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? 


Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant