Tag Archives: social media for law firms

How do you find the time for social media in professional services?

 

How do you find the time for social media

Two questions I’m regularly asked by BD and marketing professionals working in professional services firms are:

“How do we best use social media?”

And

“How do we find the time for it?”

I can totally relate to these. Social media can feel like one more thing to add into your already busy day.

A great way to start is to think about how one, or a combination, of these tools could increase the effectiveness of an existing initiative or make it quicker or easier for you to achieve a specific objective.

Here’s an example:

What we did

When I was marketing manager in a law firm, one of our corporate practice’s goals was to build more and stronger relationships at board level, both to generate work at that level and to raise the firm’s profile to ensure board members would be comfortable should management decide to hire the firm.

As a result, we held a corporate governance symposium and invited numerous ‘captains of industry’ along.

Following the session, one of our partners drafted a White Paper largely based on discussion and feedback at the event, which was given to all Board Members on our database as well as specific journalists.

What could we have done if we were doing it all over again today?

It was a great initiative and it worked well for the firm. However, if that was today, we could have done so much more such as:

  • Used LinkedIn to identify other key company directors to invite
  • Used Twitter, LinkedIn etc. to help with the research
  • Invited people through the platforms or run promoted/sponsored content informing them about the event that would appear in their newsfeed/stream.
  • Offered the Whitepaper as a download through our team’s individual accounts, our company page and via promoted/sponsored updates. The whitepaper could possibly have been offered as gated content company directors could download in return for signing up to a ‘Board Table’ newsletter (allowing us to keep in touch with them on an ongoing basis).
  • Published a summary of the whitepaper to our blog or website and directly to LinkedIn and then promoted this in relevant groups asking a question to drive discussion.
  • Interviewed the relevant partners and put together a video and audio, which could be posted on YouTube, iTunes etc. and shared via social networks. Alternatively we could have held a Google+ Hangout or Hangout on Air.
  • Used LinkedIn and Twitter to identify and reach out to relevant journalists.
  • Sent a summary of the whitepaper to journalists and company directors – social networks would have made this process easier because we could have used tools such as Inmail to send it to those people who were previously unknown to the firm along with a smart intro setting out why we were sending it and the benefit to the other person of reading it.
  • Set up a LinkedIn group for corporate governance issues and invited people to sign up for it at the event – via tablets they could log into.
  • Live tweeted from the event.
  • Set up a Corporate Governance tweet chat – if we found sufficient directors were using the tool and/or a regular forum to discuss issues e.g. via a Google+ hangout.

The point is, this initiative was incredibly successful, but it could have been even more so had we been able to use social tools as part of our tactics. At the very least, a LinkedIn group would have enabled the firm to sustain the momentum over the long term.

So, rather than thinking of social media as an additional task, think about how you can use it to make your job easier and improve a particular outcome. I guarantee it will be worth it.

How do you use social media to add value to existing initiatives in your practice/firm?

Image Credit: www.pbs.org

Should I connect with other lawyers on LinkedIn?

Lawyers regularly ask me this so I thought it worthy of a blog post.

The answer to this really comes down to your objectives. What is it you’re looking to achieve?

Should I connect with other lawyers on LinkedIn

There are some very good reasons why you might wish to connect with other lawyers, such as:

  • You wish to generate referrals from other lawyers
  • It’s a great way to keep track of former colleagues and friends who may one day move in-house
  • You want to pick up some tips from others’ activity.

I know some of you will be concerned that other lawyers will look through your contacts and try to poach them.

In order to prevent this, you have two options (other than not connecting with them):

  1. Be proactive and focus on providing your clients with excellent customer service and regularly sharing content they will find valuable and helpful. In all likelihood your competitors will be talking to your clients anyway, so this is always a key area on which to focus.
  2. Hide your connections on LinkedIn. This means your connections can only see details of shared connections (i.e. those connections you have in common). To do so, go to ‘Privacy & Settings’ (hover over the photo of you in the top right hand corner of your LinkedIn toolbar and select Privacy & Settings from the dropdown list – you may be prompted for your password), look under the ‘Privacy Controls’ header in your profile settings and select ‘See who can see your connections’. Choose ‘Only you’ from the drop-down box.

