Tag Archives: marketing the law firm

How can professional services firms use social media to increase their tender success rate?

by Kirsten Hodgson

More often than not, professional services firms know when an organisation will be going out to tender, well before the tendering organisation issues the RFP or EOI.

They may have told you.

They re-tender every two to three years.

Or, there’ve been reports they’re looking to rationalise their spend, initiate a project etc.

Professional services firms spend a lot of time and money evaluating whether or not to pitch for work and, if so, compiling their proposal.

The enlightened ones even look for ways to tip the level playing field in their favour before the tender’s been put out.

This is where social media can really help.

How can leveraging social media help professional services firms to increase their tender success rate?

Looking at who’s on social media platforms within the target organisation will help you to identify the likely decision makers, influencers, veto-holders and gatekeepers.

You can use this information to compile your Who knows Who matrix.

You can then ensure members of your team connect with as many of these people as possible – be it by inviting them to connect on LinkedIn, by joining the same groups or communities on LinkedIn or Google+, by following them on Twitter, or friending them on Facebook (if appropriate).

You’ll likely be thinking about the key issues and considerations for the target organisation – be it in relation to a particular project they’re putting out to tender, or more broadly in the case of a panel tender.

Once you have a list, you can develop content that will be both of interest, and relevant, to the target organisation. This will help to position you as ‘experts’ in your area and/or their industry sector.

As well as sharing this content strategically via traditional means such as a news alert, and on your website you can also share it via social networks.

Those connected to the decision makers, influencers, gatekeepers and veto-holders can share this content via their personal feeds such as their LinkedIn updates, their Twitter account, their Facebook page or their Google+ account.

In addition, you could post it in relevant group or community discussions on LinkedIn and Google+, and put it on your company page, firm Twitter feed, Facebook page etc. In this way, you’re softly positioning your firm well before the RFP’s been issued and are ensuring that, should someone from the target organisation check you out, they’re likely to see this content.

When compiling your RFP response, you can point to the central repository for this content, be it your website, your blog or You Tube.

In some cases, firms may want to take it one step further and tailor specific professionals’ online profiles for a particular opportunity. This would involve a bit of work but, where an opportunity is of strategic importance to a firm, it may pay to ensure that profiles highlight those areas of key interest to the target client shortly before and during the pitch process. Profiles can easily be changed back afterwards.

Do any firms do this already?

I’ve anecdotally heard of a firm in the US that strategically places content on LinkedIn prior to RFPs being issued. They’re looking to position themselves in the tendering organisation’s eyes early. I think that’s a really smart approach.

I’m not aware of other firms doing this at this stage, but would love to hear of more examples if you’re aware of any.

Your 6-step approach to leveraging social media for RFP success

1. Use features such as LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to identify who, within the tendering organisation, is likely to be involved or have some input into the evaluation process.

2. Identify the key issues and considerations for the tendering organisation using your usual processes such as coffees/meetings with the client, strategy sessions with the client, client interviews, secondee interviews etc. and develop a content plan for the months leading up to the pitch. This can be as simple as a calendar setting out what you will be compiling when. Actively hunt out relevant third party content too, and build this into your plan. 

3. Develop/source the appropriate content.

4. Share this via social networks  - e.g.

  • directly with specific contacts (if and when appropriate), via a professional’s personal LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook accounts if he/she is directly connected with, or followed by, one or more of those who will be involved in the decision making process.
  • within LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities. 
  • on your website, your firm’s Twitter feed, Facebook page, and LinkedIn company page
When doing so, don’t forget to ask a question to encourage discussion and debate. 
5. Stay actively involved in any discussion threads around the content you’ve shared. 
6. Refer to your repository of content, where appropriate, in your RFP response.
Do you know of any firms already doing this?
How else could professional services firms leverage social media to increase their RFP success rate?

 

5 ways to use LinkedIn for lead identification

by Kirsten Hodgson

How can you use LinkedIn to find those people you wish to engage?

Over the past two years LinkedIn has grown exponentially. In June 2010 LinkedIn had 70 million members. In March 2012 there were 150 million members. By September 2012 the number had grown to 175 million.

While two years ago more of my contacts were not on LinkedIn than were, that’s completely changed and you’re much harder pressed nowadays to find business people who don’t have an account.

LinkedIn and other social media are turning the traditional business development process on its head. Whereas in the past you’d meet someone and add them as a LinkedIn connection, now the opportunity is there to ‘meet’ and start to build relationships with people on LinkedIn and then move these beyond the platform.

4 ways to use LinkedIn to find those to whom you wish to connect

1. Perform an Advanced Search:

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function allows you to search by a range of criteria including keywords, job title, company name, industry sector, country (and, in some jurisdictions, postcode) so it’s a great way to find those you wish to build a relationship with.

LinkedIn’s free account does limit you to seeing 100 search results and you can only see names of those in your network (i.e. your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections) as well as those who share a Group with you. In order to benefit from the Advanced Search feature you need a critical mass of connections. However, there is a way around this without rapidly increasing your number of connections and without upgrading to the paid account – and that is using search engines such as Google to search LinkedIn (but that’s a post for another week).

Once you’ve performed the search you can begin to follow those you wish to, join the same groups and seek to engage them there, or invite them to connect with you – letting them know why they should do so. What value will they get from connecting with you?

To access the Advanced Search feature click on the word ‘Advanced’ next to the people search on the top right of your LinkedIn toolbar.

2. Search the Groups Directory:

Type in keywords or names of industry sectors you’d expect those you want to build a relationship with to join. Have a look through the results. Typically groups will be listed in order of size with the largest membership first. You can take a look at groups which may be relevant, see who in your network is a member, view group discussions (if the group is open), look through group statistics and determine if it’s for you.

If it is, then join. Take a look at the types of discussions that get the most traction and emulate. In some groups posting links works well whereas in others it’s better to keep all content within the discussion thread. Comment on other people’s discussions where you can.

If you identify people you wish to connect with you can take a look at their profiles, see which groups they’re members of and join the same groups.

You’ll find the Groups Directory under the ‘Groups’ tab on the LinkedIn toolbar.

3. Search LinkedIn SigNAL

Signal makes it easier for you to quickly find the information you’re looking for. You can use it to search for keywords or types of information. The beauty of it is that it allows you to see posts from across the LinkedIn network – not just those in your network – so you can quickly find people who share similar interests or who are actively looking for help in an area in which you can assist.

You’ll find Signal under the ‘News’ tab on your LinkedIn toolbar.

4. Search LinkedIn Answers:

The Answers section is a great place to showcase your expertise by answering relevant questions. Doing so will enable you to build relationships one by one. If someone you want to connect with asks a question, answer it.

‘Answers’ is accessible via the ‘More’ tab on your LinkedIn toolbar.

5. Search LinkedIn Events:

Monitor events in your town and area(s) of expertise and sign-up where appropriate. You could organise to meet others who have signed up via LinkedIn prior to the event, thus maximising networking opportunities on the day.

You may also wish to post your own events so others on LinkedIn can register – don’t forget to promote these through relevant groups and your status updates (as well as on your website and via other communications channels).

LinkedIn is a great tool to identify and begin to build relationships with those you wish to. If you approach people with common-sense and focus on them and their needs, you can begin to build some good relationships that you can then move beyond LinkedIn.

How else have you used LinkedIn to find your target audience?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos

LinkedIn: A powerful market research tool

by Kirsten Hodgson

Much has been written about LinkedIn as a lead identification and lead generation tool, and rightly so.

But it’s so much more than that.

It’s also a powerful research tool for those looking to develop new products or services or who wish to enter new markets.

One of my contacts, Zivana Anderson, found LinkedIn to be hugely beneficial when researching the market need for a new product for one of her clients.

After finding out the target market for the product, she used LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to identify those she wanted to talk to. She then sent an ‘expertise request’ to the people she wished to meet. They were all senior Heads of Department at major national and global corporations. 70% of those asked accepted her request.

They were all very generous and helpful with their time and spent much longer with her than she’d envisaged. As a result of her work, her client was able to establish the market need and had a clear line of communication with would be buyers.

Zivana’s advice to others seeking meetings with busy, senior professionals via LinkedIn:

1. Ensure your profile is complete and positions you well. It needs to lend credibility to your request and show that you are a professional.

