Author Archives: Kirsten Hodgson

The single biggest mistake I’ve made on Twitter

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

It’s just a shame I didn’t have the foresight to avoid this mistake. Because it’s actually a biggie and is badly affecting the way I use Twitter. I know I’ve been missing lots of great info from the people I really want to follow.

My mistake is this: I didn’t properly think about which Twitter lists I’d actually need long term and now they’re in a mess. 

The thing is I’m probably not alone, which is why I’m sharing what I’m doing about it – in the hope that it will help you too.

So, back to the lists. They started out okay but, as I’ve followed more people, tweets I want to see have become buried in overly-active streams. I not only didn’t think hard enough about my lists but I kept on adding people to them.

Why Twitter Lists Aren't Working for Me

 

Things are about to change.

After 5+ years on Twitter I’m finally going to be more strategic about how I use lists.

Why should YOU care?

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation and are wondering how you can make the most of Twitter. Perhaps you’re new(ish) to the platform and want to know what lists to set up.

Here’s what I’m doing.

I am setting up lists for:

  • Top clients
  • Other clients
  • Top prospects
  • Top referrers
  • Top influencers in each sector I follow (split into separate lists by sector)
  • Journalists by sector
  • People who re-tweet me (so I can make sure I reciprocate)

I’m then keeping my existing lists but in a much more streamlined format. Once I’ve moved people into the new lists the existing ones should be much easier to monitor.

I really wish I’d taken the time to do this at the outset. It would have saved heaps of time and my sanity!

What else do you think I (and others in a similar situation) should do to avoid ‘buried info syndrome’ on Twitter? I’d love to hear your tips.

Image Credit: mediainjection.com

New LinkedIn feature allows firms to send messages to a specific audience

In late July LinkedIn launched a new feature, Direct Sponsored Content, that allows firms/companies to sponsor their content WITHOUT it appearing on their company or showcase page. This means you can now send specific messages to a specific audience.

New LinkedIn feature allows firms to send messages to a specific audience

Imagine you’re aware of an upcoming RFP and want to position yourself prior to it coming out – you can use one, or a series, of direct sponsored content, to get on the radars of those who will be involved in the decision.

There are a whole lot of applications for this and it effectively means that your competitors and others (who you’re not targeting) will be unaware of what you’re doing. 

How to create direct sponsored content in 11 easy steps:

  1. Go to your company or Showcase page, click edit, and scroll down to the ‘Direct Sponsored Content’ posters box and type in the people authorised to post for your firm. If you want to include a poster to appear alongside any sponsored content, do so here.
  2. If you don’t have a business account, you’ll need to create one and link it to your company page. Go to Business Services, Advertise and sign in to the campaign manager. Move your cursor over your name in the top right and select ‘Create your Business Account’ and then type in the name of your firm (if that doesn’t work open your company page in a new window and copy and paste the URL across).
  3. When you have your business account: Go to Business Services (top right of toolbar), Advertise, Manage.
  4. Select ‘Create new campaign’.
  5. Click ‘Sponsor content’
  6. Scroll to ‘What would you like to sponsor’ header and click ‘Create Direct sponsored content’ This will open a dialogue box.
  7. Type in your message and URL link (you are limited to about 1.5 lines of text total).
  8. Click save.
  9. Click ‘Direct Sponsored Content’
  10. Select the message you just created.
  11. Follow the prompts – name your campaign etc and then press next for targeting and costing options.

This is a great new feature. It not only means you can put the right messages in front of the right people at the right time but also allows you to send these from a Showcase page rather than just from your Company page.

Have you used this feature? Let us know what you think of it or how you think you’ll use it. 

Image Credit: http://marketing.linkedin.com/

I’ve set up my LinkedIn profile, now what?

Firstly, congratulations! You’ve taken a really important first step: setting up a LinkedIn profile that clearly positions you.

But what should you do now?

While it will depend on your objectives for being on LinkedIn there are some key steps below you should consider:

1. Connect with people you wish to

The more people you connect with, the more people potentially see your updates. If they then engage with these updates (by liking, commenting on or sharing) the greater your reach as their connections can then see that particular update.

The second reason to connect with more people is that search results will be more meaningful – important if you’re looking to grow your practice. With LinkedIn’s free account, you can see up to 100 search results and full information for your first degree connections (i.e. those people you’re connected to), your second degree connections (connections of your contacts) and fellow group members.

Of course, if you only want to connect with those you know or have met in person, that’s fine too – if search is important to you then you have three other options:

  1. Join more LinkedIn groups
  2. Upgrade to a premium (i.e. paid for) account
  3. Use Google to search LinkedIn (known as X-ray searching LinkedIn)

There are several ways to find people on LinkedIn:

  1. If you know their name, type it into the search bar
  2. Look through the ‘People you may Know’ feature
  3. Look through your connections’ profiles and, if they have their connections on display, take a look at these
  4. Upload or sync. your email contacts – LinkedIn will then tell you which of them are on LinkedIn (if you’re a lawyer I do NOT recommend synching your contacts – you will be able to see your last few email exchanges with the person within LinkedIn, which could cause confidentiality issues should your account be compromised).
  5. Use the Advanced Search feature to search by a number of criteria.

 2. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and start talking to people there

While the majority of groups on LinkedIn are a waste of time – either because they’re badly managed and are full of spam or there’s not a lot going on, there are some great groups out there so it’s worth looking for them.

You can check out the group stats as well as who in your network is a member of a group prior to joining and if the group is ‘open’ (i.e. anyone can join and discussions are indexed by Google) you’ll be able to see discussions too. This info will help you to make a call about whether a group’s for you.

If not, leave it and join another that better meets your needs. LinkedIn currently allows you to join up to 50 groups plus a further 10 subgroups, which is sufficient for most people.

3. Develop a content plan

If you’re looking to position yourself and overcome pigeon-holing then you’ll want to develop a content plan – essentially a calendar setting out what you’ll be producing when. Here’s a how to:

Tips to make creating content easier for you:

  • Share the load around your team – it means you might only have to put together one or two pieces for a year’s worth of content
  • Think about existing content that you could re-use, update or repurpose (e.g. an article into a Slideshare presentation)
  • Block out an afternoon to draft your content – you may find it easier to go with stream of consciousness first and to edit and reorder later
  • Repurpose all new content you produce – get as much mileage from it as you can (e.g. once you have 4-6 blog posts you could turn them into a free guide)

Your own content should be supported by good quality third party content that either helps to create a need for your services or positions you as up with the play. By curating content, you can position yourself as a go to source of info by doing people’s reading for them. There are so many sources of great content from social networks, blogs, traditional media etc. Consider downloading an App such as Feedly or Pulse onto your phone and subscribing to at least 5 good sources of content in your area. You can then take a quick look through each day – when waiting for a meeting to start, while catching the bus/train to work, when watching TV) – and quickly and easily share it. 

4.  Regularly share relevant content with those in your network

Share both your own and third party content via your usual channels as well as LinkedIn. Get relevant people to share it via their accounts (including directly with individuals who need or may want to know about it), share it on your company and/or Showcase page(s), share it via relevant groups (don’t forget to include an intro and don’t share into multiple groups simultaneously or you’ll run the risk of being blocked by a group manager, meaning all your content will need to be moderated before it can be posted in every group to which you belong. That’s unless a particular group manager unblocks you in their group. However many don’t know how to do this), sponsor your update (if appropriate) or run a LinkedIn Ad.

5. Start your own LinkedIn group

There are many reasons why you might want to start your own LinkedIn group. These include:

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

If you want your group to be a success then you’ll need to plan and to do more than follow LinkedIn’s process, which suggests you invite people to join your group before there are any discussions there – why would anyone want to do that? It doesn’t make sense.

This Prezi (below) talks you through how to go about setting up a LinkedIn group that people will want to join and that will deliver value to its members. If you find it helpful, please share it.

 6.  Seek to move relationships beyond LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another way to stay top of mind with existing contacts and to find and engage ideal prospects. However, it’s unlikely that professionals will get work simply through being on LinkedIn.

Another step or steps will need to occur such as an in-person meeting, a Skype call or putting together a pitch document so it’s important to look for opportunities to move the relationship beyond LinkedIn. There are a multitude of ways to do this from events, to asking people to guest speak, write articles, attend a roundtable, catch up for a coffee etc. The key thing is to make it about the other person. If there’s a benefit to them, then go for it. Just remember that a meeting is much more likely to be successful if you’ve positioned yourself with and demonstrated your value to the other person first.

7.  Measure, measure, measure

Hopefully you’ve picked a few key measures that are tied to your objectives and are tracking these over time and in conjunction with your other initiatives.

Keep tracking what’s working well and what’s working less well and tweaking your approach accordingly.

If you want to generate work from LinkedIn then you’ve got to be active: consistently so. Doing a little and often is a much better approach than going at it with great gusto in the early days only to tail off after a few months.

If you focus on positioning yourself as a valuable resource, helping others, and building relationships one by one, then you won’t go far wrong.

What other advice would you give to professionals wanting to use LinkedIn to grow their practices?

If your content’s not educational, you’re losing work

According to some recent research  conducted by Kentico, a company’s educational content doesn’t come up when searching for topics related to a problem or need nearly as often as it should. Only 27% of those interviewed report it happens often, 57% sometimes, 11% hardly ever and 5% never.

If your content’s not educational, you’re losing work

While not specific to the professional services sector, it does suggest there is a huge opportunity for firms to put out more useful content that educates people around their problems and needs.

I’m not saying some firms don’t do that already. There is a heap of useful content out there and some of it is great.

But, that’s not always the case. While being helpful is often the intent, sometimes the salient points are buried on page 3. Or there’s too much jargon, too many big words and unbearably loooooooong sentences.

If you’re not putting out content that helps and informs your prospective clients (or the helpful bits aren’t easy to find), then you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re losing work to your competitors.

If you’re putting out puff pieces that aren’t particularly interesting or helpful to others then STOP right now.

Put down your pen. Or your Dictaphone.

And rethink things.

Starting with what do the people you’re looking to talk to want or need to know?

  • What are the common questions your clients ask you?
  • What upcoming, new, emerging legislation are you aware of that will or could impact them?
  • What are some tips you could provide for dealing with X or Y situations?
  • What research have you conducted or commissioned that your clients and prospects will want to hear about?

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of topics, put together a content calendar, setting out what you’ll produce, when. Don’t forget to mark in dates like when a Bill’s having its next reading before Parliament, when a decision is expected that could create case law and so on.

Assign responsibility for compiling each piece of content, sharing it around your team. If you decide to produce one piece per month then a team of 6 would only need to put together two pieces each per year.

Tips to make compiling content easier for you:

  1. Play to your strengths – if you don’t like writing, how about an audio or video post.
  2. Block out time in your diary to produce the content – blocking out an afternoon means you could draft 4+ pieces (giving you enough content for a good few months).
  3. Ask a skilled interviewer (such as someone in your marketing team or an external consultant) to interview you for a piece. They could then draft this for you – but you will need to make sure you check it carefully!
  4. Once you have a piece of content, repurpose it. If you’ve written a blog post, record it, break it down into bite-sized tips, combine 3-4 posts into a free guide, turn it into a Slideshare presentation (or Prezi). The list is endless.
  5. Get help editing and optimising your content – you don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask someone to physically put the post up (their job  could include sourcing and adding an image, adding hyperlinks, creating any call to action you want to add, categorising the post, SEO etc.)

Once your content’s ready, share it via your usual channels.

Make sure you don’t blast it everywhere simultaneously. Space posts out (using a tool such as Hootsuite to schedule them) to maximise the number of people who see them.

Don’t forget to identify clients or contacts who’d specifically benefit from a particular piece and to share this with them directly (think about whether any journalists might be interested). Let them know why you’ve done so and why you thought they’d be interested. You could do this via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or another social network.

Monitor how your content goes down. Respond to any comments in a timely fashion. Then re-purpose your content and put it out there in another form.

What strategies have worked for you when compiling content and how do you keep it educational (versus promotional)?
Image credit: www.flinders.edu.au

LinkedIn’s premium features: be seen before your competitors

LinkedIn’s just announced changes to its premium accounts and there’s a key reason for professionals to upgrade.

It’s this: doing so will help you to get found before your competitors.

If you’re using (or intending to use) LinkedIn to attract more of your ideal prospects then read on!

More and more people are using LinkedIn’s search functionality to find people with specific skills. Up until now all search results have looked the same. But that’s no longer true.

Now, profiles of LinkedIn premium members will look bigger and contain more info than those with the free account.

LinkedIn's premium features will now help you get found before your competitors

To further help premium members, LinkedIn now makes personalised suggestions to help them to optimise their profiles: i.e. to increase the number of search results in which their profile appears.

Optimise your LinkedIn profile to get found

A little-known feature that’s been around for ages but that LinkedIn is now plugging is the ability for premium members to set their profile to Open. This means that every LinkedIn member can see your full profile and reach out to you for free. If you have a premium account and want your profile to be open go to ‘Privacy and Settings’ by clicking on your photo in the top right hand corner of the screen and selecting ‘Privacy and Settings’ from the drop down list that will appear. Select ‘Change’ in the Open Profile section towards the top of the page and tick the ‘Turn on open profile’ box.

LinkedIn Open Profile

Lastly, things will look different once people look at your profile. Premium members will benefit from a larger photo and expanded profile header and early access to LinkedIn’s new custom profile background, which will roll out to all members over the coming months.

Work with clients in the building sector? Have some good shots of you speaking at a conference? Or want to highlight something else in your profile? You can use the custom profile background to do so.

When designing your profile background your image should be 1400 x 495 pixels, less than 4MB in size and in JPG, PNG or GIF format.  Remember not to place text or images where your profile cutout will go, it also pays to note that LinkedIn places a colour gradient over the bottom half of this background so you may want to keep your graphics in the upper half.

LinkedIn new profile background

If you’re not a premium member you can still request early access to the custom profile background

What’s the cheapest premium account that will give you access to these premium features?  

