by Kirsten Hodgson
In mid 2011, Brian Inkster talked about the importance of tweeting in convoy (a term coined by Jon Bloor) to win new business. Tweeting in convoy is about ensuring that your team's personal accounts, your practice group/industry sector and your firm twitter accounts link up and complement one-another. This concept should also be applied to a professional service's firm's LinkedIn activity.
There is a synergistic effect to be gained from doing so and this is likely to lead to greater business success. Here's why.
Why should professional services firms use LinkedIn in convoy?
Typically there are multiple professionals from within your firm on LinkedIn. But they're all doing their own thing.
They're making a small dent and, provided they are actively using the platform, they're staying front of mind with their own individual networks.
BUT they're not currently harnessing the power of the firm's combined network so they might not be making their clients, referrers and other contacts aware of other issues that could impact them or that they might be interested in.
As a result your firm could be missing out on new business opportunities.
Consider the following scenario: a major tender is due out in 3 months. You want to position your firm as the leading authority in the client's industry sector. You blog about various issues they'll be facing, some members of your team share this with their contacts (some of whom work at the tendering organisation), you do all your normal pre-tender things to position yourself before the tender comes out.
How much more traction would you get if all of your team members on LinkedIn with connections at the client organisation posted the link to the blog on their LinkedIn status updates with some commentary about why it's important and who should read it. Additionally the key relationship people for that client/prospect might email their contacts within the organisation to give them a heads up on issues. Some of your team members might ask questions in group discussions where employees of the tendering organisation are active. Other team members may answer these questions or get involved in the discussion.
You can see how, even with a bit of coordination, your efforts are much more likely to get noticed.
In terms of tweeting in convoy Brian talked about the firm account as being the battleship.
The practice group/industry accounts are the aircraft carriers.
And the personal accounts are the destroyers.
In the LinkedIn context your company profile is your battleship.
Your individual accounts are your destroyers.
Any practice or industry focused groups that you run on LinkedIn would be your aircraft carriers.
If everything you do on LinkedIn is part of an organised whole, you are likely to get more traction more quickly.
What steps should you take to get your various LinkedIn accounts working in harmony?
Firstly, you need someone, or a team of people, to coordinate activity. By this I mean there needs to be a central repository of content and a mechanism for firm updates to be sent to team members on LinkedIn to post to their status updates and for team members to request that their updates are shared by colleagues or via the firm's status updates.
This is where smaller firms have an advantage as it's less unwieldy for them to do this. Large firms will likely need a more structured process.
Secondly, answer the following:
Are your people connected to one another on LinkedIn?
Do they like, comment on or share their colleagues' updates (where appropriate) with their own network?
Do they call or email clients, contacts or prospects who may be interested in some information shared by a colleague?
These are all things which should be encouraged and which must be spearheaded by the 'coordinating person/team'.
Without the left hand talking to the right hand, your LinkedIn efforts will only be as good as each individual person.
If you want to benefit from the sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and to maximise your chances of winning new business via LinkedIn, consider how you and your colleagues can use LinkedIn in convoy.
What's your view?
How has LinkedIn helped you and your firm from a business development and marketing perspective?
Image by Brian A. Lautenslager, U.S. Marine Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons