Social networks will never replace face-to-face communication.
But they can lead to more opportunities for in person meetings.
They can play a role at all stages of business development from planning through to client relationship management. I’ll look at this in a series of posts over the coming weeks but today want to focus on the planning stage.
How can you use social networks at the planning stage?
When compiling your key client, industry sector and/or practice group plans social networks can help you identify key players in specific organisations. This is particularly helpful in a number of situations:
1. Putting together who’s who matrices for key clients
If you’re looking to institutionalise client relationships then you’ll need to get to know a cross-section of people at the client’s end.
Tools such as LinkedIn may help you to identify people that you don’t currently know within the client organisation, who you should. All too often I’ve seen firms lose business to competitors because a key contact in the client organisation has left. Performing a simple Advanced Search within LinkedIn and using this information to plan how to get on these people’s radars will really help.
2. Determining the best organisations to target in a particular industry sector
Often professionals brainstorm based on who they know or think they can get in front of based on a conversation and info in their CRM. Again, LinkedIn gives you much greater insights.
If, for example, you’re targeting the construction sector and want to know which CEO’s you can easily get in front of you can again, perform a LinkedIn search to see who’s on there and their relationship to you. By connecting to your colleagues (or buying Sales Navigator) you may uncover relationships that your CRM doesn’t flag. This is because people often connect with their friends or contacts from previous lives and these people often don’t make it into a CRM. You may find that some of the prospects you’ve relegated down your list are actually the easiest to get in front of.
3. Positioning your firm in pitch/tender situations
You often know when an RFP will come out way in advance, either because the organisation is a public sector entity required to tender every few years or the client has told you (as an aside you might want to build in a question on clients’ tendering processes in client relationship review meetings).
In addition to your usual pre-pitch activities you might want to look for ways to connect with key players in the tendering organisation – through LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or wherever they are present. You can then softly start to position your firm by sharing content that is relevant, and will be of interest to, that person/organisation. This is likely to include both third party content and content you have created.
If you have a blog you can then point to this content in your RFP response to evidence your claims. When combined with everything else you’re already doing, this will help to put you in a strong position.
4. Planning for content marketing
Social networks are great tools for crowd-sourcing ideas and input into things you’re working on. If you are going to be speaking at an upcoming conference you may want to ask those in relevant LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities as well as your Twitter followers (or those following a specific hashtag) the key things they’d want to hear or conduct a poll and release the results during your session.
They’re also great tools for identifying hot or emerging topics. You may then wish to share some of this content or put your own spin on it. Monitoring social networks will allow you to strike while the iron’s hot, rather than putting something out 6 weeks after it’s been trending on Twitter (I saw a law firm do just that recently and, I kid you not, there was nothing they said that hadn’t been covered by others 6 weeks previously!)
Social media really can add rocket fuel to your existing BD initiatives. But you’ve got to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve and the ways in which you can use these tools to help you.
It’s only by being purposeful and consistent that you’ll start to reap the rewards.
What did I miss?
How can law firms engage specific companies on social media by Kevin O’Keefe
When social media isn’t enough in legal marketing, by John Grimley (on the International Business Development Blog)
Latest posts by Kirsten Hodgson (see all)
- How to use social media to get more traditional opportunities - July 5, 2016
- A plea to all those using LinkedIn’s publishing platform - August 26, 2015
- Winning work and expanding an accounting practice - August 19, 2015