2. When contacting the other person be really clear about what you’re doing and why, how long you want to meet for and the things you wish to find out. Be polite.

3. Don’t suggest a specific time. Say ‘at a time convenient to you’ so that you can get the person’s approval in principle.

4. Join a group that the other person belongs to so that you have the ability to email them using the free LinkedIn account.

This could be a great way to use LinkedIn if you’re looking to build profile in a particular industry sector or want to penetrate a new market. By emulating Zivana’s approach, you too could get in front of senior, hard to reach, decision makers.

Have you used LinkedIn as a research tool? How’s it helped you?

 

Social media, the Hare and the Tortoise

by Kirsten Hodgson

I love Aesop’s fables – they all have a great moral and I enjoy reading many of them to my kids (particularly after they’ve done something naughty).

The Hare and the Tortoise could have been written about social media. When the tortoise challenges the hare to a race, the hare soon leaves the tortoise behind. However, so confident is he that he’ll win, he takes a nap halfway through the race only to awake to find the tortoise has crawled past him and beaten him over the finish line.

What does this have to do with social media?

Everything.

Social media is more like a marathon than a sprint. You have to be clear about what you’re looking to achieve and be in it for the long haul. Social media puts another set of tools at your disposal. If you start off with a bang only to give up after a few weeks/months, you’ll be overtaken by others.

3 ‘hare activities’ to avoid on social media

1. Setting up profiles on multiple platforms and then doing nothing with them:

Be focused in your efforts. Identify the platform(s) that are best going to help you to build relationships with those you want to and focus on those. When these are working well for you, you can branch out. The danger of being active on too many platforms is it’s very hard to keep the information up to date.

When setting up profiles, it’s important that these position you well. Social profiles tend to rank highly in search engine results. If you don’t believe me, log out of Google and then search your (and your firm’s) name. While your website is likely to come back near the top so too are your social media profiles.

The top two ways people hire lawyers (I have no doubt this is similar for other professional services advisers) according to some BTI research is peer to peer referrals and online search. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Asking others in your network who they recommend in a particular area is a logical starting point. However, they may get two or three names. So, what happens next? They are often not ready to call you but instead perform an online search. Ensuring your profiles clearly position you is one way to tip the level playing field in your favour before someone’s met you.

If you decide that you don’t wish to be active on a network, remove your profile. A skeletal one isn’t going to benefit anyone.

2. Amassing followers, friends or contacts quickly without actually building a relationship: 

Social is about people and people build relationships with other people. I do understand the argument that you need a wide network to amplify your messages and it’s true that a wider network helps you see better quality search information on LinkedIn, but as professionals we’re selling ourselves and we need to build credibility and trust.

The best way to do that is to build relationships with others one by one. Showing a genuine interest in others, having conversations, sharing their content and asking them questions all helps to build a rapport.

Once you’re on people’s radars and they’ve had some sort of interaction with you, they’re much more likely to read and share your content and to refer you to others.

If you are looking for more work, a targeted always beats a scattergun approach so prioritise who you want to build relationships with and aim to have at least one interaction per week with one of these people.

3. Underestimating your competition: 

I spoke to partners in a professional services firm a while ago who were taken aback that another professional had built a strong reputation in a certain area. Their view was that the person wasn’t as ‘technically sound’ as they are.

However, the other person was doing a great job demonstrating their knowledge in their field, was building relationships and was getting work.

The professionals I spoke to may believe they’re better but what they think doesn’t matter. It’s what prospective clients think. The vast majority of work doesn’t need the ‘best’ brains. It requires someone competent  - and there are lots of competent people out there so you need to distinguish yourself. 

Don’t underestimate your competition. Social media has made it much easier for those without the support of a large firm behind them to market themselves. If you’re not using these channels to help others and build relationships, others are. 

