Category Archives: LinkedIn for professional services

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?

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.

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?

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? 

 

How to use LinkedIn to power up your events

How can you use LinkedIn to get more mileage from events that you run?

How to use LinkedIn to power your event

If you’re putting in the effort to set up an event, you want to make sure you get it right…

It’s got to be relevant to the intended audience

You want the right speakers

And, you want to get the right people along to it.

How can LinkedIn help when planning an event?

- You can use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to potential speakers. They could be fellow members of a LinkedIn group, high profile specialists in their field or people with great moderation skills.

LinkedIn allows you to reach beyond your direct network and get the RIGHT speakers for your audience.

- You can use LinkedIn to informally poll people about what they’d like to get from the event or see covered. While LinkedIn’s removed its Poll feature, you can start a discussion in a relevant group along the lines of:

“If you were to attend an event on X, what’s the one thing you’d want to find out/get from it and why?”

- You can also email up to 50 of your contacts at once – just remember to uncheck the ‘allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses’ box.

An added advantage of doing these things is that you’re alerting those you want to attend your event early on in the piece. 

- You may wish to set up an early-bird list so that you can communicate with those who sign up prior to the event.

How can LinkedIn help when promoting your event?

When promoting the event, you can:

Ask your team members to put up the events on their profile. There’s no longer an event section but you could get them to either add a link to the event page of your website at the bottom of their summary section (good because it’s visual) or add the ‘courses’ section and list it there (probably not the intended use for that section but it would work and you could then move it up your profile for a few weeks to promote the event).

- Post into relevant groups’ promotions sections - or, if they allow you to post to the main feed, you may wish to do so – provided the event is relevant to members. If the updates are relevant then definitely post them to groups.

Set up a banner (as a roving spotlight) on your company page so people can link through to the sign up page from there and put it out as an update from your company page – segmenting your audience where appropriate. You may also want to promote the event using the sponsored updates feature.

How can you use LinkedIn post event?

Post event you could:

- Put together a blog post covering the main points and/or share your slides (e.g. using Slideshare) with your connections and in relevant groups.

- Share short soundbites or snippets of info that work as stand alone pieces.

- Ask questions of your connections and group members that relate to the event or pose questions that were asked by your audience.

- Put the event up as a webinar that people can sign up for.

There’s probably a tonne more you can do, so I’d love to hear your ideas and what’s worked for you.

Please leave a comment below.

Grow your Practice with LinkedInIf you’d like to understand how to make LinkedIn work for you or wish to train multiple lawyers in how it can help them, sign up for our 10 week mini-course and be first to hear about our forthcoming online course with actionable modules “Grow your Practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers”, your roadmap to LinkedIn success.

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Law firm social media success story: case study

Michael Denmead is a solicitor at Barr Ellison Solicitors in Cambridge, UK.

He is an active social media user who runs both the social media for solicitors group on LinkedIn and the community of the same name on Google+. He also looks after his firm’s social media presence.

I talked to him about:

  • which social networks he uses,
  • why he uses them,
  • what’s worked well for him and his firm, and
  • what tips he’d give to lawyers wanting to build their practices using social media.

Why should lawyers and law firms use social media?

I believe the conservative approach needs to be dropped. If lawyers and firms can determine how they want to communicate their brand via social media and stick to this then they’d be mad not to use these networks. You have the opportunity to be in front of your target market and to clearly communicate your messages. If you have the necessary resources then you’ve got to use these networks in order to be visible to your target market.

Which social networks do you use and how?

On Twitter we RT (retweet) everything to do with our local market and community and initiate conversations with other Cambridge-based businesses and people. It’s really easy to connect with others using Twitter. I’ve even had one client set up a meeting with me via Twitter and then DM (private message using Twitter) me to tell me she was going to be late. She knows I’m on there and it’s her communication tool of choice.

Google+ is another tool that makes it easy to connect to others. Using Google+ is about being visible. It’s still underused in the UK market so getting traction has been slow but other businesses are now starting to use the platform.

All our 25 lawyers have a professional profile (completed to a minimum standard) on LinkedIn.We expect them to connect with their clients and key referrers to help them stay visible to these people. It is difficult to have one to one conversations on LinkedIn and it’s hard work, but we need to be there and to be seen.

I’ve connected all our accounts to our company page and use Socialoomph to push out our content. Socialoomph allows me to post information to relevant lawyers’ accounts. For example, if we write a blog post on a commercial property issue, I will go into Socialoomph and schedule a LinkedIn post to go out from each of the commercial property team members’ accounts at different times. It means we don’t have to rely on them putting out this info themselves. They can concentrate on doing their jobs.

Socialoomph automatically distributes content according to your instruction. It’s irritatingly difficult to get to grips with when you first use it, but now it takes me 10 minutes max to set everything up. It has an automatic workaround for Twitter to ensure you don’t post the same Tweet twice. The only network it doesn’t work with is Google+. At Barr Ellison we practise in 7 areas of law so I have set up 7 queues of content in Socialoomph.

Each of our seven practice areas is expected to blog once a month (sometimes one post will cover two areas so there are months when we have less than 7 posts going out). Teams can share the responsibility of compiling a post to prevent it from becoming too onerous.

What successes have you seen as a result of your social media activity?

We were recently asked to bid for some work for a large business in Cambridge. That business is a big user of social media and our social media presence helped to put us in the frame.

On the whole successes are hard to quantify because we’ve always been committed to marketing and social media is simply another set of tools we’re using to communicate with our target audience. Things we can say are:

  • We measure revenue and know that roughly 20% of our revenue comes from the web. 
  • We recently tested the effectiveness of Google Adwords by making a deliberate decision to drop it for 4 months. We saw a substantial drop off in web visits and revenue. We know that for every pound we spend on Adwords we get back between £4 and £7 in revenue.

Our aim is to be on page 1 using a combination of Adwords, Google Places and SEO. We include long tail keywords in our blog posts and blog in the local paper too.

What’s worked well for you?

Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, blogging and Adwords are all working well for us. It’s a matter of repeat, repeat, repeat as this is vital to get noticed.

Our new WordPress website is also working well. We know that revenue has increased since its launch. It allows us to produce better content, display video (not yet launched) etc. and because of that our social media activity is a lot more confident.

Having a good website is really important if you’re doing social media, as is getting out content regularly. It’s hard though so you have to make it an easy process for people. Our team members need to write and own their content (they can dictate it) but once they’ve drafted it I’ll make sure that everything else is done for them, including putting in the image, coming up with a headline, building in SEO, posting and distributing it via their accounts.

What hasn’t worked so well?

Facebook is hard work for law firms. It has been slow to get traction. It seems to be the general interest posts that people want to see – for example, we do a Charity Run at Christmas and posted some photos. We got a lot of likes and comments on that! I’d say we’re getting there slowly!

What advice would you give to other lawyers and law firms wanting to leverage social media?

Take your time and do it carefully as you need to look good and polished. If you’re starting out, adopt a listening strategy focusing on your target market as this will inform your activity. Everything you do and say needs to communicate to your key market and have your key market in mind.

Then never lose that focus. Remember not to express a political or religious opinion because you WILL offend one of your clients.

Lastly, be consistently active. 

What other tips would you add to Michael’s? 

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