On one hand, LinkedIn is about networking and helping others in your network and it many people perceive it negatively when people hide their connections, but on the other if you act for Shell and you have lots of connections at BP this could cause issues with your client.

Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you and make sure that your social media guidelines are flexible enough to allow others to do the same.

What are your views on connecting with other professionals in your industry?  Are you for or against?

Image Credit: www.jobinterviewtools.com

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

 

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

Last week a client asked me:

How do you encourage engagement and participation from lawyers on LinkedIn?

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

The next day I saw a post by a legal marketing professional asking the same thing.

Here’s a summary of the answer I gave them:

Lawyers and other professionals will only be active on LinkedIn if they can see the benefits: they need to know how they can use the platform to help them achieve their individual (and team) goals, and how it can support everything they’re already doing.

Share case studies

One of the most powerful ways to get lawyers, accountants and other professionals to understand how LinkedIn can benefit them is to share case studies of how others have used the platform successfully. If they see how and why others have used it, they begin to see the possibilities for themselves.

Ideally use case studies from within your firm but, if you don’t have any, then here are 5 great case studies (click the free chapter link and they’ll download. You don’t need to provide any info to see these). 

Perform an Advanced Search

Another good tactic is to sit down with the person, ask them about their ideal client and then perform an Advanced Search. When lawyers, accountants and other professionals see that their ideal clients are on LinkedIn, they realise they need to be on there too.

The Advanced Search feature allows you to search by company, job title, keyword, industry sector, location and more (or a combination thereof and it supports Boolean searches).

Remember though, that the searches will return richer information the more people you are connected to. That’s because, on the free LinkedIn account, you can see full profile information for those people to whom you are directly connected, your second degree connections and fellow group members. You can only see limited info for third degree connections and those outside your network.

Show them how a LinkedIn presence can help them get found online

If the professional you’re working with is on LinkedIn or has a common name and is having difficulty getting found online, show them how LinkedIn profiles appear high up search results. Log out of Google and then perform a search on their name. This will help in one of two ways: if they are on LinkedIn but still have a skeletal profile it will highlight that they need to develop a good profile or remove themselves from LinkedIn; if they aren’t on LinkedIn and have a common name or share a name with a celebrity it will highlight that having a LinkedIn presence can help them to get found.

Find groups to which those they want to build relationships with belong

Help the person to find and join groups to which their clients and ideal prospects belong. To identify these groups you could look at people’s profiles and see which groups they have listed (n.b. some may be hidden but the majority won’t be because the default setting is to display these); or use LinkedIn’s search feature and type in your keyword. If you then click on the magnifying glass and select ‘groups’ from the left hand side of the screen which appears, you’ll see a list of related groups. These will typically be organised from the largest to the smallest.

You can very quickly scroll down the list, see who in the person’s network is a member and either look at the group profile (if it’s a closed group) or look at the group discussions and activity (if it’s open). You can then make a call about whether or not the group is worth joining.

Walk them through how LinkedIn can help them achieve THEIR goals

Lastly, I would go through the person’s marketing plan (or key client, industry sector or practice group plan) with them and show them how LinkedIn (and other social networks) can help them achieve their goals. 

The hardest thing for professionals is knowing what they should be doing beyond creating a profile. In early 2014 I’ll be launching a modular online training course “Grow your practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers” and will then be rolling this out to other professionals. Details will follow in the New Year.

What else would you add? 

How has LinkedIn helped you to achieve your goals? 

 

 

 

 

How to do social media (well) at corporate level

I am a big believer that social media is predominantly about people connecting with other people. Even the world’s largest brands are using their people to form stronger relationships with their customers and prospects.

Social media at a corporate level

It’s no longer sufficient to hide behind a brand. And I don’t believe that’s ever really been the case in the professional services world. Continue reading

Why sharing your content via email alone isn’t enough

Last week a lawyer asked me why he should share content on LinkedIn if that same content was already being sent to his connections via email.

It’s a good question.

And there are three good answers.

Why share content on both LinkedIn and your emails

1. Don’t assume people read your emails

Even though you send people your email newsletters and updates it doesn’t mean they read them. When people are busy they often ignore newsletters and other news alerts. Often they intend to read them but don’t get around to it, they place them in a folder to look at if needed or they simply hit delete.  Note: If you are using Mailchimp, iContact or a similar campaign service to send your emails you will be able to track who has opened your emails and other key stats. Continue reading

Professional services firms: Don’t underestimate the power of the familiarity principle

by Kirsten Hodgson

The familiarity principle, or mere-exposure effect, “is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.” (Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I recommended a professional I’d never met to a contact because I was confident that person could help. Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that a couple of my ‘real world’ contacts could probably also have helped. This led me to question why I’d recommended the person I didn’t actually know.

I realised it was because I feel like I know them. This is a person I’m connected to on LinkedIn, I follow them on Twitter and they share some good content. I’ve built a rapport with them. As  a result, I have confidence in them and they were top of mind when my contact asked for a referral.

This is the familiarity principle at work.

It’s easy to see why someone travelling through Africa would choose “Coke” over the local equivalent they’ve never heard of. It’s a safe option and you know what you’re getting but…

…how can those in professional services take advantage of this principle?

It’s largely about being visible. If someone’s regularly writing articles or a blog on a topic, or is regularly quoted in the media, people will get to know their name and can make a judgement call about whether they know what they’re talking about. Over time, the person becomes more familiar and people will be more likely to contact that person over his or her competitors.

Being present on social networks, and actively engaging with those you wish to, also enables professionals to benefit from the Familiarity Principle.

How?

The more you see someone’s name, photo, content they share and comments (provided these resonate with you), the more you feel like you know them.

If you are active (in a targeted way) on social networks then you’re likely to notice that more people want to connect with you. If you then seek to build relationships one at a time, and help others out, they’ll start to trust you.

It’s at this point that the other person is usually happy to use you or to recommend your services.

Actively using social media is a great way to make the familiarity principle work for you. It’s one way to find opportunities and turn them into instructions.

7 steps to ensure you benefit from the familiarity principle on social networks

1. Ensure your profile is complete and that it clearly positions you. Be focused in terms of your profile and the content you share. Stand for something. You can’t be all things to all people so be really clear about who you help and what you help them with.

2. Every time someone invites you to connect and you accept, go back to them thanking them for connecting and ask them a question about their business.

3. Every time you invite someone to connect with you, send them a tailored invite.

4. Share at least one piece of content each week (on LinkedIn, Google+ and/or Facebook) and one per day on Twitter, that will be of interest and use to those you wish to engage. Often this will be content one of your contacts has generated. Sharing other people’s content is a great way to get on their radar and to initiate a conversation with them.

5. Comment on discussions on LinkedIn and Google+ and on relevant posts on Facebook. Aim to comment on one discussion/post per week.

6. Use the reply or direct message functionality on Twitter and the email option on LinkedIn to have conversations with others. Aim to do this at least once a week.

7. Always focus on helping others out by pointing them to information to help address a question they have or by introducing them to someone in your network they’d benefit from meeting. In terms of frequency, I aim to introduce two people in my network each month.

What else would you add? 

How’s the familiarity principle worked for you in social media? 

Image courtesy Andy Newson/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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?

 

What’s the etiquette when someone you don’t know invites you to connect on LinkedIn?

by Kirsten Hodgson

You receive an invite from someone you don’t know.

What should you do?

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to connect with those you don’t know.

This will largely depend on your objectives for being on LinkedIn as well as any governing professional association’s (such as your Law Society or Bar Association) guidelines.

If it is permissible in your jurisdiction, there may be very good reasons why you would connect with people you have never met, such as influential journalists, prospects, prospective influencers and referrers, and those with whom you’ve had discussions within LinkedIn groups.

Secondly, take a look at the invitation. Have they made it clear why they want to connect with you or have they used the standard LinkedIn text?

While I advise against this, don’t hold it against people as LinkedIn doesn’t give you the option to tailor your invites if you try to connect through certain features – such as ‘People you may know’.

Next, take a look at the person’s profile. Are they someone with whom you want to connect?

You’ll need to use your judgement here – For example, I’m happy to connect with those in my industry sector, as well as people who share valuable content or who’ve been involved in the same group discussions.

If you’re unsure, you might want to send the person a message asking why they want to connect with you. If they respond to this you’ll know they genuinely do have a reason, if not, it could be that they’re just growing their connections.

To reply click on the small arrow next to the ‘Accept’ button.

If you think someone does want to connect just to grow their number of connections or if you don’t want to connect to someone for another reason, select ‘ignore’ and you’ll no longer see the invite. Save the ‘report spam’ button for true spammers.

 Will people know you’ve ignored their invite?

No they won’t. If they go into their ‘Sent’ box within the LinkedIn email system (when in invitations) they will only see that you haven’t responded. However, they won’t know that you’ve selected ‘ignore’. They may well try to connect with you again in future.

What other tips or advice would you share?

 

5 ways online marketing can help you build your practice

by Kirsten Hodgson

Online and offline marketing are two sides of the same coin. Neither one should be done in isolation.

Online marketing’s purpose, in the professional services context, should be to create more offline opportunities. Rather than replacing face-to-face contact it should create more opportunities for ‘offline’ meetings.

5 ways online marketing can help you create more opportunities:

1. Profile raising/positioning

As a legal, accounting, engineering or other professional you’re probably already sharing information with your target audiences. This may be content you’ve created (such as articles, seminar slides, Whitepapers, or newsletters/newsalerts), or content others have put together that those you wish to build relationships with will be interested in.

You can also share this content via social networks and via your website, further positioning yourself in your area. If people ask questions and you can help them out (without ‘giving advice’ per-se) you can further demonstrate your expertise. This will give people a flavour of who you are, what you are like to work with and what you do before they have actually done business with you.

People can ascertain whether you know what you are talking about and whether you’re someone they would like to work with. Not everyone will like what you’re saying or agree with you and that’s okay. There’ll be others who will.

2. Attracting more of your ideal clients

You can find and engage with prospects online, begin to build credibility and trust and then take these relationships offline. Ultimately, you can generate new business via social networks – but this won’t happen overnight.

For example, an employment lawyer set up a LinkedIn group for HR Directors and Managers. He invited 100 people to join and 60 accepted within a fortnight. The group now has over 900 members and this lawyer has built his client base on the back of this. He explained to me that this is the most successful business development initiative he and his firm have ever undertaken.

3. Creating more touchpoints with your existing clients, referrers and influencers

Provided your existing clients and referrers are on social networks, these provide additional channels to communicate with these people and get in front of them.

You can share content that they will value, ask and answer questions, or put them in contact with other people you know who they might benefit from meeting. Social networks increase your visibility, allowing you to stay top-of-mind.

A few professionals I’ve spoken to have won work as a result of sharing information relevant to existing contacts on LinkedIn. For example, one lawyer reconnected with a former client and met with his contact but nothing came of it. A few weeks later he noticed one of the sales people from his contact’s firm was active on LinkedIn. He joined a group this person belonged to and answered a question the sales person posted. As a result the sales person picked up the phone to him and gave him a piece of work.

4. Research and planning

A person or an organisation’s activity on social networks can be a rich source of information. Perhaps you’ve set up a new business meeting or are putting together an RFP response or capabilities statement. By searching social networks, you can see what topics and issues your contacts are discussing. This may give you information you can talk to them about or include in your response. At the very least if you can find out a bit about their hobbies and interests you can find an ice-breaker.

I recommend that if people you are meeting or pitching to are on LinkedIn, you look at their profile. Similarly, if you are doing any key client, industry sector, practice group or personal planning, look at the social networks. Again, using LinkedIn as an example, you could search a particular organisation to find out who is on LinkedIn and to ascertain which of these people you don’t know but should. You can then look to connect with them, either by asking a contact to introduce you or by joining the same groups and commenting on the other person’s discussions (assuming they are active on LinkedIn). You could also join LinkedIn groups relating to a particular industry sector or topic.

5. Professional development

Monitoring social networks allows you to keep up to date with the key issues in your area of practice, in a particular industry sector or for a particular client. Following people who share good information and relevant hashtags on Twitter can lead to a rich source of information. LinkedIn groups and your LinkedIn connections can also be great sources of up-to-date content.

By using online tools well (and in conjunction with other initiatives), you can create more offline opportunities…and make it easier to get more of the work you enjoy doing.

Look to build relationships one by one, seek to demonstrate your expertise in order to build credibility with those people you wish to engage and, over time, think about how to move some of these online relationships into the real world.

How have online tools helped you build your practice?

Image courtesy Jomphong via Freedigitalphotos.net