A recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog talked about three forgotten drivers of professional services firm performance. It argued that:
“when there is uncertainty about the quality of a product or service, firms do not have to rely on differentiation in order to obtain a competitive advantage. Whether you’re a law firm or a hairdresser, people will find it difficult – at least beforehand – to assess how good you really are. But customers, nonetheless, have to pick one.”
What are the forgotten drivers of performance?
“when there is such uncertainty, buyers rely on other signals to decide whether to purchase, such as the seller’s status, its social network ties, and prior relationships.”
If this is the case (and I have no doubt that it is) then firms can use social networks to help them enhance their status, strengthen existing relationships and create new ones.
I’ve set out below some ideas – I’m sure you’ll have more to add so please leave them in the comments section so we can get a really good list going.
- Regularly share timely content that your contacts, followers and fellow group/community members will find relevant, helpful and/or thought provoking.
- Enrich your social media profiles with links to presentations, free guides, how to’s, Whitepapers (or upload these on the likes of LinkedIn if they are not available online).
- Offer useful resource-based content for free – checklists, guides, whitepapers etc. This helps people out and positions you and your firm at the same time.
- Engage with others on social networks by liking, commenting on or sharing their posts, discussions etc.
- Share content that will be of specific interest to one or more of your connections with them directly – e.g. via LinkedIn email, using the DM or @ features on Twitter, or by tagging them on Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn. Don’t forget to let them know WHY you’re doing so. Why should they take the time to open it?
- Invite your former clients, colleagues, suppliers and business partners to connect with you on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook (if appropriate), and add them to relevant circles on Google+
- Keep track of milestones in your connection’s lives using tools such as ‘Your Day’ in the LinkedIn Contacts feature. If you don’t yet have this feature you can request it. Congratulate them when they get a new job, when it’s their birthday etc. Look for opportunities to stay in touch.
- Set up and actively manage your alumni group/community on LinkedIn, Google+ or your social network of choice. Find out what your alumni want from the group/community and nurture it so that it becomes somewhere they visit now and again. Use the group to communicate upcoming alumni events and find interesting speakers etc.
- Encourage recommendations and endorsements on your social media profiles. For example, when conducting a post-matter or project review you could ask people if they would be prepared to write a recommendation (provided you’ve done a good job). You could then follow up with an email of the points you’d like them to cover, or ask them to dictate to you over the phone. You can then draft this and send it back to them for their approval.
- Showcase any non-confidential work using a presentation or video on your social media profiles. For Facebook, you can pin the link to the top of your page or create an album; in LinkedIn you can insert media into your profile; create an album in Google Plus and link to a presentation or video in your Twitter bio. SlideShare is also an excellent place to showcase your portfolio.
- Set up searches and alerts for questions and discussions in your area of expertise. Answer and contribute to these on a regular basis.
In order to stand out from your competition you’ve got to be visible, helpful and conversational. Social networks can help you with all of these things.
When combined with everything you’re already doing they can supercharge your existing efforts, resulting in enhanced status and stronger (and more) relationships.
Do you agree? What else would you add to my list above?
Image credit: http://www.vallianz.com
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