Monthly Archives: October 2014

How do you find the time for social media in professional services?

 

How do you find the time for social media

Two questions I’m regularly asked by BD and marketing professionals working in professional services firms are:

“How do we best use social media?”

And

“How do we find the time for it?”

I can totally relate to these. Social media can feel like one more thing to add into your already busy day.

A great way to start is to think about how one, or a combination, of these tools could increase the effectiveness of an existing initiative or make it quicker or easier for you to achieve a specific objective.

Here’s an example:

What we did

When I was marketing manager in a law firm, one of our corporate practice’s goals was to build more and stronger relationships at board level, both to generate work at that level and to raise the firm’s profile to ensure board members would be comfortable should management decide to hire the firm.

As a result, we held a corporate governance symposium and invited numerous ‘captains of industry’ along.

Following the session, one of our partners drafted a White Paper largely based on discussion and feedback at the event, which was given to all Board Members on our database as well as specific journalists.

What could we have done if we were doing it all over again today?

It was a great initiative and it worked well for the firm. However, if that was today, we could have done so much more such as:

  • Used LinkedIn to identify other key company directors to invite
  • Used Twitter, LinkedIn etc. to help with the research
  • Invited people through the platforms or run promoted/sponsored content informing them about the event that would appear in their newsfeed/stream.
  • Offered the Whitepaper as a download through our team’s individual accounts, our company page and via promoted/sponsored updates. The whitepaper could possibly have been offered as gated content company directors could download in return for signing up to a ‘Board Table’ newsletter (allowing us to keep in touch with them on an ongoing basis).
  • Published a summary of the whitepaper to our blog or website and directly to LinkedIn and then promoted this in relevant groups asking a question to drive discussion.
  • Interviewed the relevant partners and put together a video and audio, which could be posted on YouTube, iTunes etc. and shared via social networks. Alternatively we could have held a Google+ Hangout or Hangout on Air.
  • Used LinkedIn and Twitter to identify and reach out to relevant journalists.
  • Sent a summary of the whitepaper to journalists and company directors – social networks would have made this process easier because we could have used tools such as Inmail to send it to those people who were previously unknown to the firm along with a smart intro setting out why we were sending it and the benefit to the other person of reading it.
  • Set up a LinkedIn group for corporate governance issues and invited people to sign up for it at the event – via tablets they could log into.
  • Live tweeted from the event.
  • Set up a Corporate Governance tweet chat – if we found sufficient directors were using the tool and/or a regular forum to discuss issues e.g. via a Google+ hangout.

The point is, this initiative was incredibly successful, but it could have been even more so had we been able to use social tools as part of our tactics. At the very least, a LinkedIn group would have enabled the firm to sustain the momentum over the long term.

So, rather than thinking of social media as an additional task, think about how you can use it to make your job easier and improve a particular outcome. I guarantee it will be worth it.

How do you use social media to add value to existing initiatives in your practice/firm?

Image Credit: www.pbs.org

Why do so many professionals struggle to build their practices?

I met with a lawyer last week who has a wealth of experience in his field, yet is struggling to build a practice.

It’s an issue many professionals face.

He explained that he’s been for coffees/lunch with everyone in his network and assumed the work would follow.

How to improve your lead conversion over a coffee

Fair assumption, right? I mean these are people who already know him.

Unfortunately not.

For starters, I bet they’re propositioned on a fairly regular basis by lawyers who want their work.

Secondly, they may have every intention of giving him work, but they just don’t have any currently.

Whatever the case, this lawyer was feeling despondent and unsure about what to do next.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

If you’re in a similar situation here are some practical steps you can take:

It makes total sense to start with your existing network. However, it’s important to get your approach right. Think about it from your contact’s perspective – which of the following would you prefer?

“Hi Jane. It’s great to see you. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since we last caught up. As you know I’ve started my own practice helping companies with X issues and would love to work with you. Do you have any work for me?”

Or

“Hi Jane. It’s great to see you. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since we last caught up. As you know I’ve started my own practice helping companies with X issues and would really like to find out from you what I need to do to position myself within your industry. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

It could be that I’m British, but the first approach would make me feel uncomfortable, whereas the second wouldn’t – plus I’d be happy to provide some insights and to help the other person.

So, the first step is to plan.

The plan

What’s the outcome you want from the meeting? Getting new work is probably a tad optimistic for a first meeting but gathering information in order to develop an offering for the person you’re meeting, or to get an introduction to the person’s colleague isn’t.  A good outcome will involve a next step – an opportunity to progress things. It will help to avoid pleasant, but ultimately pointless, meetings.

Once you know your goal, write down between 3-5 questions you want to ask the other person.

The meeting 

The second step is to set up the meeting. Let your contact know why you want to meet e.g. “I’m looking to put together an offering for the construction industry and would really value your input. Do you have half an hour in the next few weeks for a coffee?”

When you get to the meeting, restate the purpose and then ask the questions you’ve planned to get the other person talking. You should be doing most of the listening. At the end, get their buy-in to the next step e.g.” I’m going to put together the offering over the next week. Would you mind if I run it by you once I’ve done so?”

Always ask who else you should be meeting with/speaking to. If they mention people you don’t know, ask if they’d be prepared to introduce you and what you can do to make that process easy for them.

The follow up

After the meeting, follow up with a good summary of your discussion and possibly send the person something related to your conversation if appropriate.

The key thing now is to work on the next step. However, you’ll also want to ensure you’re top of mind with the other person both in the interim and over the long term. This is where social networks and traditional marketing come into play.

  • Connect/follow the person on social networks on which they’re active.
  • Develop a content plan (if you haven’t already done so) and then create and curate content relevant to them. Share this directly with them (if appropriate) as well as via relevant social networks, your website, newsletter etc.
  • Invite them to any events/functions you’re hosting that might interest them.
  • Introduce them to others in your network who they would benefit from meeting.
  • Engage with, and share, content they share.

Look to get as many positive touch points with them as possible. This will help keep you top of mind so that, should they have a need, or be asked to recommend someone to a contact, they’re likely to think of you.

There is no silver-bullet, but by adopting a carefully considered and integrated approach, you can really stand out from your competitors. Which is exactly what you need to do if you want to win more of your ideal work.

Your thoughts?  How do you make the most of your coffee meetings with old contacts?