The cheapest premium account was called the Personal Plus account but it looks like this has been renamed Premium Spotlight. It costs US$7.99 per month if billed annually. Here’s a handy chart LinkedIn has put together comparing the various premium plans.

What do you think of the new LinkedIn features?  Have you seen some profiles with the new backgrounds that really stand out? Share the links in the comments below.

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.

 

 

Very few professional services firms are ‘selling’ their services online [research]

A new piece of research looking at the ‘value of internet services to New Zealand businesses’ has been released by the Innovation Partnership.

Professional service firms selling their services online

Funded by Partnership members Internet New Zealand and Google, and conducted by Sapere Research Group, “it shows that everyday Kiwi businesses could add $34 billion to the New Zealand economy if they made effective use of the internet.”

It also found that “businesses that make effective use of Internet services are six per cent more productive than average businesses in their industry.”

The research focused on 4 sectors, one of them professional services (the others being retail, dairy/agriculture and tourism). I recommend you read the whole piece as it’s really insightful and they’ve done a great job. I just want to touch on a few things that stood out to me:

Unsurprisingly professional services firms have the highest percentages of staff using the internet but what the research found is that the Internet is “central to operations, less so for marketing.”

Very few professional services firms are ‘selling’ their services online.

That doesn’t surprise me.

But it does worry me because the world’s changed and firms, and those within them, have a huge opportunity to use online tools to grow their practices.

Take, for example, a professional services firm’s website. The report found that “for client facing activities the website was the most important, and the most important impact of the website was to give information to clients and potential clients, particularly on who works in the firm and what they do.”

Some interviewees noted that the most visited pages on their websites are staff bio pages but a number also noted that this could be because there’s little else of interest on their website.

Seriously? THE most important impact? Surely it should be to position the firm and provide info of interest and relevance to these people. And perhaps to provide real-time client service?

Why aren’t more firms offering free information of value to their clients and prospects on their websites in return for capturing their name and email address?

I can hear those in big firms now …”It wouldn’t work for a big firm”.

Why not?

You have practice groups. You have industry sectors. Why not put the offer up on those pages as well as in relevant bio pages? After all, they’re the most visited part of your site! (better hope the bios themselves set you apart!)

By capturing visitor info you can then follow up with relevant info over time, setting your firm apart from your competitors and building credibility with the recipient.

In this day and age you HAVE to offer more than a static website or your latest update with key information buried on page 24!

The report also states that “LinkedIn provides a similar functionality, both for clients to check out the firm and vice versa.” And that “online advertising was no substitute for word of mouth or traditional networking for finding…clients.”

LinkedIn and other social networks are not JUST another research tool and they’re certainly not ‘online advertising’ (unless you’re using them to spam people!) They are another way to generate word of mouth referrals and another way to network – but you’re not limited to networking with just those people in the same room as you on the night.

One interviewee described firms’ use of social media as “somewhat like lemmings going over a cliff” in that everyone felt they had to do something, but no one was quite sure what to do, so they all copied each other.”

I think that’s the biggest problem. It can be hard to find the time to work out how to use these platforms. But you owe it to yourself to be able to make an INFORMED decision about whether each social network can help you to achieve your goals and support your other initiatives.

If not, it’s fine to steer clear. BUT you shouldn’t do so out of ignorance or fear.

You only need to read the paragraph in the research that says “Some lawyers we spoke to, involved in the technology sector, had clients find them through Twitter and had never met face to face” to see that it is not only possible to find clients and get recommendations via these tools but that others are already doing so.

Do you want to be left behind?

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

“How do you encourage professional service providers like lawyers, accountants & engineers who’re used to using a more formal language style in their comms to adopt a more relaxed & social attitude?”

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

This question was posed recently by Julie South in the LinkedIn group: Social Media for Lead Generation in Professional Services firms. It’s something a number of professional services marketers struggle with.

Here’s how I responded:

“I do understand why many professionals do find it hard to relax their style particularly when their day-to-day work requires formal language and they’ve been trained that way. There are a few things that worked for me when I worked in firms and that have worked since. 

1. Interview them and then write the piece yourself – I’ve found this much easier than editing and the professionals I’ve worked with tend to like it because it’s easier for them.
2. Interview them and put the piece out as audio or video. If you’re sitting off camera and asking the person questions, they tend to come across as more relaxed.
3. Get them to dictate their piece, have their PA type it up and then edit that! Again, spoken language tends to be more informal. Tell them they just have to go with stream of consciousness and not to think too hard – they can edit it later.
4. Ask them to imagine they’re talking to a particular client and have to persuade them / or tell them exactly why X is a big issue, or they need to act on Y.
5. Give them some specific questions they need to answer.”

Have  you tried any of these tactics? Which have worked best?

Are there other things you’ve tried that have worked well? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: www.lawcrossing.com