Summary and actions:

  • Be focused and targeted in your approach to social media. Choose the social media network that best suits you and those you want to connect with.  
  • Ensure that your social profiles position you well. Set up an honest, up to date profile that explains who you help, what you help them with and who you are.
  • Seek to build relationships with others one by one and focus on helping the other person with no expectation of them doing the same for you. Using the search function within a network (e.g. the Advanced Search function within LinkedIn), identify three people you would like to connect with. Look to see what content they are sharing, where they are sharing it, who with and what they are responding to.Engage in conversations they are having online. 
    1. Compliment or thank them for an article they shared.
    2. Join a conversation they are having.
    3. Ask them to connect with you.
  • Don’t underestimate your competition. Social media levels the playing field and makes it much easier for those who are active on these channels to compete. Just be prepared for them to overtake you if you get caught out napping.

What other examples of ‘hare’ behaviour have you seen? 

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Professional services marketing: are you up for the 1 action per day challenge?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Do you ever have every intention of doing something…

…but for one reason or another you just don’t get around to it?

Maybe something more urgent crops up.

Or the day runs away with you.

Or perhaps you’re struggling or just not that motivated to do it.

Whatever the reason, a lot of us have things that keep appearing on our ‘to do’ lists day after day, week after week. And we never seem to get around to doing them.

Until now.

The 100 day challenge

I joined the Happiness Experiment a few months ago. Initiated by Kate Billing, whose focus is on making the world a better (work)place, Kate suggested writing down three good things each day. It’s a way of giving you a positive mindset and being grateful for the little things (even on those horrendous days it’s amazing the silver linings you can find).

More recently Kate asked people to join her in a 100 day challenge: it could be anything you were inspired to do and you had to commit to simple daily actions for 100 days. There were three guidelines:

  • make a commitment
  • work your edge (stretch past your comfort zone!) AND
  • follow through (forgiving yourself when you don’t and beginning again)

Given my tendency to procrastinate I decided to commit to doing one thing each day that I wouldn’t normally get around to.

I’m 14 days in and my ‘to do’ list is getting shorter. Plus it’s actually getting easier to do the things I would normally put off.

I’ve:

  • made several phone calls I was uncomfortable about making
  • written and posted some thank you cards (in record time)
  • progressed a project that’s been on the back-burner for four months because I’ve been too busy to work on it
  • and completed several other tasks – both work related and personal.

What’s this got to do with professional services marketing?

As professionals we’re busy.

And we tend to prefer doing the things we’re good at, or that we can tick off quickly.

That means things like business development initiatives are often put on the back burner in favour of client work.

Even when there’s not too much work on it’s easy to avoid getting out from behind our desks.

Particularly if what we know we need to do is outside our comfort zone.

However, doing one thing per day really isn’t so daunting.

Plus, if you commit to it, there’s something inside you that really wants to get it done so that it’s not hanging over your head.

You could even let a colleague, friend or partner know your goals for the week so that they can hold you accountable.

Imagine how much more you could achieve and how much more of the work you love, you could be doing.

So I’m going to set you the same challenge Kate set:

Commit to doing one thing each day for the next 100 days and see what happens.

It could be:

  • writing a personal note to 1 client each day.
  • calling 1 contact each day just to find out how things are going.
  • doing 1 thing to help a colleague each day.
  • doing 1 business development task each day – one day it might be coffee, the next it might be asking for some client feedback, attending an event, or starting a conversation on LinkedIn

You get the gist – so long as you’re focused and the activity will contribute towards your overall goals.

Interestingly, 100 days is (according to Kate) the period of time for technical practice for improved performance ( for example the Suzuki school of violin practice).

If you can develop this habit, imagine how much you could achieve, and how much better you could serve your clients.

What action are you going to commit to?

Have you done anything similar? If so, I’d love to hear how it went and the benefits from doing it.

Related posts:

Natalie Sisson’s 100 change – be inspired by 100 change makers in 100 days

Kate Billing’s The Happiness Experiment

 

 

Professional services marketing: Do you hear your clients’ voices online?

by Kirsten Hodgson


I had a great experience on Twitter this week and it got me thinking, how many professionals would even know if someone was tweeting or posting about them and/or their firm?

What happened was this. Nancy Myrland tweeted about Tweetdeck removing the endless scrolling in lists. I replied saying Hootsuite still allowed that and she responded that she wished they allowed people to display more lists. Within an hour someone from Hootsuite tweeted us this:

“Hi there! We’d appreciate your feedback in our feedback forum” with the link attached.

