’s rarely the sole reason why.

If you’re not focused on engaging with others then you’re going to miss out.

If you don’t have the time, inclination nor confidence to participate in group discussions, then you won’t see the true value. If time’s a factor then you could get your PA or VA to monitor groups for you – let them know the types of discussions you’re interested in and then, when they alert you to something, go in, take a look and comment if appropriate.

4. You haven’t moved relationships beyond the group

If you want to use LinkedIn to grow your practice then, at some point, you need to move conversations beyond a group. There are so many ways to do this from events, through to coffees, skype conversations, asking someone to guest blog or write a guest article for your newsletter, and getting them to opt in to your mailing list.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to do so. Sure, if you can offer the other person something they’re going to see as a real benefit then go for it, but otherwise wait until an appropriate time and do your research!

LinkedIn Groups are a brilliant way to strengthen relationships with existing connections and find and begin to build relationships with more of your ideal referrers and prospects but you’ve got to be clear about WHY you’re in a group and what you want to get from it.

Use the power of groups to learn, to educate, to listen, to talk, to help and you’ll be well on your way.

Why else do LinkedIn groups not work for people? I’d love to hear your opinion. Please share it below.