That one tweet showed they’re listening and looking at how they can improve. A visit to the forum highlighted they’re responding to people’s suggestions and keeping them informed as to progress they are making re. developments around these.

How many professional services firms could say the same?

If you’re not already listening for mentions of your name and your firm name, then you should get started.

Now.

Some simple and free tools you can use that will enable you to monitor most sites are Google Alerts, Social Mention and Hootsuite (you can set up streams to monitor mentions of your name or your firm name or anything else you wish to monitor).

If people do mention you, you can make a call about whether and, if so, how to respond.

You could create a great impression by doing so.

Or you could stick your head in the sand and people will think you don’t care.

You only get one chance to make people feel positive towards you.

Are you going to take it?

What other advice would you give to professionals about monitoring what’s being said online?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Connecting with others on LinkedIn: why bother?

You know why you’re on LinkedIn.

You’re happy with your profile.

It’s time to connect with others.

Why bother?

The LinkedIn free account limits you to seeing profile information for your first, second and third degree connections, plus those in your groups. You can get around this by using Google to x-ray into LinkedIn, but you will miss out on some of LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality. This is really useful for planning and research purposes.

4 key ways to connect with people you know

  1. Import your email contacts from your desktop or internet email system
  2. Use LinkedIn’s people search or advanced people search to find individuals
  3. Look through contacts of your connections to find those you know
  4. Browse LinkedIn’s people you may know feature (including your university and previous employers)

Connecting with second degree connections

Second-degree contacts are those connected with one or more of your contacts. If you identify someone you’d like to meet, view their profile to find out how they are connected to you. You could then ask your contact to introduce you, but think about why they should and why their contact would want to meet/connect with you. What’s in it for them?

Connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn

Should you even do so?

LinkedIn’s user agreement says no but results of a 2011 poll show lots of people do and thought is divided.

There may be very good reasons why you might want to connect with someone you haven’t met – for example a journalist or someone in your field who shares really good content. In fact, LinkedIn and other social networks are turning the traditional business development process on its head. Instead of meeting people and then connecting with them online, you can now meet and start to build relationships with others online before taking them into the real world.

I am happy to connect with those I haven’t met in person provided:

- they share similar interests

- or they share quality content

- or I’ve had a conversation with them (e.g. through a group discussion).

Ultimately, it’s your choice. If you do want to connect with someone you don’t know well, personalise the invite you send to them.

What should you do with your connections?

It depends on your goals, but LinkedIn is a great tool to keep in contact with your connections and to build relationships one by one. Simply connecting with people and then doing nothing is not going to help you grow your practice.

You might like to:

  • email one of your connections each week to share something that will be of interest to them or to set up a time to meet
  • connect two of your contacts every month who might benefit from meeting each other
  • like, comment on or share content that your connections are sharing that may be of interest to your other connections
  • share status updates your contacts will value

One of the strengths of LinkedIn is that you can see who in your network knows someone. If you’re looking at targeting CEOs in a particular industry sector then you can see which of them is on LinkedIn and who in your network knows them. This could really help with planning and prioritising targets.

When connecting, do what’s right for you and what will help you achieve your goals. Once you’ve connected with others, you’re ready to start engaging (phase 3 of my 5-phase process). I’ll cover some ways you can do this, next week.

What other tips would you share for connecting with others on LinkedIn? 

Image courtesy Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lawyers & accountants: what do your social media profiles say about you?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Lawyers and Accountants - what do your social media profiles say about you?

There is one thing worse than being invisible.

And that's making a really bad first impression.

Frankly, if you were invisible at least you could start with a clean slate but there's no taking back those first few seconds when you first meet someone.

It's even worse if that first 'meeting' happens online and without your knowledge.

Yet this is what happens every day.

Take a look at who's viewed your profile on LinkedIn, what your Twitter followers get to see when they click on your name and what you say about yourself on your Facebook page. 

Are your social media profiles working for you?

If your profile doesn't clearly position you

Or, worse still, is skeletal

Then you're missing a trick and could be losing out on potential business. 

If you've made an informed decision not to use a particular network that's fine. Just make sure you delete your profile.

How can I set up a compelling profile?

If you are on a network then the first step to making social media work for you is to make sure your profile is as complete as it can be and that it clearly positions you. 

Answer the questions:

  • Who do you help? 
  • What do you help them with? 
  • What results have you achieved for your clients? 
  • What's unique about you that your target audience will value? Perhaps you are the only lawyer in your market with an MBA or you've written a book on a particular topic – if you can then answer the 'so what?' – what does this mean for prospective clients? Why should they care?

Include social proof where you can in the form of testimonials (if permitted in your jurisdiction), case studies, and links to your blog or other content repository.

Include information about your interests outside of work. A number of lawyers have asked 'is it really necessary to do so?'

I was recently contacted by a Barrister I did not know via LinkedIn. The reason he got in touch with me? We'd both run the New York marathon. He told me as much. Yes, he wanted someone who could help him with his marketing but the clincher was that we shared a common interest. Don't underestimate the power of that.

Let people know how they can contact you and include a sentence asking them to do so. There's little point in a well-crafted summary if you're not going to include a call to action. It's important to let people know you want to hear from them.

Some good lawyer profiles on LinkedIn, that you might want to check out, are:

Jessie Foley 

Callum Sinclair

Once your profile(s) is complete and you're happy with it, you're ready to move to Phase 2: Connecting with others – the topic for next week's post.

What are your top tips for creating strong social media profiles? 

My book 'The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers: Connect, Engage and Grow your Business' is now available from the LexisNexis store. If you're sceptical about LinkedIn, are unsure how it might be able to help you, or just want some practical tips you can put into action straight away, you might find it useful. 

A 5-phase process to leveraging social media in professional services

by Kirsten Hodgson

The wrong way to approach someone you've never met before

A couple of people have approached me in the past month via LinkedIn. Prior to this I'd never come across them but they both sent direct messages requesting a meeting. I accepted out of curiosity

Or perhaps it was my British reticence to say 'no' or, more to the point, 'why?'

Both meetings were predictable. The person told me about their business and their ideal client and asked if I could refer them work. They asked very few questions.

I walked away thinking they'd have to do more if they wanted a referral.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to refer work to others but they have to demonstrate their credibility first and I have to have built up some sort of rapport and trust with them. 

I'm not saying you can't approach someone you've never conversed with before on LinkedIn.

But there is a better way to go about it.

A better way to go about it

Focus on the other person and their needs.

Offer something of value to them. Or thank them for something they shared and ask them a question.

For example, if someone approached me about a roundtable or webinar on a specific topic of interest to me, I'd go along. If they asked for some input into something (and said why they wanted it) I'd help. Wouldn't you?

While the aim of any social media activity has to be to build relationships one by one and to take these offline, there are some things you need to do first.

A 5-phase process to leveraging social networks

Here's a simple 5-phase process to leveraging social networks.5 phase process of LinkedIn

 

Phase 1 involves setting up compelling profiles that clearly position you, on each of the networks you use for work purposes

Phase 2 is about connecting with others

Phase 3 involves engaging with others and being active on each network on which you wish to have a presence

Phase 4 looks at taking relationships offline

Phase 5 covers measuring your performance

The speed at which you move through each of these phases will vary.

It is important to have all your ducks in a row so that you are well placed to take advantage of new work opportunities when they do arise. If your profile clearly positions you, if you are connected with people in your target industry sector(s), if you regularly engage and share valuable content, then others are more likely to want to meet you offline.

And you're more likely to get requests from people to meet up.

If you have a clear sense of what it is you're looking to achieve and if you measure how you're doing, using metrics that matter to you, you'll probably find integrating social media with your existing business development and marketing initiatives helps them to fly.

Over the coming weeks I'll be posting a series of follow-ups covering each of the 5 phases in more detail. Subscribe using the email subscription form above if you'd like to receive these articles by email. Alternatively you can subscribe to the RSS feed. 

My book 'The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers – connect, engage and grow your business' is due out on 31 July 2012. It's being published by LexisNexis. If you'd like to pre-order a copy or find out more click here.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this process? What else would you include? 

How has following a similar process helped you/your firm? 


Using LinkedIn in convoy: helping professional services firms to win new business

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. 

Using LinkedIn in a convoy

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